Learning the Thai Language

Thai can be a difficult language to learn mainly because it is a tonal language. One word can have several different meanings depending on the tone used when speaking. Take, for instance, the word mai…depending on the tone when said it can mean: Not, new, burn, silk, and wood. In all there are five tones used in the Thai language and they are: Low tone, mid tone, high tone, rising tone, and falling tone.

If you are going to Thailand on your first trip, having a basic knowledge of the language and using some Thai words and or sentences will give a smile to the locals and can save you some baht when shopping at the markets. You’ll also find it easy to pick up on words when around the native speakers and you’ll hear the correct pronunciation. Don’t be afraid to speak the Thai that you learn because you may say something the wrong way and inadvertently offend someone… the Thai people know their language is hard to learn for foreigners and can usually figure out what you were trying to say.

I’ve added some useful Thai phrases before and will do so again but when doing so I do it phonetically in english which is usually close to the correct sound but it’s not easy to convey the proper tone.

A few resources I’ve come across and have found to be really useful while learning the Thai language rely on sound and or images and sound to reinforce the proper sounds and tones of the words spoken:

The Rosetta Stone software uses images and interactivity to teach you in a natural way. By using pictures and words you learn the association much faster than just repeating what you hear. This reinforces the learning and really helps you to remember words much easier. The link above tells you more about the program and shows you a demonstration of how it works. I bought a copy of Rosetta Stone Thai while I was in Thailand last May and while I like it a lot and it has increased my vocabulary it never really works to teach me what I want to know specifically but teaches me the words and phrases it wants me to know. Very helpful and a great tool for the beginner.

Pimsleur Thai is another program using recorded Thai by native speakers to reinforce learning by repetition but they do it a little better than most by giving you complete sentences to memorize but then they use the sentence in conversations switching up the male and female attributes and structure which helps you to retain what you’ve heard and been repeating along with the recording. Pimsleur lessons can be bought online through various outlets but the majority if not all of the program has been leaked to torrent sites and can be found very easily for free on the web.

Learning Thai.com is one of the best resources out there and best of all it’s free. They cover the gambit of Thai language from learning to speak Thai to learning how to read and write Thai. Recordings of words and phrases by native speakers to help you with pronunciation and tone as well as a English/Thai -Thai/English online dictionary. Absolutely the best online resource for the Thai language.

Whether you are going to Thailand for a two week vacation or have more in mind, learning some of the language before you go can be fun and a rewarding experience when you use what you’ve learned while enjoying your trip in Thailand.

Mai mai mai,mai.

sig1 Learning the Thai Language
Related Posts with Thumbnails

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
5 Responses to Learning the Thai Language
  1. webduck
    December 30, 2007 | 10:34 pm

    What an interesting post. I can completely identify with the statement about how things are said. I know just from emailing, etc., that it is hard to get the right tonal quality to what I wish to convey. Speaking to someone in person, no matter the language really is the key to making yourself understood.

  2. talen
    December 30, 2007 | 11:51 pm

    Very true Webduck. Now imagine trying to do so in a new language that relies heavily on tones…it can be tough especially when you are talking about oyster sauce which is the same word used for a part of the female anatomy but with a different tone.

    Learning new languages is always interesting :)

  3. bridget
    March 27, 2008 | 1:16 pm

    this website is really good i am doing a website on thailand and i have learned alot i even supprised my classmates by speak alittle thai
    i had a very good experience

  4. Torrent Seedbox
    November 15, 2009 | 5:33 pm

    I used Pimsleur method to learn spanish and its very good.

  1. I can't pronounce haa! - Page 2 - Ajarn Forum - Living and Teaching In Thailand
Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://thailandlandofsmiles.com/2007/12/30/learning-the-thai-language/trackback/