Planning to sniff out the best buys in Bangkok’s floating markets? Is chowing down on authentic, flavourful Thai fare on top of your grub bucket list? Have you ever dreamed of chilling beachside in Phuket or traversing the lush trails of Chiang Mai? Whatever you’re planning to do in vibrant Thailand, a top tip before travelling to these parts of Southeast Asia is to know a bit of Thai.
If you’re wondering how to teach yourself Thai or how to learn the Thai language fast, look no further. We’ve come up with a list of the best apps to learn Thai no matter your budget and schedule. We’ll have you saying more than just “Sawatdii!” in no time! That means hello, in case you didn’t know.
An overview: Which Thai language learning app is for you?
Beginners should note Thaipod 101 and Walen Thai — they offer full courses that cover the basics and allow you to level up extensively. Those who want to learn Thai fast should try Simply Learn Thai, Pocket Thai Speaking: Learning to Speak Thai Today, and Learn Thai with Master Ling. Prefer to learn Thai for free? Speak Thai by Tourism Authority of Thailand and Free Thai by Nemo are great picks! Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Best apps to learn Thai from scratch
In search of more than just a quick introduction to Thai? If this isn’t your first time to pick up a second language, then you might be looking for Rosetta Stone Thai, Duolingo Thai, or maybe even Memrise Thai. Don’t bother; these apps don’t offer mobile learning for Thai at the moment. But we have an alternative that’s just as reliable. With the ThaiPod101 app, you’ll learn the Thai language fast and still have the choice to take your time through a full course!
The app alone boasts of a multitude of features that makes learning Thai fun and breezy. With the ThaiPod101 app by language learning giant Innovative Learning 101, you can: gain access to audio and video lessons; make the most out of the course with offline learning; focus on daily vocabulary lessons; and even get a taste of premium account perks for seven full days. What’s more, it’s quite easy to upgrade to a Basic User, Premium User, or Premium PLUS account once you’ve decided how comprehensive you want your Thai lessons to be.
Why we love ThaiPod101 app: video tutorials, a Thai alphabet e-book & customised courses
What makes the ThaiPod101 app one of the best apps to learn Thai is that it’s actually your gateway to different platforms and materials for maximum retention. ThaiPod101 features a website dedicated to learning Thai, as well as a Youtube account that lets you stream video lessons by a native speaker. Did we mention that ThaiPod 101 is also one of the best apps to learn the Thai alphabet? A quick visit to its website lets you unlock a FREE downloadable e-book that gives you the lowdown on the Thai alphabet. It’s almost like attending formal language school, but with the flexibility of self-study.
If you’re thinking how to teach yourself Thai on your own time, ThaiPod 101 app could be the right fit for you. If their personalised programs don’t convince you, maybe their rapid learning sessions will.
Price: Initial download comes with free lessons, but you’ll have to pay for more advanced and personalised courses. $7.99/month for Basic Access; $24.99/month for Premium Access; $46.99/month for Premium PLUS Access.
2. Walen Thai
What makes the Walen Thai app among the best apps to learn Thai? It was developed by an actual language school located in Thailand that’s dedicated to teaching the Thai language. It’s called Walen International School. What more can you ask for if you’re after legitimacy? Imagine being tutored by a Thai language app whose homebase is a physical language learning school in the heart of Thailand!
The advantage of taking lessons with Walen Thai is that its program was created around the best approaches to learning the Thai language.The Walen Thai method banks on repetition and revision — learning as a child would. As the Walen Thai website explains, “A Child first hears the language, then imitaties what he hears, later he sees the words written, and finally writes them himself.” Walen Thai’s grassroots method has proven itself foolproof through the years.
Why we love Walen Thai app: offline learning focused on the Thai alphabet & numerical system
While the complete Walen Thai course requires you to fly to Thailand and physically study in any of its campuses (Bangkok, Pattaya, or Chiang Mai), another great option is to study remotely. How? With the Walen School – Learn Thai app. For now, though, this Walen Thai app focuses on acquainting users with the Thai alphabet and numerical system. It effectively lays the foundation for learning Thai through clear typography and audio support for proper pronunciation. The best part? You can access all this even if you’re not connected to the Internet. For these reasons, Walen School – Learn Thai app is #1 on our roster of best apps to learn the Thai alphabet.
If you feel like learning all about Thai vowels and consonants isn’t enough, fret not. Walen Thai is currently adding modules to its app. Eager language learners can soon expect lessons on useful phrases and helpful expressions. Perfect for when you finally travel to Thailand! Who knows, you might even have enough time to attend classes at Walen International School. *wink*
Price: Initial download of the Walen Thai app is free. To check enrolment fees at Walen International School, visit its official website.
Best apps to learn Thai fast
3. Simply Learn Thai
We understand that some of you may just want to learn Thai as quickly as you can for an upcoming trip. Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered, too! If you’d rather skip the Thai alphabet and jump straight into words and phrases you can use in casual conversations, Simply Learn Thai by Simya Solutions is a great go-to.
Why we love Simply Learn Thai app: traveller basics & voice recordings by native speakers
Simply Learn Thai takes you through engaging modules that make use of flashcards and pronunciation guides by native speakers. You’ll have so much fun beating your own scores in pop quizzes, that you won’t even notice you’re being trained to speak to locals. That’s because Simply Learn Thai’s modules are designed to equip you with a word-and-phrasebank that’s essential to travelling around Thailand.
Simply Learn Thai makes things even easier for you by creating a tab that covers all the “Traveler Basics”. It’s exactly what it sounds like. In this section, unlock words and phrases that you’re likely to utter when commuting, eating out, sightseeing, shopping, and asking for directions.
Price: Initial download of the app is free and comes with over 300 words and phrases. Pay an additional fee to access more learning categories: $1.99/category for add-ons; $9.99 for a Pro account.
4. Pocket Thai Speaking: Learning to Speak Thai Today
The full name of this app says it all — Pocket Thai Speaking: Learning to Speak Thai Today. Much like Simply Learn Thai, Pocket Thai is your one-stop-shop to communicating effectively in Thai without the layers of language learning basics. What we mean to say is, this app also allows you to go straight to learning Thai phrases for travel and casual talk.
Why we love Pocket Thai: essential phrases paired with quick grammar lessons & Thailand travel tips
But what makes Pocket Thai one of the best apps to learn Thai fast is that it also gives you quick grammar tutorials. That way, you’re doing more than just parroting sentences in Thai. Keep in mind, though, that this Thai learning app was created with the smart traveller in mind. It was designed to teach you phrases and expressions essential to a great Thai getaway.
Clear audio recordings will prep you for proper diction. Along the way, you’ll find yourself picking up fun facts about Thai etiquette, culture, and traditions! These are just some of the useful travel tips the makers of Pocket Thai included in their modules, in an attempt to turn their language learning app into a travel guide of sorts, too. That’s certainly a huge plus, especially if it’s your first time travelling to Thailand.
Plus, Pocket Thai prioritises your convenience above all else. It offers offline learning and lets you customise lessons depending on your budget and schedule.
Price: Initial download of the app is free. In-app purchases start at $7.25.
5. Learn Thai Language With Master Ling
If you’ve been following Hey Explorer’s language learning series (want to learn Tagalog or Turkish?), then this app will definitely sound familiar. Among the best apps to learn Thai (and other languages, really), Learn with Master Ling remains our underrated gem. We only say that it’s underrated because it’s not common to see full-length reviews about it, but it is quite highly rated on both the App Store and the Play Store. So why do language enthusiasts love Learn Thai Language With Master Ling?
Why we love Learn Thai Language With Master Ling: easy breezy learning that doesn’t feel like a chore
It’s the epitome of learning Thai the fun way! Even if time flies when using this particular app, you’ll be surprised to know that it covers a wide range of topics: Thai alphabet, vocabulary, grammar, writing, pronunciation, among others. With Master Ling, you can actually learn Thai from scratch and even grasp the basics of its alphabet, all while feeling like you’re just playing your favourite mobile game.
Learn to write, speak, and even read Thai by just allotting a minimum of 10 minutes a day on Master Ling’s app. Fair warning, though: its mini games and engaging interface keep you glued to the app for hours on end. It’s that fun, it borders on addictive.
Price: Initial download of the app is free. For learning plans with access to all modules, prices start at $8.99/month.
Best apps to learn Thai free
6. Speak Thai by Tourism Authority of Thailand
We covered the best apps to learn Thai from scratch and even those that won’t take up much of your day. Of course, we’d like to give you more options by letting you in on a secret: You can learn Thai for free as well! While most apps will give you limited free access upon downloading, Speak Thai by Tourism Authority of Thailand is 100% FREE. You heard that right; you won’t spend a single cent!
Why we love Speak Thai by Tourism Authority of Thailand: thoughtful touches and features for international visitors
It makes a lot of sense that this app is free; it was developed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in partnership with McCann Worldgroup to assist non-Thai speaking travellers. Think of it as the tourism office’s welcoming gift for visitors like you.
While this app certainly teaches you useful words and phrases, and how to pronounce them, there are other handy features to note. This app can actually speak for you in case you’re caught in a situation that requires a virtual translator. If you don’t have enough time to learn Thai extensively before your trip, this could be a life saver!
Feel free to browse through its various phrase categories, too, so you pick up a little Thai every time you open the app. Did we mention it isn’t reliant on Internet connection? An app that teaches you Thai but can also do the talking for you — sweet, right? Nothing will make you feel more confident in Thailand than carrying the power to speak Thai in your pocket. With Speak Thai, fluency is literally a tap away. Don’t let that nifty perk get in the way of your learning, though.
Price: FREE! A disclaimer: This app hasn’t been updated since 2010 and is only available for iPhone.
7. FREE Thai by Nemo
Free Thai by Nemo promises you three things: to be your go-to phrasebook, to teach you proper pronunciation with the help of recordings from native speakers, and to provide excellent learning sessions even with a free account.
Why we love FREE Thai by Nemo: loaded free access & a speech studio that zeroes in on pronunciation
While you can always upgrade to a premium account for more modules, we suggest giving this app’s free version a test run first. Users attest to the effectiveness of its free modules, so it makes so much more sense to avail of them for a leisure trip to Thailand.
FREE Thai by Nemo narrows lessons down by creating must-know lists for your trip. This app specially highlights numbers and the foundations that you need for sentence-building. You can track your progress with quirky quizzes and the Speech Studio, which allows you to practise your Thai accent. You’ll also build your wordbank flashcards-style, while getting familiar with Thai characters. If you’re looking for an app that’s good enough for teaching you Thai language essentials for a sudden trip, then this may be one of the best options out there. And if you end up falling in love with the language, you can always level-up to its paid version.
Price: Initial download comes with a free version of the modules but in-app upgrades and purchases start at $8.99/item.
Your most-asked questions about the Thai language, answered!
Now that you know your options for app-based learning, it’s time for a quick Q&A! We rounded up questions that most Thai language learners ache to ask. We hope that by answering them, we encourage you to go ahead and start taking up Thai as a second language! Here are a few fast facts:
- How long does it take to learn Thai? Most learners say that they began to converse successfully in Thai in just three to four months! Of course, by this time, you’ll have a phrase bank that’s filled with essential words, enough to carry a casual conversation.
- How do beginners speak Thai? With such a phonetic language, the best way to start learning Thai is by listening to native Thai speakers talk. This is why audio support or tutorials are quite useful when learning Thai. Keep in mind that’s something to consider when choosing the best Thai learning app for you. After all, the Thai alphabet won’t make sense to an English speaker and reader. So start by listening and slowly getting acquainted with all the Thai letters for better pronunciation.
- What do you call the Thai alphabet? People just refer to it as Thai script. Technically speaking, Thai script is a type of abugida or writing system that is a combination of syllabic and alphabetic script. All in all, Thai script has 59 letters. Do you think you can manage to memorise them all?
- Is Thai a gendered language? The simple answer is no. While it isn’t regarded as a gendered language like Spanish or French, note that men and women use different pronouns in Thai. For example, to say hello, a woman might utter “Sawatdii ka!” Males, on the other hand, say “Sawatdii khrap!” Interesting, right? But definitely a common area for confusion.
Surely, there are more things left for you to discover once you start studying the Thai language. So what are you waiting for? Take your pick from these best apps for learning Thai and let the downloads begin!