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Did you know the Thai language is historically known as Siamese? Or that Thailand is also known as Siam? By learning the Thai Language, you will not only embody the culture, but you can learn to appreciate the art, people, food and more.
The Thai language is tonal, just like Chinese. For one thing, the Thai script is unique and not your standard English alphabet. It may seem tricky at first, but with time and the resources below, you will learn how to speak and write Thai in no time.
If you are thinking about joining the 50 million Thai-speaking people, scroll on to read the best resources (apps, books, courses and more) to learn the Thai language. Before that, here are some of the best ones that you should discover today:
Let’s start with ThaiPod101.com. This website has a wide variety of online lessons you can choose from. Next, the Pimsleur audio course is known to enable learners to learn languages quickly and effectively. Afterward, pick up the Thai for Beginners book and accompany it with the Longdo Dict dictionary application. Lastly, if you prefer to learn Thai with someone, head to italki to find a suitable Thai tutor just for you.
Ready to start? Here are some of the best resources to learn Thai. Check them out now, you can say Khob Khun Kha and more later.
Best apps to learn Thai
Are you learning Thai from scratch? Do you want to learn Thai fast? We’ve written an article about apps just for that. To find out more, read: 8 Best Apps to Learn Thai in 2021.
Meanwhile, here are some of my favourite apps to learn Thai on the go.
Learn Thai – Phrasebook – Wondering how to say How much is this? or My name is… in Thai? This phrasebook includes phrases pronounced by natives as well as an option to playback the audio at a slower pace. The best part? You do not need the internet!
Simply Learn Thai – This flashcard language app is great for beginner learners and travelers. You have access to over 3,000 Thai phrases and vocabulary. All flashcards include pronunciation by native Thai speakers. There’s also a fun quiz to test your Thai knowledge and a search feature for phrases and vocabulary.
Mondly – Have fun learning Thai with Mondly. Mondly has an easy and well-developed mobile app (and website), integrated games, and lessons. You can track your learning progress by making an account. Three out of 40 categories are available with their free trial.
Pimsleur – This app is no stranger to us language learners. Pimsleur delivers structured lessons using an effective teaching method, the Pimsleur Method. If you’re looking to learn Thai fast and effectively, you can head over to Pimsleur to try it out. They have a seven-day trial where you get access to the full course for free.
Thai-English Dictionary (TL) – Need a pocket Thai-English dictionary? Look no further, TL is one of the frequently used dictionary apps among Thai learners. What you will love about this app is that words are in transcription and romanization forms. Also, it includes examples of how a word is used in a sentence. Additionally, ads are non-existent while using the app, lucky us!
Longdo Dict – When you’re ready to take that extra step to speak like a native, try Longdo Dict. This online dictionary is mainly used by the locals for quick referencing and daily translations.
Best books to learn Thai
Whether you want to teach yourself Thai or you are looking for a supplementary book for your existing learning plan, these are some of the best books to learn Thai.
Thai: An Essential Grammar – Part of the Routledge series, this Thai grammar book is organized, clear, and concise for learning Thai. It includes transcription and romanization, uncommon in books but much appreciated by learners. It is recommended for beginner and intermediate learners.
Master the Thai Alphabet – This is a must if you want to practice your Thai handwriting. It is an affordable practice workbook for all learners to work on their Thai alphabet and writing skills.
Thai for Beginners – Part one of a three-part series, is great for beginners who want to not only speak Thai but also learn how to write and read Thai. It covers the Thai alphabet, guides you on pronunciation and the basic Thai phrases and vocabulary. For the full learning experience, you should complement it with the accompanying audio CD.
A.U.A. Language Center Thai Course: Book 1 – A well-known book amongst language schools and teachers. This book contains lots of drills and practices for the Thai language. Using it on its own may be tough for self-taught learners. I recommend pairing it with other resources. Once you get the hang of it, there are five more books in the series too!
Thai Language and Culture for Beginners Book 1 – This book was designed for foreign students and is commonly used in schools and by teachers. It provides you with a formal understanding of the Thai language with bits of cultural knowledge. You will love this if you believe culture and language go hand-in-hand.
Best podcasts to Learn Thai
Visual learning is important when you’re learning a language. However, we must not forget about listening skills and auditory learning. With an abundance of free podcasts available and ones that cater to learners of every level, podcasts are something everyone can enjoy and listen to.
Here are some podcasts you may want to start with to learn Thai.
You too can learn Thai – Kruu Nan not only has a Ph.D. in Linguistics but also teaches Thai at the University in London. Spend a few minutes out of your day to follow along with her well thought out and enjoyable podcasts. It targets beginner and intermediate learners and covers everyday topics and stories.
Thai Arai Na – The host makes lessons digestible and easy to follow. I would highly recommend this if you are starting to learn Thai and want to know the basics of the Thai language, such as the Thai numbers and the five Thai tones.
Learn Thai with GluayGluay – Also known as BananaThai school. Kruu Smuk teaches Thai in a fun and personal way. She does not fail to educate listeners on current events and popular topics in Thailand while teaching them how to speak Thai. You will also grow to appreciate the exceptional sound quality of her episodes.
Thaipod101.com – With over 200 episodes in their podcasts, the options are endless. They have also included a mini-series called Thai Teachers Answers Your Questions. Such as, common mistakes that students make while learning Thai.
Best YouTube channels to learn Thai
Why would I want to learn Thai on YouTube, you may ask? Well, simply because learning Thai on YouTube is convenient, accessible, and you get the perspective from a native Thai speaker. All from your device and for free!
ThaiwithMod – Mod has created playlists for Thai grammar, common mistakes made in learners, and common Thai expressions. My personal favorite and one I have used when I was beginning to learn Thai was Mod. She is extremely passionate about teaching and the Thai language, which I appreciate.
Let’s Learn Thai! – If you love TV shows and songs, you will love Kanitsa’s approach to teaching you how to learn Thai. On top of standard lessons of learning Thai, Kanitsa also dissects Thai TV shows and songs and explains the meaning of different phrases. Especially great in improving your Thai listening comprehension skills for shows and songs!
Learn Thai with Shelby – What is unique about this YouTube channel is that Shelby does not only cover the central Thai language, but she also covers Isaan Thai. Isaan is a Thai dialect in the north-east region of Thailand. Watch this video for a little taster of Isaan.
Thai Lessons by New – Learn Thai, One Day, One Sentence. New covers everything you would want to know when you’re learning Thai. From verbs, vocabulary, forming sentences to common mistakes. You would appreciate the depth of her videos. For example, you will learn how the word ‘that’ is used in Thai.
Best online courses to learn Thai
Self-learning is not for everyone. If you prefer a structured course with provided lesson materials that are available online, take a look at these three options.
Learn Thai Podcast – This is a comprehensive and in-depth Thai Course. If you are looking to pay for an online course to learn Thai, this option has a strong foundation and developed materials. You can check out the free study guide to gauge if the system suits you. The premium course costs $197.
Udemy – Udemy is a platform for teachers to curate courses for students online. Curated Thai language courses are abundant on Udemy, each for different levels and purposes. Take an online Thai course with Jantawee Supha, for example. She offers five sections and 56 lectures course that many learners have enjoyed for $79.
ThaiPod101.com – You would have probably seen this course everywhere. Of course! It has proven to be effective for many learners. The website and app have a simple and clean interface. It provides audio lessons for every level. Every lesson includes a lesson plan as well as a transcript and some materials for practice.
Best places to find Thai tutors
Why not learn Thai with the help of an experienced Thai tutor?
Italki – Italki is a well-known platform that connects language learners with teachers all over the world. You will be able to find a Thai tutor that suits your goals, whether it’s to improve your conversational skills or to advance in Thai grammar. Lessons start from $4 and some tutors have a special discount for trial lessons.
Preply – Similar to iTalki, Preply allows users to connect with teachers and view their availability for lessons. There are only slight differences between Preply and iTalki. Preply is slightly more affordable compared to iTalki. After the first trial, you will be required to buy packages in bulk, such as 5, 10, 15, 20 hours.
VerbalPlanet – On this platform, you can find tutors based in Thailand. Some tutors even provide a free trial lesson. There are loyalty discounts for learners, the more lessons you take, the more discounts you will get. For example, at your 15-34 lessons, you can get 10% off.
Tutoroo – Lastly, find tutors near you or even in Bangkok. Tutoroo has a rather casual approach to reaching out to tutors near you. You will enjoy no admin fees and pay directly to the tutor.
Best free resources to learn Thai
You do not have to break the bank to learn the Thai alphabet or learn how to speak Thai. Here are some free online resources I have found useful in learning Thai.
ThaiAlphabet.net – Fon guides you through the Thai consonants, vowels, and tones. As well as the Thai alphabet song. I recommend this for beginners as it is basic and straightforward. Importantly, from experience, you will not get lost in a sea of information.
Active Thai – Interactive website with built-in application to listen to the pronunciation of the letters and consonants. They have two books, Read and Writing and Basic Thai Conversations, which you may also get to aid your learning.
Study Stack – Next, here’s an online platform where students and teachers share flashcards. You can create your own or use the ready curated cards. It has personally helped me memorize and recognize Thai words, its pronunciation, and definition. It also includes an accompanying app to learn on the go.
Learn Thai with Kruu Wee – You may find that this blog is pretty dated. However, don’t let that deter you. It has numerous useful posts on different topics to learn Thai. What I appreciate about this blog is that it includes English, romanization, and Thai transcripts of the words and phrases. It is especially useful when you are training to read, write, and learn Thai.
Thai Notes – Finally, a website with everything you may need to learn Thai. Although the design of the website could be improved, it has a ton of resources. Some unique ones would be learning how to type in Thai and the FSI course.
Tips for learning Thai
Before you go off to use the resources in the list, I will share some tips with you for learning Thai.
Practice makes perfect: What I found useful when learning the Thai language was to take 10-30 mins out of my day to do a few exercises and learn a few phrases. Having a notebook to note down what you’ve learned and practice your writing was critical too. It is incredibly satisfying to put pen to paper and practice writing Thai.
Chat with the locals: During my six-month internship in Thailand, I conversed with locals daily. Thais are extremely friendly and would be more than happy to guide you on your learning journey. For example, one of my colleagues managed to get a spontaneous Thai cooking session from one of the cooks nearby. You can also find learners and locals in online communities such as this Facebook group.
Explore learning materials: Finally, learning Thai is not a one shoe fits all system. And, don’t let not being in Thailand stop you from doing your best. So, why not start by experimenting with the materials from the list above and find one that suits you the most. It could be the Learn Thai with GluayGluay podcast or ThaiwithMod on YouTube. Maybe find a tutor on Italki. There is no wrong or right answer.
With that, I hope you have found this article useful in your journey of learning Thai. If you have found something interesting, why not share it with your friends and family so they can learn too.
Any of your favorite resources to learn Thai that is not on the list? Let us know in the comments below.