Learning Thai
Enough to Get You By

Learning Thai can be difficult, the majority of foreigners who come to Thailand, despite their best intentions of learning Thai, never speak more than a few phrases. This also applies to many who are married to Thais. However, those who commit themselves to learning more of the language find that their quality of life improves no end, not to mention the money saved from the additional discounts given by shop owners who are more inclined to charge local Thai rather than 'farang' prices.

Learn Thai - Key Phrases Before You Travel

English is not as widely spoken in some tourist resorts as some may believe. International cities and resorts like Bangkok and Phuket fare better but smaller ones like Hua Hin and Cha-am still have a long way to go, although this is changing.

As Thai is a tonal language it makes sense to learn from a course/phrase book that has accompanying CD's or cassettes, as you really need to 'hear' Thai language as well as 'see' it. Whilst phrase books are a useful standby it is also advisable to buy a Thai dictionary, although be careful which one, as most are rendered useless if they do not have an English transliteration of the Thai words. Unless you can read Thai.

Concentrate on 10 key phrases to get you by. Don't forget to add the polite particle ka if a woman is speaking, krup for a man.

  1. Hello – sa-wat dee ka/krup
  2. How are you? – sabaii dee mai ka/krup
  3. I'm fine – sabaii dee ka/krup
  4. Thank you –kop khun ka/krup
  5. How much? – gee baht ka/krup
  6. Can you give me a discount? lot dai mai ka/krup
  7. Numbers 1 to 10 – neung-1, song-2, saam-3, see-4, haa-5, hok-6, jet-7, bpaet-8, gao-9, sip-10
  8. Where is… (the toilet).? - ( hong nam ).. yoo tee nai ka/krup
  9. delicious – a-roy ka/krup
  10. Can I have the bill? – check bin dai mai ka/krup
Any attempt at these phrases will endear to you the Thai people. Don't worry about getting the tones right, these come with practice. Learning Thai is a gradual process and making mistakes is par for the course. Don't worry about getting things wrong – mai pen rai ( never mind / it's okay ), as the Thais say.

Learning Thai in Thailand

For anyone planning a longer stay in Thailand, learning to some 'survival Thai' will make your life much easier and give you more confidence in dealing with the locals. You can either try to learn yourself, perhaps with a Thai friend to help you, or enroll on the many Thai Language courses available.

Self-Study Books:

Two local publications which are worth considering are:

  • Shortcut for Speaking Thai ( MIS books ) – Book and 3 CD pack - a clear, simple approach to learning Thai conversation.
  • Thai for Beginners ( Paiboon Publishing )– Book and CD's or cassettes – includes sections on how to read and write.
Thai Language Courses

Most language schools throughout Thailand offer Thai language courses; the question is finding one that suite you schedule, finances and preferred method of learning.

In Bangkok the Walden School, near Asoke in Sukhumvit Road., offers full time courses with the option of applying for a 1 year non immigrant ED visa for its students.

Jentana & Associates also in Sukhumvit, offers tailor-made and group courses. They specialize in one-on-one lessons, especially for housewives or business people and have their own specially written course books.

Whatever method you decide to try, Learning Thai will change your perspective as it will also help to understand a little about Thai culture and assist you in conversing with Thai friends.

Choosing a Bangkok University

Choosing an International School in Bangkok

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