How to Learn the Thai Language

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Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia. There are many reasons to travel to Thailand, from the delicious food to the beaches, to Thailand's ancient and modern Buddhist temples. Native English speakers are also needed as teachers in Thailand, making the country one of the most popular destinations for tourists on the continent. As always when traveling to another country, it is useful to learn something of the language before you go. If you are interested in learning the Thai language, there are numerous resources on the Internet to help you.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Internet connection
  • Printer
  • Learn the Thai alphabet. Like Chinese, Thai is a tonal language, but unlike Chinese, there is a relatively small alphabet to learn. It's much larger than English, however, and besides letters, you will have to learn tone indicators. Print a chart of the entire Thai alphabet, with tones. Omniglot has a handy Thai alphabet page which includes all of these.

  • Practice your pronunciation. You not only need to know how to recognize and write the Thai alphabet, you will also need to know how to say the letters correctly. The Multimedia Thai Language page has the entire Thai alphabet not only in charts but also in audio form so that you can hear each letter.

  • Build vocabulary. Start learning some actual Thai words and phrases. Write each word down, along with its meaning. Practice writing it several times, not only so that you can memorize it but also so that you will recognize it later. There are many vocabulary words and helpful phrases at the Into Asia Web page.

  • Learn grammar. Grammar is seldom anyone's favorite part of learning a language, but it's necessary. Luckily, Thai grammar is much less complicated than that of English and many other languages. You can find a good introduction to Thai grammar at the Into Asia Thai grammar page.

  • Read in Thai. Reading helps not only your ability to sound out and recognize vocabulary, but also your grammar. Reading is invaluable for teaching you how to form natural-sounding Thai sentences. There are a number of lessons on reading Thai as well as a huge Thai reading resources list at the Learning Thai website.

  • Listen to Thai. There are several podcasts available about learning Thai. If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to the Learn Thai podcast, Thai Lessons With Pink Chilli, or Thai Survival Phrases. If you don't have iTunes, all three also have their own Web sites where you can download some of the podcasts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep a language-learning notebook. Write down new vocabulary, grammar rules and cultural tidbits. This will not only keep your information in one place but the act of writing things down will also help you remember them.
  • You will never become fluent if you don't practice. Seek out other Thai speakers and use your new language regularly.

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