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Learning to Speak and Read Thai

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I'm not sure if this is the right board, but I was interested to talk to other members about this.

 

I'm hoping to travel to Thailand in 2016, and have been trying to learn how to speak and read/write in Thai to aid me in my time there. I started by checking out Learn Thai with Mod and all of her videos, which I have found super helpful. I know she also offers Skype lessons, but so far I've held off on the expense.

 

I've gotten a lot out of adding thai fighters on Facebook and interacting with them daily there (reading and writing). A few of them are trying to work on their English so we actually do video chats now and again as well, helping each other with pronunciation and word flow. I'm currently at Preschool levels of thai, but it's getting easier each week.

 

Does anyone else have any helpful resources for someone looking to learn? :)

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I'm not sure if this is the right board, but I was interested to talk to other members about this.

 

I'm hoping to travel to Thailand in 2016, and have been trying to learn how to speak and read/write in Thai to aid me in my time there. I started by checking out Learn Thai with Mod and all of her videos, which I have found super helpful. I know she also offers Skype lessons, but so far I've held off on the expense.

 

I've gotten a lot out of adding thai fighters on Facebook and interacting with them daily there (reading and writing). A few of them are trying to work on their English so we actually do video chats now and again as well, helping each other with pronunciation and word flow. I'm currently at Preschool levels of thai, but it's getting easier each week.

 

Does anyone else have any helpful resources for someone looking to learn? :)

This is so cool that you're interacting in a language exchange! Reading/writing is like pulling teeth until all of a sudden, like almost overnight, you just start seeing everything and comprehending it straight off. It's like magic. I'd caution you a bit about noting the difference in spelling between casually written Thai and properly written Thai, as there are tons of differences - I only mention it because the Thais you're speaking to are likely using the former. It won't get you into any trouble, but since you're learning to recognize words you're going to be doing twice the legwork by seeing both at such an early stage.

As for resources, womenlearnthai is a good site and you can look for children's books to just work on reading very simple sentences and single words, like sounding out names and such. Another trick is to turn on the subtitles on movies, if you can find any. Thai soundtrack with Thai subtitles will help you read as you hear it.

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I've been learning to speak Thai for the last two years (casually, so I'm not anywhere near fluent!). I use Thai Style (http://www.learnthaistyle.com/) and have found it excellent. I do face to face lessons, but they do Skype (my teacher is moving back to Thailand at the end of the month, so I'll continue with this when she does). I have found it really reasonable from a cost perspective as well.

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Thank you for the link, Lottie. I'll hild onto it in case I do decide to pay for lessons.

 

Sylvie, that site looks great. ขอบคุณค่ะ I did a quick skim and loved the sentence expansion drill someone shared. I've definitely noticed differences in levels of casualness, like how phrases are often truncated or different words used all together when my buddies speak. It's a challenge, but my goal is to be understood and read street signs, so I think I'm getting there slowly haha. I'm starting to read simpler FB posts without referencing anything and am super excited about that.

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And yeah, the language exchange was an unexpected bonus. I originally was contacting them to find out more about gyms that had no website (or no English website). Many never replied, but a good handful did answer questions and even sent photos and videos of the gym and training sessions. Two kept messaging afterwards and we've been working on stuff for months now. One of the cool parts of the internet experience. :D

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There's interpals, which is a language exchange website, but there is a LOT of Thai's on there. I put I was learning Thai and I had maybe over 300 different people message me over the course of about 4 months, which is absolutely crazy. As there were so many people messaging me I could literally pick who I wanted to talk to, and because of that I've made many friends I still talk to everyday and will meet in the future.

If you want to talk to someone everyday, download Line and speak to them on that, they definitely use that app the most.

For practicing and learning you should go on a website such as italki, and learn Thai with a formal teacher and skype with them once or twice a week. Then find an informal teacher and this is just someone who will speak with you and correct you, but honestly you can just use a friend for this. I really recommend using an older person and a younger person, so you can learn formal speaking and some slang.

Also don't make the mistake I did of wasting like £100 on Stuart Jay Raj or something, which is truly ****, most of the free stuff is actually good enough, I'd only spend money on maybe a book or just skyping with a teacher, but that's me. Learnthaiwithawhiteguy is really good for teaching the alphabet (pronunciation, reading tones etc), I'd recommend that if you're struggling with reading, and its not too pricey.

 

This is all just recommendations though, everyone learns a language differently. IMO you don't have to say everything perfectly, as long as you can be understood that's a success. The best thing about learning Thai is that they appreciate so much, and that is a big reason why you should be happy to learn Thai and not English lol.

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I'm looking for a shortcut to learn the basic words and sentences.

Do you know of a website or maybe even audio-book, that has the Thai version (spoken) and English version (spoken) as an audio file? (e.g. Thai speaker says: "sawadee", English after that "Hello").

This way I can learn to recognize some words or structures and have them coded in my head with the English equivalent - this is the method that works best for me.

As of now, I found a Polish (that's handy for me :) ) website, with basic words and a Thai audio, transcription in Latin and Thai letters. But I can't download it :/

This tread made me realize I should start learning some basics for my trip in January!! :D

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I Want To Go, thank you for all the suggestions! I had to get LINE a long while back haha, they definitely love that app.

 

Micc, if you have a smart phone check the learning thai apps. A lot of them do that sort of thing (so you can read/hear/repeat vocab and phrase lists). Learn Thai With Mod has many free youtube videos where she also repeats words and displays the thai on screen as she teaches. Good luck!

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I'm looking for a shortcut to learn the basic words and sentences.

Do you know of a website or maybe even audio-book, that has the Thai version (spoken) and English version (spoken) as an audio file? (e.g. Thai speaker says: "sawadee", English after that "Hello").

This way I can learn to recognize some words or structures and have them coded in my head with the English equivalent - this is the method that works best for me.

 Micc - Pimsleur's Thai is good for that. I downloaded that for free. There are 30 audio lessons, each around 30 mins long. I recommend giving that a go.

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Emma, thank you! This is pretty much what I've been looking for. I started listening to the first lesson and gooosh Thai is so difficult! :) :) 
I need to figure out how to download it, because it only opens up in my browser, but I will manage, I'm a web specialist after all :p

I don't know the word for thanks in Thai yet, but thanks. :)

//on a sidenote, I went to a Senegal cafe yesterday (here in Warsaw, Poland) and the bartender barely understood any Polish or English, turns out he speaks French and I have never learned French besides counting to 10 or asking if you speak another language than French :D So he told me the name for "plate", coz I was asking for one, and I totally forgot it after a few minutes. I hope I will do better with learning Thai! :)//

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 Micc - Pimsleur's Thai is good for that. I downloaded that for free. There are 30 audio lessons, each around 30 mins long. I recommend giving that a go.

 

Where did you find the free download for this please? I can't find it but I'm really interested in learning Thai also.

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I've studied Thai for two weeks while I was stranded in Bangkok, injured and with nothing else to do. I ended up taking private lessons at Baan Aksorn language school, and it was money and time well invested. I learned to read and write (well, mostly to read, since the spelling is horrific) within two weeks, and could hold an okay conversation after the course. It was a lot of hard work, but it always is when you learn a language that is completely new to you... My main problem was the pronounciation. I'm not musical and hearing or pronouncing five different tones is nearly impossible for me. In the end there were so many things that I could say,  but nobody understood me, because I couldn't get the tones right... And I mean things like "Please can I have an iced coffee without sugar". Phrases where you'd think the other party expects you to say that, and they still don't understand what you want.

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I'm looking for a shortcut to learn the basic words and sentences.

Do you know of a website or maybe even audio-book, that has the Thai version (spoken) and English version (spoken) as an audio file? (e.g. Thai speaker says: "sawadee", English after that "Hello").

This way I can learn to recognize some words or structures and have them coded in my head with the English equivalent - this is the method that works best for me.

As of now, I found a Polish (that's handy for me :) ) website, with basic words and a Thai audio, transcription in Latin and Thai letters. But I can't download it :/

This tread made me realize I should start learning some basics for my trip in January!! :D

Mod is awesome for this kind of thing, and there's lots on Youtube if you spend some time searching around.

http://learnthaiwithmod.com/

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I've studied Thai for two weeks while I was stranded in Bangkok, injured and with nothing else to do. I ended up taking private lessons at Baan Aksorn language school, and it was money and time well invested. I learned to read and write (well, mostly to read, since the spelling is horrific) within two weeks, and could hold an okay conversation after the course. It was a lot of hard work, but it always is when you learn a language that is completely new to you... My main problem was the pronounciation. I'm not musical and hearing or pronouncing five different tones is nearly impossible for me. In the end there were so many things that I could say,  but nobody understood me, because I couldn't get the tones right... And I mean things like "Please can I have an iced coffee without sugar". Phrases where you'd think the other party expects you to say that, and they still don't understand what you want.

The tones are crazy until they aren't; you just hit a stride eventually and start hearing/imitating them. It's funny because when I lived in Berlin my German was SO BAD for the longest time. For whatever reason these older men all wanted to ask me for directions on the train and I was so embarrassed every time I opened my mouth and they'd just say, "oh, you're American" because of my horrible, horrible accent. (Damn you, Friedrichstrasse!) However, the more I spoke it, the more I sounded like a Berliner because the lilts and cadence of the language itself rubbed off on me. I actually have a Berlin accent in German now, which is kind of what it's like for me in Thai at this point, where I speak very differently in Thai language than I do in English - the tones aren't considered, but more my actual sentence structure naturally goes up and down and I emphasize very differently than I do in English.

Same if I imitate my dad's way of speaking. My dad says "fuck" the exact same way regardless of context. It's like he has his very own tone for it, hahaha.

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I actually have a Berlin accent in German now, which is kind of what it's like for me in Thai at this point, where I speak very differently in Thai language than I do in English - the tones aren't considered, but more my actual sentence structure naturally goes up and down and I emphasize very differently than I do in English.

Same if I imitate my dad's way of speaking. My dad says "fuck" the exact same way regardless of context. It's like he has his very own tone for it, hahaha.

I have the opposite problem. All my Thai is flat, but I've got about 400 tones for "fuck" lol. I'm pretty sure I'm an innovator at this point! My Thai is awful, but I highly recommend learning to read. Initially I thought it was a total waste of time, but now I wish I had learned sooner. You will find romanizations of Thai vary greatly so if you can read Thai and associate it with your own natural romanization then things become much easier when trying to remember pronunciations. For example if I romanize something like meau wan, we all read those sounds differently (long and short vowels mess with this as well) because our own internal pronunciation is different. If you can see the Thai characters and relate it to a sound though it is much easier. Often when I don't understand a word in Thai, I will ask the person to write it for me and then I end up being able to sound it out. That brings me to a second tip... Bring pen and paper with you everywhere so you can write down new words each day. Super handy! Most Thai people love trying to converse with you, so don't be embarassed, don't give up, and use every conversation as a chance to learn!
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I would like to add the HelloTalk app to ways you can learn to read and speak Thai.

 

HelloTalk is a free phone app where you create a profile listing your native language and the language you would like to learn. The app then starts matching you with people whose native language is the language you want to learn and vice versa. You can pay for premium app benefits such as learning more than one language, but the free tools are more than adequate.

 

Once you get a match list, start messaging people! You can correct each other’s text messages with the correction tool, send audio clips, translate their messages with the app tool, and more. I have found there are a multitude of Thai business owners and managers there looking to improve their English, meaning they already have a pretty solid English base and you won’t be drowning in Thai text unless you’re advanced enough for that and text them exclusively in Thai.

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I take my hat off to all your fine folks who have learned, or are trying to learn, another language!

Darina: I know what you mean about doing your best and everyone looking blank at you. Some years back I did a crash course in Arabic and learnt enough to be able to ask for directions etc. So one day in Cairo Himself, our friend and I were looking for a particular off-the-beaten-track museum. I approached (well, I was shoved towards!) a group of little old ladies who were sitting around, and carefully greeted them, then asked for the museum, which I knew was adjacent to a particular mosque. Blank looks. I repeated it. More blank looks. I said it all again, and then one little old lady went, "I'm sorry dear, how can I help you?" in perfect English! Cue gales of laughter all round.

Later in the same trip I tried to compliment a stall holder on his fantastic display of flowers and although he smiled appreciatively the rest of the group (who were all Egyptian or lived there and were fluent) collapsed in hysterics because it turned out that instead of saying, "They're beautiful!" I had said "You are beautiful!"

I sort of gave up after that, especially as whenever I tried to speak to my Egyptian friends they could hardly stand for laughing at my appalling pronounciation (laughing at me in a nice way, I hasten to add!)

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