Known internationally as the ‘Land of Smiles,’ Thailand is a country of great natural beauty, friendly people, and some of the world’s best food. It’s also the home of one of the world’s most challenging languages for English speakers to learn.
In this blog post, we’ll show you how you can master written and spoken Thai – one of the world’s toughest languages – using online courses and resources. Enroll in our Thai Language for Beginners course and get started learning Thai.
Learning the five tones of Thai
Thai is a tonal language, with five different tones. The way you pronounce a word or syllable in Thai can have a huge effect on its meaning. Pronouncing a word using the wrong tone can totally change its meaning, sometimes with embarrassing results.
There’s even a short sentence in Thai that pokes fun at the five tones. Translated to English, it’s simple: “New wood doesn’t burn, does it?” In Thai, however, the sentence is a little more interesting: “Mai mai mai mai mai.”
Without knowing the tones of each word, it’s impossible to understand this phrase as it’s written. Tones are something you’ll pick up naturally as you speak Thai, but it’s also possible to enhance your recognition of tones using an online course.
Our course, Thai Language for Beginners, covers the basics of Thai tones. Tones are one of the hardest parts of Thai to master, and even many young Thai children have struggled with tones. As such, it can take some time to learn all of them.
Mastering the Thai alphabet
Thai script is challenging for native English speakers to master. Why? Because it has 44 different consonant letters, 15 vowels, and 28 vowel forms. Learning Thai script is undoubtedly a challenge, but it is possible with the right strategy and attitude.
One of the most important aspects of learning the Thai alphabet is unlearning what you already know. The Latin Alphabet, which is used in English and most European languages, shares very little structure with the more complicated Thai alphabet.
In written Thai, vowels may appear before consonants. There are also no spaces in between words, making it challenging for beginners to know when a certain word begins and another ends.
The key to mastering written Thai is memorization. Once you’re familiar with the most frequently used Thai characters, you’ll begin understanding how words are formed, what they mean, and how they’re pronounced.
One of the best ways to quickly memorize the Thai alphabet is with the Magnetic Memory Method. Our course, How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language, will teach you a simple system for memorizing any foreign alphabet.
Having conversations in Thai
Structurally, Thai shares very little with English. In fact, it’s so dissimilar to English that the Foreign Service Institute – the US Government’s training agency – places it in Category IV of its difficulty ranking system, just behind Japanese and Arabic.
Once again, the key to mastering spoken Thai is simple: disregard the rules that you already know from English. Many of the language features we take for granted when speaking English are absent or completely different when speaking Thai.
If you’ve mastered the Thai alphabet, learning how to speak Thai can be surprisingly simple. Since Thai script indicates the tone of a word, you’ll be able to speak with an excellent level of clarity compared to someone that learned using transliteration.
Our course, Thai Language for Beginners, covers the basics of learning spoken Thai as an English speaker. It focuses on conversational topics – the type of things you’ll likely talk about in Thailand – instead of dull, academic words and phrases.
Just like with Thai script, you can use the Magnetic Memory Method to quickly learn Thai words and phrases. Once you memorize the most frequently used Thai words, you’ll quickly discover how Thai sentence structure and pronunciation works.
Optimizing your Thai language learning
Learning Thai is a challenge, but there are hundreds of great ways to speed up your language education and achieve conversational fluency faster. By using some quick and simple ‘language hacks,’ you can master Thai far quicker than most students.
Did you know that 100 English words make up about half of all written material? It’s true, and it’s much the same in Thai. By learning the 100 most frequently used Thai words, you’ll achieve conversational fluency far more rapidly than usual.
Practice your Thai online with friends and fellow language learners and learn one of the most frequently used Thai words every day. This way, you’ll be able to have light conversations in Thai in as little as three months.
Our course, Foreign Language Learning: Faster, Smarter, Cheaper, Forever, includes some great language hacking strategies for learning Thai online. From memorization techniques to simple mnemonics, you’ll learn useful techniques to learn Thai faster.
Going from online learning to immersion
Whether you’re learning Thai to communicate in the workplace or have interesting conversations with Thai friends, you’ll eventually want to put your language skills to the test by traveling to Thailand.
Learn how to enjoy a safe trip to Thailand – whether you’re in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Phuket – with our Travel Safety Abroad course. Spending time in Thailand is the best way to improve your spoken Thai, as you’ll be surrounded by native speakers.
The simple phrases in our Thai Language for Beginners course are a great place to begin with learning Thai. From greetings and names to ordering food, you’ll learn essential phrases that will make your immersion learning experience far easier.
Are you ready to start learning Thai?
From discovering delicious new food to learning more about Thailand’s interesting culture and history, learning Thai has numerous great benefits. Using the resources in this guide, you’ll quickly master the fundamentals of Thai and start speaking with confidence.
Want to learn more about the Thai language? Read our blog post on How to Learn Thai Quickly and add some easy but useful Thai phrases to your vocabulary today.