Top 4 Ways To Learn Thai Faster

Top 4 Ways To Learn Thai Faster

Many people who have started learning Thai are very quick to say, “this language is too difficult! It is impossible! I will never learn it!” If you want to learn Thai or are going to Thailand, I don’t want you to be like most ex-pats. Instead, I want you to experience a different aspect of Thailand, through its language and its culture, that most ex-pats never do.

I can help you with this as I am a persistent person who has struggled with the slippery monosyllables of Thai for the past three years. Learning any language is not easy, but there are ways that you can use to make you learn them faster, and this is what we will talk about here. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some of our best tips to learn Thai.

1. Learn the basics well

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Enroll in a language course for beginners, preferably with a native speaker as a teacher, and learn the basics well. Thai is a language with different phonology from English, and you may quickly forget everything you have learned soon after. That’s why I found it interesting to spend some quality time with a native speaker who could teach me the individual phonemes, which are, in fact, the basic elements of the phonetics of the language.

Learning Thai phonemes will involve:

  • Articulating your mouth and tongue in ways they probably never have before.
  • Developing different muscles.
  • Being a little sore at the end of the exercise (a blessing in disguise).

Many learners feel that they don’t need such basics, but what happens afterward is that they always speak with a weak tone, always pronouncing Thai words with an accent, which can be detrimental to communication.

Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the phonemic basics may seem tedious, but it will bring positive results. Learning to pronounce the phonemes also develops your listening vocabulary correctly. When you know how the sound is supposed to sound, you’ll be able to hear it better when native speakers speak to you.

2. Learn to read

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To learn to read Thai, you need to learn the forty-four consonants, twenty-eight vowel forms, and four tone markers. I feel like most ex-pats don’t care about this either, but the difficult first step to learning the letters is minimal compared to the benefits of being literate in Thailand. Knowing how to read made a difference in my ability to speak Thai and significantly impacted my overall experience in the country.

Learning to read Thai script has been a major asset in expanding my vocabulary. Whenever I hear a new word in a foreign language, I forget it within a minute unless I write it down. In Thai, writing words in the Roman alphabet will always be approximating what the word is supposed to be.

I used to do this when I first came to Thailand before I could read and write, and I would always find myself looking at my notebook a few days later, not knowing how to pronounce the words or even read back to myself (is it an aspirated k or not? An ascending or descending tone? etc.)

If you write the words with the Thai alphabet, there will be no question as to what the proper pronunciations and tones of the words are. This is because the Thai script includes all of this information. Being able to read will also allow you to use a Thai-English dictionary, which is essential for any serious student.

3. Spend time with Thai people

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As with any language, the colloquial spoken language is often very different from the standard language, which you may learn in a language course, from newspapers, etc. Spoken Thai is completely contextual, with no verb tenses or conjugations, and often the meaning of what is being said is indicated by word order or tone or by particles placed at the end of sentences to indicate a question, command, reinforcement, or mitigation.

I was often told that I sounded like an extremely polite robot (due to a study with textbooks) until I started making Thai friends, going out with them, and learning to speak more naturally. Finding someone to talk to is a good tip for learning any language, and in Thailand, it’s easy to find someone who will agree to sit down alone with you, speaking maybe half an hour of English in exchange for half an hour of Thai with you.

Don’t get discouraged with the first candidates who won’t continue for various reasons, don’t give up; you will soon find other conversation partners. Why not visit the university campuses in Bangkok (for example) and post an ad or start conversations with the students? You will find bright, friendly, and motivated Thai people. On a university campus, I met my contact, who later became my friend.

4. Watch Thai videos

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For some reason, the majority of Thai music videos have the lyrics scrolling karaoke style at the bottom of the screen while the song is sung. This is of immense value to the language learner, as we can read with our eyes what we might not be able to grasp with our ears.

Watching music videos and listening to songs can build vocabulary fun and easy. All while practicing your listening skills. As a bonus, knowing how to sing current Thai pop songs will make you incredibly popular because, among foreigners (farangs), few people can do it.

This may sound silly, but I’ve learned a lot of words or phrases and colloquialisms by trying to decipher the various comments and status updates that pop up on my news feed every day. Whenever I can understand or at least get the gist of a post on a wall or a comment on a photo, I take the opportunity, also to leave a comment. More often than not, my writing contains errors that some Thai friends graciously correct for me.

Sound off in the comments section below, and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about learning Thai.