Are you ready to learn the Thai alphabet? Great! The first step you’ll want to take is to head over to Ling’s article about writing in Thai. There you can find the Thai alphabet characters and use them in conjunction with this article.
This article will provide you with tips and tricks on learning how to read, write and say the Thai alphabet. Learning the Thai alphabet is, in fact, quite complicated and can be confusing, never mind time-consuming, unless you know some strategies!
Learning the Thai consonants and Thai vowels will help you to:
- Read Thai
- Write Thai
- Speak Thai
- Learn Thai pronunciation
Thai is a tonal language which makes it doubly complex. On top of that, the letters are separated into low-class, middle-class, and high-class designations. I bet you’re missing the simplicity of ABC by now! Not to worry, we’ll show you how you can learn the Thai alphabet quickly.
Use Just A Single Resource To Learn The Thai Alphabet
There are SO many resources out there claiming to be able to teach you the Thai language and Thai script. Some of these resources offer courses with Thai lessons. And others are provided by Thai people to learn the accent and Thai pronunciation properly. There are YouTube videos, in-person classes (if you’re in Thailand), and many apps.
But, the most effective way to learn the Thai alphabet has to be through Ling App. It’s designed with beginners in mind and makes learning Thai easy and fun. The app will walk you step-by-step on reading Thai text, all the tone rules, and the long vowels and short vowels. There’s even an opportunity to practice writing the Thai alphabet!
In less than 15 minutes a day, you’ll be an expert at the Thai alphabet in no time. You’ll also get to hear a Thai national say each letter clearly, and you can practice too. The app will scaffold your learning from basic beginner to eventually learning Thai words.
Learning Thai with Ling is a great experience. You’ll get daily reminders and points (bananas) and encouragement from the mascot Ling, which means monkey in Thai.
Choosing and sticking with a single language learning app is vital as you can track all your learning and progress in one place. You’ll be able to focus more in your learning and feel less overwhelmed.
Plan Your Learning Schedule
“I’m going to learn a new language this year!” is a common New Year’s resolution, but how many people actually do it? Will you be one of those people who humblebrag that you’ve achieved it?!
The first step in learning any new language is studying its alphabet, which seems like a simple enough task, and it can be! Make sure you make time in your busy schedule to give your undivided attention, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.
Some essential questions to ask yourself when designing a learning schedule and plan are:
- When are you in your optimal mindset to learn?
- What time of the day or night is good for you?
- Will you be able to learn on the way to work, after work, or at work?
- Can you study more than once a day?
Knowing the best times of day when you have absolute focus and energy to study will help you stay motivated as you learn the Thai alphabet.
The majority of people who learn Thai say they were able to learn the Thai alphabet and teach themselves to read Thai in about one month. It is only achieved through dedication and by following a schedule.
Take Notes As You Learn The Thai Alphabet
This completely changed how I learned to read and write Thai. Having a notebook specific to learning the Thai alphabet really helped me.
I made my phonetic symbols (because I couldn’t understand or recall what they meant or sounded like), which was a game-changer. Creating my symbols and pronunciation notes made learning the Thai letters a much faster and more enjoyable experience.
Focus On What’s Important For You
The Thai alphabet is complicated and confusing. There are:
- Five tones – falling tone, rising tone, high tone, low tone, middle tone (flat tone)
- Four tone markers
- 44 consonants
- Final consonant sounds (that change)
- Initial consonant sounds (that can be different from the final consonant sounds even if it’s the same letter)
- 28 vowels
- Consonants class – low class, middle class, high class
When Thai letters are structured into words and sentences, you must know that no punctuation is used in the Thai language. There are no:
- Capital letters
- Full stops/periods
- Question marks
- Exclamation points
It is rather challenging to know when a word ends, and another begins or whether a question is being asked. Learning the alphabet helps with this as the vowel placements are a key giveaway of where a word starts and ends.
Learning The Tones
Above certain letters within words are tonal marks. These indicate how to pronounce a word in Thai. The tone will change the word’s meaning even though it is spelled the same as another word. Learning the tones should be given attention, but it’s not the most important thing to learn first.
The tones are needed because the 44 Thai consonants only have 21 unique sounds, meaning that some consonants share the same sound. Those consonants are divided into three consonant classes; high, mid, and low class. They have nothing to do with the tones, which causes great confusion.
Focusing On The Consonant Classes
Most learners say that focusing on consonant classes causes frustration. So we recommend not focusing on them as you’ll naturally learn this as you learn the alphabet and learn to read Thai.
Learning The Thai Alphabet – Consonants And Vowels
What worked for me was writing out all the consonants in Thai and writing how they sounded to me in English beside each. It was also a great way to learn Thai writing.
I did the same with the vowels, and then all I needed to do was memorize them!
I would give myself three letters to learn at a time and quiz myself throughout the day, so I was probably learning for between 10 – 30 minutes a day.
Once I could recognize and say each letter with confidence, I moved on to learning short words in Thai.
Learn Short Words In Thai
First, I began focusing on small words. Listening to them being said aloud by friends or Google Translate (Ling App is much better as it’s a Thai person saying them). I then focused my attention on the tonal markings and learning how to pronounce words with them.
This strategy is best done by focusing on one Thai word at a time, and then you sound it out.
Interestingly, when two consonants are placed next to each other, those two letters produce an entirely new word. For example, these duplicated consonants represent ‘carefully’ or ‘carefully’ ดีดี. But ดี, on its own, means ‘good.’
Another interesting, but the frustrating thing to learn about the Thai language, is that the first consonant and final consonant sounds can be different for the same letter.
For example, ล, which is the L sound in English, is always an L sound at the first consonant. However, when it’s the final consonant, it changes to an N sound.
Learn Short Sentences In Thai
From there, I graduated to short sentences with words I’d already learned and could easily see where one word ended and a new word began.
Also, it became clear if a question was being asked. Because instead of a question mark, a question word was used at the end of each question.
Once you pick up on sentences and listen to conversations, you’ll naturally acquire low, mid, and high-class consonant knowledge. You’ll also know what each tone mark means and how to say the word beneath it.
Learn Through Context
Once you’ve memorized the letters and are ready to move on to small Thai words, choose a category that you’ll see or use daily.
For me, that was food. Every day you’ll be ordering food, and often, the menu will be only in the Thai language. Knowing the Thai script will really be helpful here, and you’ll get to practice the Thai alphabet daily and learn to read as you go!
On The Way To Work
Another great real-life context is on the way to work. Learn to read road signs or metro signs. As you’ll be seeing them every day, they make for excellent study materials.
Reading To Or With People
Another great way to learn is to do it with friends or even strangers! Thai people are so helpful, especially when helping you with your Thai tone pronunciation. You can point to words and try to read them, and no doubt someone nearby will help you.
Do You Feel More Confident In Learn The Thai Alphabet?
We certainly hope so! The motto is to keep it simple and do a little each day. KISS – Keep it simple, silly!
With Ling App, we strive to KISS with language learning. We intend to help you communicate in over 60 languages with just a lesson a day. We’ll give you quizzes and help you memorize new letters, vowels, sounds, and words.
Thai was the first language developed on our app. It remains one of our most popular courses because we’re the only app to use 100% Thai people to develop it.
Head on over to start learning more Thai today!