As you can imagine, I like to stay up to date with the language learning scene. In doing that, I came across what is now one of the more popular language learning app: Duolingo. I like to try these out for myself to see what it is like and whether it is a good tool for learning. I was scrolling through the list looking for the language I am most interested in learning (Thai, if you couldn’t guess) only to discover that there is no Duolingo Thai course. Duolingo also doesn't have some other languages such as Khmer, Tagalog, Cantonese, Serbian etc. You can imagine my disappointment, so I decided to look into this a bit more.
This is the big question I want to get my head around. Thailand is by far one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, so surely there is no shortage of people looking to learn. So why does Duolingo not offer Thai as an option to learn for native English speakers? It's also interesting to know that there is also no Thai on Babbel or Rosetta Stone either.
One thought that crossed my mind was that maybe they think Thai is too difficult to learn. As we looked at before, this is not the case. Much like learning any other language, if you put enough time and effort into your learning, you will succeed.
Then I was thinking that the Thai Alphabet might be the reason why. Would that scare people away? However, they already offer languages like Chinese and Hebrew, which both use their own script. Adding to that, once you understand the basics of the Thai Alphabet, you can start reading and writing quite quickly.
From what I have read, there is actually an option for Thai speakers to learn English on the app. At least there is one being worked on. So why is there no Duolingo Thai option for English learners? I guess we will never know.
I am glad you asked. There is one very obvious recommendation that can be made here, and that is the Ling Thai app. Ling uses native Thai speakers to help you learn Thai, just like it will sound in the country.
Through the gamification of learning, it also makes the whole process much more engaging. You can see yourself progress as you make your way through the different topics and tests that come along with it.
Then there is the chatbot feature that simulates conversations and makes for great practicing your Thai language skills. For an introvert like me, it helps to build up my courage to eventually feel confident enough to use it when out and about.
While these mobile apps do share a common goal of making language learning fun and accessible, what sets Ling apart is the focus on practical vocabulary, sentences and phrases that you will use in everyday speech.
This one is actually a part of the same family as Ling. Simply Learn Thai is a phrasebook in app form, giving you all the benefits that come with that. You can listen to the words and phrases being spoken by native Thai speakers, along with the Thai and phonetic spellings of the words.
It makes for a great companion both when practicing and when you are in Thailand. It makes use of flash cards and the spaced repetition learning technique that is said to really improve language learning.
It may not be the top choice if you are want a deep understanding of the language, but helps you start out with pronunciation and basic grammar like word order.
There are quite a few different apps and websites that work great with helping you to learn Thai. Each one goes about its own way to replace the hole made by the lack of Thai in Duolingo. Ultimately, it is a case of finding which option works best for your case.
Like we said before, it is good to make a language learning plan and mix things up if you are serious about learning Thai. If you are just looking for a more casual experience to learn a few phrases before travelling, then apps might be the best option for you.
It is a shame that Duolingo doesn’t offer Thai as an option. However, this is a good opportunity for you to consider and try out some of the other options on the market. While we highly recommend for you to try the Ling Thai app, we understand that everyone has their own preferences. There are many great resources for learning Thai available so have a look around. Try some of them out and you may just find your new favorite language learning app.
Ling Thai offers some lessons for free to let you try it out. Download the app today.