6 Tips To Learn Thai Fast

November 15, 2019

I am sure everyone wants to learn Thai fast. Especially when it comes to language learning, everyone looks for the quick option, a way to speed through the learning process straight to fluency. However, this is not really possible. Saying that, there are some ways in which you can learn Thai faster.

Today, we are going to look into some ways of doing just that - speeding up the process of learning a language. This is possible to an extent, but it does that a lot of input from you as the learner. If you are ready to put in the time, then read on. 

1. Vocabulary Is The Key

As important as grammar is, it serves no purpose if you have no vocabulary to use it with. As soon as you start learning some Thai words, you can put them into action. Of course, you will likely make many mistakes with this method, but that is all part of the learning process. Actually practicing to communicate with someone in the language will show you how the language works in everyday speech.

Try learning the very basics of grammar of Thai such as the word order (Subject, Verb, Object). That should be enough to get you started. Over time as you get used to the language, you will start to piece together the intricacies of the grammar. Essentially, with this tip, you will avoid being slowed down by the less exciting and less actionable grammar rules and instead have a foundation of vocabulary that you can actually use.

2. Find A Native Speaker To Practice With

 

 

As you start learning Thai, you may start to worry that what you are learning does not reflect what is actually spoken in the country. After all, Thai has many different ways of speaking based on who they are talking to. 

Linking back to the first tip, having someone who can guide you and help your learning is incredibly useful. Putting all the theoretical knowledge into practice will help expose any shortcomings you may have. Who is better to let you know what sounds correct than a native Thai speaker?

This option is not possible for many people, but if you are able to connect with a native Thai speaker either in person or online, it will be very useful for your practice. They know the ins and outs of the Thai language (to an extent, at least) and so will be well placed to help you practice Thai.

Let’s not forget that everyday colloquial speech doesn’t always follow the same structure as the formal way that is generally taught. Thai speakers will help you to sound more natural when you talk and can help to explain some of the cultural aspects such as politeness much better than you can find online.

The goal of this tip is to help you learning be more focussed. With this additional guidance, you should not only get a better quality of learning, but also a faster turnaround time. If your goal is to be able to communicate with a local, then having a local to talk with just makes sense. 

You can also learn and practice with native Thai teachers from Learn Thai Style either online or face to face. With the help of the local teachers, you will for sure get your pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary in Thai fast. 

3. Watch TV And Movies

You often hear stories of how people learned a language (or at least built up their knowledge) through watching and listening to media from that country. Generally, it is quite easy to find some Thai TV show excerpts or movie scenes online. There is also plenty of music to listen to as well. A quick search on YouTube will bring up plenty of results.

While the predominant form of Thai that people learn is the Central Thai dialect, you should also be exposed to other dialects and accents. This will prepare your ears for when visiting the country, as many people move around to the big cities to work. Media is probably the best way to do this.

It makes for an interesting way to practise Thai, as you can listen to what the character says and repeat it to yourself. This way, you will learn pronunciation and new vocabulary together. Sure, this can be done with any of the Thai language learning videos online, but this way you hear it in a more genuine scenario. Just make sure what you are watching is actually in Thai.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes

language learning practice

Keep up with your studies

Embarrassment can be a big barrier for practising any new language, let alone Thai. When making the jump to using your newly learned Thai abilities with native speakers, it can be hard to deal with misunderstandings because your tone pronunciation wasn’t quite right or you used the wrong word. Many of us have had that feeling where you just wish you could just melt away.

However, mistakes are a necessary step in learning. Nobody gets everything right the first time around so learning to deal with this shyness and embarrassment is key to practising Thai. Try to look at it from a more light-hearted perspective. It is ok to laugh at yourself every so often. You just need to make sure you internalize and remember your mistakes so that you do not make it again in the future.

The best advice is to find as much enjoyment in it as you can. If the person starts laughing as they hear you mispronounce a word, you should laugh along with them. Listen out to how they say it and repeat it to show you understand. If they see that you understand the mistake and are learning from it, then they should feel some respect for you.

5. Use A Language Learning App Like Ling

As much as I hate to make this sound like an advert for our app, there is truth behind this recommendation. Like we have talked about before, we nearly always have our phones with us. Whether we are commuting to work, travelling, or just sitting around bored at home, we are able to use these language learning apps like Ling to get in just that little bit extra time learning.

Putting in just 5 or 10 extra minutes a day practising Thai vocabulary or grammar can really make a difference in your ability to remember. Repeated exposure helps to move these new words and phrases into your memory.

Then there is the fact that these apps are able to offer different ways of learning beyond just reading or writing. They are able to test your speaking and listening in the language which is not possible in books alone. Ultimately, it is the convenience and diversity offered that make these apps an ideal partner for those looking to learn the Thai language fast. 

6. Keep in mind 5 these tips when you learn Thai

 

Learn The Script

To the untrained eye, the Thai script may just look like a bunch of squiggles but it is in fact the native language of over 20 million people and has a heritage going back centuries. By taking the time to learn the script, you will put yourself in the best position to jumpstart mastering Thai.

The Thai alphabet consists of 44 consonants and 28 vowel combinations, in addition to several tonal markers. Meanwhile, sentences do not contain spaces between words, capital or lower case letters, or even punctuation the majority of the time, adding to the confusion.

While it certainly appears daunting, it is well worth your time as it helps tremendously with speaking and so should be your first step in your Thai learning journey. As not all signs are translated into English, learning to read the Thai language can be your ticket to discovering something new.

Mind Your Manners

Nobody wants to be that person when they travel abroad. It is important to mind your manners when interacting with others, and this applies to the language too. As you learn Thai, you’ll find that there are a number of words, particles and pronouns that are used for politeness. Perhaps the most important of these are the ending particles of kha (ค่ะ) and khrap (ครับ), used by females and males respectively.

Somewhat untranslatable, these words are used to make the sentence sound polite and show respect to whoever you are speaking with. It can be used after most sentences, though how often you should use it depends on who you are talking with.

If talking to someone of authority or during a short interaction with a stranger, it is better to use it more often. When talking with close friends however, it is fine to use it sparingly like when you are being sincere (e.g. saying thank you when receiving a gift). Be sure to make use of these in your everyday conversations so you can be sure not to cause offense or appear insensitive. Nobody likes talking to a rude person.

Watch Your Tone

Ever noticed how sometimes when you overhear Thai people speaking together it sounds like their words are bouncing up and down? That’s because they are (in a way). Thai is a tonal language, meaning that individual words can be differentiated based on how they are spoken. There are 5 different tones used in the Thai language, including:

Falling Tone

Rising Tone

Middle Tone

Low Tone

High Tone

While you may be able to get away with ignoring the tones to an extent, you will likely at times be faced with a blank expression - or worse if you are unfortunate enough to use the wrong tone on the wrong word. If you are really looking to impress your Thai friends or master the Thai language, it is worth putting in the time to learn the 5 different tones and doing your best to clearly differentiate them in conversation.

Control Your Breath

Tones are not the only problem you will face when it comes to learning Thai pronunciation. The Thai language makes use of aspirated and unaspirated consonants, meaning that words are distinguished by whether they are pronounced with or without a ‘puff of air'.

For example, an aspirated consonant can be the difference between ordering fried rice with egg or fried rice with chicken. The word for egg uses an aspirated ‘k’ sound, while chicken uses an unaspirated ‘k’ sound, sounding closer to a ‘g’. It is worth noting that there are a number of different transliterations that are used for Thai and so some guide books may use slightly different spellings for their pronunciation guide. Some may write the transliteration for chicken as ‘kai’ while others will write ‘gai’ as a means to show the difference.

Learning to differentiate these pronunciations can take some getting used to, but in the long run will definitely help you converse with the locals and, in this case, order food.

Immerse Yourself

The best thing you can do to kickstart your Thai learning is to immerse yourself in the language. What is the best way to do that? Go to Thailand!

When surrounded by the language, you can listen, practice and soak in the language in everyday situations with native speakers. Listening to Thai music and watching Thai tv also helps absorb the language.

Try to get away from the main tourists spot to get a better insight into the culture of the country and expose yourself to different accents and dialects. Doing this is the optimum way to perfect your pronunciation and learn new vocabulary. Most importantly, don’t be shy. Even if you make mistakes, people will be happy that you try and may even help correct you.

It is fair to say that the Thai language is not the easiest language to learn. Between the range of tones and the seemingly undecipherable script, it can feel like an upwards battle, especially for English natives. However, with time and practice, it is possible to develop a good understanding of the language, and doing so will greatly improve your experience when in Thailand.

Is It Possible To Learn Thai Fast?

To an extent it certainly is possible to learn Thai fast, but it does require a lot of input by the learner and, of course, a realistic outlook. This is not a case of days or weeks, but months and years. It is possible to learn and become fluent in Thai, and half the battle is not becoming disillusioned in the process. If you can do that and you follow these tips, then you stand a good chance of learning Thai at a respectable speed.

As we have said, the Ling Thai app is a great companion for language learners. Set aside a few minutes everyday to test your knowledge and take some tests to strengthen your understanding.

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