The Many Benefits of Learning Thai

Thailand is an incredibly popular tourist destination for many westerners. If you have ever visited Thailand then it is incredibly easy to see why.

The country is steeped in such rich tradition and incredible pieces of natural beauty that it really must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Thailand is obviously not one of the only memorable countries in Asia, although it is certainly one of the most fascinating.

If truth be told you could visit Thailand having never read up about the country at all; you could discover and explore it as you find it. However a carefully planned trip would also give you the opportunity to take in all of the wonder that Thailand has to offer.

Everyone will come back from a certain country or an adventure with their own thoughts and feelings. Different places and experiences have various effects on us all; we are all made to feel slightly differently.

Although if you speak to anyone that has visited Thailand recently, then they will no doubt tell you about the food and the sights of beauty. I do promise you though, that nearly everyone will discuss the people.

The Thai people are known to be some of the friendliest in the entire world. They are extremely welcoming and kind to complete strangers, often expecting absolutely nothing in return.

So no visit to Thailand would really be complete without embracing the Thai culture and acknowledging the local people.

 

Learn the language

One of the best ways to integrate yourself into Thailand and gain the local’s respect is by learning (or at least attempting to) the language.

You will often find yourself much more respected and welcomed if you have made an effort to fit in and acknowledge the various common phrases.

You will find a huge number of resources online that will help you to learn key phrases such hello, how are you, do you speak English etc.

If you do decide to follow one of these online resources then we recommend you focus on a site which will help you learn ‘Central Thai’. This is the official language of the country and can sometimes be known as ‘Siamese’ (source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_language).

Be aware that this is a complex language to learn, and may take some time. There are many sounds and phrases with are hard for some westerners to actually pronounce correctly. These sounds are simply not present in the English language; therefore can present a challenge.

However if you take the time to learn, and most importantly practise; then you will without doubt reap the rewards that come from the people of Thailand.

 

Summary

Do not underestimate the potential benefits and advantages you will receive from learning key phrases. As you leave the more commercial areas of Thailand and enter rural areas to see some of the real wonders; it is obvious that there are less English speaking locals.

So by understanding the basics you will at least be able to communicate and operate within the area.

I do guarantee you one thing. If you put in the effort to appreciate Thailand, its culture and its language. You will reap the rewards 10 times over.

5 Steps to Get Started in Learning to Speak Thai

With its 44 consonants and 32 vowels, Thai can be a tricky language to learn. If you are planning a trip to Thailand, or simply just want to learn the language, follow these 5 essential tips to help you get started in you venture of learning to speak Thai:

 

  1. Learn the basics, and learn them well

The Thai language has different sounds that you might have never made in your life, so you will be using different muscles in your face and mouth to make these sounds. A good way to help you with this is to invest in a beginning language course with a native speaker. They already speak the language and can help show you how to form each sound so you can speak it correctly.

 

  1. Learn to read Thai

If you can learn to read a language, you can learn to speak it, that’s half the battle. With its large alphabet, Thai has many sounds that we aren’t used to making. When you are practicing reading out loud, start with the alphabet and practice making each sound correctly. If you can do that, you are well on your way to learning to speak Thai. Something that can help is to obtain posters of the Thai alphabet and hang them in your bedroom or bathroom, someplace you will see it every day to help you practice.

 

  1. Learn the vocabulary

The Thai language might seem difficult at first, but once you have learned the basics and can make the sounds, it’s just putting everything together to make words. It’s easy to memorize words in Thai because a lot of the words are compound words, made up of the basic words that you will learn. So if you can learn 500 words, you will potentially be able to say 2,500 things. A good way to help you learn vocabulary is to pick up a Thai language book and practice, practice, practice!

 

  1. Learn to write Thai

As you are learning to read in Thai and learning the vocabulary, practice writing things down. Writing stimulates our mind and will help you memorize the things you write down. Copy the characters of the alphabet over and over again until they begin to stick in your mind. Start writing words together; use your vocab book to copy from.

 

  1. Interact with Thai speakers

The best way to learn a language is to fully immerse yourself in it. If you are surrounded by people who only speak Thai, you are bound to start picking up some words here and there. A good way to help you learn the language better is to find a conversation partner who speaks the language with whom you can practice each day, because if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. You can also interact with Thais over social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. Conversing via writing and seeing the characters will help engram them in your mind. Use any opportunity you have with a Thai speaker to improve you skill in speaking the language. Rather than leaning to English, try to interact with Thais in their language.

Try a Thai Language Course

When learning to master the language, reading, and speaking of Thailand, you will want to use a language course of some kind. Merely listening to or reading the language will not be sufficient for total mastery. You will need a total immersion program. It does not matter which of the registers, Royal; religious; Rhetorical; Formal; or common style, you want to learn, you will still need to learn of them while aided by a reputable language course of some kind.

Do not be afraid of the task at hand, over 60 million people speak this language, and learning Thai will be hours of fun. You must utilize a language course to have success. You can use an online course, a storefront course, or as a last resort, a DVD or CD professional style course. Whichever route you go, make sure that the speakers involved are Thai natives or fluent speakers, so you can get the authentic pronunciations, dialects, inflections, and tones of the language.

• Online Courses-with today’s high Internet offerings, you can find a course or tutor that can instruct you in the language. Things to consider will be the authenticity and credibility of the instructors, the cost relative to your budget, the schedule, and the reputation and reviews of the instructors. Do the homework upfront to make sure that you are comfortable with all aspects of the course you pick before you sign on the dotted line. Make sure you pay through a third party with a guarantee safety net when you remit your fees.

• Storefront Courses-this type of course will allow you to meet and work with your instructor face to face. You can do this in a private class with just the two of you or take a community college or local language class. There are many benefits from going this route: the classes are usually cheaper; you know the instructors are reputable, trained, and qualified; and you get to use your skills with classmates and your instructor on a regular basis. As always check your schedule and budget before you commit to a class.

• DVR Style Packaged Courses- if you go to your local bookstore, a college bookstore, or an online bookstore you will see packaged CD and DVD programs for learning foreign languages. These are usually affordable and could be perfect for a person with a busy schedule. The drawbacks of this style of program are the inability to have direct conversations and exchanges with the teacher or tutor. Read the reviews on the possible language learning options you find for purchase considerations, and check the reviews, as well.

Whether learning the exotic Thai language for work, travel, or play, you will find that there are three distinct ways to learn the language. You can implement an online course, attend a storefront class, or try a packaged DVR or CD program. Pick the style that best suits your budget, needs, and schedule. Have sanuk (Thai for fun) as you learn.

Exotic Thailand

Once known as Siam, Thailand is located in Southeast Asia adjoining Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. It has a rich and somewhat unique history as it is the only country in Southeast Asia, never to have been colonized by a European country however, in order to keep its independence, it did have to cede some land to the French during their colonization of Burma and again later to the British during their colonization of Malaya.

As well as keeping its independence, Thailand has also kept its monarchy system which is similar to that of Britain’s and Thailand’s current king is the longest ruling monarch in the world today. King Rama 1X was born in the United States whilst his father was a student at Harvard in 1927 and became king in 1946.

As with the UK, King Rama 1X’s image appears on all Thai bank notes and coins and his popularity is such that the Thai people take very seriously their law that it is illegal to step on an image of the king, even if it is the image on a bank note or coin.

Loved by his people, over his reign, the king has almost become a legend, so much so in fact that the popular movie in the west “The King and I”, is banned in Thailand as it is said not to portray the king in a good light. Their independence and monarchy are not all the Thai people are proud of, they are also proud of their language, a language which is thought to have originated in China as far back as the sixth century.

Like Chinese, Lao and Vietnamese, Thai is a tonal language, one that by changing the tone with which a word is spoken, can change that word’s meaning. The spoken Thai is very similar to Lao although the two have different texts.

By taking some time to find out how to learn thai, you can really enhance your time in this wonderful country.

In the Thai text there are 4 different symbols to indicate which of the 5 different tones are to be used when speaking the word and this has led scholars into disagreement with exactly how to script Thai into English however, just recently an agreement has been reached as to which way is to be used in formal translations.

Although 50% of the Thai language is thought to have been copied from other, older languages, words and phrases have continued to be added and the most prominent one among them is the greeting you will hear dozens of times each day, ‘Sawadee Krhap/Kaa’ which was only introduced to the language in the 1930s as prior to that the greeting was ‘Gin kaow leaow ruu yang?’ (Have you eaten yet?).

Today the Thai people are also proud of their magnificent beaches which attract millions of foreign tourists to their country every year. With beautiful sandy beaches, exotic islands and temperatures that average between 28-35°C (82-95°F), it is easy to see why so many tourists enjoy visiting Thailand but although most come or those beaches and a touch of the exotic, many also visit the capital Bangkok to admire Thailand’s rich culture.

The Many Dialects of Thailand

Although Thailand has its own language that language has many very different dialects. There is of course just one official Thai dialect, the dialect which is spoken by those in central Thailand however, only 20 million of the country’s 67 million inhabitants speak it on a daily basis.

20 million in northern Thailand speak the Isan dialect which is more akin to the old Siamese language whilst in the 4.5 million people in Southern Thailand speak the Dambro dialect.

The rest of the people throughout the country speak other dialects ranging from half a million people in the Nakhon Phanom Province speaking Phu Thai to 30,000 people in the north and central region speaking song. At any formal occasion of course though, it is the official Thai dialect or standard dialect which is used.

If you were planning to visit Thailand and wanted to learn the language, it would be the standard Thai which you would learn as, although it may not be used throughout the country on a daily basis, most Thai do understand it.

All the Thai dialects are tonal in nature which means that different tones in speaking different words, can give those words different meanings.

This is a trend in languages in Southeast Asia as Laos, Vietnamese and Chinese are also all tonal languages. This tonal feature of the Thai language can differ among the different dialects as Isan uses only 3 tones, the same as the old Siamese whilst the standard Thai uses 5.

The Thai people are proud of their language as they are of their somewhat unique history, being the only country in the whole of Southeast Asia, never to have been colonized either as Siam or later as Thailand.

This feeling of pride about their language which the Thai people have means that they are genuinely appreciative of any foreigners that at least try to learn their language and this can have some distinct advantages for any foreign visitor to the country.

Of course, as with elsewhere, knowing a country’s language makes it easier to make friends but in Thailand, where haggling over prices is common, many have a special price for Thai speakers and so your benefits could be financial as well as social.

Thailand is a country which is being visited by more and more foreign tourists each year as it has much to offer them. Firstly the country is rich in history, a history which became popular thanks to the hit movie “The King and I”. 95% of the Thai population is Buddhist and so the capital Bangkok has some very impressive Buddhist Temples which are well worth a visit.

Perhaps the most popular attraction for foreign tourists though is Thailand’s endless sandy beaches and some of its small islands which have been described as tropical paradises. For whichever reason you may choose to visit Thailand, it is always worth at least considering learning their language before you go or at least a few phrases that you think may be well used.