Thai or Siamese (ภาษาไทย)
Spoken by: ~ 70-75 million
Spoken in: Thailand, Northern Malaysia, Cambodia, Southern Myanmar, Laos
Language family: Tai-Kadai

Thai is the official language of Thailand. Standard Thai, also known as Central Thai, Siamese, or the Bangkok Dialect, is spoken by about 25 million people.

Phonology Edit

Grammar Edit

Orthography Edit

Common difficulties Edit

The Foreign Service Institute has classified Thai as a "Hard" language. It is estimated that learning Thai to a Professional Working Proficiency in the language (a score of Speaking-3/Reading-3 on the Interagency Language Roundtable scale) will take an average of 44 weeks (1100 class hours).[1]

Some common difficulties include:

  • You must get acquainted with the tones of the language. When a tone of a word changes, its meaning changes completely. This makes learning with audio and practicing speaking more important than with non-tonal languages.
  • In Thai script, words are not separated with spaces. Itmeansthatsentenceslooklikethis. Yeah. However, there are some rules [1] to follow to make reading easier.

Resources Edit

There are many ways to go about learning Thai. If you want to start with transliteration in the beginning, you could follow the Thai for Beginners series by Benjawan Poomsan Becker before moving on to native materials.

If you don't want to use transliteration, you could start learning the alphabet and tone rules using free online sources. Then you could study Introduction to Thai Reading and Everyday Thai for Beginners before moving on to native materials.

Omitting transliteration altogether will be slower at first, but could save you time in the long run. As there is no universally accepted system of transliterating Thai, you'll eventually have to make the switch to Thai script.

Free/Internet resourcesEdit

  • AUA Courses - Free courses on learning Thai using the ALG method (full immersion in the target language).
  • Foreign Service Institute Thai Basic Course - While free and in the public domain, the Foreign Service Institute course unfortunately relies on transliteration and its audio tapes are not pronounced by native speakers. The Thai Language Wiki has an updated version of the course that replaces transliteration with the Thai alphabet.
  • has particularly good lessons on the Thai alphabet and tone rules. Also, you can learn to read Thai as Thai children do with Manee and Friends.
  • - The free version features thousands of Thai sentences you could learn. The paid version adds native audio.
  • - This site has free lessons and reference materials for learning the Thai language. Its dictionary supports about a dozen transliteration systems and has thousands of example sentences with native audio.
  • Sublearning - Thai to English movie subtitle flash cards

Commercial coursesEdit

  • Assimil Thai - French only. The course relies on transliteration, but the course sentences with the Thai alphabet can be found here.
  • Colloquial Thai by John Moore and Saowalak Rodchue
  • Everyday Thai for Beginners by Wiworn Kesavatana-Dohrs
  • Introduction to Thai Reading by Rungrat Luanwarawat
  • Linguaphone Thai by Manas Chitakasem and David Smyth
  • Living Language Spoken World: Thai by Jenjit Gasigijtamrong and Zvjezdana Vrzic
  • Progressive Thai by Rungrat Luanwarawat
  • Teach Yourself Thai by David Smyth
  • Thai for Beginners by Benjawan Poomsan Becker
  • Thai for Intermediate Learners by Benjawan Poomsan Becker
  • Thai for Advanced Readers by Benjawan Poomsan Becker
  • Pimsleur offers a course in Thai
  • Rosetta Stone offered a course in Thai which may be available second hand.

Other booksEdit

  • Improving Your Thai Pronunciation by Benjawan Poomsan Becker - Could be used as an addition to Thai for Beginners, even though many sentences resemble those in that book.
  • Speak Like a Thai series by Benjawan Poomsan Becker - For intermediate speakers who are looking for more sentences to learn (with audio). The first of the series is the best one and deals with general knowledge sentences.
  • Thai: An Essential Grammar by David Smyth
  • Thai Reference Grammar: The Structure of Spoken Thai by James Higbie and Snea Thinsan

References Edit

  1. U.S. Department of State; FSI's Experience with Language Learning;