Learning Thai is a great investment as Thailand is actually one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. However, Thai has a reputation of being the most challenging language for English speakers to learn. As a matter of fact, the Foreign Service institute classifies Thai as a category IV language. This means that it is very difficult for people to master. The observed hardship of learning the Thai language is mostly due to the absence of similarities with other languages such as English or German.
After you get over the different structure of the Thai language, it is astonishingly very easy to learn. Definitely Thai has its own complications especially since it has five contrasting conversational tones. Additionally, it is a regional language which means that people in Northeast Thailand speak a very different lingo than those in Bangkok. This is why mastering Thai can be a really hard task particularly if you don’t live in Thailand. Nevertheless, with the right attitude, anyone can attain moderate fluency in Thai.
How to Learn Thai Easily
- Start with the basic expressions/idioms.
Most Thai natives do not speak English. However, in major cities such as Bangkok, or popular tourist areas such as Phuket, you can find natives that are fluent in English. You can avoid all these communication problems by learning some of the basic Thai phrases. For example, Thai language uses male and female word functions. Saying ‘Hello’ in Thai is ‘sawas Dee Krap’ for Men and ‘sawas dee ka’ for Women.
Generally, Thailand people are very friendly. During introductions, you can start by saying hello as ‘sawas Dee’. It is pronounced as Sawat Dee. Krap and Ka are polite words that are used to differentiate gender and create a welcoming atmosphere.
- Learn the Thai alphabet
This alphabet consists of 44 unique consonant letters, 15 vowels that are used to make up 28 contrasting vowel sounds and 4 diverse tone markers. It may sound complicated but it is not complex at all. You can learn the letters that are used to form common words in Thai, the sounds that they make and how they are even used in a full sentence. You can also learn the Thai alphabet by buying an alphabet poster for your own use at home. Furthermore, you can install the Thai alphabet application on your Phone (iOS and Android).
- Learn the Thai vocabulary
Thai language has various words, some of which sound very similar to one another. This makes it very hard specifically when the difference between the words is your tone. However, always remember that mastering Thai vocabulary only requires two things: Practice and Habit. Practice means constantly going over the most commonly used word in Thai using flashcards, storytelling etc. This will imprint the most memorable words in your mind.
- Learn Thai pronunciation
With five diverse tones, words that are spelled in the same manner can turn out to mean different things. It all depends with the way you pronounce them. The best way to learn how to properly pronounce is to converse with Thai speakers. In case you like to communicate with Thai speakers online, or travel to Thailand and talk to them in person, the smoothest way to learn Thai is through networking and practice.