Learning Thai language at home

February 10, 2013

After each trip to Thailand I had in the past years I came back with the brilliant idea to learn the language while being in Holland. This way I would have several months to learn words and sentences which I could use on the next trip. And when you know the language, you are be able to learn more about the country, understand what is going on around you, and be able to order more different kinds of food in restaurants. Especially this last thing sounds good to me. So in the past years I made a start with learning the language.

The first book I bought was “Learning Thai – Just enough to get by and more” by Warankna Tuwayanonde and Paul Wallis. The title sounded just right to me, but within a week or something I noticed this book was not for me. First of all it is just a book. I knew this when I bought the book, but I never realized how hard it is to learn a tonal language from a book. Besides, the sentences they teach you in the book are not really useful. I have been in Thailand over 10 times already but never felt the need to use the sentence “I think that’s enough for now” (and thats not because I eat so much). So my studying grinded to a halt relatively quick; luckily I had only wasted about 300 baht.

Learning Thai - Just enough to get by and more" by Warankna Tuwayanonde and Paul Wallis

Learning Thai – Just enough to get by and more” by Warankna Tuwayanonde and Paul Wallis

Soon after I came across the book “Thai for beginners” by Benjawan Poomsan Becker at one of the bookstores in Bangkok. This book you can purchase including CD’s where someone pronounces the word after which you can repeat it. After hearing a word I would write it down in a way I could understand how to pronounce it, and the list with words would become a standard item in the bag I brought to work every day. With this book I experienced the same trouble as before: my motivation diminishes after a few weeks and I stopped studying.

Thai for beginners" by Benjawan Poomsan Becker

Thai for beginners” by Benjawan Poomsan Becker

On the next trip I hoped to find new inspiration in a new book, also from Benjawan Poomsan Becker; “Speak like a Thai – volume 1″. Here they don’t teach you lists of words or sentence construction, the book is filled with Thai expressions. Only problem here was that I do not know that many English expressions, so I did not always know how to use them in a conversation.

This DVD box, including the small booklet, is now occupying a piece of my book shell.

Speak like a Thai" by Benjawan Poomsan Becker

Speak like a Thai” by Benjawan Poomsan Becker

So far I can only recommend the book “Thai for beginners” by Benjawan Poomsan Becker. Make sure to buy the book including the CD’s, since it is too hard to just learn a tonal language from a book alone. And besides that you will need a strong will to keep learning more and more even though it will have no practical use for the largest part of the year. But if you put in some time you will be able to order food, have simple conversations, or tell the taxi driver where you want to go to. When you command the language a lot better the “Speak like a Thai” might be a fun book to buy, mostly because you might be able to really use one of the expressions in a conversation which might flabbergast the people around you.

Benjawan Poomsan Becker books

Benjawan Poomsan Becker books

For me it is not enough since I will be living in Thailand soon. So I have decided to find a language school in Nakhon Ratchasima as soon as I arrive there, and studying Thai language will be one of my main activities for the first part of 2012. More to come about the classroom experience…

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

Previous post:

Next post: