So you want to learn to speak Thai, like everything, there’s the right way to do something and the wrong way to do something and the fastest way is not always the best in the long run.
If you’re in Pattaya or Thailand for any Length of time, even for a weekend, if you make the effort, you will start to pick up Thai words and their meanings here and there, everywhere you go,
Thai’s will greet you with “Sar-waa-dee” which basically means “hello” and “Sabaii-dee-mi”, meaning “how are you”- “are you good”, followed by “krup” if they’re a man and “khar” if they’re a woman, when “krup” and “khar” are used at the end of a sentence, the speaker is talking politely and respectfully.
Just keep asking the Thai’s who can speak a little English- “how do you say this, how do you say that in Thai?” most of the time they are too happy to help and after a while you will be able to string together a few words and sentences to get by in your daily life.
If you decide that you want to be able to speak Thai properly, then you have to be able to read and write Thai first, you will need to go to a Thai Language School.
But before you go and spend your money on lessons at schools, the best thing you can do is start to learn the Thai alphabet first, just like a baby, you have to know your ABC’s.
Putting the effort in to learn the Thai alphabet first, before you take lessons, will save you an enormous amount of grief, frustration and money because you will already know the sounds and names of the Thai letters before classes start and you can concentrate on putting letters, consonants and vowels together to form words rather than staring blankly at your book scratching your head trying to work out if this Thai letter- “ฒ” is a D,R,T or S sounding letter (it’s actually a CH sound).
If you know the Thai alphabet and it sounds, you are 50% there already for speaking, reading and writing Thai.
So if you’re serious about learning Thai, this is the best way to do it-
- Buy a good quality “learn to speak Thai” books, preferably one with a cd included, priced around 350 baht. Make sure it has the English sound equivalent for every one of the 42 consonants and the 28 vowels.
- For the next month, do nothing but learn the Thai alphabet, names of letters and their sounds and pronunciation. This is the hardest bit.
- Get yourself a kids book on how to write Thai letters for about 45 baht and a note book, pencil and rubber and start writing the Thai alphabet in your book, practice, practice, practice.
- After a month and you have mastered these basics, sign up for your Thai lessons at a school, you will be ahead of the game and breeze the rest, you will be able to concentrate on the lessons because you have done the ground work and know the alphabet already.
There is lots of lesson available on YouTube to help you with the whole process, just type “Thai alphabet” and “Thai vowels”.