Jump to content
BANGKOK
JimmyJ

Best school in CM for English speaking person to learn - minimally - conversational Thai.

Recommended Posts

Secondarily, learning to read and write Thai would be fine.

 

I came to Thailand planning to get a Retirement Extension by putting money in a Thai Bank, and to take Thai language lessons.

 

Visited the offices of AUA and also "Thai as a Second Language" (Pantip Plaza) and got info on the schools programs/costs, and also got info on Education Visas.

 

I'm thinking of starting a separate thread in the Visa forum re: my thoughts about the Ed. Visa vs. Retirement Extension via Bank deposit.

 

But am interested either way in enrolling in a course to learn to speak Conversational Thai.

 

Someone posted recently that he'd enrolled in  a Thai language course but the "course" was mainly for people to get an Ed. Visa and no one was taking the course itself seriously.

He didn't name the school but said it's well known, and unfortunately I didn't follow up and pm him to get the name.

 

I would like to enroll in a legitimate course.

 

Ideally I'd like to audit a course, even for a half hour or so, before enrolling at a specific school , but neither school I visited mentioned that possibility and I hadn't thought to ask about that.

 

Suggestions and personal experiences welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And yes, learn to read first.  It will take longer to be up-to-speed with basic conversation, but you'll understand how the tones work and have a much better understanding of the language in the long-run.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding learning to read first, where does one go for that kind of instruction?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, MrBrad said:

Regarding learning to read first, where does one go for that kind of instruction?

To learn to read, go to Manna School, in panthip just above TSL. They've the best method. They're the only one who will teach you to read like kids in thai schools.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, MrBrad said:

Regarding learning to read first, where does one go for that kind of instruction?

Just talking personally.. I found many of the Thai based learning systems very hard to work in my mind, I would strongly suggest learning your alphabet with a farang / english made mnemonics course before then following that up with Thai based learning. I know of these options. 

 

https://j3.learnthaionline.com/

https://learnthaifromawhiteguy.com/

The Thai based learning felt like brute force and the english mnemonics was like an ah ha.. I honestly learnt more in a weekend than I had with weeks even months of Thai flash cards, books, and trying to 'remember'.. The reason being is fairly simple and obvious.. My brain doesnt associate Saw Sua = S = Tiger.. Gor Gai = G = Chicken.. The mental placeholder to those links is alien to my mental placeholders and had to be brute force memorised, with everything else I was trying to remember 'letter shape' 'sound' and later tonal rules it just wasnt sticking. One weekend where I was using english designed pictograms, and I had the basics memorised. It was a totally different experience. 

Once you have the basic letters / sounds, then you have the basis to go into Thai style learning locally would be my feeling. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Problem I found is after learning to read Thai most of the places teaching Thai language insisted on my then using phonetics - totally pointless if you have learnt your Thai letters.

  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

YMCA is the best course IMHO, not too intensive for reasonable prices.

AUA far too intensive, far too much homework.

Walen nobody was there to learn Thai.

Edited by BritManToo
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

you don't need some strange way to learn how to read, I think that will do more harm than good in the long run..........there is an older lady at AUA (last name begins with an A, I think) who is really fantastic.  I would think Payap is the best school if you will commit years and years to the language.  I spent a few years learning Thai and then my interest went to zero.  I can have a basic conversation, make people laugh, and understand many words while being able to read a good deal.  I simply don't feel the desire to learn more, since that means time away from reading enjoyable books or anything else.  I also might give Vietnam another chance, or maybe Japan.  I've never had the desire to have a deep conversation with a Thai guy, and with girls the conversations are basic in any language, usually.  And many people would rather speak their local language, of course.  Northern Thai is very different.  I would commit to a year at Payap and then listen to your gut.  It's the only place in the world where they tell me not to speak their language and would rather listen to English.  Money is the ultimate language here.  

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am one week away from completing Level 1 at Payap University. I chose to study Thai to kick-start my own retirement with a serious mental challenge. Although I have no plans to retire to Thailand I do hope to make yearly visits in the years ahead.

 

To echo others, learning Thai script was tremendously helpful for me. While it's more correct to say that I can decode rather than read Thai, it has been useful in managing sounds and tones I might otherwise have struggled with. Happily, studying and learning Thai script is something one can do in advance of coming to Thailand, which is what I did. For what it's worth, I used a digital book titled Learn to Read Thai in Days by Arthit Juyaso. The author is a Thai linguist. The title is overly optimistic, but I found it effective. 

 

I personally haven't found the Level 1 class overly intense. As NancyL points out, if you're not inclined to put in the time and keep up with the homework it could prove to be overly challenging. For me it takes some effort to ignore the instructor's transliteration scheme and focus on the Thai script, but otherwise it's a well-taught class. One pleasant side benefit is the opportunity to make some new acquaintances. My class of 15 is mostly Chinese, along with a couple of Koreans, a Brit and and another American. 

 

I do think another consideration might concern where you will stay in Chiang Mai. I am well east of the city and the commute to the Payap campus (located several kilometers outside the city center, can be, hair-raising. I wouldn't welcome a daily commute into and out of the center of town.

 

Thus far my experience in attempting to speak Thai with Thai people has been exceedingly positive. As yet I haven't had anyone ask me to not attempt speaking in Thai. To be certain it is a struggle to communicate, but I've found nearly everyone gracious and forgiving and more than happy to assist. 

 

I wish you well in finding something that works for you.

Edited by ChristianBlessing
clarity
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most Thai-to-English transliteration that one will come across is based on British phonetics rather than American.  If you are from North America, be aware that there's a difference.

 

Many times you'll see the number 5, for example, written in English as "har."  Thais do not pronounce the final "r," and in such cases neither do the British.  The closer-to-correct pronunciation and transliteration probably should be "ha."  In text-speak, 555 is "ha, ha, ha" not "har, har, har."  There are numerous misleadings in the transliteration of Thai to English; don't always take what you see as being correct. 

 

Thai teachers may not even be aware of the difference, since their minds generally are fixed on the Thai way of speaking, and not so much--if at all--on transliteration.  An example of this would be the English spellings of the city and province of Ubon, which often is also spelled Ubol.  True, the Thai character at the end of the word is a ล (law ling [not lor ling for North Americans]), but you'll learn that when the ล ("L") is at the end of a syllable it takes on an "N" sound.  There is rhyme and reason to this system; it just has to be learned.

 

For North Americans, Robertson's Practical English-Thai Dictionary (or others by Richard G. Robertson) is one that employs a more familiar transliteration.  For more serious study, Thai Reference Grammar - The Structure of Spoken Thai by James Higby and Snea Thinsan is also transliterated in what to my ear sounds closer to the way Thais speak.  Higby's book, besides providing tonal markings which are also most helpful, goes into depth on pronunciation, fundamentals on word order, titles, prefixes, suffixes, and compound words, tenses, the elusive usage of "ก็" (pronounced gaw), and so very much more.

 

You don't need to be totally proficient in Thai to communicate effectively in Thailand.  As mentioned earlier, Chiang Mai folks and others in the north commonly speak Lanna Thai, which is very different from Standard Thai, much like the difference between Spanish and Portuguese, I'd say.  Some words are the same or similar, but for the most part they're two distinct languages.  In my opinion, don't even worry about trying to learn Lanna Thai.  Since TV, radio, movies, newspapers, official business, and almost everything else is in Standard Thai, that's what you want to study and hopefully learn.

Edited by MrBrad
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, MrBrad said:

In my opinion, don't even worry about trying to learn Lanna Thai.  Since TV, radio, movies, newspapers, official business, and almost everything else is in Standard Thai, that's what you want to study and hopefully learn.

I will definitely disagree with this part, but with a smile.  🙂  There are different words for hot, 20, delicious and 100% of the time the locals laugh and smile when I say them in either Northern Thai or Issan.  It has been the best thing I've done, learning some local words.  The point is to communicate with others and have positive experiences, and learning to say hot (I know at least 3 different ways in Thai) makes everyone smile.  

 

I would be more impressed if a Thai went to my hometown and spoke a little bit like a local instead of the super basic language.  It would mean they really want to fit in, and it would make me feel good and be impressed.  

 

When in doubt just ask in Thai for a Northern Translation, and even shoes are much different and Thais are amazed when I use some word they almost near hear from a Farang.   Oh, and also learn the phase for "that's it."   I can read Thai, but I'm afraid I'm not good at writing the words I've just said and too lazy to look them up.  

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of good advice given already.  What I would add is that learning to 'hear' and 'pronounce' the sounds of the Thai language first is far far more important than learning word literation. Only once your brain has learned how to hear and say the unique sounds of the Thai language/s, can you then learn the language such that it sticks.  Otherwise, what you are learning is how to transliterate Thai and English words and that can and will work, but not as good as learning the sounds and pronounciations first.

If you do this via learning to read first, or via a phonetics type course, you will benefit in the long run.  It takes longer, but it sticks more.   The reason that an English speaker can learn German or French etc etc via transliteration is because the languages all have a common basic structure and a lot of the counds are the same (historical ancestry).  The Thai language is neither structured or sounds like English or any European language.   

 

An old friend of ours in CM is named Pun - I was the only 'farang' that pronounced it correctly.  It is not 'P' as it is written in English, but it is not 'B' as it at first sounds to someone who knows English.  It is the sound made when you get your lips ready to say 'P' but you actually say 'B' - you do not force air our between lips like in 'P' you get ready to say 'P' but then say 'B'.  At first it sounds excatly the same, but to a Thai 'ear' they can instantly hear the difference.  There are many many more such unique sounds - learn them first - both the say but more importantly to hear them - then you can learn the language much better.  After all - children hear a language long before they can speak that language - that is how the brain works when learning a language for most people. Tip - when learning the sounds also watch TV and try to hear every word - listen closely but dont worry about what the words mean - just listen to their sounds - it takes time - but slowly you will 'hear' more and more single words being spoken and they will not all meld together.

 

I do not believe that learning to speak/read Thai to an extrmemely good level is required in Thailand, because the English language is pervasive in Thailand and is used a lot (example road sign and licence/ID). English is basically the second language of Thailand and being the language of the World and the Internet it will only increase in usage.  Thai children are all taught English at school (not very well is true), and most well educated Thai people speak English OK.  However, if I didn't speak/read English very well and was living in Thailand, then I would learn them both.   PS - maybe if the Chinese take over even more than will change? 🙂

 

 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...