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Interview Compilation: Do You Speak Street Thai, Issan Thai, or Professional Thai?

Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Do you speak more street Thai, Issan Thai, or professional Thai?…

Out of the 50 interviewed, 26 speak professional Thai, 14 speak street Thai, five speak Bangkok Thai (close to Central Thai), four speak Central Thai, and one speaks Tourist Thai. In addition, 11 speak street Thai as well.

Glenn Slayden: Tourist Thai, Chris Pirazzi: Street Thai, Daniel B Fraser: Street Thai, David Long: Street and Professional, Justin Travis Mair: Mostly street Thai with a bit of professional mixed in, Marcel Barang: Both street and professional. Isarn, bor pen, Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Professional when I’m working, street Thai on the street and Isaan when I’m in Isaan, David Smyth: Bangkok Thai, Gareth Marshall: Most of my Thai learned has been in Bangkok, Don Sena: Standard Thai (Central Plains dialect), Doug: Semi-pro, Marc Spiegel: Professional Thai, Christy Gibson: I use them all, depending on the situation, venue, and audience, Terry Fredrickson: Professional Thai, street Thai, Issan Thai and southern Thai (I enjoy dialects).

And now on to the rest of the interview…

Aaron Handel

Aaron Handel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAaron: The answer to this depends on which street you are referring to, as there are many Thai dialects and local nuances. I speak Central Thai. I’m quite comfortable with Bangkok Thai. My Thai is colloquial, but a bit more formal than ‘market Thai.’

Aaron Le Boutillier

Aaron Le Boutillier: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAaron: I spend most of my time learning from Thai books at the Police Station so I need to spend more time on the street. Sometimes I feel like I can read about the Thai Criminal Code but struggle ordering some sticky rice and chicken! Too much reading and not enough speaking.

Adam Bradshaw

Adam Bradshaw: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAdam: I can speak Bangkok Thai the best, but I enjoy learning Isaan Thai as well. There’s something about Isaan Thai that’s just fun and charming.

Andrew Biggs

Andrew Biggs: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAndrew: In a bad mood I’m excellent at street Thai, but I think I veer towards professional (for the first time in my life).

Celia Chessin-Yudin

Celia Chessin-Yudin: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersCelia: I speak professional Thai as I have been working at a Thai NGO and translating for the past year.

Colin Cotterill

Colin Cotterill: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersColin: Although I’m living in the south, I stick to central Thai. I get the feeling the southerners don’t necessarily appreciate our efforts to speak like them. Of course they all have TVs so they understand everything. But they answer in southern dialect so my ear’s getting better.

Fabian Blandford

Fabian Blandford: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersFabian: Street Thai, but since I have spent nearly all the time in the north of Thailand I probably mix both Lanna Thai and Central Thai in my conversation.

Grace Robinson

Grace Robinson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersGrace: Professional and informal Thai. I was taught Thai in an academic way so I have studied texts on Buddhism and politics in Thai and I do feel very comfortable speaking general conversational Thai, however street Thai or slang is still at times a mystery to me, so I am learning all the time!

Hamish Chalmers

Hamish Chalmers: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHamish: It’s ‘day to day’ Thai, I guess. The influences on my Thai range from Karen villagers in Sangklaburi to cosmopolitan socialites in Bangkok, but most of the consolidation of my learning has happened in Bangkok, at work and at home.

Hardie Karges

Hardie Karges: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHardie: I don’t acknowledge the ‘street’ version of any language, merely correct or corrupt versions, though evolution and change is obvious and essential.

I mostly use modern standard central Thai, but also understand northern Thai–my wife’s native tongue–and can speak and read Lao (Isaan) at probably the intermediate level.

Herb Purnell

Herb Purnell: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHerb: I speak relatively more professional Thai since that’s been most of my experience. I’m comfortable speaking informally, but I don’t know much street slang.

Why specify just Issan? There are a lot of other regional people, such as Northern Thai or Southern Thai, in Bangkok too. I do speak Northern Thai, perhaps not as well as Thai, but it’s a lot of fun to speak it. My Northern Thai is much more informal than my Thai because I learned it in a farming village and use it primarily in informal contexts.

Hugh Leong

Hugh Leong: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHugh: I speak polite Thai. I can understand a lot of “Khum Muang” or Chiang Mai (Lanna) Thai but usually respond in Central Thai. Thailand is a very stratified country. If all you spoke were street Thai then it would be very difficult to communicate with professionals, academics, HiSos, politicos, monks, etc. You may or may not be interested in hanging out with any of these types but why limit yourself? Polite Thai works in all situations and with people at all levels of society whether they be the girl serving me noodles, the abbot of my local temple, or the governor of my province. Recently I had a nice conversation with the mayor of Chiang Mai. She spoke to me in Khum Muang and I spoke to her in Thai. That could not have happened if I had been speaking street Thai.

Ian Fereday

Ian Fereday: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersIan: Professional Thai and a bit of street Thai. I live in Phuket and we don’t get much Isaan Thai down here.

James (Jim) Higbie

James (Jim) Higbie: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJim: I try to speak both street and professional Thai depending on the situation. I lived in Laos for eight years and also speak Lao which is basically the same as Issan. At this point, though, I’ve been working in Africa for seven years so I’m not as fluent as I was when I lived in Thailand and Laos. I can still speak both languages when I go back but it would take some time to be as fluent in Thai as when I was writing Thai Reference Grammar.

Joe Cummings

Joe Cummings: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJoe: Professional Thai at work, street Thai with my friends, and Lao/Isan (Vientiane/Udon Thani dialect) when travelling in Isan or Laos.

John Boegehold

John Boegehold: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJohn: Probably somewhere in the middle of professional and street. I know a bit of Isaan, but not enough to throw in more than an occasional word or phrase.

Jonas Anderson

Jonas Anderson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJonas: In my line of work I have to use all of these. I am often in professional situations that call for the appropriate communications, with Issan fans with whom I always love to embarrass yourself and give them a good laugh with attempts at that dialect; and dressed down or “market Thai” is often called for with our audiences too.

Jonathan Thames

Jonathan Thames: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJonathan: I speak a mix, I’m sure. I have had a great deal of formal training for Professional Thai and I speak with relative ease in informal environments, as well. I also have picked up a smattering of Northern Thai from my time in Chiang Mai.

Larry Daks

Larry Daks: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersLarry: Professional Thai, but since I also speak a fair amount of Lao, I can converse in Issan and, to a lesser extent, Northern Thai dialect.

Luke Cassady-Dorion

Luke Cassady-Dorion: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersLuke: Hmmm, what streets are you referring to? I can talk to my professors using full polite forms, I know way more gay-slang than is really appropriate and I feel at-ease working with the rural population when filming my show. The challenging thing with Thai is that it has all these layers of politeness; each sentence has to be a carefully crafted using verbs, pronouns and particles. Sure it’s fine as a foreigner to just use general Thai, but being able to use Thai that is situationally-appropriate will do a lot to impress on your listener that you understand his language.

Mark Hollow

Mark Hollow: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMark: Professional/textbook Thai, I guess. I probably sound a bit “stiff” to locals as I’m likely missing some of the idioms and common sayings that a native speaker uses to make their speech sound truly natural.

Martin Clutterbuck

Martin Clutterbuck: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMartin: Early on, I realised that the central dialect of Thai, as used by professionals, was well understood in all parts of the country, in every remote village with a TV. North, Northeast (Isan – why 2 “s”?) and South are the main dialects, I understand them mostly, South the best, having spent some time in Phuket, and each jangwat has its distinctive twang. I have a smattering of Lao, having learned some of the shifts and the Lao alphabet, which is how the Thai alphabet could be reformed in many ways.

Street Thai, well colloquial Thai, even as spoken by the upper echelons, is a huge challenge, but I will not curse, and there are many elephant traps for the unwary, so yeah, I avoid it, unless I’m feeling confident I won’t cause controversy.

Nils Bastedo

Nils Bastedo: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersNils: I have been lucky in that the Thais I have met have chosen to teach me nice language, and Thais often say that I phrase myself nicely. I do not speak Isan, but since the people I taught at Bumrungrad International represented very many different backgrounds and people from all over Thailand, I probably have a blend of ‘street talk’ and professional language.

Paul Garrigan

Paul Garrigan: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersPaul: I previously worked as an ESL teacher so would pick up a lot of Thai from the students as well as the Thai teachers. I also lived in a Thai village for almost 4 years where they spoke Issan. Now I live in Lopburi and as this is an army town you get a lot of people from all parts of Thailand with many accents. A lot of my Thai vocabulary has come from reading so it is a mixture of all of these influences. I suppose it is a mixture between professional and street Thai.

Peter Montalbano

Peter Montalbano: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersPeter: I do them all with equal abandon. I spent two years in Isaan, and can get around in generic Lao, or northeastern dialect. I suppose “professional Thai” means “really good standard Thai,” and that’s what I work hardest on, although I like knowing and appropriately using slang as much as possible.

Rick Bradford

Rick Bradford: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRick: Professional. The further things get from formal Thai, the worse I perform. I can pretty much understand a TV address by Abhisit, but not that of a cassava farmer complaining about the drought.

Rikker Dockum

Rikker Dockum: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRikker: I’d characterize what I speak as Bangkok Thai. I don’t try to be overly “correct” in ways that native Thais wouldn’t be — I don’t roll my r’s, and I generally simplify clusters and let my r’s become l’s. I do use Thai in more formal situations, which requires ‘polite Thai’. My wife is Bangkok born and raised, so I speak a lot of Bangkok Thai at home, and with her relatives. I can understand some but speak virtually no Issan or other regional flavor of Thai.

Ryan Zander

Ryan Zander: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRyan: I guess I speak more regular everyday Thai, but I keep it polite. I never learned much Isaan dialect, but I’ve picked up a little bit of the Thai-yai, or Shan, dialect because my wife is from Mae Hong Son, and that’s what her family uses at home.

Scott Earle

Scott Earle: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersScott: More ‘street’ Thai, although I also tend to speak Thai almost exclusively in the office. Partially to try to speak more politely! I also speak some Isaan, but it’s pretty much the same as regular Thai with the tones shifted and a few basic words changed.

Stephen Thomas

Stephen Thomas: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersStephen: Probably more street Thai. Professional Thai has a lot more complicated and redundant grammar, though it can be useful if I am having trouble getting my point across. It’s important to know the proper rules of any language I think. I see and hear grammatical catastrophes in English all the time which people have just come to accept and don’t even know they are wrong. I don’t really want to sound like that in Thai but of course I’m late out of the gate and racing to catch up.

I do use some Isaan language. I have several Isaan friends and a lot of the vendors I go to regularly are Isaan or Lao. It’s also a good way to show that I’m not just a tourist who learned a few phrases, especially when going into touristy areas. It’s a fun and friendly dialect, and whenever people call me “Farang” I tell them I’m “Bak Seeda.”


Stickman: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersStickman: I consider myself lucky to have learned Thai “properly”, having learned to read and write right from the start in a very supportive classroom environment. This means that today my Thai is more formal than what you would hear from those who have learned in other “environments”.

I speak proper Thai or professional Thai as you call it, can understand a fair chunk of Isaan as well as some street Thai although my street Thai is actually not that good – but with that said, it is not something I am particularly concerned about.

My desire has always been to be able to speak proper Thai although there from time to time it might be advantageous to speak street Thai, or at the very least, understand it. Isaan Thai is probably more useful to me than street Thai per se as I have a lot of interaction with people from that region, especially those from less privileged, rural backgrounds for whom Isaan Thai is what they speak at home and with their friends.

Tod Daniels

Tod Daniels: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersTod: I try to gauge how I speak Thai to the people I’m speaking Thai to. Dealing with officials in the Police, governmental agencies, businesses I cone in contact with, etc, I try to speak ultra polite semi-professional Thai. With run-of-the-mill Thais, street sellers, my Thai friends, etc, I adjust how I speak to match what ever level they’re speaking. I found early on if you try to speak a higher level of Thai than is being spoken by everyone else, you can come across as pretentious.

Nope, I can’t speak more than a couple phrases in Issan Thai. Having spent time touring Issan it was my experience EVERYONE under about 50 y/o can understand and speak Bangkokian (Central) Thai just fine. I’ve got more than enough trouble keeping the Central Thai vocab stuck inside my head. I don’t need to throw a wrench in the gears of progress, no matter how slowly they’re turning.

Tom Parker

Tom Parker: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersTom: I studied Thai at university so I learnt mainly ‘Central Thai’. I also studied some ‘Royal Thai’ as my Thai language instructor was a descendent of a royal court family. I have forgotten most of that and since I now learn a lot of Thai from everyday conversation and pop-culture ‘street Thai’ is probably my forte.

Vern Lovic

Vern Lovic: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersVern: I learned Thai in Isaan but told everyone that helped me pronounce that I want to learn Bangkok Thai, not Isaan flavor. The result was that I don’t do all that well in Isaan or Patong Beach, but overall I think it was the right way to go since I wasn’t going to spend my whole life in Isaan.

The Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation…

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Cat Cartoons Episode Fifty Nine: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน สามหาว
Narrator: Episode – ‘Saam Haao’

วิเชียรมาศ: เก้าแต้ม ไปไหนมาทั้งคืนน่ะ มาถึงก็หาวมาทีเดียว
Wi-chian maat: Kao Taem, where were you all night? As soon as you got here, you ‘Haao’-ed.

เก้าแต้ม: ก็ไปดูอะไร ๆ ให้เพลิดเพลินใจบ้างซี่(สิ)
Kao Taem: Just checking out stuff that amuses me, you know?!

วิเชียรมาศ: เก้าแต้มหาวตั้งสามครั้งหยั่งเงี้ยะ(อย่างนี้อ่ะ)จะเรียกว่า เก้าแต้มสามหาว ได้มั๊ย(ไหม)
Wi-chian maat: Kao Taem here has yawned a grand total of three times. Can we call him ‘Saam haao’?

สีสวาด: เก้าแต้มหาวสามครั้ง ก็เรียกว่า หาวสามครั้ง ไม่ใช่ สามหาว รู้มั๊ย(ไหม)ว่า สามหาว แปลว่าอะไร
Si Sawat: Kao Taem yawned three times so we say that he ‘Haao’-ed three times, not ‘Saam haao’. Do you know what ‘Saam haao’ means?

วิเชียรมาศ: ไม่รู้สิ แปลว่าอะไรหลอ(หรือ)
Wi-chian maat: No, I don’t. What does it mean?

สีสวาด: สามหาว แปลว่า หยาบคาย อย่างเมื่อวานเก้าแต้มพูดกับชั้น(ฉัน)ว่า หยิ่ง ทำท่าเป็นนางพญา ชั้น(ฉัน)จึงว่าเค้า(เขา)สามหาว
Si Sawat: ‘Saam haao’ means ‘(to be) rude or vulgar’, like yesterday when Kao Taem referred to me as ‘Ying tam taa bpen naang pa-yaa’. So I scolded him for being ‘Saam haao’.

ผู้บรรยาย: สามหาว หมายถึง หยาบคาย พูดจาหยาบคาย หรือพูดจาก้าวร้าวผู้ใหญ่ คนสามหาว คือ คนที่พูดหยาบคาย และพูดก้าวร้าวผู้ใหญ่
Narrator: ‘Saam haao’ means ‘(to be) rude or vulgar’; to speak rudely or aggressively / offensively to our seniors. A ‘Saam haao’ person is one who speaks rudely and aggressively to one’s seniors.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language


‘Haao’ (หาว) means ‘(to) yawn’.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode Fifty Nine: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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PickupThai Podcast’s Black Friday Sale

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Survey Results: How English Speakers are Learning Thai with HelloTalk


Results from the HelloTalk survey…

Back in August (my how time flies) I posted a survey How English Speakers are Learning Thai with HelloTalk and let it run. Below are the results.

To round out the information and advice, I’ve also copied James McGregor’s answers.

Note: Not all entries have been included.

1) Why did you choose HelloTalk?

James: I initially choose HelloTalk because it was set up as a smart phone application. At the time I discovered HelloTalk I only knew about web-based language exchange services. Compared to HelloTalk, they were outdated and not as simple and easy to use.

HelloTalk survey:

  • To study.
  • It’s useful.
  • Easy access to native Thai speakers.
  • For a trip.
  • To meet Thai friends.
  • To practice reading and writing.
  • I want to learn Thai.
  • Because my mom is Thai.
  • It’s a good way to learn languages.
  • It’s easy and fun to use.
  • It’s easy to find Thai speakers.
  • Because it’s more convenient.
  • To teach English in Thailand.
  • My friend suggested me to use it.
  • I like the Thai language and would like to be fluent in Thai.
  • Multiple options such as phonetic spelling before translation and the way of showing people their mistakes.
  • Because it provides the facility to communicate with native people.
  • Previously very successful learning Korean with the app.
  • Because it’s the easiest, and fastest way to communicate with others whom speak the language. Hence, helping me learn and expand my word choice!
  • It’s the only language chat app I know of.
  • Hello Talk is the best app to learn new languages and get new friends.
  • I already have private Thai tutoring – so I choose HelloTalk to practice what I am learning with native speakers.
  • It’s such a great, easy, and inexpensive way to learn languages.
  • It’s free and many Thai people there to make friends with and ask everything for fun and knowledge, culture understanding.

2) Please list other language exchange websites and apps you’ve used, if any.


1) My Language Exchange: Before stumbling upon HelloTalk I was initially using mylanguageexchange.com to find Thai language partners. But as I mentioned before, it was an extremely outdated website and I didn’t really like the design and layout of the site. I haven’t revisited MLE since finding HelloTalk over a year ago and would not recommend it to anyone.

2) Thai Friendly: I have used and continue to use thaifriendly.com to practice my Thai with Thai people. I have had nothing but very positive experiences using this website for language exchange.

But, I must warn people that TF is mainly a dating website purely for Thai females/ladyboys to find foreign friends or boyfriends. So use it to practice Thai at your own discretion.

Some men who don’t have much experience living with Thai people in Thailand, and/or who aren’t yet speaking Thai above a beginners level, may run into problems when weeding out some of the undesirables who try to contact you.

HelloTalk survey:

3) At what stage of studying Thai did you start using HelloTalk?

I started using HelloTalk when I was at the upper beginner level (being able to go to restaurants and coffee shops or taking a taxi comfortably without having to use English) but I felt that this level is still too low to fully connect and have a real conversation with a Thai person about everyday life and interesting topics.

I could read Thai but there was a lot of vocabulary I didn’t know, so conversations ran out of steam, going absolutely nowhere after a very short while.

When feeling frustrated and realizing that it was me who was the problem (not Thai people), I stopped using HelloTalk. After about six-seven additional months of study and having improved dramatically in Thai (learning a lot more vocabulary), I decided to give it another try. I went back to HelloTalk and found that my experience was a lot better, hence more exciting.

HelloTalk survey:


4) What is your present Thai level?

James: I would say at least low intermediate, pushing into intermediate.

HelloTalk survey:


5) How do you choose your Thai language exchange partners?

James: I tend to check out the person’s profile and will contact them if they have an interesting audio introduction, written introduction, or if they’ve posted interesting photos or statuses on their wall.

I tend to ignore or not really pay much attention to people who just send an initial message of “Hi” but I will usually reply to those who have read my profile then sends a message that is longer and more eye-catching than just a one word.

HelloTalk survey:

  • I am ok to friend anybody.
  • Genuine enthusiasm.
  • I talk to everyone who wants to improve.
  • I chat with everybody who wants to chat!
  • Accept all.
  • Those who can speak in Korean.
  • Randomly.
  • From profile pictures and normally I receive contact from Thais.
  • How they wrote their profile.
  • Locality and look fun.
  • By knowing their interest in teaching Thai.
  • Age, how they present themselves in initial message. Other mutual languages. Looks. As well as if they are free to teach me Thai language.
  • I chose them no matter what~ :)
  • They contact me. I get maybe three people everyday who are curious about why I’m learning Thai.
  • Partner’s level for my mother tongue.
  • I start to like their stories in the timeline and mostly check their profile.
  • Complete profiles I.e intro and some shared moments… also people close to my age.
  • I just search on search tool. It doesn’t matter if that Thai partner is not learning my language. Moreover, I choose Thai native speakers who learn English because we both speak in English.
  • Can they teach kindly.
  • Open and understand well the language to explain my questions.
  • Free to be friends with anyone.
  • Just chat first and then if I feel comfortable add them as language partners.
  • Just choice and consider user’s timeline.
  • Having an introduction was a big plus; otherwise, just looked who’s online or continued a previous conversation.
  • Have to speak French.

6) What problems have you run into when chatting with Thai language partners?

James: To be completely honest I haven’t really run into any problems when chatting with Thai language partners. I guess the only problem I had with HelloTalk would be when I first started and was still a “beginner”. This made it hard for the conversations to go anywhere (in Thai) as my vocabulary was extremely limited at the time.

HelloTalk survey:

  • No problem all is ok but sometimes they use words I don’t know. But I have the translator so I get to understand and learn too.
  • They are Thai females not looking to learn English but have alternative agendas.
  • The main problem is time differences. Our schedules do not fit.
  • Getting the balance right between typing in English and Thai.
  • Their English.
  • None.
  • Communication because of low level.
  • A different language exactly… the English of Thai users isn’t too good.
  • Time gap.
  • Too much English, and some don’t like being corrected.
  • I have faced not even a single problem.
  • Lack of structure. They need to be really good teachers. Most convo in English.
  • No problem.
  • No problems, they are all really nice and helpful!
  • Not many! Some people are looking for boyfriends it seems, but it’s easy to spot them.
  • Many are not good at English or Korean.
  • Misunderstanding each other.
  • I find some users are not willing to educate as they get taught. It feels like I am teaching more than exchanging.
  • Confused answers and some give different answers or they can’t explain all aspects of language situation.
  • The truth that I can’t read any Thai language.
  • Most people don’t really use the correction feature, or correct towards formal language use.
  • Writing Thai with a non Thai keyboard.

7) How often do you chat on HelloTalk?

I have really cut down on using HelloTalk because after finding a few really decent Thai partners there I started to chat with them exclusively on Line. But when I was at my peak of using the app I was chatting every single day.

HelloTalk survey:


8) How has your Thai improved since you started using HelloTalk?

James: My Thai has improved a lot since I started (reading, writing, speaking and listening). But you really do need to put in the effort to see these improvements. You need to be able to hold the interest of the person you’re talking to, and that person also needs to be interesting enough for you to want to put in the time and effort to constantly exchange Thai/English with them as well.

The “correction” feature especially helped to improve my Thai. This feature enables Thai native speakers to correct your sentences in your messages and status. I have found that if you are able to form a close enough connection, Thai people will not hesitate to help out by correcting your mistakes. It’s a bit daunting at first when almost every single message you write is corrected, but eventually you’ll come to realise that it’s effective in helping to improve the grammar, sentence structure and even the words you choose.

HelloTalk survey:

  • Same.
  • My Thai improved when I met Thai friend.
  • Refreshed.
  • I try to speak Thai more now, and it seems my accent is a lot better.
  • Reading and writing skills have greatly improved.
  • A little.
  • Gradual learning.
  • I have learned the alphabet, and how to say hello and other things!
  • It has helped my vocabulary and grammar a lot. I thought people would use a lot of slang but most Thais use proper Thai with me, and I appreciate that.
  • Just a little bit.
  • It has been improving better than the first time I joined.
  • Although I have a decent vocabulary I have found that my conversation skill has improved and I can form larger sentences.
  • Nothing.
  • Quickly.
  • It has improved dramatically.
  • A little bit.
  • Improvements are probably unrelated to HelloTalk.
  • Zero … hope my Thai friends improved their French!

9) What advice can you share about learning Thai via HelloTalk?

James: I don’t believe HelloTalk should be the only tool to use when trying to learn a language. I’ve found it effective when combined with watching Thai TV, listening to Thai music and reading Thai daily.

First get past the very beginner stages in learning Thai, and then you will find many Thais wanting to talk to you. From my experience they are appreciative and show much more interest if you have at least a little bit of genuine cultural knowledge of Thailand – if you show genuine interest in Thailand and all things Thai. Don’t be rude, and if someone stops talking to you, just move onto the next person. There are thousands of Thai people who are online everyday who would like to make friends with a foreigner.

I have come to realise after talking with hundreds of people through HelloTalk that Thai people are some of the most talkative and social group of people I’ve ever met (hint: they are the perfect group to help you learn your target language!)

HelloTalk survey:

  • Educate them that this is not a dating site.
  • Be patient. Everyone is really nice, and they have the same goals as you.
  • Writing sentences in both language is slow but can be rewarding!
  • Just do it. Practice practice practice. I could be a more systematic studier. 555
  • Stick to typing Thai, don’t fall back on English, like me!
  • Choose the partners who are really interested in teaching and can teach in proper way.
  • Can’t be your only source. Supplement with books, lesson plans, in person native speakers. Hello talk partners are more of a resource for questions and testing your knowledge. You generally won’t “learn” too much without making your own effort.
  • Make friends and be open to everyone!
  • There are many Thais with very limited English skills. So knowing the fundamentals of Thai will be very useful since most of the time you can’t explain in English.
  • Find the right partner.
  • Patience… remember your partner is learning also so take your time! You get what you give.
  • Fill in your profile and behave as you would want others to behave towards you.
  • Master writing in Thai script.

My thanks to everyone who contributed to the survey. If you are wavering about using a language exchange program, there’s certainly enough advice here to nudge you on your way.

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Cat Cartoons Episode Fifty Eight: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน ลักษณนามของการบ้าน
Narrator: Episode – The Classifier for ‘Gaan baan’

เก่ง: วันเนี้ยะ(นี้อ่ะ)พี่เล่นกับก้อยไม่ได้น้า(นะ)เพราะมีการบ้านด้วย
Geng: I can’t play with you today, OK?! Because I have homework.

น้องก้อย: ครูให้ทำการบ้านหรอ(หรือ)จ้ะ
Goi: Your teacher gave you homework, huh?!

พี่เก่ง: ใช่ ครูให้ทำการบ้านตั้งหลายตัว แย่จังเลย
Geng: Yup! My teacher gave me ‘Gaan baan laai dtua’ to do. It’s horrible!

สีสวาด: วิเชียรมาศ พี่เก่งเนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ)ใช้ลักษณนามผิดอีกแล้ว
Si Sawat: Wi-chian maat, there Pee Geng goes, using the wrong classifier again.

วิเชียรมาศ: ลักษณนามว่า ตัว นี่ใช่มั้ย(ไหม)
Wi-chian maat: The ‘Dtua’ here is the classifier, right?

สีสวาด: ใช่ นั่นแหละ เวลาจะใช้ลักษณนามต้องดูคำนามให้ดี
Si Sawat: That’s right! That’s the one. When using a classifier, you must consider the noun carefully.

วิเชียรมาศ: ลักษณนามของ การบ้าน ใช้คำว่าอะไรถึงจะถูกล่ะ
Wi-chian maat: What is the correct classifier to use with ‘Gaan baan’?

สีสวาด: ก็ต้องดูสิว่าต้องการบอกอะไร ถ้ามีหลายวิชาก็ใช้ว่า มีการบ้านหลายวิชา ถ้าต้องการบอกว่ามีกี่อย่าง ก็ใช้คำว่า อย่าง ถ้าต้องการบอกว่ามีกี่ข้อ ก็ใช้คำว่า ข้อ แต่ที่แน่ ๆ ไม่ใช้คำว่า ตัว จ้ะ
Si Sawat: Well, it depends on what you want to convey. If there are ‘Laai wi-chaa’, we say we have ‘Gaan baan laai wi-chaa’. If we want to talk about how many ‘Yaang’ there are, we’ll use ‘Yaang’. And if we want to talk about how many ‘Kor’ there are, we’ll use ‘Kor’ however we’d certainly not use ‘Dtua’.

ผู้บรรยาย: คำว่า การบ้าน ใช้ลักษณนามได้หลายคำ ต้องเลือกใช้ให้ตรงความหมาย
Narrator: There are several classifiers that may be used with the word ‘Gaan baan’. We must choose the one that fits the intended meaning.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.


‘Lak-sa-na-naam’ (ลักษณนาม) means ‘(Thai) classifiers’.

‘Gaan baan’ (การบ้าน) means ‘homework’.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode Fifty Eight: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Thai-Notes: Free Reading Course


A website growing in popularity with the Thai community for its online Thai Typing Trainer is Mike’s Thai-Notes. Mike is presently in the process of adding yet another free course – one that teaches you how to read Thai.

Thai-Notes is a website with a variety of applications to people learning Thai. Its latest addition is a reading course. This course takes the beginner from reading the first few characters and vowels, in small, easy steps, to a comprehensive mastery of all the rules of reading Thai with its many complexities and irregularities. Provided within each lesson are lots of opportunities for practice through simple, interactive games.

New materials introduced in a logical way, based upon frequency, makes sure that beginners get maximum use out of what they learn.

The course also includes instruction and worksheets for those who want to learn to write Thai characters and words.

Currently there are 12 lessons available online (out of a planned 70). Until the course is complete new lessons will be added.

The course is available at Thai-Notes: Reading Index

Also available on Thai-Notes…

Thai Typing Resources:

Thai Typing Trainer
Thai Steady Typer
Thai Typing Game

Thai Dictionaries:

Thai-English/English-Thai Dictionary
Thai Classifier Dictionary

Thai Flashcards:

Flashcard Game
Flashcard Editor

Miscellaneous tools for learning Thai:

IPA Typing Tool
Thai Typing Tool

Note: As this is a project in the making, please contact Mike if you have suggestions or feedback.

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Cat Cartoons Episode Fifty Seven: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน ฝนตกหยิม ๆ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Fon dtok yim yim’

เก่ง: ฝนตกหยิ๊ม ๆ (หยิม ๆ) ยายซิ้มไปตลาด ฝนตกหยิ้ม ๆ (หยิ๊ม ๆ) ยายซิ้มไปตลาด
Pee Geng: ‘Fon dtok yim yim’, ‘Yaai Sim bpai dta-laat’, ‘Fon dtok yim yim’, ‘Yaai Sim bpai dta-laat’

ก้อย: พี่เก่ง ฝนมีหน้าอยู่ตรงไหนหรอ(หรือ) ก้อยไม่เห็นฝนยิ้มเลย
Goi: Pee Geng, does rain even have a face? I really don’t see how it (the rain) can ‘yim’.

เก่ง: ฝนตกหยิม ๆ ไม่ใช่ฝนตกยิ้ม ๆ ฝนจะยิ้มได้ยังไง(อย่างไร)เล่า เค้า(เขา)เรียกฝนที่ตกน้อย ๆ บาง ๆ ตกเรื่อย ๆ เดินไปก็ไม่เปียกว่า ฝนตกหยิม ๆ
Geng: It’s ‘Fon dtok yim yim’, not ‘Fon dtok yim yim’. How can rain ‘yim’? They call rain that falls in fine drops, lightly, so much so that you could walk through it and not get soaking wet: ‘Fon dtok yim yim’.

ก้อย: อ๋อ ตกหยิม ๆ ไม่เปียก ยายซิ้มจึงไปตลาดได้ใช่มั๊ย(ไหม)พี่เก่ง
Goi: Ah, ‘Dtok yim yim’, ‘Mai bpiak’, so Yaai Sim could go to the market. Right, Pee Geng?

เก่ง: ใช่แล้ว ฝนตกหยิม ๆ ยายซิ้มไปตลาด
Geng: That’s right! ‘Fon dtok yim yim’, ‘Yaai Sim bpai dta-laat’.

วิเชียรมาศ: แล้วพี่เก่งก็ไม่ยักบอกพี่ก้อยว่า หยิม ๆ เขียน ห หีบ ย ยักษ์ สระอิ ม ม้า แล้วก็มีไม้ยมกด้วย พี่ก้อยจะได้เขียนถูก
Wi-chian maat: Pee Geng should have just told Pee Goi that ‘Yim yim’ is written ‘Hor heep’, ‘Yor yak’, ‘Sara i’ and ‘Mor maa’ and there’s also a ‘Maai yamok’, so that Pee Goi can write it correctly.

ผู้บรรยาย: ฝนที่ตกน้อย ๆ ประปราย เรียกว่า ฝนตกหยิม ๆ
Narrator: Light, light rain, ‘Bpra-bpraai’, is called ‘Fon dtok yim yim’.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.


‘Fon dtok yim yim’ (ฝนตกหยิ๊ม ๆ) basically means ‘drizzle’, as in ‘rain in very small, light drops’.

‘Yim’ (ยิ้ม) basically means ‘(to) smile’.

The ‘yim’ (หยิม) in ‘Fon dtok yim yim’ (ฝนตกหยิ๊ม ๆ) and ‘yim’ (ยิ้ม) are ‘homophones’, in that they sound alike but have different meanings.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode Fifty Seven: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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65 Useful Thai Phrases You Won’t Find in a Travel Phrasebook: Part Four

Learn Thai With Porn

Here’s part FOUR of 65 Useful Phrases You Won’t Find in a Travel Phrasebook.

Note: To help those learning to read Thai script, the below phrases have Thai only, no transliteration. A pdf combo of transliteration/Thai/English can be downloaded at the end of this post.

196. มาคนเดียวเหรอครับ

Have you come here alone?
Are you here alone?

197. เปล่าค่ะ มากับเพื่อน เพื่อนไปเข้าห้องน้ำ

No, I am here with a friend, he has gone to the restroom.

198. เพื่อนหรือแฟน

A friend or a boyfriend?

199. ถามทำไมคะ จะจีบฉันเหรอ

Why do you ask? Are you hitting on me?

200. เพื่อความแน่ใจเฉยๆครับ

I just wanted to make sure!

201. ไม่เชื่อหรอก
I don’t believe it!

202. พูดไม่ออกเลย
I am speechless!

203. จะไปรู้ได้ยังไง

How should I know?

Phrase 203 is showing annoyance that somebody asked you about a certain topic.

204. โน คอมเม้นท์
No comment.

205. ขอไม่พูดเรื่องนี้ดีกว่านะ
I’d rather not talk about it.

206. เบื่อเต็มทีแล้ว
I am really fed up with it.

207. เบื่อกับงานเต็มทีแล้ว
I am really fed up with my job.

208. เปลี่ยนใจแล้ว

I have changed my mind.

209. ผม/ฉันพูดอย่างงั้นจริงๆเหรอ

Did I really say that?

210. ไปได้ยินมาจากไหน

Where did you hear that?

Use when you hear somebody say something that you know is wrong, you want to tell them they are wrong.

211. เมื่อกี๊ถึงไหนแล้ว
Where were we?

You are asking your conversation partner what it was that you were talking about last.

212. พูดอีกอย่างนึงก็คือ
In other words

213. ตัวอย่างเช่น
For example

214. ทำแบบนี้เพื่ออะไร

What are you doing this for?

215. เดี๋ยวมันก็ผ่านไป
This too shall pass.

216. มาจากดาวดวงไหนเนี่ย
What planet are you from?

217. ตอนเด็กๆไม่ชอบเรียนภาษาอังกฤษใช่ไหม
You did not like learning English when you were young, did you?
English was not your favourite subject, was it?

218. ลูกชายผมพูดภาษาอังกฤษเก่งกว่าคุณอีก
My son speaks English better than you do.

219. ก่อนจะช่วยคนอื่น เอาตัวเองให้รอดก่อนนะ

Before you help others, help yourself first.

220. คุณก็เป็นแค่ตัวตลก

You are a joke.

221. ผมเคยบอกคุณหรือยัง…
Have I ever told you…

…how much you mean to me.

222. กินข้าวหรือยัง
Have you eaten?

223. หิวหรือยัง
Are you hungry yet?

224. ใช้กรรไกรเสร็จหรือยัง
Have you finished with the scissors?

225. อ่านหนังสือเล่มนั้นจบหรือยัง
Have you finished that book yet?

In 221-225 หรือ can be omitted.

226. ใครกินเค้กหมด
Who finished off the cake?

227. กินให้หมด
Finish up your food!

228. ทำการบ้านให้เสร็จ
Finish your homework!

229. ผมยังทำงานไม่เสร็จ
I have not finished my work yet.

230. หนังเลิกกี่โมง
What time does the film finish?

231. ไม่ยุติธรรมเลย

This is so unfair.

232. ไม่รู้จะตอบแทนคุณยังไงดี
I don’t know how to repay you.

233. นั่นมันปัญหาของคุณ ไม่ใช่ของผม
That’s your problem, not mine.

234. เธอทำให้โลกนี้น่าอยู่ขึ้นเยอะเลย
She makes this world a better place to live in. 

235. คุณมาถูกทางแล้ว
You are on the right track.

236. อย่าแม้แต่จะคิด

Don’t even think about it!

237. อย่าคิดมากนะ
Don’t overthink it. 

238. อย่าคิดแบบนั้นสิ
Don’t think of it that way.

Don’t look at it that way.

239. คิดดีแล้วใช่ไหม
Have you thought it through?

240. อย่าทำอะไรเกินตัว
Don’t overstretch yourself. 

241. ขำอะไร
What’s so funny?

Used for telling someone that you do not understand why they are laughing. 

242. รู้นะคิดอะไรอยู่
I know what you are thinking.

243. คุณคิดว่าผมเป็นคนแบบไหน
What kind of person do you think I am?!

244. มันไม่สำคัญหรอกว่าคนอื่นจะคิดกับฉันยังไง
It does not matter what others think of me.

245. ต้องขอเวลาคิดก่อนนะ
I need some time to think.

246. เงียบหน่อย ผมกำลังใช้ความคิดอยู่
Be quiet. I am thinking. 

247. ผมว่าเอมม่าคงไม่ได้งานหรอก
I don’t think Emma will get the job.

248. ฉันว่าพรุ่งนี้ฝนคงไม่ตกหรอก
I don’t think it will rain tomorrow.

249. ผมไม่สนหรอกว่าคุณจะคิดยังไง

I don’t care what you think. 

250. คิดยังไงก็พูดออกมา
Say what you think.

251. เคยไปเมืองนอกมาหรือยัง
Have you ever been abroad?

252. เคยไปประเทศไหนมาบ้าง
Which countries have you been to?

253. ชอบประเทศไหนมากที่สุด
Which country did you like the most?

254. เคยนั่งเครื่องบินไหม
Have you ever been on a plane?

255. เคยเห็นหิมะไหม
Have you ever seen snow?

256. อยากเห็นไหม
Do you want to see it?

257. แต่งงานกับผมนะ
Will you marry me?

258. ผมสัญญาว่าจะดูแลคุณไปตลอดชีวิต
I promise to take care of you for the rest of my life.

259. ผมขาดคุณไม่ได้
I can’t live without you.

260. เวลาคุณรักใครสักคน คุณต้องเชื่อใจเขา
When you love someone, you’ve gotta trust them.


The pdf below has Thai script, transliteration, and English. The zip has numbered audio files.

PDF (231kb): 65 Useful Thai Phrases You Won’t Find in a Phrasebook: Part Four
ZIP (1.8mb): Audio: 65 Useful Thai Phrases: Part Four

Even more phrases are being created on Wannaporn’s FB at Learn Thai with พร.

65 Useful Thai Phrases
: The Series…

Please help support Baan Gerda…

Before I end this post I’d like to share a charity close to my heart, Baan Gerda. Baan Gerda is a project of the Children’s Rights Foundation, Bangkok. The charity supports children who have been orphaned by AIDS; some are HIV positive.

Baan Gerda is located in Lopburi, the province I come from. When I visited the children they reminded me how fortunate we all are. They gave me the hope to live happily so I want to help them live happy lives in return.

I would be overjoyed if you could reach out and help the children with a donation, no matter how small. You can find information on this link: Sponsorship and Support for BaanGerda. Many thanks.

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Cat Cartoons Episode Fifty Six: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน ไหว้ – ว่าย
Narrator: Episode – ‘Wai’ – “Waai’

เก้าแต้ม: เธอรู้มั๊ย(ไหม)ว่าพี่เก่งกับพี่ก้อยเค้า(เขา)ไปไหนกันน่ะ
Kao Taem: Do you know where Pee Geng and Pee Goi are going today?

วิเชียรมาศ: รู้ซี่(สิ) พี่ก้อยน่ะไปหัดว่ายน้ำ พี่เก่งก็ไปเป็นเพื่อนไง
Wi-chian maat: Of course I do! Pee Goi has gone to practise ‘waai naam’ and Pee Geng is accompanying her.

เก้าแต้ม: งั้นหรอ เออ เธอรู้มั๊ย(ไหม)ทำไมเค้า(เขา)จึงเรียกว่า ว่ายน้ำ
Kao Taem: Is that so? Say, do you know why they call it ‘waai naam’?

วิเชียรมาศ: ไม่รู้ซี่(สิ)
Wi-chian maat: No, I don’t.

เก้าแต้ม: ชั้น(ฉัน)รู้ ก็เวลาจะไหว้น้ำ เค้า(เขา)ต้องยกมือไหว้ก่อนเพราะกลัวจมน้ำ
Kao Taem: I do! Because before we ‘waai naam’, we must raise our hands to ‘wai’ first as we are afraid of drowning.

วิเชียรมาศ: โถ่เอ๊ย นึกว่าเก่ง ที่แท้ก็ไม่ได้เรื่อง ว่ายน้ำ เขียน ว แหวน ไม้เอก สระอา ย ยักษ์ ส่วน ไหว้ แสดงความเคารพเขียน สระไอไม้มลาย ห หีบ ว แหวน ไม้โท คนละคำแท้ๆ ถึงจะออกเสียงเหมือนกันแต่ก็เขียนคนละอย่างกันและความหมายก็ไม่เหมือนกันด้วยจ้ะ
Wi-chian maat: Sheesh! And here I was, thinking you were smart. ‘Waai naam’ is written ‘Wor waen’, ‘Maai ayk’, ‘Sara aa’ and ‘Yor yak’. As for ‘wai’, to show respect, it’s written ‘Sara ai maai ma-laai’, ‘Hor heep’, ‘Wor waen’ and ‘Maai toh’. There’re completely separate words. Even though they are pronounced the same but they are written differently and they have different meanings.

ผู้บรรยาย: ว่าย ใน ว่ายน้ำ เขียน ว แหวน ไม้เอก สระอา ย ยักษ์ ส่วน ไหว้ แสดงความเคารพเขียน สระไอไม้มลาย ห หีบ ว แหวน ไม้โท
Narrator: The ‘Waai’ in ‘Waai naam’ is written ‘Wor waen’, ‘Maai ayk’, ‘Sara aa’ and ‘Yor yak’ whereas ‘wai’, to show respect, is written ‘Sara ai maai ma-laai’, ‘Hor heep’, ‘Wor waen’ and ‘Maai toh’.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.


The dictionary meaning of ‘Waai’ (ว่าย) is ‘swim’ as in ‘(to) move through water by moving the body or parts of the body’ however in practice it is almost always written (and spoken) as ‘Waai naam’ (ว่ายน้ำ) [literally ‘swim (in) water’].

A ‘Wai’ (ไหว้) can not only be given as a greeting or farewell in Thailand but also to show respect, express gratitude or apologize / ask for forgiveness (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_greeting).

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Download: Cat Cartoons Episode Fifty Six: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Bab.la’s New (Community Driven) Online Thai-English Dictionary

Bab.la's Dictionary

Congrats to Bab.la! They’ve now added Thai-English to their massive collection of crowdsourced online dictionaries, making the Thai language number 42.

Just check it out!: Bab.la’s new online Thai-English Dictionary

About bab.la: bab.la is a language project by Andreas Schroeter and Patrick Uecker.

The idea has been on Andreas’ mind for quite some time. During his high school and university years he lived in Canada, France, Sweden and the USA. He noticed that just knowing the exact translation often doesn’t really help. You really need to “live” the language to come up with the right word.

Andreas has been collecting dictionaries from different languages for a long time. Putting the things together was just a natural step: Starting a portal where language lovers can meet and exchange their ideas and learn languages from each other.

Who is a better teacher than a native speaker who likes to share his knowledge?

Side note: To support the foreign language community, Bab.la hosts the amazing Top 100 Language Lovers Competition each year. It’s a huge effort (kudos to their team).

Whether your goal is to get your head around some basic Thai survival phrases for your travels around the country, or if you plan to stay in the longer term and need a more in-depth understanding, the bab.la Thai-English dictionary will come in handy.

Did you know that you can contribute to bab.la’s dictionaries? By joining the bab.la community, you can suggest new words and verify words contributed by others. You can also ask for grammar, translation, spelling or pronunciation help in babla’s forum.

For fun, be sure to check out bab.la’s infographic sharing interesting facts about the Thai language and the Thai culture.

Again, congrats to bab.la! I’ve been patiently waiting for this to happen :)

Twitter: @babla
Website: en.bab.la
Blog: lexiophiles.com
Facebook: babla.languages
Dictionary: Thai-English Dictionary

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