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Review: 6000 Thai Words – Seriously Addictive iOS + Android + Windows 10 Apps


6000 Words: Learn the Thai Language for FREE…

If your motivation to study Thai is wavering, you really should try FunEasyLearn – it’s a seriously addictive smartphone app! It’s free (except for removing ads – up to you) so all you have to lose is your time.

But before you start wading through this lengthy review … if Thai-English vrs English-Thai vocabulary lists matters to you, go no further. The vocabulary in this app comes from an English database so there’s a chunk of Thai specific vocabulary missing.

So sure, you won’t come across vocabulary for coke in a bag, sticky rice with mango, tuk-tuks, sanuk, etc.

BUT! There is a LOT of vocabulary! If I could learn how to spell a chunk of the 6000 words in this app I’d be chuffed to bits. Seriously. My spelling is sucky.

A quick tutorial from FunEasyLearn…

They do have a video (below) plus an animated walk-through inside the app but I wanted more so contacted the gang at FunEasyLearn for tips:

Our apps help you to learn most common words and phrases. These words and phrases are useful when travelling, meeting new people, developing life-long friendships or simply in any daily conversation.

Easy Steps to Use our App:

  1. When you run the app you can find three rows: Topic, Subtopic and Game.
  2. Just choose the Topic you want to learn first (for example Topic: Shopping).
  3. Then choose Subtopic (for example Subtopic: supermarket).
  4. After this choose the game you want to play (we recommend to start with Vocabulary game).
  5. Tap “Play” button and that’s it!

Besides the fact that you learn many useful words and phrases, these games help you to improve your writing, reading and pronunciation.

Tips for you:

  1. Spin Categories – allows the app to choose a random topic, subtopic and game for you.
  2. Review Manager – helps you to review your wrong answers, right answers, or even all the phrases.
  3. Favourite words or phrases – permits you to choose your difficult words/phrases, set as favourite and revise them later. After you selected your favorite words/phrases just go to Main Menu, choose Review words/phrases and tap Review Words/Favorite Phrases button.

TIP: When going to the next level (say, from beginner to intermediate), to see the new vocabulary, under ‘Level’ in xxx, make sure ‘Learn words from previous level’ is turned off.

Now that you’ve read the quick explanation and watched the video, I have two suggestions: Either 1) Go have fun with the app, or 2) keep reading for a detailed overview.

Walk-through of the Beginner level: 1000 Words…

This is quite a big app so I mapped it out with only the Beginner’s level turned on. There are three levels (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced) and they all suck into the Topics shown here – keeping to one level to start helped to make it manageable.

The top nav…


On the main screen there are three icons across the top: 1) Manage App, 2) Search bar, and 3) to the far right, a Flower.

Manage App (circle icon):


  1. Level: Select level (beginner-intermediate-advanced), turn on/off learn words from previous levels, turn on/off Thai script.
  2. Statistics: Scores, overall stats, current streak, streak targets, levels completed, words reviewed, your skills, learned word target.
  3. Store: This is where you can get more levels by paying to get rid of ads. Beginner is £2.99 and Intermediate £8.99. Via the mysterious Flowers section I received 60% off the Advanced level.
  4. Restore purchases: Just as it says.
  5. Support: FAQs and making contact (plus reporting any mistakes you find).
  6. Settings: Native language, sounds, reset tutorials (the animated walk through), one word a day notification (haven’t figured it out yet), review word notification (haven’t figured it out yet).
  7. App: Rate the app, more apps, about this app. Icons across the bottom go to Facebook, twitter, Google+, and YouTube.

Search (search bar):

FunEasyLearnI love this search. It’s beautifully designed (as is the entire app). When you click on the search bar (without typing in anything) the vocabulary for the Topic you are studying appears. Scroll up and down to see all of the vocabulary for the different Subtopics under Topic. At the end of each Subtopic you’ll see how many words for that Subtopic are in other levels.

Each word first shows the English and the Thai script, with a Favourites star on the right (to put the word into a Favourites list). The three bars denote which level the word comes from (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced).

Click inside a box and it expands while saying the word using a real Thai voice, not machine generated (T2S). The transliteration now appears below the Thai.

At the bottom of the expanded box are three icons: 1) audio (repeats the word), 2) book (takes you to the word’s dedicated Vocabulary page – clicking the left arrow takes you back), and 3) the Favourites star again.

Flowers (flower icon): As you play the game, you earn flowers that you can then redeem inside the app. Flowers are what makes the app free. Earn flowers, get new levels for free. I was only on the app a short while when I was offered 60% off the Advanced course so it’s worth paying attention to.

The main guts of the app…

FunEasyLearnAs mentioned in FunEasyLearn’s tutorial above, the app operates around three main nav sections: 1) Topic, 2) Subtopic, and 3) Games.

In the graphic to the right the selected Topic is People, the Subtopic is Body, and the Game is Vocabulary.

To work the app you slide each nav section to the left or right to line up different choices. When working your way through a section, reaching the end automatically moves you to the next one.

Tip 1: As you go through the app don’t think of it as linear. Think of it as peeling an apple all in one go. You start at the top (People), with each section leading you into the next, and the next, and the next, until you reach the bottom, the end of the course. But that’s only if you follow a set route – you can also wiz around willy-nilly. I started by bouncing all over the place but got dizzy so went in search of a logical way to attack the app.

Tip 2:Also important to know is that clicking on a Topic/Subtopic/Game running down the middle either selects or deselects that item. Just remember that you need to have one from each section selected (Topic/Subtopic/Game) before the bottom arrow allows you to play a game. If three are not selected and you double click on the arrow, it will select for you. Surprise!

So now, on to the guts of the app…

As per my confession, when I first started playing with the app I was twirling all over the place so I backed off, started from the beginning, and then worked my way to the end, taking notes as I went. And that’s what you’ll read below.

1) Topic (top nav slider): People, Appearance, Health, Home, Services, Shopping, Food, Eating out, Study, Work, Transport, Sport, Leisure, Environment, Reference, Review words.

2) Subtopic (middle nav slider): Each of the top nav subjects (shown above) break down into mini-subjects (Subtopics) within the middle nav. Tip: The course starts with People but when you open the app most any Topic could be in place.

Subtopic – People: Body, Face, Hand, Foot, Muscles, Skeleton, Internal organs, Family, Relationships, Emotions, Life events, People review favourites, People review wrong, Review. Then >> Children’s clothing, and the Subtopic bounces to the next in line, Appearance…

Subtopic – Appearance: Children’s clothing, Men’s clothing, Women’s clothing, Accessories, Hair, Beauty, Appearance Review Favourite, Appearance Review Wrong, Review appearance. Then it goes into >> Illness…

Subtopic – Health: Illness, Doctor, Injury, First aid, Hospital, Dentist, Optician, Alternative therapy, Health Review Favourite, Health Review Wrong, Review Health, and then >> House…

Subtopic – Home: House, Internal systems, Living room, Dining room, Kitchen, Kitchenware, Bedroom, Bathroom, Nursery, Utility room, Workshop, Toolbox, Decorating, Garden, Garden plants, Garden tools, Gardening, House Review Favourite, House Review Wrong, Review Home >> Emergency services…

Subtopic – Services: Emergency services, Communications, Hotel, Services Review Favourite, Service Review Wrong, Review Services >> Shopping centre…

Subtopic – Shopping: Shopping centre, Supermarket, Chemist, Florist, Newsagent, Confectioner, Other shops, Shopping Review Favourite, Shopping Review Wrong, Review Shopping >> Meat…

Subtopic – Food: Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Fruit, Grains and pulses, Herbs and spices, Bottled foods, Dairy products, Breads and flours, Cakes and desserts, Delicacies, Drinks, Food Review Favourite, Food Review Wrong, Review Food >> Cafe…

Subtopic – Eating out: Cafe, Bar, Restaurant, Fast food, Breakfast, Dinner, Eating out Review Favourite, Eating out Review Wrong, Review Eating out >> School…

Subtopic – Study: School, Maths, Science, College, Study Review Favourite, Study Review Wrong, Review Study >> Office…

Subtopic – Work: Office, Computer, Media, Law, Farm, Construction, Professions, Work Review Favourite, Work Review Wrong, Review Work >> Roads…

Subtopic – Transport: Roads, Bus, Car, Motorbike, Bicycle, Train, Aircraft, Airport, Ship, Port, Transport Review Favourite, Transport Review Wrong, Review Transport >> American football…

Subtopic – Sport: American football, Rugby, Soccer, Hockey, Cricket, Basketball, Baseball, Tennis, Golf, Athletics, Combat sports, Swimming, Sailing, Horse riding, Fishing, Skiing, Other sports, Fitness, Sport Review Favourite, Sport Review Wrong, Review Sport >> Theatre…

Subtopic – Leisure: Theatre, Orchestra, Concert, Sightseeing, Outdoor activities, Beach, Camping, Home entertainment, Photography, Games, Arts and crafts, Leisure Review Favourite, Leisure Review Wrong, Review Leisure >> Space…

Subtopic – Environment: Space, Earth, Landscape, Weather, Rocks, Minerals, Animals, Plants, Town, Architecture, Environment Review Favourite, Environment Review Wrong, Review Environment >> Time…

Subtopic – Reference: Time, Calendar, Numbers, Weights and measures, World map, North and central America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania >> Reference Review Favourite, Reference Review Wrong, Review Reference >> Review All Wrong Answers…

Subtopic – Review words: Review All Wrong Answers, Review All words, Review All Right Answers, Review All Favourite Words >> Body… (where it goes back to the beginning which is People). Tip: If you only have a few words to review it will pull from the general list (words you might not have seen).

3) Games (bottom slider nav): Vocabulary, Choose word, Find image, Match words, Listen and choose, Write word, Listen and write.


Games – Vocabulary (book icon): This section introduces each word with Thai script, transliteration, a graphic, and audio recorded by real people. Here you study the information, record your voice to see how close you can get to the Thai (it’s great – the app converts your voice into Thai script), create favourites, then move onto the next word.

There’s no way to turn off transliteration but it doesn’t last for long (unless you’ve selected the ‘transliteration only’ option via the settings). Vocabulary is the only game where you can click the star icon on the top right to make the word a favourite (otherwise use the dictionary search). The arrow on the top left takes you back to the main screen. The thick arrow on the right auto scrolls the screens. Turn off auto scrolling by clicking on the || icon that replaces the right arrow. Across the bottom left of the screen there are two audio controls. One repeats at a normal speed and the other at a slower speed. The icon to the right records your voice (you first need to let the app access your microphone). Speak into your phone and a Thai translation in Thai script appears. It’s pretty nifty for getting your pronunciation right, as well as enforcing spelling.

Games – Choose word (finger icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise with audio. There’s a single graphic across the top with the English word below. The two boxes across the bottom each have a word in Thai (default setting is script, no transliteration). If you select the correct Thai word the box turns green, the word is spoken, and you advance to the next selection. Select the wrong word and the box turns red with an X on it. You must select the right word to advance. There are no cheats (more about those below).

Games – Find Image (magnifying glass icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise with audio. There are four boxes, each with a word in English. Along the bottom there’s a Thai word in Thai script (no transliteration unless you’ve changed it in the settings). You need to select the correct word in English. If you select the right word, it’s spoken, the square goes green and then it flips to the correct graphic. If you get it wrong you get a box with a red X inside. You must get a correct answer before moving on.

Games – Match words (scale icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise but sans audio. There are two rows of boxes: the row on the left has Thai script (unless you’re studying with transliteration) and the row on the right has English. Click one of each to match the boxes. Get it correct and the two boxes go green and disappear. Get it wrong and the two boxes turn red and then back to white. There is a cheat: Click the ? symbol in the lower right corner and it’ll match boxes for you.

Games – Listen and choose (earphones icon): This is a listening exercise. On the screen are four squares with graphics inside. You have to match a graphic with the audio that you hear as soon as four boxes appear. Get it right and the box goes green and you advance to the next screen. Get it wrong and the box goes red with an X in the middle. There are two sound icons on the bottom left. One replays the audio at a normal rate and the other at a slower rate. The icon to the right is cheat for those in a Thai script setting; clicking the icon gives you Thai transliteration.

Games – Write word (paper/pencil icon): This is a spelling exercise. There’s a single graphic with word under it in English. Under that is a partially filled in word (unless it’s a two letter word), with dashes denoting missing letters. Below are boxes with a choice of letters in Thai script (unless you’ve chosen transliteration). You need to click the boxes to fill in what’s missing. When you get it right you’ll hear the word spoken and then move onto the next. There is a cheat: Clicking on the ? symbol fills in the missing items one by one.

Games – Listen and write (radio icon): This is a listening, spelling exercise. Similar to Write word, there’s a single graphic but in this one there’s no English. Instead of words, the audio plays automatically with dashes showing how many spaces you need to fill in. All of the letters are missing. Below are boxes with Thai script (unless of course, you are using transliteration). Click on boxes to fill in the spaces. To the left is an audio icon to hear the word once more. Again, the cheat is the ? symbol.

FunEasyLearnBasic navigation inside each game: When you start playing a game, across the top there’s an arrow on the left that takes you back to the home screen (logical). There’s also a round icon on the right that tells your game progress, game score, and what Topic and Subtopic you are in. Depending on the game, across the bottom the icons change.


Game Wheel: You only get the screen that has all of the game icons (shown above) when you’ve completed a game. The circular icon with the arrow on the end replaces the icon of the game you just completed – click to repeat the game. The home icon takes you back to the main screen. The centre icon takes you to the next game on the list.

Here’s a breakdown of the icons: Vocabulary (book icon), Choose word (finger icon), Find image (magnifying glass icon), Match words (scale icon), Listen and choose (earphones icon), Write word (paper/pencil icon), Listen and write (radio icon).

Learn 6000 Thai Words on iOS, Android and Windows 10…

This app has it all. Listening, reading, writing and spelling.

And if you haven’t figured it out (and before I forget to mention) this app is brilliant for those who can read Thai or are learning how to read Thai and want improve their spelling using Thai script. I haven’t seen anything like it.

If you are using transliteration (only) the spelling sections (Write word and Listen and write) might need a miss but the rest should keep you hopping. Let me know how you get on?

Here’s the app on iTunes and Google Play:

iOS: 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free
Android: 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free
Windows 10 (mobile, tablet, PC): 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free

Eventually I’ll make my way over to the phrase version of the app. Love it.

iOS: 5000 Phrases – Learn Thai Language for Free
Android: 5000 Phrases – Learn Thai Language for Free

EDIT: You can report mistakes from inside the app (Manage App >> support >> contact us) or send them to support@funeasylearn.com

Here’s FunEasyLearn around and about:

Twitter: @FunEasyLearn
Facebook: Fun Easy Learn
YouTube: Fun Easy Learn
Website: FunEasyLearn

There’s still more I need to figure out but I can promise you that eventually, I’ll get to the bottom of the app. But, instead of delving further, I’m going to get back to having fun getting my spelling up to speed. If I find anything new I’ll add it to this review. If you find anything, please let me know either by leaving comments below or via my contact form.

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Interview Compilation: What is the Biggest Misconception for Learning Thai?

Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

What is the biggest misconception for students learning Thai?…

Out of the 50, 22 focused on tones and pronunciation. But there’s a mixed bag. Some said tones tones are not impossible to master while others bounced between tones being important and not as unimportant as feared. And 14 mentioned the misconception that the Thai language difficult to learn.

And now for the rest of the interview…

Aaron Handel

Aaron Handel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAaron: People tend to cling to what is familiar to them. They are most comfortable with the sounds of their native language. The tonal characteristics of Thai are seen as cumbersome, trivial, and alien. Some people actually convince themselves that tones are unnecessary. This is a great misconception.

I have met many foreigners who communicate quite well with their Thai girlfriends, but are not understood by others. Usually, this kind of “Thai” is spoken in a mono-tone or it may have an inflection that conveys the English speaker’s feelings. This is not Thai.

I once met a Chinese gentleman who spoke “Thai” at lighting speed. He had learned it in 6 months, from Chinese teachers. There was only one problem. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not understand him. His Chinese influenced tones didn’t make any sense to me. Some Chinese dialects have as many as 13 different tones. It seemed to me that he was using at least 13 and maybe more! It made my head spin. I felt a bit sorry for him. It will take him a long time to unlearn what he had learned incorrectly.

Speaking Thai is not just a matter of using tones, but using the correct Thai tone for each syllable. Fortunately there are only five tones in Thai. The tone of a word is an integral part of its meaning. Consider this. Suppose you go to a restaurant and want to order roasted chicken. You should ask for gài yâhng (literally, chicken roasted). Yâhng is the verb meaning to roast. It is pronounced with a falling tone. However, if you were to pronounce yahng with a middle tone, you would be requesting a rubber chicken!

Usually, Thais have a good laugh when a foreigner bungles the tone, but sometimes the wrong tone can lead to confusion. The tonal distinction between near (glâi, with a falling tone) and far (glai, with a middle tone) has caused many a foreigner to wander around aimlessly.

Aaron Le Boutillier

Aaron Le Boutillier: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAaron: That tones are not important. I have heard people say that you should not worry too much as the context of the sentence will be enough. I have never seen evidence of this. The best thing I was ever told that has helped me on my path is “find your Thai voice”.

Adam Bradshaw

Adam Bradshaw: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAdam: That the language barrier will never be broken haha. Patience is a virtue especially when it comes to learning Thai!

Andrew Biggs

Andrew Biggs: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAndrew: That you can do it without reading and writing it.

Chris Pirazzi

Chris Pirazzi: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersChris Pirazzi: That any transliteration system shows them how to make the sounds of Thai.

Colin Cotterill

Colin Cotterill: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersColin: One is certainly the belief that you can get through life without tones. I’ve met a lot of foreigners who pump out their Thai in monotone and are bemused when they aren’t understood. This is particularly common in long-term expats. They get away with it in a relationship with a partner whose ear is attuned to farang-speak but then can’t get the simplest point across to the waitress or the petrol pump attendant. Thai’s a tonal language. Learning the tones is half the battle. And learning tone and vocab at the same time is the most sensible way to go about it. You can either do this by learning to read before you pick up vocabulary, or you can go the Cotterill route and learn vocab in tone groups. Again in mnemonics, one set of vocab that lives on top of a mountain for high tone, one set falling out of an airplane for falling tone, etc.

Daniel B Fraser

Daniel B Fraser: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDaniel: I think it is that you have to sound perfect before you can be accepted as a Thai speaker. But Thai has so many styles and accents, that one shouldn’t let the sounds and tones intimidate you. Just go out there and make an effort.

David Long

David Long: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDavid: That language learning is difficult. I believe that the thing that makes it difficult is mostly centered on how we try to do it! It seems to me that If a 2 year old can do it, then so can I and it doesn’t have to be hard!

David Smyth

David Smyth: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDavid Smyth: One misconception is that if you get a tone wrong, Thais will not understand you. Another is that if you can’t immediately ‘hear’ or distinguish tones, you might as well not waste any further time trying to learn the language. Some learners can hear and reproduce tones accurately almost from the outset, while others take longer … yet still get there.

Another misconception is that it is good enough just to speak and there is no need to write. Back in 1906 Basil Osborn Cartwright cautioned ‘those who imagine they can ‘pick up’ a smattering of the language in a few weeks by trying to learn words in a parrot-like fashion from romanized versions which are invariably misleading’ and which is an ‘absolute waste of time, money and frequently of temper also.’

Don Sena

Don Sena: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDon: It is possibly the greatest misconception concerning any foreign tongue: an unawareness of the phenomenon of polysemy – the array of related meanings associated with almost every vocabulary item in any language. Because of polysemy, there are no one-to-one correspondences between the meanings of a word in one language and the meanings of any one word in some other language.


Doug: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDoug: That native orthography should be learned immediately (for those in more formal programs), and/or that informal methods work over the long run (for those studying informally).

Gareth Marshall

Gareth Marshall: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersGareth: That pronunciation is not important.

Glenn Slayden

Glenn Slayden: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersGlenn: A common response to this question is to “not sweat the tones.” Perhaps they are intimidating and if this is an excuse to not learn the language then maybe their importance can be minimized at first. However, in my experience, being a poor tone user, they are actually important. And the tone rules (determining the spoken tone from the spelling) are hard. I discussed this last week with my language-exchange student, a native Thai woman studying for the TOEFL here in Seattle. It was frustrating for me because she did not know what I was talking about: native Thai speakers have learned the tone system so innately as small children that they often aren’t even aware that there are rules that adult learners must master. While some Thais that you may communicate with in Thailand have the ability to imagine the different possibilities for your incorrect tones and chuckle but understand you, others seem to be hearing something like the difference between “cat” and “dog,” and are completely mystified by your utterance.

Grace Robinson

Grace Robinson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersGrace: Thinking it’s going to be particularly difficult.

Hamish Chalmers

Hamish Chalmers: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHamish: That westerners can neither hear nor replicate the tones.

Hardie Karges

Hardie Karges: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHardie: That tones are a huge obstacle to learning the language. Tones are a function of correct pronunciation, but so are many things, such as long and short vowels, which is scarcely mentioned. Once you can read, then you can ‘see’ the tones also, as they are written in.

Non-tonal Thai is still understandable, also, witness Lao which differs significantly in tone from Thai, but not an obstacle really. Many Cambodians can speak Thai, but non-tonally, though still understandable. Some of the words they share with Thai indeed ARE spoken the same way, though Khmer is technically a non-tonal language.

Herb Purnell

Herb Purnell: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHerb: People are really different in their learning styles, motivation for learning Thai, living situations, opportunities to get instruction (if they’re even interested in getting it), and willingness to use the language often and with many different people and, in so doing, become vulnerable. So it’s probably not possible to say anything that will fit everyone. But here are a few thoughts.

For people like me, a misconception would be that written Thai is the “real” language. The real language is oral language with its many styles and levels of speaking. The script is attractive, exotic, and challenging, and reading is very valuable at an intermediate level and beyond, but I consider it to be secondary to spoken Thai.

Another misconception is that the language is really easy, since it doesn’t have the complexity of all those suffixes and prefixes as in Russian. Or, conversely, that Thai is really hard, possibly inscrutable, and maybe unlearnable for non-Thais because of the tones and the looseness of singular/plural, lack of marked tenses, and the like. The first view can lead to overconfidence when the learner gets a quick spurt, especially toward the beginning. The second view can lead to discouragement and a decrease in motivation, then falling back on a mix of Thai and English, or to being content with broken Thai or in despair of ever improving. A middle or balanced way seems to work for most learners: some things are easy to grasp, others are difficult but eventually learnable; one just needs to stay positive, keep working hard, and enjoy the experience of interacting with people in their heart language.

For some people, perhaps for those taking a formal class, a misconception is that if I pay attention and do my homework, maybe looking/listening to snatches of the language on tape, on a CD, or on the Internet, that the language will come. Perhaps it will, but the real payoff in language learning, whether independent or classroom, is interacting with people, getting to know them, and sharing each other’s ideas. In my current work at a language school in Bangkok, revising the curriculum, I am writing very focused and doable assignments that enable students to use what they learned in class in interactions with Thai people outside of class, from very simple assignments at the start to more complex interviewing at the upper intermediate level. These assignments integrate learning in class and learning in the community and, if students are willing to follow them and use them, they can help students to become independent learners with skills they can use long after formal classes are done with.

Hugh Leong

Hugh Leong: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHugh: The biggest mistake people have is not to stress the importance of Thai tones. In my opinion, if you get the tones wrong, no matter how much they are smiling at you, no matter how much vocabulary you know, no matter how well you read and write, no one will understand a word you say. Let me change that a bit. If you have someone you spend lots of time with, your partner, paramour, maid, golf caddie, they may be able to “decipher” incorrect tones and guess what you mean. That becomes more of an idiolect, your own personal language, which can be understood by only a few.

Here is why tones are so important. The sounds of English can be divided into 3 very important parts, consonants, vowels, and intonation. If you get any of these wrong then the person listening will have trouble understanding you. For instance, let’s say we have trouble with our consonants. You want to say “Your life is fine,” but you confuse the consonants and come out with “Your wife is mine”, only two small consonant changes. But if you say this to the wrong person you will quickly see how important consonants are in English. In this case we say that the change in consonants is “morphemic”, it changes the word’s meaning. I don’t think that anyone would say that it is unimportant to learn the English consonants and vowels. Then why do some people insist that Thai tones are not essential to being able to speak and be understood?

In Thai, tones are just as important as consonants and vowels. Changes in Thai tones cause “morphemic” changes in the words. They mean something different. If one speaks toneless Thai it is the same as saying all English words using only one consonant. “Your life is fine” becomes “Tour Tife is Tine”.

No wonder Thais look at us incomprehensibly at times. I’m not saying learning Thai tones is going to be easy. I still get those looks sometimes. And when I do, I don’t blame the listener for not understanding me. I know I just have to work a little harder at it. In one of my favorite books, Alice in Wonderland, Alice and Humpty Dumpty have a discussion as to whether “Saying what you mean” is the same as “Meaning what you say”. I never could figure out who was right. But I do know that if we don’t use the correct tones when speaking Thai we will always be meaning one thing and saying another.

Ian Fereday

Ian Fereday: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersIan: That it is any more difficult than any other language. Clearly, Europeans learning a language that uses the ABC alphabet is always going to be easier because they can already read it (mostly). That’s why I think learners should get reading out of the way first. Then it is not a hindrance to speaking and understanding.

James (Jim) Higbie

James (Jim) Higbie: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJim: Some people say the tones aren’t important but your Thai will sound pretty ragged if you don’t learn them.

Joe Cummings

Joe Cummings: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJoe: That you can learn the tones without learning to read. Children can learn by pure imitation, but not adults. Adult learners benefit immensely from both using the language communicatively (as in The Silent Way methodology) and by explicitly discussing the structure (grammar translation). You need to work at the language from both ends, structure and communication.

John Boegehold

John Boegehold: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJohn: That’s tough from my perspective because I had no conceptions at all when I started! I have noticed a fairly common one in other students has been thinking (or hoping, anyway) that tone is a secondary component in pronouncing a Thai word when in reality it’s as important as consonants and vowels in being understood clearly when speaking.

Jonathan Thames

Jonathan Thames: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJonathan: That it’s especially hard and/or impossible. I don’t know, lots of things. That’s what happens when you learn a language – hundreds of misconceptions are broken down over time. At least that’s been my experience.

Justin Travis Mair

Justin Travis Mair: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJustin: That it is TOO hard. Learning any language is difficult and Thai can seem even harder since there is little in common with English. That said, It is very attainable and I don’t think it is beyond anyone who is willing to try to be able to become fluent in Thai.

Larry Daks

Larry Daks: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersLarry: I don’t know what the biggest misconception is, but this is one that leads people feel reluctant to speak. That if you mispronounce words the listener can’t understand you. That is the case in some situations, but if you use words within sentences, your listeners can often figure out the context.

Luke Cassady-Dorion

Luke Cassady-Dorion: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersLuke: That it’s impossible for foreigners to learn, that tones are a hurdle which can’t be surmounted (anyone who has been to a Karaoke parlor knows that this country is full of tone-deaf Thais who can speak their own language just fine) and that the writing system is an obstacle.

Marc Spiegel

Marc Spiegel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMarc: Thinking you can get by learning transliteration. Of course you can learn the language, and I do have friends who are fluent; however, their pronunciation is quite poor and there are many instances where Thai people do not understand what they are saying until they hear most of the conversation and can understand the topic they are trying to speak about. In order to truly master Thai I strongly believe you must learn to read Thai properly.

Marcel Barang

Marcel Barang: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMarcel: That learning to read and write is difficult: it takes time, certainly, but it’s hugely rewarding. If you settle down in Thailand for a number of years, it’s well worth investing in reading and writing. My only regret: I never learned to type Thai. It’d have come handy in my line of work, to consult dictionaries online or to Google things.

Mark Hollow

Mark Hollow: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMark: That learning to read/write is too difficult or not necessary. Yes, it takes a long time and regular practice but it’s not too difficult. The benefits from being able to read are immense.

Martin Clutterbuck

Martin Clutterbuck: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMartin: That you can learn this language without learning the writing system.

Nils Bastedo

Nils Bastedo: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersNils: I think that every person is unique in this aspect. Since Thais tend to praise and don’t expect much from foreigners, one can gain a false sense of achievement. Remain humble. You will be advanced when you can watch Thai movies and newscasts with ease and read books and newspapers. If you cannot read a newspaper, you are intermediate at best.

Paul Garrigan

Paul Garrigan: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersPaul: I think that people expect things to happen quickly, but this is not the way for most of us. It is usually a case of believing that you are almost fluent one day to realising that you have a long way to go. It is easy to become disheartened because the prize always seems to be moving further away. Still if you stick with it you will get better. It might take a long time though; for some of us it will be a long long time.

Peter Montalbano

Peter Montalbano: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersPeter: I think different people have different misconceptions. Some think the tones aren’t important, and that’s about as wrong as could be. Some don’t notice the difference between long and short vowels. Some don’t get the difference between aspirated and unaspirated unvoiced stops (p, t, k, ph, th, kh).

And I’ve heard quite a few people claim fluency when they have only enough vocabulary for basic conversation. This may stem from the misconception I’ve heard from many speakers of Indo-European languages that this language is as easy to learn as another European language. At the basic spoken level, it may be as easy as those, or easier. But in the end, it comes from the other side of the world, and learning to speak it is like growing a second soul. There are almost no linguistic cognates, so the vocabulary you have to learn from scratch is immense. The grammar at first glance seems incredibly simple, but that’s deceptive. You will at almost every level of learning run into sentences that are nearly impossible to decipher without help. If you’re like me, the learning process is a lot of fun, but much harder than your third-year Spanish class, or whatever.

Rick Bradford

Rick Bradford: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRick: One common misconception is that Thai is too hard to learn. Another one, I think, among people who have begun to speak, is that mastering the tones is not of crucial importance.

Rikker Dockum

Rikker Dockum: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRikker: That learning Thai is anything other than fascinating, engaging, and rewarding. Also, the misconception that literacy is non-essential, or should be put off until later.

Ryan Zander

Ryan Zander: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRyan: That the tones are the hardest part of speaking. When I hear people speaking Thai poorly, it’s almost always their getting consonant sounds wrong that sticks out to my ears.

Scott Earle

Scott Earle: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersScott: 1. That the tones are not important (they really are!)
2. That you need not bother to learn to read and write. It makes a difficult job a lot easier!

Stephen Thomas

Stephen Thomas: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersStephen: That you can get by using Romanisation. There are consonant and vowel sounds that appear in Thai that we simply don’t have in English. Plus the vowels we use pull double and triple duty. In Thai a vowel is that vowel sound only, with the exception of a few vowel combinations which are considered separate diphthongs in their own right. The letter A on its own is used to represent 4 different Thai vowels. In English I can substitute one A sound for another in a word and you recognise that it’s the same letter, but to a Thai person you’ve completely changed the spelling. Also some vowels in Thai are held longer than others but we don’t have a way of noting that in The Latin Alphabet which leads to putting the stress on the wrong syllable which again results in a completely different spelling.

Whenever I see a name or a place written in Roman letters I look for the Thai in order to see how it’s really pronounced. Some assistant directors have offered me “karaoke” scripts and I tell them no.

Thai is actually a remarkably easy language to get to a basic level and like all languages it takes practice, good teaching and a lot of drilling. I think one of the big problems is that Thais, despite being wonderful at many things, aren’t the world’s best teachers. So many just stand in a classroom and talk. Being engaging doesn’t seem to have much importance in Thailand when it comes to teaching technique.


Stickman: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersStickman: That the language is difficult because of the tones. It isn’t!

Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj

Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersStu: Just because there are 40 odd consonants that it’s ‘hard to learn’. … oh, and that ‘tones are difficult’.

Tom Parker

Tom Parker: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersTom: That transliteration systems can be relied upon for correct pronunciation.

Thomas Lamosse

Thomas Lamosse: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersThomas: Taking short cuts. A focus on constantly trying to develop a large vocabulary before correct pronunciation of the words one can already speak. Learn to pronunciate every word in your vocabulary to perfection before adding new words.

My opinion is that it is better to speak 10 perfect than to have a huge vocabulary that is spoken incorrectly by mispronouncing characters, tones and vowels.

Tod Daniels

Tod Daniels: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersTod: That learning to read and understand what you’re reading in Thai is beyond them. It takes time, and countless hours of word memorization, review but for me, it’s far easier to read/understand things written in Thai than it is to speak clear Thai as a foreigner.

Also the old lame excuse, I can’t speak Thai because I’m tone deaf and can’t hear the differences in similar sounding yet differently toned words. In the beginning I couldn’t either and nearly gave up. Then I started learning the different tones in high frequency words I’d use: white, rice, shirt, mat, tiger, etc, (although I rarely talk about tigers as a rule!) Finally I actually began to hear the toning when Thais spoke to me. I also concentrated ONLY on the falling and rising tone as the other three can pretty much be blurred in colloquial speech with no loss in comprehension to a Thai.

I think ANYONE who puts their mind to it can learn to be at least conversational in Thai, get their point across and conduct their routine daily interactions in Thai.

Vern Lovic

Vern Lovic: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersVern: Maybe it’s that, “If I learn Thai – I know Thai.”

What I mean is, there are so many different dialects in Thai that you might know Thai and move 100km away and have a difficult time. When my wife moved from Isaan to the south – she was as dumbfounded as I was. That made me feel a lot better. Southern dialect is very different. Very little tonal expression and a whole lot of vowel sounds. I joke with the monks at the temple when they speak southern with me by repeating back what it sounds like to me that they just said… It goes something like, “Aweeooweeeweeee Oh Wa?”

The series: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation…

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TPR: Total Physical Response Explained


Total Physical Response (TPR) is a language teaching method developed by James Asher and has been in use for several decades. There’s a large amount of information, including sample curricula, on the web, and Asher and his colleagues have also published various books, available for instance from tpr-world.

The main idea of TPR is to teach comprehension through actions: the instructor gives commands, and the student carries them out. It is mostly used with beginners. Usually, the student doesn’t speak during TPR sessions, but speaking can be integrated later by having students take on the role of the instructor.

A typical first TPR session…

The instructor and the student sit on a chair. The instructor says “stand up” (in the target language) and stands up, then “sit down” and sits down. He repeats this one or two more times and then invites the student to do the action with him (for instance, using a hand gesture) – “stand up” – both stand up, “sit down” – both sit down. This is repeated a few times. Finally, the instructor stays on his chair and just says the commands, and the student performs the actions. This is again repeated a few times.

Now the instructor adds a new phrase, for instance “point to the door”. In order to introduce the new phrase, the instructor demonstrates it a couple of times alone and then does it together with the student a few more times before the student does it alone. Such a sequence could look as follows:

Instructor demonstrates the new phrase alone: stand up – point to the door – sit down – point to the door – stand up – sit down – point to the door – stand up – point to the door.

Instructor and student together: stand up – point to the door – sit down – point to the door – stand up – sit down – stand up – point to the door – sit down – point to the door – point to the door.

Student alone: (random mix of commands).

After “point to the door”, the instructor could introduce “point to the window”, “point to the table”, “point to the ceiling” one by one. After having introduced the verb “to point” and the nouns “door”, “window”, “table”, “ceiling”, the instructor could teach a new verb, ”to go”, with the same nouns: “go to the door”, “go to the window”, “go to the table”. Next, this could be expanded with “look at”, “run to”, and other objects available in that particular room.

In TPR, it should be avoided to “test” the student, the goal is always to have 100% success with any command. If the student can’t respond correctly, then the instructor has made a mistake. There are three basic rules for the instructor to make this fun and help the student learn:

  1. New phrases need to be introduced one by one.
  2. New and old phrases need to be mixed in an unpredictable, random way, and.
  3. Newly introduced phrases need to be practiced until the student is really confident before moving on.

Another important rule, especially in the beginning, is to keep the form of the command and the introduced phrases fixed. Even small changes to familiar phrases are likely to cause confusion, and with confusion learning breaks down.

Nothing is translated in TPR – students learn to understand the new language through actions. Associating sounds and actions is a powerful and efficient way of learning, and it can also be a lot of fun for both sides. TPR in its basic form can be used to teach a lot of concrete vocabulary by making creative use of the objects available in the house or class room. Advanced TPR phrases could be “put the red pen next to the book… now take the cup and hold it for a moment… now put the cup on the plate… now take the blue pen and put it in the cup…”, or you could even teach advanced sentence structures like “if the blue pen is in the cup, then take the bottle” or “shut the door after you’ve put the book on the table”.

My own experience with TPR…

Earlier last year I did a few TPR sessions with three different instructors as a beginner student of Khmer. I prepared my own curriculum, and instead of the instructor demonstrating a new action, I did it myself and had the instructor say the corresponding Khmer command. After a few rounds of eliciting the new command, we would do the normal sequence: the instructor giving commands, I performing the action. It was an interesting and fun experience, and I certainly would have continued if I had stayed in the area.

In the very beginning, I couldn’t distinguish individual words, but as soon as several commands of the same type were introduced (“go to the door”, “go to the window”, “go to the chair”), some words became clear (“go to”). Later more and more words became clear (“door”: “go to the door”, “point to the door”, “open the door”, “close the door”), until full phrases were transparent. I struggled when I went too quickly with new words, or sometimes with words that sounded similar (I remember mixing up table and cupboard), but otherwise it was surprisingly efficient. It was an amazing feeling to see myself respond correctly to that alien new language almost from the get-go.

At the end of this post, I would like to suggest two TPR-inspired techniques which can be used with a (trained) native speaker friend: Dirty Dozen, and TPR with objects. Similar to TPR, these two techniques are based on the idea that comprehension comes first, speaking later. One night’s sleep before activating the new vocabulary seems to be a good general guidance.

Dirty Dozen…

Dirty Dozen is a stripped down version of TPR aimed at learning a set of new words (a dozen seems to be a good number, not too few and not too many). These words can be names of objects, but also verbs or other words shown in pictures. Instead of doing some action, the learner (and the instructor during the training phase) just points to the correct object or part of a picture. As in TPR, one starts with two or three words and then adds one after the other. Supporting phrases in Dirty Dozen are usually “This is X” – “Where is X?” or “Show me X!”. 

As an example, you could go with your instructor to a motorbike parked on the street and start learning the parts it’s made of.

TPR with objects…

This works with almost any object – chopsticks, a jar, your purse, a notepad etc. Take the object and start manipulating it Dirty Dozen style. There’s an amazing amount of language which can be practiced with simple objects. For example, with a paper cup you could learn: take, give, turn upside down, push, drop, fill, empty, drink, sip, hold, crush, perforate, put in, take out, stack (if you have more than one), spin, roll, balance on two fingers, etc etc. For a buck or two, you can buy bits and pieces to practice colors, comparisons, shapes etc. There are many, many possibilities.

The process is always the same: the instructor says the new phrase and demonstrates it a few times, and then lets you do it. New phrases are introduced one by one, and new and old phrases are mixed randomly. In the initial session, the student just does the action and doesn’t speak, but student and instructor can switch roles the next day if the student wants to activate the new vocabulary.

NOTE: The post, Total Physical Response 500+ Thai Word List Translated (pdf download included) is live. Sound files will come later (after I get suggestions).

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Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Review and Free Draw

Cracking Thai Fundamentals

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Review and Free Draw…

For an extra holiday treat Stu Jay Raj (author of Cracking Thai Fundamentals) has gifted a book to giveaway to the lucky winner. As with previous draws, the rules are simple:

NOTE: Each relevant comment gets counted, so leave as many as you like.

The draw will run from this moment until 31st December (New Years Eve), 6am Thai time. As soon I’m awake(ish) I (or someone else) will throw the numbers into random.org, and then announce the winner.

Good luck all and ho ho ho!

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Review…

The Cracking Thai Fundamentals course by Stu Jay Raj was put together in 2000 to help members of the FCC (Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand) understand the Thai language. When researching the characteristic problems expats have with learning Thai as a second language, Stu developed an interactive system to kickstart students into learning the Thai language along with Thai culture (they go hand-in-hand).

Stu has since gone on to teach other expats, and has even taught the course in Thai to Thai teachers. I lucked out in my first year in Thailand when I came across CTF in Bangkok. It was such an entertaining eyeopener, I took it twice (as did many others in my class).

As there’s only so much of Stu to go around, to enable a wider audience to take advantage of CTF he created an interactive, online version at stujay.com, a membership site.

So there’s Cracking Thai Fundamentals the on-the-ground course, Cracking Thai Fundamentals the online course, and now Cracking Thai Fundamentals the book. When I asked Stu “why the book” he came back with:

Stu Jay Raj: Yes … I am getting older. The problem with the live course is that I have to choose between giving a brain overload or giving a watered down version. The book gets to go into more detail and can be used over the longterm. The online course was developed for a similar reason.

No matter which flavour you go with, the on-the-ground course, the online course, the course in book form, or even a combo, all are suitable for students of Thai sporting various backgrounds. Those brand spanking new to Thai will benefit by avoiding the many traps students often fall into, and those already deep into studying Thai will notice more than a few “ah ha’s” along their CTF journey.

Before I go any further, I want to point you to the most complete review out there for CTF, the book. It’s by Josh Sager at Let’s Talk Thai: Product Review: Cracking Thai Fundamentals by Stuart Jay Raj.

Josh Sager: An Operating System for the Mind: It’s important to mention right off the bat that this is not a Thai language learning “system” as you are perhaps accustomed to using. Stu himself is adamant in making this point clear. The book does not give you vocabulary lists to memorize, lessons on sentence structure, or quick phrases you can use while visiting Thailand as a tourist. Cracking Thai Fundamentals is a suite of tools designed to ultimately provide you with a deeper understanding of the Thai language; it’s a way to take what you already know, what you are currently learning, and smooth out the rough edges. Think of it like expanding your paint palette from 8 to 128 colors to help you paint more vivid pictures.

Review: Cracking Thai Fundamentals…

As Josh has done a fabulous job reviewing the book I’m going to focus on linking the chapters in the book with Stu’s online course at stujay.com.

For those of you who want to sample the online course before you buy, I’ve marked the FREE sections.

Stu Jay Raj: At a bare minimum I would encourage everyone reading the book to use the free online initial Preparing to Crack section along with the Consonant Compass… both interactive and downloadable versions. Laminate an A3 version of the Constant Compass and have it beside you as you learn.

Section One: Preparing to Crack the Fundamentals (page 30)
Preparing to Crack the Thai Fundamentals – Part 1 (FREE)

Section One is chockfull of tips to help prepare yourself for your Thai journey. It goes from changing your mindset (plenty of “ah ha’s”) to rearranging your actual life on the ground (paper dictionaries to computers).

Section Two: Thinking in Meanings (page 68)
CTF Thinking in Meanings
Thinking in Meanings Part 1
Thinking in Meanings Part 2 – Quizzes and Drills

Section Two is a full body, interactive chapter, where, with a few choice words, you are shown how feel their meanings before learning how to create actual sentences. For beginners, this is a brilliant intro into understanding how the Thai language works.

Section Three: Cracking Indic Based Scripts (page 181)
Cracking Indic Based Scripts – Main Lesson
Indic Consonant Compass (FREE)

Section Three covers the Thai sound system, the Thai writing system, and the system behind the system. Taking you back in time, this is where Stu opens up the magic of Indic based scripts to lay a foundation for reading, writing, and speaking Thai.

Section Four: Cracking the Thai Vowels (page 249)
Cracking the Thai Vowels – Main Lesson

Section Four uses hand signals and dimensions to get the Thai vowels into your head and out your mouth.

Section Five: Cracking the Thai Consonants (page 287)
Cracking Thai Consonants – Main Lesson

Section Five is understandably a large chunk of the book as it takes you through the Thai consonants. To assist your understanding, it goes through Stu’s pronunciation glyphs, the five cardinal points of articulation, and then over to each consonant in turn.

Section Six: Cracking Thai Tones (page 484)
Mastering Tones in Thai Chinese and other Tonal Languages
Conquering Thai Tones – Webinar

Section Six covers the bane of most language learners of Thai, tones. By this section you will already have constants and vowels down, along with an understanding of the map of the human mouth, so with a bit more work you will be able to slot in the tones.

Final: How to Make the Cracking Thai Fundamentals Vision a Reality (page 545)

Stu Jay Raj: Lastly, don’t forget that Thai Cracking Fundamentals is not a complete system to teach you Thai; that it is a system to help lay a new physical and mental operating system that will work hand in hand with all the other methods that you are using to learn Thai.

The final part of the book is a general “where do you go from here” section filled with advice on how to use what you’ve learned.

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Draw reminder…

As if you’d forget … the draw will run from this moment until 31st December (New Years Eve), 6am Thai time.

Good luck!

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Duke Thai Language School: Materials Review

Duke Language School

Duke Thai Language School’s updated materials…

When I first wrote the review for Duke Thai Language School I mentioned they were a Union Clone version 2.0 type of school. By that I meant they used the Union methodology and format albeit with new re-vamped, re-written text books. That has changed.

After more than a year in the making, Duke Language School’s new conversational Thai material is done and currently being taught. These were the books that Bingo (Arthit Juyaso) poured his blood, sweat and tears into writing from scratch. They are IMHO, the best, most comprehensive and information filled books on Thai conversation I’ve ever seen being taught in any school! They’re broken into three books (modules).

Journey 1: Survival “Practical Thai for everyday life”…

Duke Language School

The essential tools you need to survive in this country and go about your business independently. This coursebook covers the following topics:

  • Understanding the sound system and the numbers of the Thai language.
  • Introducing yourself, greeting and saying goodbye.
  • Getting a taxi and giving simple directions.
  • Buying street food.
  • Asking for directions inside a building.
  • Using public transportation and talking about locations.
  • Ordering food and solving difficult situations at a restaurant.
  • Buying clothes and describing colours, shapes and sizes.
  • Telling time and making appointments.
  • Getting a haircut and expressing degrees.
  • Buying things and using services at convenience stores.
  • Buying medicines and describing symptoms.
  • Solving communication breakdowns.
  • Talking about personal life.
  • Starting and holding a casual chit-chat in Thai.

Total number of unique words: 764
Core vocabulary (essential words): 584

As you can see these first 15 lessons teach you the survival Thai you’ll need. It provides a great foundation vocabulary which you will build on in the subsequent modules. In many ways learning a language is like building a house. IF you don’t start with a good foundation your house will be rickety and unstable. It’s the same with learning Thai, a good solid foundation is needed to build on.

Journey 2: Conversational “The basics of communicative Thai”…

Duke Language School

Develop your understanding of the Thai language and learn to say exactly what you want to say. This coursebook covers the following topics:

  • Expressing frequency, quantity, and number-related concepts.
  • Describing things using adjectives and expressing degrees.
  • Expressing similarities, differences, and comparing things.
  • Understanding the concept of Thai time expression.
  • Talking about people’s appearance and personality.
  • Describing directions of movements and changes of things.
  • Expressing perceptions, emotions, and feelings.
  • Talking about your skills and abilities, and the limit of them.
  • Giving instruction, expressing order or events, and describing purpose of things.
  • Making requests and commands.
  • Offering suggestions and expressing opinions.
  • Describing actions and consequences, causes and effects.
  • Making guesses and talking about probability.
  • Expressing likes and dislikes.
  • Talking about future plans, expectations and hopes.

Total number of unique words: 602
Core vocabulary (essential words): 497

This book is where you take the survival Thai from the previous module and start the building process from basic to more advanced structure. You learn to construct more complex sentences as well as how to sound more like a Thai when you say things. This last point is critical when trying to get Thais to understand you. The more you can say things which Thais are used to hearing, the better their comprehension of what you’re saying is.

Journey 3: Fluency “Real Thai in cultural context”…

Duke Language School

Learn about different aspects of Thai culture to help you speak Thai in a natural way with confidence. This coursebook covers the following topics:

  • Extended family and kinship terms.
  • Social status and its impact on Thai pronouns.
  • Understanding “face” and “greeng jai”.
  • Regions of Thailand and Thai dialects.
  • Thai food and table etiquette.
  • Buddhism in Thailand.
  • Ghosts, spirits, and superstitions.
  • Thai ceremonies and rituals.
  • Thai festivals and national holidays.
  • Thai entertainment, arts, and pop culture.
  • Formal Thai in formal situations.
  • Understanding “sabaai-sabaai” attitude.
  • Thai slangs, idioms, and proverbs.
  • Thai pride, and an introduction to Thai history.
  • Cross-cultural topics and discussions.

Total number of unique words: 607
Core vocabulary (essential words): 402

In reviewing the material in this book I was taken aback at just how many “fox-paws” (faux pas) I’ve made here in regards to the way I speak Thai (which I call “Todz-Thai”). I was shocked at how little I let Thai cultural restrictions during interactions affect how I speak Thai. I almost felt sad (for a second), for some of the Thai people I’ve interacted with over the years. Reading this book certainly gave me a much deeper understanding of language’s cultural aspects. It made me see that in order to really understand how the language works you need to invest a good portion of time understanding Thai culture which impacts how the language is used.

Duke Language School: Journey 1-3…

The books are character and situation driven, which is a trend we’re starting to see by more and more thai language schools. What sets this material apart from the rest is the supplemental material which is interspersed within each lesson. They touch on everything from culture, fun facts and interesting tidbits of how the language goes together. In all the years I’ve been touring Thai language schools, this is some of the best material I’ve ever seen.

It also seems that they’re not resting on their laurels with just these books and have plans for more – Explore 2, 3, and Discover. Explore 3 in particular, is all about learning Thai through media, e.g. Facebook, blogs, ads, emails, letters, articles, songs, video clips, movies, etc. It’s contemporary and shows how Thai is used in a multi-media context today. As far as I know, no other Thai language school has such a course. Explore 3 will be the link that connects the Journey series (speaking) with Explore (reading & writing) before moving on to Discover (the advanced levels).

I’m behind this paradigm shift in how Thai is taught to foreigner 100%. Gone are the pages and pages of straight text and in its place are interesting, relevant, contemporary presentations of the Thai language to non-native learners.

Three thumbs up!

Tod Daniels | toddaniels at gmail dot com
Reviewing Thai Language Schools in Bangkok
(BTW: Tod is NOT affiliated with any Thai language school)

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Thai Language School Review: The Knowledge

Thai Language School Review: UTL Unity Thai Language School

The Knowledge…

School: The Knowledge
Website: The Knowledge
Address: 193/28 Lake Rachada Office Complex 5th floor
Rachadapisek Road, Khlongtoei, Khlongtoei Bangkok 10110
Email: study@theknowledge.in.th
Telephone Number: 02-264-0276
Facebook: The.Knowledge.Bangkok

Location: It’s about the same walk coming from the Queen Sirikit MRT station as it is coming from the Asok BTS station. It’s across from Queen Sirikit Park almost right next to a big open air Thai food market. Take the lift to the 5th floor of Lake Rachada and you’re there.

Basic Info: I had been to this school when they first opened, but at that time they were still developing their curriculum so I didn’t review it. Now they appear to have their “sea legs” and are up-n-running with their material. What this isn’t, is a Union Clone school. Instead it takes a fairly new approach to how the language is presented to students. About the closest I can compare it to is Language Express’ (L/X) format. In fact I’d almost go so far as to say it’s an “L/X Clone” school, but that could be simply because both schools have owners or directors who are Brits.

The school is quite large with a very open floor plan and a modern look, versus some of the older Thai schools which haven’t been remodelled in years and are dark dingy hole in the walls. Their front staff all seems super competent and have a good grasp of English (as they should seeing as it’s an English school too). They are more than helpful, know the courses offered and can explain them in detail. The classrooms are carpeted, which cuts down on the echo in the rooms. In tile floor classrooms sometimes (for me) it’s too echo-y (ambient) and I can’t really hear the subtle differences in pronunciation clearly.

Materials: Their material is broken down into Speaking/Listening 2 levels/2 books). Level 1 Book 1 and Level 1 Book 2 Speaking/Listening are 80 hour courses each and Level 2 Speaking/Listening is 100 hours. The curriculum is well thought out and introduces question words quite early in the course (a plus seeing as foreigners here tend to ask questions a LOT!). Each lesson also has accompanying flash cards which the teacher uses in class as review to check vocab retention. Granted it’s a simple thing, but I don’t recall seeing any other schools use them to the degree The Knowledge does. After every 4 lessons there’s a quiz covering the materials taught in the previous 4 lessons. This is also a technique which helps ‘cement’ vocab and structure rather than a review at the end of a module where material can be forgotten too easily.

I would be doing a disservice to potential students if I didn’t at least mention the HUGE disconnect between any karaoke system I’ve seen and the one used by this school. It is without question possibly the worst ‘karaoke system’ I’ve ever seen, with no diacritics for intonation. They also have some sketchy renditions of words. There seems to be no or very little distinction between long/short vowels ญี่ปุ่น is yii-bpOOn. Now thankfully they do have the words in Thai script too in all their books. This is a plus and can help students start recognizing how Thai is written before they take a reading/writing class. Now for some of you ‘gotta read Thai to speak clear Thai’ purists out there, this could be looked at as a good thing, because the faster you can start to read, the faster you can forget this karaoke system. The work around is to write down what you think you hear, like students do in text books no matter what karaoke system is taught.

The Reading/Writing Level 1 course is broken down into three modules with two 12 hour modules and a final one of 16 hours. All in there are 40 lessons. It is pretty well put together and is a no nonsense way to go about learning to read Thai. The Reading/Writing level 2 course has 25 units, each in 2 hour lessons. The main textbook is “Everyday Thai for Beginners” (easily one of the best learn Thai books IF you can already read Thai), and there is also a supplemental exercise book. As the lessons progress they get more involved as far as the difficulty and the amount of writing you do.

Method: First off, no matter what course you sign up for at this school; IF you’ve never studied Thai with them before you must attend a 8 hour orientation class. (FWIW: I’ve told schools for a long time they should do this, but this is the only one I know that actually is, not that they got it from me though.). The orientation covers, how the class will be taught, an overview to the pronunciation of their karaoke system, what is expected of the students as far as conduct/attendance and a ‘sample class’ where a few basic classroom terms are taught showing the methodology at work. I think if more schools did this there wouldn’t be that 1-2 day ‘deer in the head-lites’ dazed/glazed look students have comin’ outta the beginning class.

They also teach in a cycle where every 4 lessons they let new enrollees join in. Of course that’s AFTER that student has gone thru orientation. Now, this is done to stop the incredible time lag from enrollment to attending at module based schools, especially Union Clone ones. If I sign up at a Union Clone school but the term is already 4 days in, I can’t start until the following term (month). By running their modules in cycles The Knowledge gets around this. There will be some vocab students who just started don’t know versus ones who started on Lesson One but it appears the lessons are for the most part stand alones not daisy-chained together. Vocab is covered, pronunciation is practiced, dialog is gone over, then practiced between students and with the teacher. Topics early on are as expected; What is your name? Where do you come from? As I said earlier though, question words are introduced early in these lessons, AND covered with a variety of ways to say them.

Teachers: In the class I observed I thought the teacher was more than competent in controlling the class, in catching errant pronunciation, in really making sure the students practiced the dialog and understood what was being covered. They certainly seemed to be dedicated to what they’re doing. They also seem totally at ease with big, loud foreigners and not at all reticent to call one to task or get them back on target if they stray too far afield.

Classes: Class sizes are limited so as not to over tax the teacher but more importantly NOT to short change the student by having a teacher spread too thin and unable to spend time individually. At this time they offer afternoon and evening classes. However they’re prepared to offer morning classes if the demand is there. They offer private lessons as well, either with their material or material supplied by the students.

ED Visa: This school does offer ED visa support on their 400 hour yearlong Thai program. Now with that being said, due to the train wreck of the ED visa system as it relates to private Thai language schools, the school cannot guarantee a student will get a 90 day extension at the Thai immigration office, even with perfect attendance. Still they do offer an ED visa program. Please note that there are quizzes which the students must take on their own time which are submitted to the Ministry of Education to garner paperwork for extensions of stay.

Bang-4-The-Baht: I give this school a high bang-4-the-baht rating. For a school which isn’t a “Union Clone” (although it might be a close “L/X Clone”) they seem sincerely interested in teaching foreigners Thai rather than just going thru the motions. I’d recommend you stop by and check them out.

Tod Daniels | toddaniels at gmail dot com
Reviewing Thai Language Schools in Bangkok
(BTW: Tod is NOT affiliated with any Thai language school)

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Review and Draw: Win a Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook iOS App!

Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook

FREE Draw: Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook iOS App…

If you weren’t one of the winners at Richard Barrow’s Talking Thai–English–Thai Phrasebook review and giveaway, then you have another chance to win the iOS version of this app. There will be four phrasebooks being given away on WLT this run, with another four gifted in the future.

As with previous draws, the rules are simple:

  • Leave comments below.
  • Comment(s) need to add to the conversation.

NOTE: Each relevant comment gets counted, so leave as many as you like.

The draw will run from this moment until the 22nd of April, 6am Thai time. As soon I’m awake(ish) I’ll throw the numbers into random.org, and then announce the four winners.

It’s a beaut of an app, so good luck!

Review: Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook iOS App…

Talking Thai–English–Thai Phrasebook by Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand: This phrasebook + mini-dictionary app is in a league of its own, with full-text search access to more than 12,000 professionally edited words, phrases, and ready-to-use, customizable complete sentences organized into 250+ practical categories like “Language Difficulties,” “Hotel,” “Renting a Place,” “Food/Drink,” “Price Haggling,” “Transportation,” “Health,” “Shopping,” “Sightseeing,” “Love/Romance/Sex” and even “Swearing/Insults.”

The Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook app has leapfrogged into the Smartphone market. Traditional Thai phrasebook apps have sentences and a smattering of vocabulary, leaving you searching in vain for an exact fit. The Talking Thai-Eng-Thai Phrasebook also gives you sentences and vocabulary but the real magic comes with sentence patterns.

To show you what I mean, let’s put off a detailed overview of the app for the moment and go straight to the Domestic Help section in the Categories. You might recognise some of the phrases from my HouseTalk series.

Categories >> Domestic Help >> Maid >>

Talking Thai-English-Thai PhrasebookTo select the phrase you need, scroll down the list by sliding your finger south along the face of your iPhone, or by using the see-through blue scroll button on the righthand side of the screen.

You’ll find three types of sentences: Complete sentences, sentences with placeholders where you can insert words and numbers from a list, and sentences with grammatical placeholders.

Complete sentences are obviously used as is. Clicking on placeholders in sentences with insertable words comes back with subjects such as: Currency conversions, numbers, dates and time, locations, colours, materials, and things you might want to buy.

Grammatical placeholders are complex creatures so will appear in a future update. Until then, clicking on the placeholder gives you the grammar rules for that particular pattern. But in the meantime it’s dead simple to work with the placeholders sans inserts. Some of the results won’t be exactly correct but you’ll be understood. Here you go.

  • Select the sentence pattern you want to work with.
  • Click the grey ‘add to favourites’ box (look for the plus).
  • Click the search icon at the bottom left nav to find the word you need.
  • Favourite that word as well by clicking the plus in the box.
  • Click on the favourites icon at the bottom right nav.
  • To hear both, check the box to the left of each selection.
  • Practice saying them in the correct sequence a few times and voila you have your new sentence!

Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook

Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook: Settings…

Before you go any further with the Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook it’s a good idea to get your settings sorted.

  • First up, adjust the text size of both the English and Thai together or separately (for me, I’ve made the English small and the Thai script large).
  • Next set the volume for playback and keyboard clicks (my volume is turned on high and the keyboard clicks turned off).
  • Following is gender (I’m a female and like my ฉัน and ค่ะ/คะ’s thank you very much).
  • If you want to use transliteration there’s a whole slue to choose from: Paiboon (two types), Easy Thai, TLC (thai-language.com), Tiger, Haas, IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), ALA-LC (American Library Ass), TYT (Teach Yourself Thai), LP (Lonely Planet), T2E (thai2english.com), and Thai Govt+.
  • And now comes the setting I’ve been waiting for. You can hide the pronunciation! Fabulous.
  • Here’s the rest of what you can do in settings: Keyboard selection, digits, currency, clocks (I went with 12 over 24 hour).

Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook: Navigation…

The navigation abilities are all over this app. Across the top left is a home icon (takes you back to the home of the section you are in), an up arrow (takes you to the top of that the screen you are in). And across the top right are simple forward and backward arrows that navigate you to where you’ve recently been and back again. The arrows might be skinny little things but they are huge timesavers.

On the nav across the bottom of the app there’s Search, Categories, Help, Settings, and Favourites. We’ve already discussed Settings and Favourites, so here are the rest.

  • Search: You can search using English, via Thai sounds (transliteration), and Thai script. There’s also an extensive ‘how to’ that walks you through all the fiddly bits.
  • Categories: As there are over 250 categories I won’t list them individually, but along with over 12,000 words and phrases, they are tucked inside Essentials, Situations, Conversation, Glossary, and Places.
  • Help: The help is incredible. It not only shows you how to use the app, but includes a mini-course on the Thai language. The Speaking and Listening section teaches initial and final consonants, vowels (length and sounds), tones, similar sounds, syllable and stress, irregular sounds, parts of speech, verbs, objects, prepositions, questions and classifiers, word register, months, and the 12 year cycle. Wow.

I’m not exactly saving the best for last, but to me, the ability to suggest a word and/or phrase is a big deal. If a search comes back with “no matches” you can suggest it. What does that mean? By clicking on the proffered link that takes you to Paiboon Publishing, you can then suggest that your word or phrase gets added to the next update. How great is that? It’s like you are one of the team, helping to improve an already wonderful app.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In late 2015 the Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook will be rolled into the Talking Thai-English-Thai Dictionary. If you don’t have the dictionary and you get the phrasebook now, via an in app purchase you can upgrade to the dictionary. But if you already have the dictionary and you don’t want to wait for the phrases, then by all means, go for it. It won’t break the bank and will help support the ongoing development of Paiboon apps (quality always costs more to build than is expected).

More about the Talking Thai–English–Thai Phrasebook iOS app…

Talking Thai–English–Thai PhrasebookPrice: 14.99
Seller: Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand
Released: 06 April 2015
Version: 1.9
Word count: 12,000+
Audio: Native speaker (female)
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: Yes
Turn off Transliteration: Yes
Zoom/pinch: No need
Font control: Yes
Help: Yes (amazing)
Requires iOS: 5.1.1 or later
Optimised for: iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Reminder: The draw will run from now until the 22nd of April, 6am Thai time. Good luck!

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Review: PickupThai Podcast by Yuki and Miki

Pickup Thai Podcast

PickupThai Podcast…

PickupThai PodcastPickupThai Podcast teaches real Thai, not Faranged Thai. Throughout the lessons you’ll learn common sentence structures with particles and idioms that Thai people use in their daily lives (but almost never ever get mentioned in textbooks).

Learning these structures is the key to speaking real Thai – and you’ll do just that with audio files recorded in a relaxed, natural way of speaking.

At present there are two courses on offer at PickupThai Podcast, Sweet Green and Spicy Red. More will be added later. Sweet Green is for beginners to low intermediate students of Thai, and Spicy Red is for upper-intermediate and advanced learners.

Apart from using real Thai, another main selling point of PickupThai Podcast is the liberal use of humour throughout. I mean, who wouldn’t have a hoot studying Thai with sentences such as these?

Don’t fart in public again, OK?

You think your boyfriend looks like Brad Pitt?

My heater broke, so I went to Thailand.

To get a taste of Yuki’s humour, check out her free YouTube videos. Such fun!

Each course at PickupThai Podcast includes an audio file, two artistically designed pdfs (one with transliteration and one without), and a plain text file for those who want to use the materials elsewhere (such as Anki, BYKI, or LONGDO).

Important, instead of teaching vocabulary and phrases on their own, the materials focus on teaching words and phrases in context. And what I especially appreciate is the casual mix of L’s (ล) and R’s (ร). Often we are taught only to roll our R’s, which is just not common on the street.

Using male and female voices, the audio lessons are roughly 30-40 minutes long. The recordings are clear and personable; it’s almost like having Yuki and her sister Miki chatting away in your living room! And a plus, there is no invasive music or long talking intros in the sound files. I don’t know about you, but I get impatient with courses that add unnecessary time to lessons. Instead, the intros are short and sweet, moving on quickly to what you want to learn.

As each course progresses they get slightly more difficult after each lesson, with the difficulty level being quite significant between lessons 1 and 15. If you want to compare Sweet Green to Spicy Red, from the free downloads be sure to choose each from their difficulty level, such as Sweet Green 1 and Spicy Red 1, and/or Sweet Green 11 and Spicy Red 11. If you compare Sweet Green 1 to Spicy Red 11 the results will be skewed.

PickupThai Podcast: Sweet Green Pod…

Pickup Thai Podcast

As mentioned above, there are two pdfs for Sweet Green. One with just Thai script and English and the other with transliteration and English.

The plain text file has Thai script and English, but no transliteration. NOTE: The plain text files are not carbon copies of the pdf files (sometimes there are parts missing).

Each course comes in two parts: The main conversation lessons teaching patterns and vocabulary, and a question and answer section using the patterns taught in the first lessons but with different phrases and vocabulary.

Conversation sections: First you are given the conversations at normal speed, followed by a slower speed, then the vocabulary used in the lesson. And finally, the conversation with English translations.

Question and answer sections: Using a ‘graduated-interval recall’ method similar to Pimsleur’s, the question and answer section is the power of the courses at PickupThai Podcast. A complete phrase is spoken, then broken down into smaller parts, each with their English translation. After, you are prodded to respond to Yuki’s “how do you say…”.

Each sentence pattern has four sentences using the same pattern. To keep it fun, humour is sprinkled around. Sweet Green’s sentence patterns and interactive “how do you say…” questions geared to draw out a response are a simple, yet robust way to get Thai into your head.

PickupThai Podcast: Spicy Red Pod…

Pickup Thai Podcast

As with Sweet Green there are two pdfs for Spicy Red. The Thai script pdf has English in the Vocabulary and Sentences and Translations sections only. The other pdf is the same, but with transliteration instead of Thai script.

The plain text files come with Thai script (no transliteration). The plain text files sometimes have the English translations along with the vocabulary, sometimes not.

The lessons in Spicy Red are conversation heavy, making them significantly more challenging than Sweet Green. Except for the vocabulary section that has English translations, the crutch of English in the audio files is noticeably absent. These lessons are perfect for those who want to practice listening to Thai without the overly invasive English found in many Thai lessons.

In Sweet Green each lesson covers one conversation, but in Spicy Red there are two longer conversations, each with sentence patterns similar to Sweet Green. Leading is a conversation for the first half of the storyline, then the vocabulary used, followed by a series of question sentences and true or false questions, ending with the sentences and their English translations. The second part of the lesson repeats the process with a conversation that continues the storyline.

PickupThai Podcast: Sweet Green and Spicy Red…

Pickup Thai Podcast

To cover practical situations you’ll find in real life, PickupThai Podcast teaches real Thai from as many angles as possible. In Sweet Green there are stories of a mother talking to a daughter, two strangers talking to each other, a sister talking to a brother, friends talking to each other, etc. Sweet Green focuses on daily life situations such as getting a taxi, buying food, eating out, making a phone call, going to the movies, and more. The advanced Spicy Red course concentrates on the more complicated life situations you’ll find yourself in. To see each course in detail, go to this page on PickupThai Podcast.

Now that I’ve touched on the basics, why not see for yourself? Go ahead and take advantage of Yuki’s four FREE lessons at PickupThai Podcast’s store (Sweet Green and Spicy Red 1 and 11).

Yuki and Miki, PickupThai Podcast
Website: PickUpThai Podcast | Youtube: Yuki Tachaya | twitter: @PickupThai

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uTalk Thai iOS App Review and Xmas Giveaway

uTalk Thai

uTalk Thai iOS app Xmas giveaway…

Three iOS apps have been kindly donated to WLT by uTalk, a language learning company who designs some of the classiest iOS apps on the market. I totally fell in love with uTalk’s first Thai app, and generations later, this one is better still.

NOTE: As many Android users have iPads, I thought it necessary to point out that an iPhone is not needed to run this app.

To win an app, the rules are simple:

  • Leave your comments below.
  • The comment(s) need to add to the conversation.

Note: Each relevant comment gets counted so leave as many as you like. If this is your first time leaving a comment on my site, it will need to be approved. But no worries, once approved it’ll automatically slot in at the correct time.

Duration: The draw will run from the time the post goes live until the Sunday, 21 December, 6pm UK time. At that time I will number the reasonable comments and run them through an online randomizer. The winners will then be announced in the comments of this post. There will also be a dedicated post, but not after Xmas.

Good luck everyone! And ho ho ho.

The uTalk Thai iOS app review…

uTalk iOS apps are a pleasure to use, and this is their slickest yet. The icon driven navigation bounces you through the course, making learning a joy. But this app is not just about pretty pictures. There’s actually Science Behind EuroTalk.

The course is designed around what is called ‘dual coding’. By engaging your visual and verbal memory, dual coding improves both your retention and ability to recall words and phrases. So basically, instead of forcing rote learning down your throat (tedious), uTalk Thai’s quizzes entice you to interact with the study materials.

The quizzes are not just fun, they have been created with learning/retaining in mind. To make any progress (even inside each lesson), you really do need to learn the words and phrases that are 1) spoken (native audio), 2) written (in either Thai script or transliteration), and 3) recorded (by you).

Getting around uTalk Thai…

There are 100 free languages to choose from, each with 15 essential words. After you’ve made a purchase click on the installed course to get started, or just select one of the available free courses.

Settings: User, Language (choose the language for the app, not the target language), Purchases (delete or restore), Support (sound and purchase explanations), and Rate uTalk.

World Tour: No matter if you’ve done well or awful (I tried awful to see) you are given the option of going on a World Tour. Don’t worry, the plane won’t crash! I have yet to figure out the sense of doing this activity but there’s sure to be one. Fun?

uTalk Thai

Nav and topics…

Once you’ve chosen your course, the next screen gives you the option to search or select a topic. As you can see in the graphic above, the search bar doubles as a dictionary search. Making a selection takes you to where the word (phrases included) appears in the course. Clicking the arrow at the top left of the screen takes you back to where you were.

In the full course there are 36 topics: Alphabet, First Words, Phrases, Social Phrases, Likes and Dislikes, Adjectives, Prepositions, Numbers, Numbers up to Twenty, Numbers up to Ten Million, Colours, Shopping Words, Shopping Phrases, Clothes, Vegetables, Fruit, Food and Drink, Restaurant, Outdoors, Sports, Leisure, Business, Technology, Calendar, Emergencies, Illness, Doctor, Body, Transportation, Travelling, Vacation, Countries, Bhra-tate-tai (ประเทศไทย), Directions, Accommodation, Time.

Selecting one of the topics takes you to a screen (shown in the graphic) with icons for Practice, Easy Game, Speaking Game, Hard Game, Memory Game, Recall. For this review I’ve chosen Accommodation.

uTalk Thai

The Practice Activity…

In the Practice Activity you listen, read (Thai script, transliteration, and English), and record yourself.

At the top of the Practice screen is a graphic of the word/phrase. Below, in a lighter coloured band, is the word/phrase in Thai script, then transliteration, followed by the English translation (or the language you selected in the settings). This is the only section where you get everything (audio, visual, Thai, transliteration, English).

Audio: To hear the word/phrase spoken by a native, either click within the lighter coloured band or on the arrow at the bottom left of the screen. If you first hear a native male voice, clicking again on the arrow gives you the native female voice, and visa versa. To slow down the native audio, just click on the 1x (it then changes to 1/2x).

Recording: The recording icon does just what you’d expect (records your voice). It’s up to you whether or not you say a word or phrase twice just like they do. After you record, your recording plays automatically. To hear yourself again just click on the arrow that has now appeared to the right of the recording icon.

To compare your recording to the native audio click on the far left arrow (think of the left arrow as the native audio and the right arrow as your recorded audio). If you are dissatisfied with your recording, rerecord.

Tip: To get the best out of the practice area, take the time to get as close to native as you can. Pay special attention to tone and vowel length as both are important in a tonal language. And be sure to record your gender (in Thai there are different pronouns and polite particles for male and female). If you can, get a Thai teacher to listen to your pronunciation.

To finish the activity: After you are satisfied with your recording, select the next word/phrase by scrolling down with a finger flick. Continue recording words and phrases until you’ve completed the Practice section. To get back to the main screen click on the back button at the top left of the screen (this navigation works for all sections).

uTalk Thai

The Easy Game…

This is a listening and reading game. There is Thai script and transliteration, but no English. Some of the photos and graphics are not exact matches (it’s difficult to portray thoughts and some actions), so in order for your brain to link the audio to the visual you really do need to pay attention.

As soon as you click on the game icon, the game starts. One after the other, graphic boxes appear with matching audio (a mix of male and female voices). The graphics bounce around the screen, switching places. Once they settle you hear a word as well as see it written in Thai script and transliteration.

To move to the next screen you only need to match one graphic to the audio by clicking on it. But, if you do get it wrong, the matching Thai audio for that square is spoken and a big red X appears along with the spoken ไม่! Get it right and you get a big green X with a response ใช่! A ใช่ advances you to a new selection.

Tip: Often the ฉัน and ผม in phrases won’t match the photo, so guessing doesn’t work!

uTalk Thai

The Speaking Game…

In this game you listen, record your voice, and in the game match your recordings to the native speaker’s. Only Thai script is shown, there is no Thai transliteration or English words.

First off, a screen with a selection of graphics appears and a native male voice is heard. From what I experienced, you cannot switch to a female voice. When you click on the recording icon the native voice is heard again (twice), and then you record yourself saying that word.

Note: In this game your recordings are used in the quiz, so you really do need to get it right!

After you’ve completed (recorded) your first set, a new screen comes up with nine icons. That’s when your recordings come into the game. You are to match your recording to one of the graphics on the screen. When you select (click on) a graphic, a native voice speaks the selection, following with either ใช่ (yes) or ไม่ (no). If you get it wrong, you get a native recording, a nasty red X appears on the selection, and you need to choose again. If you get it right, a green X appears and the screen reloads.

Tip: If you need to hear the audio again click on the graphic BEFORE you click on the recording icon.

uTalk Thai

The Hard Game…

This game is audio (male voice) and graphics only. No Thai script, no transliteration, no English.

What you do is listen for the Thai word, then slide the correct graphic into the dotted space at the top of the screen. If you need to hear the audio again just click on the native repeat arrow on the bottom left. A wrong answer gets you a ไม่ along with a red X, and the incorrectly chosen graphic goes back where it came from. As in the previous game, a right answer gets you a ใช่ and a green X. To move to the next screen you need to get all but one right.

uTalk Thai

The Memory Game…

This is a timed game with graphics and audio only. No text at all.

Graphics appear with accompanying audio. A timer appears at the bottom, showing you how much time you have to memorise each position before the graphics disappear.

To play the game, memorise the location and then click on the blank graphic that used to match the audio. As before, click the native arrow on the left to repeat the audio. The game gets more difficult as it progresses, adding more graphics per screen until the end.

uTalk Thai

The Recall Activity…

This activity uses English and Thai script (no transliteration), and recorded audio (yours and theirs).

With this activity you are on your own and on your honour. As shown above, there’s a graphic with a matching English word or phrase. Click the recording icon to record yourself translating the English to Thai. Right away you hear your recording, followed by the native audio. It’s only then that Thai script replaces the English.

Next, two boxes appear. One has a red X and the other a green X. It’s on your honour to select whether you were correct (green) or you bombed (red). If you are not sure, clicking the arrow that’s appeared over the central graphic plays both your recording and the in-app audio. The number at the bottom of the screen denotes how many words/phrase there are to finish in this set.

My wish-list for uTalk Thai…

  • Statistics: With all the hard work needed to study with this app, for anal users (we know who we are) it’d be great to see a graphic showing progress.
  • Transliteration: A pet peeve of mine, the ability to turn it off would be wonderful.
  • Native audio: You don’t get to choose to hear only male or female audio, and in some places there is only male. This could be an issue for those trying to pitch their voices to match (in Thai at least, the male is much lower than the female).
  • Thai vocabulary: In the food section especially, the foods are western. English loanwords (steak, coke, beer, cream, hamburger, hotdogs, etc) are ok, but also needed are local foods people will order in Thailand. This is a universal problem with multi-language courses. An English vocabulary/phrase list is translated into many languages, missing out on the uniqueness of the target language.
  • Formal vrs street: Most Thai courses error on the formal side and this one is no different. Being able to choose between formal or casual phrases would make the app more useful. Baring that, explain it somewhere in the settings (that no, Thais don’t say krap at the end of every sentence!)
  • Explanations: Thai is a tonal language. At the very least they should point out the need to pay attention to vowel length and tones. One of the best examples I’ve come across can be found in the Talking Thai-English-Thai iOS dictionary.
  • Customise: I’d love to be able to add new words and phrases (with audio and graphics), similar to what BYKI offers.

More about uTalk Thai…

uTalk Thai
Price: Free (in-app purchases)
Seller: EuroTalk Ltd
Updated: 20 October 2014
Version: 2.0.3
Word count: Free version – 15 essential words (1 topic)
uTalk Essentials: £6.99 – 500 words and phrases? (11 topics)
Premium package: £11.99 – 1,000+ words and phrases (35 topics)
Audio: Native speakers (both male and female)
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: Yes
Turn off Transliteration: No
Zoom/pinch: No need
Font control: No
Help: Yes (slim)
Requires iOS: 7.0 or later
Optimised for: iPhone 5 and iPhone 6
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Blog: EuroTalk
Facebook: EuroTalk
Twitter: @eurotalk

Btw, there’s a uTalk Challenge going on: Can uTalk a new language in one month? and Why I’m learning Thai in January – a poem. If you do join the challenge, please let us know in the comments, ok?

Once again, Happy holidays everyone – and good luck on winning one of three uTalk Thai iOS apps!

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Review: English Thai iOS App Dictionaries: iPhone and iPad

iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch Apps: English-Thai Dictionaries

Reviewing iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch Apps: Thai dictionaries…

The Thai Dictionary iOS app series is in four parts: English-Thai dictionaries specifically for the English market, English-Thai Dictionaries using the LEXiTRON dataset and/or databases created for Thais, Thai-English dictionaries, and special dictionaries using photos, sign language, etc.

At the time of this review there are around 70 Thai dictionary apps for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch). Only a few are for the English speaking market, the majority focus on the Thai market and advanced students of Thai.

Knowing which dictionaries target the English speaking market is important. Beginner to intermediate students do struggle with dictionaries using datasets created for Thais and advanced students still continue to use English-Thai dictionaries. So there is a need to know.

To explain: Thai focused datasets have lists of Thai words without English explanations. And if you can’t find the most common translation or correct nuance of a word, there’s a good chance you’ll choose the wrong one.

For instance, in some Thai-English dictionaries a search for the English translation of ฟอง comes back with spume instead of foam. Who goes around talking about the spume on their beer?

It’s noticeable that many of these dictionaries have not been checked by fluent Thai and English speakers, so please take care when using datasets created for Thais.

To address the English speaking market specifically, for this review I’ve taken out all dictionaries using straight out of the box LEXiTRON datasets and/or datasets created for Thais. I’ve also extracted dictionaries with audio, word of the day, and flashcards for those learning English but not Thai.

After going through all 70 to find dictionaries for English students of Thai, I was left with a mere seven. Out of those only three dictionaries are worth spending serious time with.

And while I’m surprised at the low number, all I can say is “thank goodness”. Less dictionaries to review in one post means that I can go into more detail with each app.

Disclaimer: There is a slim chance that a dictionary for the English market has slipped through. On a last whip-round I discovered two Thai-English dictionaries that barely squeaked in, so it does happen. If I do find more I’ll add them to this review. But it won’t change my mind about my top choice of Thai dictionary iOS apps, because, well, you’ll soon see.

iOS devices used for the review:

iPhone models 4S (GSM model China) and 5 (GSM and CDMA model)
iPad model 2 Wi-Fi +3G (GSM model)

Thai Dictionaries for the English market…

To save you from having to slog through the entire post, my top three choices appear first and the remaining four follow. Please let me know of any experiences you’ve had with these dictionaries – I seriously want to hear your thoughts.

For the visual persons, here’s a Google Docs spreedsheet with the complete list of attributes used to compare the dictionaries: Comparing iOS English-Thai dictionary apps for the English market.

BTW: Some apps have two names. There’s the long one we see in the iTunes store, and a shorter one that appears on your iPhone. For those who have a zillion apps and need to do a search (like I do) I’ve added the iOS name in parenthesis.

#1) Talking Thai–English–Thai Dictionary (TalkingThai)

Talking Thai–English–Thai DictionaryTalking Thai–English–Thai DictionaryEnglish English Thai Dictionary
Price: $24.99
Seller: Word in the Hand
Updated: Oct 23, 2014
Version: 1.8
Word count: 150,000+ entries
Audio: 100% native speaker
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: Yes
Zoom/pinch: Yes
Font control: Yes
Help: Yes (extensive)
Requires iOS: 6.0 or later
Optimised for: iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

RANK: This is my first choice out of all 70 paid/free English-Thai Thai-English iOS dictionary apps.

Target market: Thais and English speakers studying the Thai language.

Overview: This is a highly customised dictionary. Since its inception, Chris and Benjawan have clocked in an insane number of hours with updates and improvements. When I searched for an Italian dictionary for the iOS I was disappointed to find that not even one came close! Designed with the student of Thai in mind, this dictionary is extremely powerful. Version 2.0 (coming soon) is going to be crazy fantastic.

Top navigation: The search box is the control centre of the app. To the right of the search are forward and back arrows that take you to screens you’ve seen recently (history).

Bottom navigation: Here we have an English (search), Thai Script (search), Thai Sound (search) that uses the transliteration style you’ve chosen in the settings, Help, and More.

Bottom nav >> Help: First up is Help Home (links to: 30 Second Tour, Using the Dictionary, Speaking and Listening, Pronunciation Guide Systems, Reading and Writing, Useful Word Groups, Suggest a Word), followed by Speaking and Listening, then Parts of Speech. This is great stuff. No other dictionary walks you through the details of the Thai language like this one does.

Bottom nav >> More: Settings (Sound Control, select transliteration style, control text size, select English font, select Thai font, separate syllables, turn playback on or off, put translations on separate lines, space out definitions, select in-app keyboard or Apple keyboard for Thai script and Thai sound search), History, Real Fonts (too see what your selection looks like in the modern, quirky even, often difficult to read fonts), Inside Words (Thai words are often word combos and knowing what they are can be helpful), and Spelling (breaks words into syllables and explains tone rules and spelling).

Using the dictionary: In this dictionary you are only two clicks away from finding the translation of your target word (some dictionaries have three).

Typing a word into the search box with English, Thai Script, or Thai Sound selected takes you to a list of words. The most common translations are at the top (scroll down for related words). Clicking on the sound icon next to the Thai script or Thai transliteration gives native recorded audio. If applicable, next to the sound icons are icons that specify what type of word it is (used by monks, for royalty, obsolete, poetic, technical, formal, spoken/slang, impolite, and obscene). If you’ve read through that list I don’t have to tell you how important this is to know. Tapping on the icons takes you to Help, with a detailed list of explanations of the type of words used in social context. There’s also classifiers for nouns (again, important).

When you click on the translation of a word a black bar pops up with the option of playing the audio, going to a screen dedicated to the word, or copying the word. When you click on the blue arrow at the end of the bar you can see the word in Real World Fonts, discover the Words Inside, get an explanation of the spelling and tones, and google the word.

Choosing a translation of a word and selecting Go from the black bar takes you to a screen of possible meanings of the word, with the most common translations on top. Obtaining the most common translation of a word should be one of the most important tasks of a dictionary – or we’d all be licking spume off our beer!

Tip: To make the keyboard go away, click the blue Done button on the keyboard, or anywhere but the search box or links. Click inside the search box to bring the keyboard back up.

Worth highlighting: All sound files have been recorded with an actual Thai person (Benjawan Becker). Benjawan Becker, fluent in both Thai and English (and other languages), continuously updates the database by hand.

My personal wish-list: I’ve been asking for sample sentences and the ability to use the dictionary as an interactive learning tool – both are coming in the next update (ya!). Also on my wish-list are WOTD, bulk translate, Favourites and Flashcards (to quiz selected words from a list of Favourites). And … being able to turn off the transliteration.

Downside: Already mentioned, it’d be great if we could turn off the transliteration. For now, the best I can do is change the settings to Easy Thai with Irregular Tones Only turned on.

For more about this iOS app dictionary please go to their website at Talking Thai–English–Thai Dictionary for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.

Note: In iTunes the dictionary is called the Thai-English English-Thai Dictionary but for Android it’s the Talking Thai <> Eng Dictionary. Regardless, if you don’t have the above links just search for Paiboon.

Another fav iOS app from Paiboon: Thai for Beginners

#2) Thai-English Dictionary from thai-language.com (Thai-English)

Thai-English DictionaryThai-English Dictionary from thai-language.comThai-English Dictionary from thai-language.com
Price: Free
Seller: Christian Rishoj
Updated: Nov 06, 2014
Version: 1.7
Word count: 60,000+ entries
Audio: TTS (Text To Speech)
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: Yes (+ you can turn it off)
Zoom/pinch: Not needed
Help: No
Requires iOS: 7.0 or later
Optimised for: iPhone 5
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

RANK: This app gets second place out of the top three.

Target market: English students of the Thai language.

Overview: This is the newest Thai dictionary for the English market. Many of us use the online dictionary at thai-language.com, created by their community (form members). Having it as an app is convenient. Christian packed an abundance of useful goodies into this app and there’s plenty more to come.

Top navigation: The top nav has two levels. First up is the search box with Cancel next to it (Cancel clears the screen and gets rid of the search). The three boxes below control your search: Literal (English and Thai), Transliterated (transliteration), and Bulk (for sentences and/or a bunch of text).

Bottom navigation: Dictionary (search), Categories (to discover vocabulary relavant to set subjects), Bookmarks (History and Favourites), Settings (turn History off or on, instructions to set Text Size in your iOS settings, Speech Rate, turn Transcriptions off or choose from a list: thai-language.com Phonemic, Phonemic Thai script, IPA, Paiboon, Royal Thai, AUA, Bua Luang, ALA, ISO).

Using the dictionary: When you do a search in English or Thai (Literal) you are given a choice of words and phrases. Selecting a word or phrase takes you to another screen with the type of word at the top (noun, verb, etc, formal, casual and more) and the translation (in large, legible script) below. In English search there’s Definition, Components (if any), Synonyms (if any), Antonyms (if any), Related words (if any), Examples and Sample Sentences (with Definitions and Components). If available, at the very bottom there’s Other Senses (swipe sideways to flip through more). Clicking on any word or phrase brings up a new screen. Seriously, you could click through this dictionary for hours.

Within dictionary definitions (not the main home search) at the top right there’s a square icon with an arrow pointing up. Clicking that icon activates a number of options: Send the information via Airdrop or a Message or Email, Bookmark, View Online (takes you to that exact page on thai-language.com) and Suggest Corrections. There’s a More section but mine don’t do anything (clicking on the icons didn’t work). What’s really great is if you do go to the online thai-language.com dictionary via View Online you can get back to the app quite easily. Not all apps have this option – they force to you restart the app and start the process of searching for a translation all over again.

When checking out a word or phrase tilt your iOS to see your selection, in large Thai script, featured on top of a fuchsia coloured screen. Clicking anywhere takes you back to your original screen. This function comes in handy when you need to show a Thai word or phrase.

To turn off transliteration: Go to Settings >> Thai Transcriptions >> Click on the red circle with the minus sign in the middle, and then select Delete. Now you’ll have a green circle with a plus sign in the middle, with Add Thai Transcription next to it.

Tip: To make the keyboard go away, click Cancel next to search box, or the blue Search button on the keyboard. Clicking inside the search box brings it back.

Worth highlighting: Important (to me) is the option to turn off the transliteration. Also important are sentences and the ability to translate more than one word at a time. Another huge plus is the established forum behind the dictionary. For students, having a community where you can ask all those pesky questions is a comfort.

A sidenote: It wouldn’t load via iTunes on my clunky iPhone 4S or my iPad 2 (both running version 7.1.2). Christian suggested loading the app direct via Safari and it worked. Thanks Christian! Seriously, if a quirk is even remotely possible, it’s going to happen to me.

My personal wish-list: Obviously, I’d like native audio. There is recorded audio on the site but going back and forth between online and app would be a chore. When I mentioned it to Christian he said audio will be coming in a future update, but as an optional download (to keep the installation size small). He also mentioned adding the ability to see entries in modern typeface. Going through the checklist I’d also like an overview of the Thai language, WOTD and Flashcards.

Downside: As mentioned, the audio is TTS, not audio of native speakers.

#3) ClickThai Dictionary (ClickThai)

ClickThai Dictionary Thai/EnglishClickThai DictionaryClickThai Dictionary
Price: $19.99
Seller: Theodor Pitsch
Updated: Apr 01, 2014
Version: 3.03
Word count: 70,000+ entries
Audio: Native and TTS (Text To Speech)
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: Yes
Zoom/pinch: No need (Thai script is a decent size)
Font control: No
Help: Yes
Requires iOS: 4.3 or later
Optimised for: iPhone 5
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

APP UPDATE Dec 17 2014:

What’s New in Version 4.0:
Increased Vocabulary: Now 88,000 Thai words.
Export training lists for ClickThai Vocabulary Trainer.
Optimised sorting of search results.
Show classificator for nouns.

Please stay tuned for a dedicated post on the changes. I’ve been looking forward to the ClickThai export abilities especially. Thanks Theo!

RANK: This app gets third place out of the top three.

Target market: English speakers studying Thai.

Overview: ClickThai is an uncomplicated dictionary with clear audio files, multiple results per search (sorted by frequency), word-by-word translation of sentences, and the ability to save words for later. It hasn’t had a major update in awhile but there’s more to come (see below).

Top navigation: Across the top nav there’s a search bar with English, Transcript (search via transliteration), and Thai.

Bottom navigation: The bottom nav takes you to the search page for EN-TH, TH Text (Word-by-Word translation for Thai), Memo (saved favourites), and Help (EN-TH, TH Text, Memo).

Bottom nav >> Help: EN-TH (Introduction, Search English, Search Thai, Search Transcription, Word Class), TH Text (Word-by-Word translation), Memo help topics.

Using the dictionary: As with the other dictionaries reviewed so far, doing a search gives you to the most common translations at the top. Searching for a word with English chosen brings up a list of English words. Selecting one takes you to a dedicated page with large, legible Thai script at the top of the screen. When you click and hold down on a Thai word you are given the choice to Copy, Define, or Speak (hear audio files). Underneath is the transliteration of that word (transcript) followed by the different meanings and type of word (noun, verb, etc). The audio icon on the bottom right of the screen speaks with a male voice. Also on the bottom nav are forward and back arrows that take you to related words shown in the original search (if any). This saves you from going all the way back to the beginning to search through similar words all over again. At the top right of the screen is an icon that looks like stacked pages. Clicking saves words for later (and incase you’ve hit it by accident it beeps at you).

Tip: To make the keyboard go away, click the blue Search button on the keyboard, or the keyboard icon to the right of the search box. Clicking inside the search box brings it back.

Worth highlighting: The simplicity of this app makes it a breeze to operate.

My personal wish-list: In my chat with Leo we discussed the next update, most of which just happens to be on my wish-list. To make both VocTrain (one of my favourite apps) and ClickThai more powerful, Leo is adding the ability to export custom lists (with sound files) from ClickThai to VocTrain. Also mentioned were sample sentences and classifiers for nouns.

Downside: I’d like to see the Word-by-Word translation work (but I don’t know if it’s me or the app). As already mentioned, this app needs a major update, but as I know it’s coming, no worries.

Another fav app from Leo: VocTrain

Audio Collins Mini Gem Th-Eng & Eng-Thai Dictionary (Audio TH-EN)

Audio Collins Mini GemAudio Collins Mini GemCollins Gem Thai Dictionary
Price: $9.99
Seller: Mobile Systems
Updated: Oct 08, 2010
Version: 3.03
Word count: 20,000 entries
Audio: native English and Thai
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: No
Zoom/pinch: No
Font control: No
Help: No
Requires iOS: 3.0 or later
Optimised for: Unknown
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

RANK: Top of the bottom four.

Target Market: Mostly for Thais and English speakers who can read Thai.

Overview: The app starts off in Thai mode so you’ll need to switch it to English if that’s what you want. A search takes you to a list of English words. Selecting a word takes you to an English and Thai translation with audio for both. Clicking on one of the Thai words takes you to another screen. Some of the screens have just the Thai and English word with audio, others have a list of English words. Each of the English words have audio (Thais learning English is a main focus).

Top navigation: When you open the app there’s two options on the nav across the top: Switch (between Thai and English) and a search box. Clicking inside the search box switches the search to: Keyword, Fuzzy, Wildcard, and adds a blue Done button to the end of the search. The Done button gets rid of the keyboard.

Bottom navigation: When you first start this app the nav across the bottom has a page icon (history) and an icon that goes to Random Word and Word of the Day (overkill?), as well as an information icon (tells you about the company but doesn’t help with the app). Random Word comes up with the word in Thai and English, with sound for both. Ditto for Word of the Day. Once you choose a word to define, the nav then has forward and back arrows, a page icon (history), a + icon (add bookmark), and an arrow icon with Random Word (and they do mean random) and Word of the Day.

Using the dictionary: Other than the navigation that I’ve already explained, there’s not much to this app. Getting to your translated word of choice gives you the word in English (with audio), one or more Thai words (with audio), and occasionally a Thai phrase (with audio). Also noted are the type of words (nouns, verbs, etc). Clicking on the + symbol bookmarks the screen.

Worth highlighting: If you want dead simple, this app has it in spades.

Downside: I haven’t discovered much (if any) benefit to using Keyword, Fuzzy, or Wildcard. Those who don’t read Thai are stuck with audio only.

Collins Thai<->English Phrasebook and Dictionary (Audio TH-EN)

Collins Thai English Phrasebook and DictionaryCollins Thai English Phrasebook and DictionaryCollins Thai English Phrasebook and Dictionary
Price: $12.99
Author: Mobile Systems
Updated: Apr 01, 2011
Version: 4.02
Word count: 10,000 entries
Audio: Native
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: No
Zoom/pinch: No
Help: No
Requires iOS: 3.0 or later
Optimised for: Unknown
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

RANK: None

Target market: For Thais and English speakers who can read Thai.

Overview: This is mostly a Thai phrasebook. But, as dictionaries with translations in English for all Thai words are lacking, I’ve added it to the review.

Top navigation: Very simple, the only choice is to Switch between Thai and English.

Bottom navigation: The nav across the bottom has a star icon (favourites), magnifying glass icon (search for phrases), arrow icon (Random Phrase and Phrase of the Day), and an info icon (about the company not about the app). Random Phrase and Phrase of the Day has both English and Thai, with audio. But if you click on those you find yourself in the phrase section of the app, not the dictionary section. In that case, you must click all the way back to the home screen and start again.

Using the dictionary: The first screen of the app is in Thai. If you need to do so, click the top right button to Switch to English, and then select the Dictionary icon on the far left of the screen. Typing in the search box brings up a selection of words. The words are noted as noun, verb, etc. Selecting a word brings up a simple screen with English and Thai, audio is included for both. On that screen you can use the forward and black arrows, and click the + symbol to add to the word to your favourites.

Worth highlighting: A simple English / Thai dictionary with phrasebook.

Tip: Clicking on the blue Done button at the top right hand side of the screen removes the keyboard.

Downside: Without transliteration, unless you are learning how to read, it’s useless for those who cannot read Thai. Words in the dictionary are limited and there are mistakes. I briefly checked sentences in the phrase section and found ฉัน (the female particle) for I.

Collins Gem Thai Dictionary

Collins Gem Thai DictionaryCollins Gem Thai DictionaryCollins Gem Thai Dictionary
Price: $9.99
Seller: Mobile Systems
Updated: Dec 04, 2012
Version: 5.0.19
Word count: Unknown
Audio: No
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: Yes
Zoom/pinch: Yes
Help: No
Requires iOS: 4.3 or later
Optimised for: iPhone 5
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

RANK: None

Target market: English and Thai speakers (but mostly for Thais).

Overview: I’m sure this app started out as a good idea, but in my opinion, it needs a serious upgrade. The lack of audio (transliteration only), and activities that do not cover both English speakers and Thais, leaves it lacking.

Top navigation: The top nav has a search box with Cancel next to it (Cancel clears the keyboard). Underneath are buttons to switch between English-Thai and Thai-English. Further to the right is an icon that doesn’t work on my iPhone (only switches away from English-Thai and Thai-English to mysterious icons).

With English-Thai selected, typing a word into the search box comes back with a single English word. Clicking on that word goes to another screen with the English word and some sort of transliteration, what type of word it is (noun, verb, etc), and then the Thai word (Thai script) with transliteration next to it. There is no sound. Icons on the top right increase and decrease the font size. The star icon bookmarks the selection.

Bottom navigation: The nav across the bottom has a Search, Contents (cheat sheets for Abbreviations, Thai and English pronunciation, and Numbers), Favourites (bookmarks), History (everywhere you’ve been), and More.

Bottom navigation >> More: In More there are six activities. Word scramble, Hangman and Anagrams are for students of English. Flashcards and Word of Day are for both students of English and Thai.

Downside: There is no Thai or English audio, only English text, Thai script, and Thai transliteration. Many of the searches don’t work (“no results found for …”). Do not use this app to memorise Thai words (using the iffy transliteration alone will muff you up).

English Thai Dictionary (English/Thai)

English Thai dictionaryEnglish Thai DictionaryEnglish Thai Dictionary
Price: $5.99
Author: Aanthai
Updated: Jan 05, 2009
Version: 1.1
Word count: 7,000 entries
Audio: No
Thai script: Yes
Transliteration: Yes
Zoom/pinch: No
Help: Yes
Requires iOS: 2.2 or later
Optimised for: iPhone
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

RANK: Bottom.

Target market: English speakers.

Overview: It’s just long list of alphabetised words. The nav consists of clicking on one of the letters of the alphabet on the right side of the screen.

Downside: This app has not been updated since 2009. Selecting the nav crashes the app on both iPhones (4S and 5) and the iPad 2. This app either needs to be upgraded or taken out of the app store.

Learn Thai on Your iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod): What’s next…

Coming next will be a review of Thai-English Dictionaries for the Thai market. This does not mean that some of the dictionaries aren’t for English students learning Thai as well, so please do stay tuned.

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