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Category: Reviews (page 2 of 8)

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?

วันหลังห้ามตดในที่สาธารณะอีกนะ
Don’t fart in public again, OK?

เธอคิดว่าแฟนเธอหน้าเหมือนแบรดพิทท์เหรอ
You think your boyfriend looks like Brad Pitt?

ฮีตเตอร์ผมพังก็เลยไปเมืองไทย
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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Learn Thai with HelloTalk: Android & iOS Language Exchange

Learn Thai with HelloTalk

HelloTalk: Language Exchange App…

To learn Thai, there are a growing number of iOS and Android apps available. If you haven’t seen it yet, just check out my GINORMOUS List of iOS Apps: iPhone, iPad and iPod.

Subject by subject, I’m working my way through the reviews but it’ll take some time. As it’s an immediate concern, Zackery from HelloTalk asked if I could please bump the review in order to help out their Thai members (and in turn, help others to learn Thai).

Zackery: So far we have 7,300 native Thai registered users, versus 1,915 users learning Thai. That means more than 5,000 Thai users might not find a language exchange partner. Your article about HelloTalk might help thousands of Thai users trying to learn foreign languages for a better future.

5,000+ – that’s a lot of Thai speakers going without language exchange partners. And it doesn’t matter if your native tongue is English, French, Italian, Russian, Japanese, whatever. They are waiting for you.

How HelloTalk works…

  1. To use the HelloTalk app to learn Thai, you first sign up. And while I object to sharing my age, country and location, there’s extensive privacy and control features in place.
  2. Next up is a tutorial of HelloTalk complete with video (you can choose to skip it).
  3. After that, it’s time to search for a suitable partner and then send them a message.
  4. Once connected with your new partner you can chat via text or send voice messages.
  5. Other options available are sketches, the ease of translating on the go, and the ability for language exchange partners to correct each other’s mistakes.
  6. You can even save messages in a notepad for later study.

Btw: Did you notice that no money is required? That’s right, this is a free app.

These two reviews go into a fair bit of detail about the HelloTalk app:

Nik’s QuickShout: HelloTalk – A language learning community on your mobile
BLCU: HelloTalk Chinese Language Exchange App (iOS/Android)

Short on time? Watch these quick overview videos instead:

Where to find HelloTalk…

HelloTalkSpeak Thai Slang - Nagaraja Rivers
Author: HelloTalk
Facebook: Hellotalk
Twitter: hellotalkapp
Google Play: HelloTalk

Price: Free
Updated: Oct 20, 2014
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5. Requires iOS 6.0 or later.

Remember: 5,000+ Thai speakers are going without language exchange partners. See you there?

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Learn to Read the Thai Alphabet in 2 Weeks, 10 Days, 60 Minutes?

Read the Thai Alphabet in Two Weeks, Ten Days, 60 Minutes

Just how fast can you learn how to read the Thai Alphabet?…

Seriously, can you learn how to read the Thai alphabet in ten days? Two weeks? Sixty minutes? Sure. Well, all except for the 60 minutes promise (but it sounds good).

And before you get all fluffed up about what seems like a load of hype, with the right materials you can indeed learn how to read the Thai alphabet in record time. I did. You can hear all about it in The Easy Way for Beginners to Read and Write Thai.

Actually, with the right teacher and materials, you can start reading the Thai alphabet in a matter of minutes. But when you finish learning the entire 44 consonants, 21 vowels, and all the extra fiddly bits is totally up to you.

Anyway, for this review I’m looking at the top standalone courses for learning how to read Thai: Read Thai in Two Weeks (by Brett Whiteside of Learn Thai From a White Guy), Read Thai in Ten Days (by Bingo-Lingo), and 60 Minutes Thai Alphabet (the method that saved my sanity).

Read Thai in Two Weeks…

Brett: Have you struggled with boring Thai books and lessons and still can’t talk to anybody or understand anything? Have you been frustrated by the fact that no one can just explain stuff simply? Are you still waiting for it to ‘click’ so you can start having real conversations in Thai? I’ve been there. I’m a foreigner who went all the way from zero to fluent and I want to show you how I did it. I’ll also steer you away from the loads of time-wasting, frustrating mistakes that almost everybody makes. I’ve already struggled through them and I want to make sure my students don’t have to.

Read Thai in Two WeeksAuthor: Brett Whiteside of Learn Thai From A White Guy is a Western expat who’s resided in Thailand for over ten years. In addition to being fluent in Thai, he’s conversant in four other languages. Brett presently works as a consultant, translator and language tutor.

When struggling to learn tones and pronunciation, Brett created his own materials to teach himself Thai. After many adjustments to get it just right, and having great personal success himself, he designed a course to teach Thai to hundreds of expat students: Read Thai in Two Weeks.

Review: To give you a quick whip round this course, the introduction covers the intent of the course and instructions to setup Anki. The lessons are given in small, manageable chunks, each with audio files and mnemonics. Some have drills and/or exercises at the end of each lesson (these have audio as well). To test if you are ready to carry on with the next round of lessons, after the first 15 lessons there’s a quiz on hearing, writing, and the tones and vowels previously covered. A second quiz tackles the rest of the already covered tones and low class consonants. After eight more lessons (drills and exercises included – so no, you don’t get let off lightly) there’s a quiz on numbers. Thirteen more lessons are followed by a “What Now” exam, but no sweat as you’re already a superstar with the constant drilling, exercises, and questions asked throughout the course. To absolutely make sure you’ve learned what you should, a further six drills follow. A final lesson covers simple sentence structure.

The strength of this course is that being online it can offer clickable audio files, as well as quizzes, drills and exercises to test what you’ve learned (or not). Another plus are the mnemonics (memory hooks) to help get the materials down solid. Anki files with audio, as well as the free (to the public) iOS and Android apps tailored to the course, make sure you can continue your studies wherever you are. Note: the Android app has quizzes while the iOS doesn’t (hint, hint).

When it comes to getting getting Thai lessons into your head mnemonics are a powerful tool. There are several ways to use mnemonics – graphics pre-drawn and ones you create yourself. In my experience they both work. In this course, except for the Middle Class Story, detailed descriptions lead you to create personalised visuals using your own vivid imagination. The more vivid, the more personal, the better.

The clearly recorded sound files (female, with a voice that isn’t high or whiny) for each lesson show what the lessons are supposed to sound like. A heads up. For the majority of the course there’s only audio so forget about using the crutch of transliteration.

Brett’s experience as a student as well as a teacher of Thai shines through with the many insightful tips to help with concepts and remembering strange character shapes. The constant reminders to re-study what you don’t know are needed. And just incase you’ve forgotten, every so often he reminds you to go off and practice using the custom-made Anki cards that come with the course, or to play around with the free Alphabet apps.

While Brett is obviously not physically present, the way the course is written it’s as if he’s looking over your shoulder, advising you every step of the way. And his liberal use of humour, often with an “ah hah!!”, keeps the mood light throughout the course.

Price: $97 (orig $147) with 30 day money-back guarantee.
Product: 40 online lessons plus three quizzes and six drills all with audio recorded by native Thais (not T2S), 600+ Anki flashcards with audio (ditto), iOS and Android apps.

Website: Learn Thai From A White Guy
Facebook: Learn Thai From A White Guy
YouTube: Learn Thai From A White Guy
Twitter: @LTfaWG
Blog: Learn Thai

Interview: Bangkok Podcast: Learn Thai From A White Guy

iOS App – FREE (no quizzes): Learn Thai From A White Guy
Android App – FREE (includes quizzes): Learn Thai From A White Guy

Read Thai in 10 Days…

Bingo: The selling points of this course are simplification, understanding, and organisation.

Simplification: Many Thai script teaching courses don’t handle rules well. For example, the tone rules. Instead of using bloated tables or cumbersome-looking tone flow charts, RTITD organises tone rules into one principle (plus the default tone for each tone mark) and three exceptions. The course also has a different take on Thai vowels. RTITD simplifies the ‘traditional’ number of vowels from 32 vowels (plus 10 vowel changes) to 22 vowels (4 of which have two forms), and treats vowel shortening and vowel-less words as separate.

Understanding: People may forget what they remember, but they will never forget what they understand! RTITD doesn’t rely on sheer effort to purely memorise individual character’s sounds when at initial and final position, it tells you WHY they are the way they are. The course also explains the nature of the Thai phonological system, that there are no unreleased finals, and which initial sound will become which final sounds, and much more.

Organisation: By prioritising what’s essential, the entire course is carefully structured in such a way that makes sense. Lesson by lesson, what learners have previously studied is repeated and combined with the new materials being introduced.

For reading skill reinforcement, the approach draws from the principles of spaced repetition. Words chosen for the reading practice exercises are not random, but appropriately distributed throughout the course. Using this method, students quickly gain confidence in their ability to read Thai.

Learn to Read Thai in Ten DaysAuthor: Bingo (Arthit Juyaso) is a linguist and Thai national who developed a love for languages at an early age. The first foreign language he tackled was English (brave lad). Still in school, he then moved on to majoring in Japanese, attending a one year scholarship programme at Chiba University in Japan. After graduating Bingo did a stint as a Japanese translator. During that time he started dabbling in yet another language, Spanish. Realising his continuing love for languages, he then went for a Master’s Degree in Linguistics. After, he started teaching English, Thai and Japanese at various schools in Thailand. Dissatisfied with how the Thai alphabet is being taught to expats, and influenced by his studies in linguistics, he came up with the method taught in Read Thai in Ten Days.

Review: This course gets into a large amount of detail (more than most), which clearly demonstrates Bingo’s experience with teaching Thai to expats.

The materials come in two downloads: a pdf and a folder with audio files. Due to the pdf format Bingo uses transliteration with a pronunciation guide to approximate the Thai sounds, but advises students to depend upon the accompanying audio files instead.

The course starts out with a bit about Bingo, followed by a brief overview of the history of the Thai script, and then a pronunciation guide to help you through the unfamiliar Thai alphabet. Immediately after are first five lessons followed by an overview. Four more lessons follow, and after that, another overview. On lesson ten, the last day of the course, you get tips and tricks to help recognise the Thai alphabet. Before starting the course my advice is to go straight to the last lesson, especially “Same Same But Different”, where you learn how to recognise different attributes of the Thai alphabet. Finally, the Appendices sums up the rules, presents the Thai dictionary order, shares more samples of Thai fonts, and finishes with a Thai-English glossary.

Each lesson begins with an outline of what you can expect to learn in that lesson (topics that logically go together are grouped together). The sub-topics have an explanation, what to memorise (with audio), writing lessons with practice sheets, in-depth explanations and tips, and self-driven quizzes with answers partially hidden from view by being upside down. At the end of each lesson is an overview of everything covered in that lesson. The in-depth tips help immensely with ‘seeing’ as well as understanding what’s going on. If students cannot easily get through the overviews at the end of each lesson Bingo often reminds them to go back and study.

In the lessons teaching consonant and vowels there are samples of typical fonts, stylized fonts, and cursive fonts. Memory aids have been created for the mid-low-high classes (as groups) and the principle of tones (but not the tone marks). The recordings use the male voice (Bingo’s).

Price: $17.99 (orig $49.99)
Product: 170 page ebook + audio files

Website: Read Thai in 10 Days
Facebook: Read Thai Language
YouTube: Read Thai in 10 Days
Twitter: @readthai

60 Minutes Thai Alphabet…

60 Minutes: Stop struggling with the Thai alphabet right now. Use this system, and you will be able to read within minutes! This is the original memory system for the Thai alphabet, and has sold thousands of copies since 2005. We have been featured in the Bangkok Post, The Nation newspaper and major blogs like WomenLearnThai.com and ThaiVisa.com

Seven years of development have been invested in this ground-breaking system, which will allow you to relate almost immediately, to one of the most difficult alphabet systems. We have devised a visual memory system that relies on simple images, to enable you to immediately learn the sounds and shapes of the Thai letters.

60 Minutes Thai AlphabetAuthors: This ebook was created by a team of expats at 1steasythaialphabet. As professional expats do not stick around one place for long, they found plenty of opportunity to learn new languages. With Thai, they pooled their knowledge to create and refine the 60 Minute Thai Alphabet course.

Review: This exact ebook is sold all around the internet at different websites under different names, some going so far as to list themselves as authors (cheeky buggers).

There’s a valid reason why this small course is so popular – the visual mnemonics work quickly to teach the shapes of the Thai consonants, vowels and Thai numbers, the tones, as well as the different initials and finals.

While I applaud 60 Minutes Thai Alphabet strongly (it rescued me from head-banging frustration) the lack of audio is indeed a weak point. But as there are many free apps and websites with audio files, not all is lost. You just have to work a little harder.

With only a small pdf sans audio, another downside is the present price ($19.99), compared to what Read Thai in Ten Days offers ($17.99). But if you wait it out, the price often drops.

Price: $19.99 (orig $49.99)
Product: 39 page ebook
Website: 60 Minutes Thai Alphabet

The wrap: The Thai alphabet in 2 weeks, 10 days, 60 minutes?…

The reason I chose to review these three courses in particular is because each have individual strengths that makes them the best of the standalone courses on the market. And after going back and forth between Read Thai in Two Weeks and Read Thai in Ten Days to double-check, I believe that more than ever. So, here you go, my thoughts… peppered with many “If’s”.

  • If you’ve tried to learn how to read the Thai alphabet and failed miserably (as I did), then start with 60 Minutes Thai Alphabet – but don’t stop there.
  • If you need readymade mnemonics, again, start with 60 Minutes Thai Alphabet (ditto on the not stopping).
  • But if you’d much rather create mnemonics personalised to your own way of thinking and understanding, then grab Read Thai in Two Weeks.
  • If you learn best by a hands-on approach of working through a multitude of online quizzes and exercises, then Read Thai in Two Weeks would be the top consideration.
  • If money is an issue, then Read Thai in Ten Days will get you there.
  • If a touch of spaced repetition is how you learn best, then go with Read Thai in Ten Days. But remember, with all those drills and exercises, Read Thai in Two Weeks also repeats the lessons learned.
  • If you need an instructor with experience in language learning and teaching Thai, who can clearly and simply explain the intricate details of the Thai language, then both Read Thai in Two Weeks and Read Thai in Ten Days are excellent.

Here’s another ‘IF’. If I had to do it all over again, I’d start right away with 60 Minutes Thai Alphabet with a Thai alphabet app by my side. After I felt comfortable with all those strange squiggles, I’d study using both Read Thai in Two Weeks and Read Thai in Ten Days.

But in saying that … product jumping can be a deterrent when learning a language (owning most everything for studying Thai has been a hindrance for me, not a help). So IF I had to choose between Read Thai in Two Weeks and Read Thai in Ten Days, with my visual-spatial learning style I’d do better with a course heavy in mnemonics, quizzes, drills and exercises, as well as clickable audio. So it’d have to be Brett’s Read Thai in Two Weeks.

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Thai Language Thai Culture: The Why? Series

Thai Language

Book Review – The Why? Series…

To many people, the search for the holy grail of learning to read Thai is finding a book that fulfils a number of requirements.

  • It is at the appropriate reading level for the learner.
  • It is written in straight forward language, and if possible, more spoken Thai than literary or newspaper Thai.
  • Has clear print.
  • Hold ones interest and is age appropriate.

Some really good learning material, such as the Manee Books are very good for the person just beginning to learn to read Thai. But they are basically children’s books and one can keep ones interests in the comings and goings of little children for just so long. The same goes for the “Two Language” books (สองภาษา) you can find in the children’s section of your local Thai book store.

What’s an old codger to do to find good Thai reading material past the beginner’s level that will not only hold my interest but also help me to learn how to read this fairly impossible-to-read language?

I was with a friend the other day who had just retired to Thailand. In his younger days he had spent quite a few years here and his Thai became fluent enough so the he had passed the Prathom 4 exam – something that I would probably have a hard time doing even now.

We were at a bookstore and he came across some books that he knew well. He said that they had helped him when he was first learning to read Thai.

And just like that, I had found the Holy Grail.

This was the Why” series, or in Thai สารานุกรมความรู้วิทยาศาสตร์ ฉบับการ์ตูน (Science Knowledge Encyclopedia, Cartoon Edition), Published by Nanmeebooks. The books were first written in Korean and then translated into Thai. The series contains dozens of titles such as Birds, Fish, Reptiles, Electricity, Space, Transportation, and many more.

I chose the one on birds (นก) to take for a test drive.

Thai LanguageIt’s by Nam, Choon-Ja, illustrated by Choi, Ik-Kyu, and translated into Thai by Chontichaa Pothong. Nanmeebooks. Baht 180.

Most of the books in the Why? Series have basically the same format. There are a couple of inquisitive children who ask lots of questions and an expert or two who are there to answer them. When they get down to specific descriptions there are really good drawings or photographs to help illustrate the point.

In The “Why?” Bird Book, Robin and Eagle have a long holiday weekend and are given the homework to go bird watching. And from there we learn everything and more about birds.

I chose this book because I have been an avid birdwatcher for many years so I thought that it would hold my interest. And that it did.

This book covers everything from bird behavior and bird anatomy to their feeding and nesting habits – all in colloquial Thai. It ends with information on conservation and ecology. These are not fairy tales and stories of little children’s adventures, but topics that will hold an adult’s interest.

For my vocabulary level I knew most of the words but ran into lots of new ones. When I encountered a new word I usually underlined it and then tried to decipher it in context. Then for good measure I did a dictionary lookup.

Thai Language

The above conversation goes something like this:

Let’s go see the migrating birds.
Migrating birds?
Migrate means the birds move their home during certain seasons.
They migrate to where there is food to eat.

In this case I underlined the word ถิ่นฐาน and looked up the meaning (homeland). Other interesting words were อพยพ (migrate) and ฤดูกาล (season). So you can see that even though there are children doing the talking and it is in cartoon form the vocabulary and the topic being discussed here is definitely at the level that an adult would appreciate.

Some of the really nice features of this series are:

  • The drawings and photos are clear and really help to illustrate the topic.
  • The print in the balloons is very readable.
  • The Thai in the balloons is conversational and in everyday speech.
  • There are many side bars with discussions in more technical Thai.

Thai Language

The illustration above is titled “The Many Shapes of Bird Beaks”. Here I found the word หอก (javelin, spear), and the word จะงอย was a new to me and turned out to be the very bird-specific Thai word for “beak”. The word ปาก (mouth) and จะงอย (beak) were used interchangeably which is really good for helping us to guess a word in context.

The series is written for students (Korean and later Thai) to help them increase their scientific knowledge. They probably never guessed that it could help an adult foreigner learn to read a foreign language.

If you are in search of Thai reading material that will not only help you with reading flow and vocabulary building but will also give you lots of examples of regular conversational Thai, go on down to you local Thai bookstore and take a look at the Why? series. The cover says that over 50 million have already been sold, so I think you’ll be able to find something that will peak your interest.

Since I have raised turtles and helped to keep them off the Thai dinner tables and return them to the wild, I’m think going to go back to get a copy of the Reptile Why? book.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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Thai Language School Review: Duke Thai Language School

Thai Language School Review: Duke Thai Language School

EDIT: Please read Duke Thai Language School: Materials Review first.

First, a bit of a ramble about Union schools…

Preamble: I haven’t written any reviews in quite awhile. Mostly because there are so few schools coming into the “teach Thai to adult foreigners” niche market. In addition, my somewhat skewed opinion about what I call “Union Clone” schools is too well known. Don’t get me wrong, the teaching methodology is solid and the classes are intensive, but nothing much has been done to freshen up their materials. It’s dry to the n-th degree. And for me at least, it teaches foreigners to speak a version of Thai that hasn’t been heard on the streets of Thailand perhaps ever. The materials have an archaic, too formal a version of syrupy sweet over the top Thai. I am of the mind that back in the day, the objective of the original Union material was to teach foreigners to speak Thai so that the would never be identified as near-native speakers of the language. That could just be my paranoia speaking, but I wouldn’t put it past the original developers of the material either.

Now, in defense of the Union material, it is successful and they’ve probably turned out more foreign speakers of coherent Thai than any other methodology out there. This is mostly due to the sheer number of Union type of schools in Bangkok rather than the material. Still, it does work IF a student is willing to buckle down and go the distance with the intensive class structure. It’s so fast paced that if you miss a single three hour lesson, you’ll fall behind the curve and are unlikely to catch up to speed. I’ve met more students who’ve washed out of a Union Clone school than I have students who’ve survived to the end.

Other than a few schools, most are using the original dated Union materials (albeit with their own schools name on the textbooks). This is why, when I went to Duke Language School’s website and saw the format; I surmised it was another Union Clone School in methodology and course structure.

They do have the same module based structure: three hours a day, five days a week, for four weeks. They do also teach via “karaoke Thai” for the first three levels of conversation too. But that’s where ANY and ALL similarity ends as far as a Union Clone school. Quite honestly, I didn’t even want to lump them in with the other Union Clone schools but so far I haven’t come up with a good comparative name other than Union Version 2.0.

And now, with all that off my chest and out of the way, here’s the review:

Duke Thai Language School…

Website: Duke Language School
Address: 10/63, Trendy Building, 3rd floor Sukhumvit Soi 13,
Wattana, Bangkok Thailand 10110
Email: info@dukelanguage.com
Tel: Land: 02-168-7274 Mobile: 082-444-1595

Location: It’s an easy walk from either the Nana or Asok BTS station to the Trendy building on Soi 13. Take the escalators up to the third floor and you’re there!

Basic Info: The school is in a brand spanking new building which has only been open about four months, so as you might expect, everything is gleaming! The classrooms are small and what I’d call cozy. All in all it’s a well thought out, well designed modern school. It even has a sitting area for breaks, etc.

The front staff is pleasant and well versed in the programs. Now, like most Union Clone schools, the front staff appears a little light on their English ability but this isn’t unique to schools in Bangkok by any means. I’ve never quite figured this conundrum out, seeing as they’re teaching Thai to non-native adult speakers and most Asians possess at least a basic command of English.

Materials: The materials are possibly some of the best “Union type” I’ve seen in my nine years in this country. They are contemporary, current, and totally re-written! Gone are the endless pages of boring text (like most Union clone schools have). In their place are labeled pictures and nice diagrams. Honestly, I can’t say enough about how fresh and meaningful the material is versus the old Union stuff.

The two co-founders of Duke Language School put a TON of time weeding out the useful teaching material from the dated stuff which was garbage. They re-wrote what was left, organised it in a more logical way, and that included thinning out the artificial sounding constructs. The end result gives the lessons a good flow and real-life feel to them.

Many schools get duped by the printer to run WAY too many text books but Duke did a limited first run. The plan is to weed out any mistakes (it happens), get suggestions, and then make corrections and further tweak the system before the second run. I’ve been to schools where, before they teach a single word, the teacher goes thru the textbooks page by page to tell students about the mistakes. That won’t be the case at Duke Language School.

Method: It is definitely a Union based methodology as they teach speaking before they teach reading and writing Thai. Now that’s not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination so don’t take it as a negative. I’ve met some pretty talented foreign speakers of Thai who learned via karaoke and some still can’t tell a chicken กอ ไก่ from an owl ฮอ นกฮูก (the first and last letters of the Thai alphabet).

Of all the possibly hundreds of Thai students I’ve spoken to, the FIRST thing they want to learn is speaking and understanding Thai. Then way down the list, and I mean WAY down the list, is learning to read and write. Personally, no matter how many people say, “being able to read Thai makes you speak better Thai”, I don’t buy it. Kids can’t read a character, yet they seem to be able to develop competent spoken language skills sans reading. To me speaking and reading are horses of a different color. I doubt that many people if ANY think about how a word is spelled in Thai before they say it out loud. If they do, they must be some pretty slow clunky speakers of Thai. I mean it just don’t happen in the real world. Now is reading Thai useful? Heck yeah it is! But is reading Thai necessary to learn to speak it? Nope, it is abso-tively posi-lutely NOT necessary to learn read before you start to speak coherent Thai.

At Duke Language school students are first taught how their karaoke Thai system works, what the symbols mean, and sounds are made. In looking at it, it’s almost 100% the same as Benjawan Becker’s phonemic transcription method, so transitioning from Duke’s text books to Benjawan’s is almost seamless. This is a huge plus because I’ve been to some schools that have their own “proprietary school specific karaoke” which often bears little resemblance to anyone else’s method so you can’t easily switch between available materials (and we all do).

Face it, there’s no one who has more books in print about learning Thai than Benjawan does, so if a school uses her karaoke there is a plethora of other materials a student can use to supplement their learning. Once the phonetic system at Duke Language School is learned the class starts on the basics with meeting greeting, names, questions, etc. They do the typical 50 minute classes with a 10-15 minute break in between.

Duke is also one of the first schools I’ve been to that uses audio visual and big screens to teach Thai. It’s incorporated into almost every level they teach. And they are constantly developing additional ways to use it in the school’s curriculum. I believe it will become the “gold standard” as far as teaching Thai to foreigners goes. Right now no one else (or should I say, no place else that I’ve ever been to) is doing it. Students watch a short clip or a presentation, then talk about and discuss it. It’s a no-brainer in today’s tech-savvy world, especially with all of the resources available in internet-land.

Duke offers monthly field trips which students, no matter their level of Thai, can participate in. To encourage the students to interact with each other and further their Thai ability, on the field trips they incorporate various activities. This also helps build friendship between students no matter what module or level they’re learning at school. FWIW: these aren’t just those b/s trips to a Soi side street vendor, J/J Market or Pratunam, but decent day trips, which in talking to the students, seem to be well received and attended.

Teachers: Sitting in a trial class I was impressed that the teacher went out of her way to speak clearly. She spoke slow enough so students could comprehend and understand her, but not too slow to make it feel like she was “spoon feeding” the students. Teachers at Duke Language School are competent in the teaching method, are engaging, and no matter how off-toned or poorly pronounced the students are, seriously try to get them to break out of their shell and speak. The teachers are sticklers on getting pronunciation, vowel length and intonation right. But that’s a plus, seeing as it’s the key to being understood in Thai. Sitting outside talking with the front desk staff, I could hear the laughter and animated conversations going on in the rooms. Too many times sitting in class, it’s no fun learning Thai (or any language), but these teachers appear to go out of their way and make it fun. It can and does make learning a lot easier.

Classes: They run four weeks of group classes or terms that are available in the morning, afternoon or evening. They also offer private lessons too.

ED Visa: DLS is approved by the Ministry of Education to offer ED visa assistance and support for both their six month and their yearlong Thai courses.

Bang-4-The-Baht: If, as a student of the Thai language, you want to do intensive courses in Thai (versus milking the current education system by learning Thai four hours a week just to get a visa to stay here) this school is at the top of the pile! Hands down I’d recommend Duke Language School over ANY other school out there that I’ve been to so far (be sure to check the date of this post against the others that went before). No other schools can compete with Duke in terms of quality material, qualified teachers, and an overall good atmosphere to learn the Thai language. They have some of the most competitive pricing for group lessons. Make sure to check their website for promotions, etc.

After going to so many schools, saying the same old B/S spiel, “Hi, I just moved here to Thailand. I love the country, the people and the culture so much that I want to learn Thai”, I’ve become a pretty darned jaded foreigner as far as how Thai is taught. It takes a lot for a school to wow me nowadays, but I can honestly say, with no reservations at Duke Language School I was indeed wowed!

I hope you guys found this review of interest. As I said in the beginning, after a long break I’m a little rusty writing Thai language school reviews. If you’re wanting to learn Thai you should definitely put Duke on your list of schools to scope out. Be sure to sit a trial lesson while you are there.

Good luck, and as always I’m not affiliated with ANY Thai language school, I just want you guys to know what’s what out there in the learn Thai marketplace.

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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GINORMOUS List of iOS Apps to Learn Thai: iPhone, iPad and iPod

Thai Learning Apps for Your iOS

Thai Learning Apps for Your iPhone, iPad and iPod…

Welcome to my addiction – collecting iOS apps (iPhone, iPad and iPod) for learning Thai. Here you’ll discover apps for Thai dictionaries, Thai courses, translators, OCR, studying the Thai alphabet and vocabulary, phrasebooks, pronunciation lessons, quizzes, ebooks and online bookstores, flashcards, games, keyboards, entertainment (TV and radio), newspapers and magazines, telling time, language exchange and more. And because they are so versatile, I even collect iOS apps for the Thai market – Thais learning Thai.

I started collecting iOS apps back in 2009 when I bought my first iPhone 3G. By 2010 there were enough Thai apps for a series that included Thai Language Phrase books, Thai Alphabet and Vocabulary and iPhone apps: English Thai Dictionaries.

Each year the apps update, multiply, or disappear off the market. Back in 2010 there were around 15 Thai phrase books. Three years later, there are over 70. It’s now past time (story of my life) to write a follow up series.

The number of available apps is so GINORMOUS, two weeks ago (give or take) I felt compelled to create an Excel spreadsheet to wrap my head around what’s out there. And just incase I missed any (Thai apps can be difficult to locate) this week I asked fellow iOS addicts Michel and Bernard if they had any more. They did.

If you’d like to help out with reviews but don’t want to break the bank by acquiring everything, like I did, just skim through the list to see which apps are listed as FREE (there are plenty of free apps to choose from).

Oh. And if you come across apps I don’t have, please send them over.

Please note that not all apps will be included in the review. I won’t share any apps that have been discontinued (obviously), Filthy Thai (I don’t go there), ripped apps, and apps for learning Thai in languages other than English. But I will include a few apps for Thais learning English.

So here it is (finally), Thai learning apps for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod.

Thai Dictionaries: English Market…

Audio Collins Mini Gem Thai-Eng Eng-Thai Dictionary: $9.99
ClickThai Dictionary Thai/English: $26.99
Collins Gem Thai Dictionary: $9.99
English Thai dictionary: $5.99
English Thai Dictionary: FREE
English Thai Dictionary Pro: $2.99
English Thai: $2.99
EnThai Dictionary: $4.99
Longdo Dict: FREE
Longdo Dict HD: FREE
MyLex English Thai Dictionary: FREE
Talking Thai–English–Thai Dictionary: $24.99
Thai Dictionary: $4.99
Thai Dictionary Free: FREE
thaienglish: $1.99
ThaiPro Dictionary: $0.99
ThaiPro Dictionary Free: FREE
VocabMate: FREE
YourWords English Thai English travel and learning dictionary: $2.99

Thai Dictionaries: Special…

Dr. Wit’s Dictionary of Thai Laws: $19.99
Dr. Wit’s Management Dictionary: $3.99
Dr. Wit’s Marketing Dictionary: $3.99
First Dictionary for Kids 1: $1.99
First Dictionary for Kids 2: $1.99
First Dictionary for Kids Lite: FREE
Thai SL Dictionary: $0.99

Thai Dictionaries: Thai Market…

@Dict: FREE
@Dict Lite: FREE
CM Thai Dictionary Lite: FREE
CM Thai Dictionary Pro: $2.99
Dict Thai: FREE
Dict Thai +: $2.99
Dict Thai for iPad: FREE
Dict Thai PRO: $2.99
Dictionary English Thai: FREE
Dr Wit’s Desk Edition (Thai-En Eng-Thai Thai-Thai): $5.99
Dr Wit’s Pocket Edition (Thai-En Eng-Thai Thai-Thai): $3.99
Dr. Wit’s Library Edition (Thai-En Eng-Thai Thai-Thai): $17.99
English Dictionary Pro: $2.99
English – Thai: FREE
English English Thai Dictionary: $4.99
English Thai – Thai English Dict: $5.99
English Thai (My Dict): FREE
English Thai English Dictionary: $3.99
English Thai Free: FREE
English-Thai Talking Dictionary: $19.99
HEdictionary English Thai: $2.99
HEdictionary English Thai HD: $2.99
Jonathan’s Thai Dictionary: $1.99
Multilingual Dictionary South East Asia: $12.99
Plaewa: FREE
Proford English Thai Dictionary: $15.99
QuickDict Thai-English: $1.99
Thai: FREE +
Thai Dict: FREE
Thai Dictionary Box พจนานุกรม: FREE
Thai Fast Dictionary: FREE
Thai Fast Dictionary HD: FREE

Thai Alphabet…

ABC Thai Kids: $1.99
ABC ThaiKids HD: $1.99
Akson Thai Lite – Thai alphabet flashcards: FREE
Akson Thai Pro – Thai alphabet flashcards: $1.99
Easy Learn Thai Alphabets for iPad: $1.99
Easy Learn Thai Alphabets for iPhone and iPod Touch: $1.99
Easy Thai Script: $2.99
I Know My Thai Alphabet: FREE
iSeeThailand: Thai Alphabets: $1.99
iStudy: Thai Alphabet: $1.99
Kids Thai Alphabets HD: $1.99
Kids Thai Alphabets: $0.99
Kor Kai Game: $0.99
Kor Kai Game Lite: FREE
korkaikhai: FREE
Learn Thai From a White Guy: $4.99
Learn Thai Writing: $1.99
Letter Fall Thailand: FREE
Read Thai: $1.99
Read Thai Alphabet: $0.99
Reading Thai: $4.99
Tap AlphaBet Thai: $0.99
TH-Write: FREE
TH-Write HD: $1.99
Thai Alphabet: $0.99
Thai Alphabet: FREE
Thai Alphabet App: $0.99
Thai Alphabet for iPhone: FREE
Thai Alphabet Game: $1.99
Thai Alphabet Game U: $1.99
Thai Alphabet QuickRef: FREE
Thai Alphabet Tap & Speak Thai: $0.99
Thai Flash: $1.99
thai language “Koh-kai”: $0.99
Thai Language character Mechanism: $0.99
Thai Letter: $1.99
Thai Tiles: $0.99
ThaiAlphabets (คัดอักษรไทย): FREE
Tiny Thai: $1.99
TK Thai Alphabet: $0.99
Trace Thai for iPhone and iPod touch: $0.99
Write Thai: FREE
write thai letter: $0.99

Thai Alphabet: Thai Market…

iRead Thai: Final Consonants: $1.99
iRead Thai: Tone Marks: $1.99
iRead Thai: Vowel: $1.99
MattraThai: FREE
Read Thai Alphabet: FREE
Smart Thai: FREE
Thai Alphabets for Kids: $0.99

Thai Vocabulary…

Basic 1,000 Words & Sentence EN/TH Lite: FREE
ClickThai Vocabulary Trainer EN: $12.99
HXP Pasa Thai: FREE
Hxp Pasa Thai HD: FREE
Instant Thai: $1.99
iStudy: Thai Vocabulary: $1.99
iVocabulary – Your flexible vocabulary trainer: $5.99
iVocabulary Lite – Your flexible vocabulary trainer: FREE
Jourist Vocabulary Builder Asia: $9.99
Learn Beginner Thai Vocabulary: $9.99
Learn Free Thai Vocabulary with Gengo Audio Flashcards: FREE
Learn Thai – Free WordPower: FREE
Learn Thai – WordPower: $9.99
Learn Thai Vocabulary with Gengo audio flashcards: $5.99
Learn Thai with TicTic: FREE
MyWords – Learn Thai Vocabulary: $9.99
Thai Word of the Day: FREE
Thai Word of the Day!: $0.99
Who Makes These Sounds?: $1.99

Thai Vocabulary: Thai Market…

Basic 1,000 Words & Sentence EN/TH: $2.99
English Vocab Builder for Thai: $1.99
WordTrainer Thai – Learn English: $0.99

Thai Phrasebooks…

Blighty: Travel Pal: FREE
Collins Phrasebook: FREE
Collins Thai Phrasebook: $3.99
Collins Thai<->English Phrasebook: $12.99
EasyPiecy Thai: FREE
English-Thai Talking Travel Phrases: $4.99
FirstThai: $4.99
FirstThai LITE: FREE
Fodor’s Travel Phrases: Phrasebook for 22 languages: FREE
Free Thai Phrases by Nemo: FREE
IEMG – International Emergency medical guide: $3.99
iParrot Phrase English-Thai: $4.99
iParrot Phrase Thai-English: $4.99
iParrot Talking PhraseBook (Multi-language): $4.99
iPoodThai: $2.99
ITS4Thai – Learn Thai Language Phrasebook and Flashcards: $0.99
Learn Thai – Phrasebook for Travel in Thailand: FREE
Learn Thai HD – Phrasebook for travel in Thailand: $4.99
Learn&Play Thai ~ easier & fun!: $3.99
Learn&Play Thai Free ~ easier & fun!: FREE
Lingopal Thai – talking phrasebook: $0.99
Lingopal Thai LITE – talking phrasebook: FREE
LingoWorld – Learn the basics of 11 languages: FREE
Lonely Planet Thai Phrasebook: $5.99
Nemo Thai Complete: $9.99
PhasaThai: $7.99
PhasaThai Free: FREE
Speak Thai: $1.99
Speak Thai (6 Languages): FREE
Speak Thai (EN): FREE
Speak Thai by Click Thailand: FREE
Speak Thai Phrasebook Lite: FREE
Speak Thai Phrases: $2.99
Speak Thai Sanuk: $2.99
Speak Thai Sanuk for iPad: $2.99
Speak Thai Slang: $2.99
SpeakinThai: $0.99
Survival Thai for English: $4.99
Talking Translations: FREE
Tap & Say – Speak Phrase Book: FREE
Thai – Icon for Traveler in Thailand: $4.99
Thai – Talking English to Thai Translator and Phrasebook: $7.99
Thai App – Perfect Travel App: Learn Thai and Thailand app: FREE
Thai Beginner Survival Phrases for iPad: $19.99
Thai Buddy: FREE
thai conversation master: FREE
Thai For Travelers: $0.99
Thai Language Guide & Audio – World Nomads: FREE
Thai LH Lite: $0.99
Thai Medical Thai: FREE
Thai Phrasebook – Travel in Thailand with ease: FREE
Thai Speaker for iPad: $2.99
Thai Speaker For iPad Lite: FREE
Thai Speaker for iPhone: $0.99
Thai Speaker for iPhone Lite: FREE
Thai TalkBoard: $1.99
Thai Video Teacher: $2.99
Thai Video Teacher For iPad: $0.99
Thai Video Teacher For iPad Free: FREE
Thai Video Teacher Free: FREE
ThaiSupasit: FREE
ThaiTalk: $0.99
ผมพูด – Talking Thai to English translator and phrasebook: $8.99

Thai Phrasebooks: Thai Market…

2,000 English Sentences: FREE
English Conversation for Everyday Usage: FREE
English Conversations: FREE
Frequently Used English Questions and Answers in Daily Life: FREE
Hello Career English – Thai: FREE
Thai to English Sentences: FREE
นักแปลของฉัน นักแปลของฉัน: $0.99
พูดอังกฤษ 2,000 ประโยค – พูดได้: FREE

Thai Courses…

Advanced Thai for iPad: $9.99
book2 learn 40 languages: FREE
Byki Thai: $7.99
High Tech Thai vocabulary trainer: $2.99
Introduction to Thai language and culture for iPad: $9.99
iSpeak Thai: $4.99
iSpeak Thai Lite: FREE
ITS4Thai – Conversation and Vocabulary Lessons: $0.99+
ITS4Thai – Learn to Read and Write: $0.99+
L-Lingo Learn Thai: FREE
L-Lingo Learn Thai HD Free: FREE
Learn Thai: $1.99
Learn Thai: FREE+
Learn Thai – Language Teacher: $19.99
Learn Thai (Speak & Write): $2.99
Learn Thai with Video for iPad: $14.99
Reading Thai – Words & Sentences: $4.99
Speaking Thai in a Flash for iPad: $5.99
Speaking Thai in a Flash FREE: FREE
Sulantra: FREE+
SurvivalPhrases – Thai: $19.99
Thai for Beginners: $19.99
Thai Language for Beginners – Udemy: Free app (Thai course $29.99-$49.99)
uTalk: FREE
uTalk Thai: $9.99
WordUP Thai: $4.99
WordUP Thai LITE: FREE

Thai Courses: Thai Market…

Conversations in Daily Life 1: FREE
Conversations in Daily Life 2: FREE
English for Beginners: FREE
Speak English 99 Hours: FREE
Speak English in 140 Hours: FREE
Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing: FREE

Thai Books…

Aesop Collection: FREE
Aesop’s Fables: Series 1: $1.99
ebooks.in.th: FREE
FairHDLite: FREE
Kid’s Song: Nursery Rhyme: $1.99
LittleAngel: $0.99
LittleAngelHD: $0.99
LittleAngelHDLite: FREE
Mother Hen Mother Duck: $1.99
Noo Nid Didn’t Like to Brush Her Teeth: $1.99
Noo Nid Didn’t Like Vegetables: $1.99
Noo Nid Didn’t Want to Go to School: $1.99
Pra-Payom Cartoon: FREE
Rabbit & Turtle’s Tale (Thai version): $0.99
Sailing Sailing: $0.99
SailingLite: FREE
Thai Dinosaurs AR Book HD: FREE
TheHare: FREE

Thai Flashcards…

English-Thai Flashcards: FREE
Far East Language Revision: $1.99
FlashCards Thai Lesson: FREE
iCards: $0.99
iCards Lite: FREE

Thai Games…

Thai Bubble Bath: $2.99
Thai Bubble Bath Lite: FREE
Thai Jigsaw – Animal LITE: FREE

Thai Keyboards…

My Thai Keyboard: FREE
Thai Keyboard: $0.99
Thai Language Input: $0.99
Thai PaniniKeypad: $1.99
Thai Typing: $2.99
ThaiType: FREE
ThaiTyping BUScience

Thai Pronunciation…

Thai pronunciation analysis Copy Paste: $0.99
Thai Speech 01: $1.99
Thai Speech Tab: $4.99
Thai Tones: FREE

Thai Quiz…

ThaiFunQuiz 2: FREE

Thai Spelling…

Thai Spell Cube: $0.99
Thai Spelling Ball – Animal: $0.99
Thai Spelling Ball – Animal LITE: FREE

Online Thai Entertainment…

Dooeii for iPad: $9.99
Jaidee TV: FREE
Thai Live TV & Radio: FREE
Thai PBS for iPhone: FREE
Thai TV & Radio Pro: $0.99
Thai TV+: FREE
Thailand Radio + Alarm Clock: $0.99
ThaiTV Live: FREE
ThaiTV3 for iPad: FREE
TNN 24: FREE
TrueMusic: FREE
TrueMusic HD: FREE
Voice TV: FREE

Online Thai Newspapers and Magazines…

Thairath for iPad: FREE
Thairath LITE: FREE
Post Today for iPad: FREE
Thai Mag: $0.99
Thai News: $0.99

Telling Thai Time…

Thai Calendar: FREE
Thai Clock: $0.99
Thai Times: $0.99

Thai Extras…

BookStart for Kids : Colors: $0.99
Bookkids: FREE
FAIL SNAP: FREE
kid first write thai: FREE
Learn Thai Numbers, Fast! เรียนนับเลข: FREE
SimSimi: FREE
Thai Email Editor (Color, size, and format) Keyboard: $0.99
Thai Language Note: $0.99
Thai SL: FREE
Thai Talking Food Menu: $2.99
Thai Talking Food Menu Lite: $0.99
ThaiKID EN: FREE
Trueplookpanya.com: FREE
Memrise – Learn languages for free: FREE

Language Exchange…

bini2bini: $0.99
BLING W – Real Native: FREE
Global Citizen languageXchange: FREE
HelloTalk Language Exchange: FREE
italki Messenger: FREE
Lext Talk – Language Exchange Made Easy: FREE
Link – Language Exchange: FREE
PeopleHunt: FREE
plan P: FREE
Skype for iPhone: FREE
Tandem Finder: FREE

Learning Styles…

Language Learning Aptitude Test: FREE
Learning Style Test Executive Version: $1.99
Learning Type Test: $0.99

Translators for Thai – English…

CEMA Interpreter(To Thai): $9.99
English Thai Translator: $0.99
iTranslate with Text to Speech THAI to English: $0.99
PARTY Thai Speech-to-Text: FREE
Thai-Laos Transcription: FREE
The Thai Translator: $9.99
The Thai Translator Lite: FREE
Translate Thai and English: FREE

Translators…

babel fish: $0.99
CEMA Interpreter: $99.99
CEMA Translation: $99.99
Communilator free – Universal Translator: FREE
Communilator Pro – Universal Translator: $0.99
Email Translator: $0.99
Free Translator: FREE
Google Translate: FREE
gTranslate: FREE
iHandy Translator free: FREE
iHandy Translator Pro: $1.99
iLingo Translator Pro: $1.99
iStone Travel Translation App : FREE +
iTranslate – free translator & dictionary: FREE
iTranslate Voice: $1.99
iTranslate+: FREE
iTranslator: FREE
Jibbigo Translator: FREE +
Language Translator: FREE
Languages Assistant – speak into microphone: $2.99
OneWorld Translator: $1.99
QTranslator – the ultimate translator: $1.99
SayHi Translate: $0.99
SpeechTrans: $4.99 +
TableTop Translator: $2.99
Translate Professional: FREE +
Translate Text ~ myLanguage Free translator: FREE
Translate Text into spoken voice ~ myLanguage Translator Pro: $4.99
Translate well: $0.99
Translator ~ translate with voice: $2.99
Translator with Voice: $2.99
Travel Voice Translator Linguatec: $0.99
VoiceTra+: FREE
Dragon Dictation: FREE

OCR…

iSignTranslate: FREE +
OCR Scanner – Images & documents to text: FREE
Ocrtool: $4.99
Pixter Scanner OCR: $0.99
Prizmo – Scanning, OCR, and Speech: $4.99
Thai Dict Lens: Free
TextGrabber + Translator: $5.99

Flashcard Creators…

A+ Flashcards Deluxe: $0.99
AnkiMobile Flashcards: $24.99
Brainscape: FREE
Easy Flash Cards: $0.99
Eductic ~ Learn vocabulary efficiently using flashcards: FREE
Flash My Brain Flashcards: $5.99
Flashcard Elite: proven memory algorithm for flashcards: FREE +
Flashcard Touch: $0.99
Flashcards: $1.99
Flashcards Deluxe: $3.99
Flashcards Deluxe Lite: FREE
Flashcards Study Helper: $3.99
Flashcards*: FREE
Flashcards+: FREE +
FlashCards++: FREE
FlashCardSets: FREE
FlashCardz: $0.99
Flipcards: $0.99
FREE Exam Vocabulary Builder: FREE
FREE Flashcards Study Helper: FREE
gFlash+ Flashcards & Tests: FREE +
gFlashPro – Flashcards & Tests: $3.99 +
iFlash: $14.99
iFlash Touch: FREE +
iFlashCardPro: $1.99
iFlashCardPro Lite: FREE
iFlipr Flashcards: $4.99
iKnowIt: $1.99
iLearnFast: Flash Card Studying: $2.99
iMCards Lite – Flash Cards (I don’t own the full version yet): FREE
iRevise: $1.99
Lexicon: $9.99
Mental Case 2: FREE +
Quizlet: FREE
Repetitions for iPhone and iPod Touch: $4.99
Repetitions Free for iPhone and iPod Touch: FREE
StickyStudy: Flash! (Quizlet and Flashcard Exchange): $3.99
StickyStudy: Flash! Lite (Quizlet and Flashcard Exchange): FREE
Study & Me: $0.99
Study Flash: $1.99
STUDYBLUE: FREE
StudyCards: $3.99
Touchcards 2 – Flashcard learning system, import free cards: $1.99

Quizmakers…

Quiz Creator: $0.99
Quizicards: $0.99
RapidLearn: $3.99

Extras – Generic…

iReadFast for iPhone: $4.99
Repeater: FREE
SpeedUpTV: $2.99
Unicode Map: $1.99
Unicode Map Free: FREE

Pictures (vocabulary)…

ICOON global picture dictionary: $0.99
Show it!: $0.99
ShowMe: FREE

Thai Learning Apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod…

Note: This list will continue to be updated and tweaked. I won’t change the prices, but the location of the apps will change. When I created this list my aim was to quickly lump apps under headings. As I figure out their main focus, some will need to be elsewhere. Something like that.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy cruising the iOS apps on this list as much as I do!

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