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Finding Thai Language Partners

Finding Thai Language Partners

One thing is for certain:

If you want to learn to speak Thai, finding native Thai speakers is a must.

And they’re quite easy to find, if you know where to look.

In this post, I’ll share with you the absolute best places to find Thai language partners. As a bonus, I’ll even throw in a strategy that will allow to get more practice time out of your partners.

Let’s dive right in.

We’re going to see two types of resources for finding Thai language partners: Online and offline resources. We’ll focus on the former since they are generally more accessible.

These online resources are language exchange websites/apps, dating websites and games, among other things.

Language Exchange Websites and Apps…

Language exchange websites and apps are probably the most obvious places to find language partners, if you don’t live in Thailand. There are a few language exchange platforms which offer a wealth of native Thai speakers who will willingly teach you Thai as long as you agree to teach them English in return.

I recently tested several websites and apps and there were only a handful that I found worth using. And note that these are more than sufficient for finding Thai language partners.

Here they are:

HelloTalk

HelloTalk is by far the best of all language exchange platforms. It has a great number of Thai speaking members who want to learn English, which makes it really easy to find partners.

Finding Thai Language Partners

This app is available to both iOS and android devices. The chat platform looks a lot like the one on Viber and Whatsapp, if you know what these here.

On HelloTalk, you’re limited to sending messages to no more than 15 people per day. Trust me, though, 15 persons per day is enough.

At least in my case, most of them replied to a simple “Hi, how are you?”. You also have the option to write a detailed description of yourself, so don’t miss out on doing so to increase your success rate.

Italki

As far as websites are concerned, I found no other that matched Italki in terms of the quantity of members who speak Thai. Here’s the result I got, a day after I sent about 15 messages:

Finding Thai Language Partners

I have sent messages to about 40 different people in 5 minutes on Italki and I have not been limited.

Conversation Exchange

A third language exchange resource should not be needed, but if you’re looking for an extra one, Conversation Exchange fares decently.

Finding Thai Language Partners

Conversation Exchange’s limit is around 10 people per day, which is largely sufficient. As with HelloTalk and Italki, most replied to my initial message. You can also put a description of yourself in your profile.

The downside of Conversation Exchange, though, is that you cannot upload a profile picture (you can only use one of the avatars they offer), so it’s not as personal. Also, the website looks old, which makes it less appealing to use. I was surprised to see that several Thais still used it despite its looks.

Dating Websites…

Before I go into my review of dating websites, know this: Dating websites do not have to be used to find love. A lot of their members are open to friendship. Do you see where I’m getting at with this?

That’s right, dating websites are a gold mine for finding Thai language partners. And the big upside is that they won’t necessarily want to practice English with you. So you can end up practicing Thai 100% of the times, which is awesome.

Here they are:

ThaiFriendly

One of the best free dating websites out there to find Thai partners is ThaiFriendly. It has a huge number of people you can talk with, and of course, you can do so in Thai.

Finding Thai Language Partners

Badoo

ThaiFriendly is all you should need, but if you’re looking to try a different dating site, Badoo isn’t too bad. The big downside is that you’re limited in terms of the number of people you can message every day, unless you purchase “Super Powers”. Despite the limitations, I’ve had great success with it in the past, especially playing the “Encounters”.

Finding Thai Language Partners

Regardless of the dating website you choose to use, make sure you state it in your profile that you’re looking for friendship (if that’s all you’re looking for), so that you don’t lead anyone on.

Here’s a sample profile that you can adapt to your own needs:

Hi everyone, I’m Marc, a 30 year old Canadian man who loves to travel. I’ve been to Thailand a few times, also to Europe and South America. Traveling is my passion and the only thing in life that truly gives me happiness. I’m currently working as an English teacher, which allows me to travel a lot. I love to talk with Thai ladies, which is the main reason why I joined this website. I’m very much open to friendship and I would like to meet new people.Feel free to send me a message and we can go from there.

If you can write it in Thai, that’s even better.

Games…

Nowadays, there’s a great range of games that have chat and/or microphone features. In some of these games, you can play on a server located in Thailand, where you’ll have the chance to practice with countless potential practice partners.

Here are a couple of games where you can play on a Thai server, but note that there are way more such games that exist:

Counter-Strike Go

Thai servers

Minecraft

Thai servers

Maybe you prefer a more “in-person” approach?

If that’s the case, I may have you covered. If you live outside of Thailand, you still might be able to find Thais with whom to practice in person.

Where can you do this might you ask?

By getting involved in the Thai communities outside of Thailand.

As it turns out, in some large urban areas, there are established communities of Thais. An easy way to find them is to do a search on Facebook. Type the word “Thai community” and then type the name of the city where you live.

Let me give you an example. If you live in Dallas, you’d proceed as follows:

Finding Thai Language Partners

In this case, it’s quite obvious, there’s only one result worth noting, the Thai Community Center of North Texas.

Upon browsing through their page, you can see that they’re involved in various events which you could take part of, like this bowling tournament:

Finding Thai Language Partners

Here are a few communities of Thais in other cities that I found by doing a quick search:

Los Angeles

Vancouver

Prague

Perth

Now that you know where to find Thai language partners, let me give you some useful information about practicing with them.

Useful Info about Practicing with Thai People…

Time Difference

When you practice with Thais, be mindful of their time zone. If you sleep at night, here are the best times to get a hold of them:

  • On the USA’s east coast: early morning and possibly late in the evening.
  • Europe: Morning and afternoon.
  • Australia: Afternoon and evening.

The Line App

Finding Thai Language Partners

Line is very popular in Thailand. It’s an app/program that serves as a platform that can be used to communicate by chat, audio and video. You might be asked for your Line ID when talking to Thai partners, so I suggest you make one.

A Quick Word about Thai People

There’s one thing that stands out about Thais and it’s that they’re an extremely humble and polite people, which, to experience it for me in person was simply priceless, such a contrast to the people I’m used to in my home country. IF you do get the chance to experience the land of smiles one day, you’ll see what I mean.

Strategy for Maximizing Your Practice Time with Language Partners…

Over the years, I’ve had countless language partners and still today, I have a handful of them that are highly reliable. I can practice with them and get explanations about grammar, whenever I need it.

I’m now going to show you how you can get this level of reliability in some partners as well.

First, as I quickly mentioned earlier, start by making a neat profile on the app/website. If possible, write your description in Thai as this will entice more people to reply or even send you a message on their own.

Secondly, send a very short message such as “Hi, how are you?” to as many potential partners as you can, whether on language exchange or dating platforms.

Then, DO NOT jump to language exchange right away. That is a common mistake that people often make. When I did that, I noticed that the language exchange took place for a week at most, and then died down tremendously.

Why does this happen?

Well, it’s hard to say, but my best guess is that teaching someone else a language or learning it can feel like work, and some of us already have our hands full with that.

Fortunately, there is a better approach.

The trick I found is to focus on friendship. That’s right, make this person your friend by having interesting conversations on common interests and you’ll gain someone who is more dependable and who’ll genuinely want to help you with your Thai.

Also, try to take the conversation elsewhere, like on Skype or on Line, as early in the process as possible. You’ll have more freedom like sharing files, making audio/video calls, which you may not get on language exchange and dating websites/apps.

This is what concludes this guide on finding Thai language partners. Follow it and you’ll surely succeed in the same way that I did.

Good luck!

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Marc Belley is a linguist who graduated from the Université de Montréal in Canada. He speaks a total 4 languages and strives to speak them like a native. He is also the founder of LearnLanguagesOnYourOwn where he teaches his own language learning method which includes a complete guide on how to find language partners.

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks for this Marc. It’s an interesting read and always good to keep up with what language apps are available.

    I’m having a feel around Hello Talk at the moment but the first thing I notice when searching for a potential language exchange partner is that the vast majority don’t fill in the self-introduction section. So as an enthusiastic first-time user, I have absolutely nothing to go on – except a small profile pic.

    I’m at an intermediate level of spoken Thai so I would be looking for someone at that same level in English, otherwise it doesn’t work for me. I’m not looking to date or socialize or make endless small talk. I’d like the language exchange to be fairly ‘serious’. because time is precious.

    Having taught Thai students for many years, I’m familiar with their speech patterns and English language problems, etc so a couple of self-penned introduction paragraphs would give me a great head start when it comes to ascertaining that person’s level. But disappointingly I don’t get that with Hello Talk.

  2. I have tried all the language websites and apps mentioned over a long period and found them all a complete waste of time. They all attract a certain type of Thai person – the freeloader. These people expect you to give them a free English lesson but don’t want to help you at all. I don’t think focussing on friendship would help as you’d invest a lot of time and end up with someone who sees you as a free English teacher. I tried to just focus on chatting with people but ended up chatting in English for an hour and then when I tried to steer the conversation to Thai they would just keep reverting to English as quickly as possible. This happened regardless of who spoke the other’s language better.

  3. Philip, if you are an English teacher then these language exchange websites and apps are a waste of time. Why not do an extra hour of teaching and take the money to a Thai language school and pay for a hour with a Thai tutor? You’d have enough left over for a beer afterwards.

  4. Philip:

    I really appreciate your point of view. It made me realize that we don’t all have the same priorities when looking for language partners.

    That being said, the goal of my post was to outline the resources which currently have the most native Thai members available to practice with. The additional functionalities of these apps/websites were less of a priority, I’ll admit to that.

  5. Matthew:

    I understand what you’re saying, but I think your misfortune can be explained by one of these things:

    You’ve been really unlucky
    You’ve used the language exchange approach right off the bat (as opposed to focusing on friendship)
    You haven’t given dating websites a try

    Focusing on friendship:

    Have you ever tried making one of them a good friend? You said you didn’t think it would work, which suggests that you’ve never really tried it. I, on the other hand, have befriended a great number of Thais and some I’ve managed to build some solid friendships and I guarantee you that if I wanted to practice my Thai with them, they’d be more than happy to help out.

    Dating websites:

    Believe it or not, people on dating websites are not there to exchange languages, so you don’t have to worry about them wanting to just practice English. They are usually there either for friendship or for dating. I’ve been using dating websites for years and a lot of the Thai friends that I have, I found them on dating websites. Some are even fully bilingual (Thai and English), so the potential for proper language partners is there.

  6. Matthew, your post gave me a chuckle because that’s EXACTLY what happened when I got a language partner request on Hello Talk on the first day I tried it. I chatted for an hour with a 52-year-old Thai schoolteacher in Chantaburi and while she was pleasant enough, I got absolutely nothing out of it. All she wanted to do was ask questions using her relatively poor English. That’s OK but I didn’t even get the impression she wanted to be corrected. Or switch to teaching me Thai at any stage.

    All in all, it was a complete waste of time. I don’t wish to sound aloof but I’ve had enough ‘can you eat spicy food?’ conversations to last me a lifetime.

    I just can’t see for the life of me how that Hello Talk app can possibly work and I confess I uninstalled it the same day.

    “They all attract a certain type of Thai person – the freeloader. These people expect you to give them a free English lesson but don’t want to help you at all”

    I think you nailed it there Matt. Truly nailed it.

  7. Forget the apps. There’s only one method of study that really works for me. That’s a face to face lesson with a Thai person that you as the student have 100% prepared and have 100% control over. The Thai person doesn’t have to be a teacher – just a willing partner.

    I prepare the two-hour lesson by writing out a set of 10 what I call ‘daily life’ paragraphs. Then we will go through them together sentence by sentence with the objective being to learn any new vocab or sentence structures and finally – to be able to say that paragraph fluently (or as fluently as possible). The following week we will review them again .

    Here is a typical example of a paragraph I prepared for this week’s lesson;

    A few days ago, I went to see a skin doctor at Sikarin Hospital because I had a rash on my neck that was taking so long to get better. I was not impressed. When I sat down in his office, he looked at my rash and then tried to find it on Google image search. I had already done that at home! He then wanted to perform a biopsy which involved sending a small sample of skin to a lab for testing. And then the results would come back within a week. When I asked the price of this, the doctor said about 10,000 baht. “I will think about it” I lied. Large hospitals in Thailand are businesses. You have to be careful. Perhaps I would be better going to see a doctor at one of those small local skin clinics which are popular with working Thais.

    As I said, my objective is to be able to say this fluently. And because these paragraphs are things that actually happen to me, the vocab and phrases become much more relevant and applicable to daily life. I just find that as a student who is also a very experienced teacher, I’m able to utilize my time to the max by doing things this way.

  8. First I want to thank Marc for his excellent article on learning Thai with online language exchange resources. I first looked at language exchange groups years back, but as technology moves fast, I lost touch with what’s going on. And having updated information on WLT is invaluable.

    Second, the comments under this post caught my attention because I know for certain that there are a lot of people learning via language exchange. So today I decided to reach out to others learning Thai via HelloTalk to see if we could get their views and tips as well.

    Here’s the post: Survey Call: How English Speakers are Learning Thai with HelloTalk.

    Good or bad or indifferent, I’d love everyone’s views on learning Thai with HelloTalk :)

    And again, thanks Marc! You put a lot of work into this article and it shows (muchly appreciated).

  9. Hey Catherine,

    It was a pleasure to write it and I did spend some hours doing so. Yeah, it’s hard to be on top of all the new stuff that’s coming out, technology moves fast indeed. Hopefully the resources I provided will last for a few years.

    I agree about language exchange working for some people. Although I now prefer dating websites, language exchange worked for me before and I personally know some people for whom it worked. I think you have to at least give it a chance, and by that, I mean, not just stop after a few bad experiences. With some patience and a bit of persistence, you should be able to find some reliable language partners.

    Anyhow, good luck with the continuation of your series of articles!

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