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iPhone apps: Thai Alphabet and Vocabulary

iPhone Thai Alphabet Apps

Thai alphabet and vocabulary apps for your iPhone…

NOTE: An updated series, compiled from my GINORMOUS List of iOS Apps to Learn Thai: iPhone, iPad and iPod, is coming soon. Please stay tuned.

When I started collecting Thai language iPhone apps last year, only a dribble came through. Later, they started coming fast, but then slowed down soon after. You will see what I mean when noting the creation dates for each app (listed below).

And btw. The iTunes store has improved their search since last year, but only a little. You cannot find all of the Thai apps by using the keywords ‘Thai language’. No, you need to know exactly what the app is targeting (nouns, verbs, alphabet, phrases, dictionary, etc) and even then you will not find them all. I’m not even 100% sure I have everything (but I’m pretty close).

Anyway, now that the iPhone apps have had plenty of time to update, I was thinking that it’s a good time to get back to doing that full iPhone apps review I promised.

The criteria I used for the iPhone Thai alphabet and word review…

Choosing iPhone apps to learn the Thai alphabet, or/or increase your vocabulary, is a logical affair. You might not be too fussed about all of the items I’ve noted below, but some will be a must. Up to you.

  • Vocab: How many words does it have?
  • Help: Is there a help or tutorial section?
  • More words: Can you add vocabulary of your own?
  • Internet connection: Do you need to be connected?
  • Sound: Do you need sound to increase understanding?
  • Design style: Does it add or subtract to the experience?
  • Thai script: Is the Thai script too small to read, or just right?
  • Tone tips: Are there tone markers, transcription, or nothing at all?
  • Zoom: Would a zoom to read small Thai script be an improvement?
  • Learning: Can you test your Thai? Or just hear and/or read the materials?
  • Target market: Does the app target beginners, intermediates, or advanced students?

As you’ll soon read, I’m a stickler for sound on iPhone Thai learning apps for beginners. For intermediate or advanced students there is not as much need (but it’s a nice touch).

Another concern of mine is tiny Thai script on iPhones, so here’s a note to iPhone app developers:

When reading tiny Thai script, experienced Thai readers will automatically fill in the missing details. But beginners need to see everything so please either make the Thai script large enough, or add the ability to zoom in. Ta.

If price matters to you, wait until the sales come in. And they will. On Saturday I got busy double-checking the prices for each app in the iTunes store. Some had dropped to half so I corrected this post. But by Sunday, the prices went back up again. Sigh…

And if you do want to keep an eye on app prices, then sign up for email or twitter alerts from Latest iPhone and iPad App Price Drops.

Disclaimer: Except where noted, the personal opinions below (cacca or otherwise), are all mine.

Learn the Thai alphabet…

When I started reviewing iPhone apps, my wishlist for a Thai alphabet app included the letters and their tones, vowels and their placement, pictures or words depicting their Thai names, and sound files for the lot. And a quiz would be grand as well. None of the below offer everything, but the newest app comes close: Reading Thai. I would not ignore the rest as one can never have enough apps for learning Thai.

I Know My กขค

I Know: My กขคII Know: My กขค
Price: Free
Author: TRUE
Date: 9 July 2010
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Alphabet
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Not needed
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: Yes (but it doesn’t work for me)
Quiz: No

This is a simple app with animated flashcards to help you learn the Thai alphabet. There is supposed to be sound when you click on the alphabet, but I’m not hearing anything. Richard (who wrote the below review) mentions sound so the blame is sure to be on my phone.

iStudy: Thai Alphabet

Thai AlphabetiStudy: Thai AlphabetiStudy
Price: £1.19 | $1.99
Author: Ronald Bell
Date: 11 February 2009
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Alphabet
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Not needed
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: Yes

There are two modes: Test mode and study mode. In test mode you are on your honour to select correct or incorrect in response to your answer. A report card tracks your progress.

Reading Thai

Reading ThaiReadingReading ThaiReading Thai
Price: US$4.99 | £2.99
Author: Nagaraja Rivers
Date: 15 Sept 2010
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Alphabet + 350 words
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: Yes
Quiz: No

The other alphabet apps are lacking in some way but this one has most everything needed: Consonants, vowels, numbers, tone marks and punctuation, tone rules, letter combination rules, and multi-syllable rules. It has a clean design with easy to use nav, and the sound is clear and loud (the sound in some apps cannot be heard over background noise).

The only item I see missing is a quiz. I would also add an info page with very brief instructions and contact/company details.

Genuinely useful, this app can operate as a learning tool, or to look something up when reading Thai. If you were limited to one Thai alphabet app for whatever reason, I would advise getting this app over the others.

Thai Alphabet App

Thai Alphabet App Thai Alphabet AppThai Alphabet App
Price:$0.99 | £0.59
Author: iPhone and iPad Developer Thailand
Date: 9 March 2010
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Alphabet
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Not needed
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: Yes
Quiz: Sort of

Last year I gnashed my teeth over Thai alphabet apps not having sound, so I was relieved when this one arrived this year. It is a very simple app, but effective.

A small complaint is that you cannot navigate easily; you must go back to the scrolling list each time to select a new letter. No matter, it does what it’s meant to do.

What is not explained in the app or at the iTunes store is the colour coding system. Suggestion: Use colour coding for low, medium, and high class. Oh, and different colours for vowel placeholders.

This app is not set up to quiz, but to quiz yourself simply take a guess before pushing the sound button. Easy.

Thai Alphabet QuickRef

Thai Alphabet QuickRefThai Alphabet QuickRefThai Alphabet QuickRef
Price: Free
Author: Ronald Bell
Date: November 11, 2009
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Alphabet
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Not needed
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: No

Same as Ronald Bell’s previous Alphabet app above, this one is lacking sound as well. If you sort of know the alphabet, then Ronald’s attractive and absolutely free app might work for you.

Beware as the ads on the bottom of the app are too close to the two bottom buttons. I don’t remember the ads being there the first time I downloaded, so looks like he’s trying to recoup costs. Fair enough.

Thai Language “Koh-kai”

Thai language Koh-kai thai language Koh-kaiThai language Koh-kaiThai language Koh-kai
Price:$0.99 | £0.59
Author: Ritsuro
Date: 4 Jan 2010
Version: 1.2
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Alphabet
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: No

This app takes you through the Thai alphabet with graphics, Thai script, transliteration, and English. When you get to the first letter of the Thai alphabet you’ll see a graphic of a chicken, ก (Thai letter), K (initial letter), 01 (where it is in the Thai alphabet), koo kai (transliteration of the full Thai word), chicken (English translation), and โก่ (full Thai word for that letter).

The settings are simple. Auto scrolls through the lot, left and right arrows scrolls one at a time, pause… pauses, and top takes you to ก, the first letter in the alphabet. There is also a control panel where you can select information startup which is a quick nav (shown in the graphic above), night mode (a darkened screen), speed (controls how fast the alphabet goes by), and the ability to see the obsolete characters or not.

To make this a complete alphabet iPhone app, needed is sound and whether or not the letters are low, medium, or high class. Adding vowels and numbers would improve it as well.

Ritsuro has another alphabet app called Thai Language character Mechanism, but I haven’t been able to figure it out all the way. What you can do is get the initial sounds of the Thai alphabet and Thai numbers. The rest is a mystery.

TH-Write

TH-WriteTH-WriteTH-WriteNo longer online
Price: Free
Author: Nati Namvong
Released: 2 Jul 2010
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Alphabet
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: No
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: Yes
Quiz: No

New out, this is a beautifully designed app. You get the name of the letter in Thai script, with transcription underneath (no tone marks). To practice drawing the Thai alphabet, trace over the dotted lines on the screen. You can keep erasing until satisfied with your efforts. Click on the cute speaker icon to the top right to hear clear sound delivered by a female voice.

As a graphically minded lass, I am soooooooo looking forward to seeing what else Nati comes up with!
EDIT: I received a query via email about the spellings used in this app. Nati is using phonetic Thai, so do not use it to learn how to spell.

TH Write has นอ-เณร
Should be ณ เณร
TH Write has คอ-ระ-ฆัง
Should be ฆ ระฆัง
TH Write has ทอ-ผู้-เฒ่า
Should be ฒ ผู้เฒ่า

A Thai word a day…

At the moment, there are two types of words a day to chose from: 1) Simple, and 2) On full-blown steroids. What is needed is a app targeting the middle ground and both ends as well (suggested in the comment below).

MyWords Thai

MyWords ThaiMyWords - ThaiMyWords ThaiyMyWords Thaiy
Price: £5.99 | $9.99
Author: Innovative Language Learning
Date: 19 June 2009
Version: 1.6.2
Internet connection required: Only when downloading new words
Word count: 3,650 words per year
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Needed
Sound: Yes
Quiz: Yes

UPDATE: The latest is for iPad only.

The idea is to learn ten new Thai words a day. After you wait around for their app to load (and it’s a long wait), you get a screen with tiny Thai script in the middle, and the translation in English on the right.

Clicking the orange box on the left of the screen takes you to a practice page where you listen, repeat, record your own voice, and then replay it back. You can also save words in a word bank to practice later, but you cannot add new words. As you can see from the sample to the right, even reduced, the Thai script on the practice page is readable.

ATTN: When I accessed the app the sound files were incorrect. Not only was I getting the wrong Thai word, but I couldn’t match what I recorded with what they had. It’s a decent app (even with the potential for eyestrain), so I’ll check with the developer and get back to you…

In the game you quiz yourself by matching the Thai script to the English translation. The Thai script is absolutely tiny, so you’ll need to be in very good light to read it (and when are we using our iPhones in good light?) No matter if you get some answers wrong at first, when you eventually get them right you receive a congratulations. I like that. Note: If you cannot read Thai script, you cannot play the game.

Across the bottom of the app is a clear nav: Play game, V (another ad), ? (a scrolling help page), and a calendar. The calendar is where you can go backwards in time.

The comment from the iTunes store (quoted below) about the inability to choose words via difficulty is a point well made.

I agree with another reviewer that it would be very helpful to be able to select a knowledge level from which to receive successive days of new 10 words, such as BEGINNER, MIDDLE or ADVANCED Thai speaker and also choose from categories such as GREETINGS, ACCOMMODATION, SHOPPING, etc.

As the other reviewer stated, a beginner needs to get basic greetings and simple conversational words and an advanced speaker will find many wasted days of words if the words sent include such basic vocabulary as “hat”, “red”, “desk”, etc. Adding the ability to select such levels and grouping would make this a 5 star app.

Thai Word of the Day

Thai Word of the DayThai Word of the DayNo longer online
Price: £0.59 | $0.99
Author:Date: 15 August 2009
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 365 (more with free updates)
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: No

This is a basic iPhone app. As you can see in the graphic, you get the Thai word in script, whether it’s a verb noun or whatever, and the transliteration. If you are unsure what the arrows on the transliteration mean, the tone tips are shown in small copy along the bottom of the first box. In the second box you get the English translation of the word.

The only items clickable are the forward and back buttons, which take you to more words. You are given a year’s worth of vocabulary, with additional words on the way. It’s a simple app with no bells and whistles: no search, no sound, and no quiz.

Thai Word of the Day!

Thai Words of the DayThai Words of the DayNo longer online
Price: £0.59 | $0.99
Author: Ronald Bell
Date: 30 July 2009
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Unknown
Thai script: No
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: No

This is another basic iPhone application. You get a new word of the day in transliteration. No Thai script. So unless your Thai friends read karaoke Thai, you are so out of luck if you need to ask for pronunciation help. And with no sound as well, you are doubly out of luck. If you missed a word, or want to see new words, the previous and next buttons show you more. This is a pretty app, but it’s sorely lacking.

Learn Thai words whenever…

Where the daily Thai word apps give you a new word (or ten) a day, the below give you freedom of choice. Some have powerful features, some not so much.

WordPower Thai

WordPower ThaiWordPower ThaiWordPower ThaiNo longer online
Price: £5.99 | $9.99
Author: Innovative Language Learning
Date: 2 Sept 2009
Version: 1.6
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 2000
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: No (Transcription)
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: Yes
Search: Yes
Quiz: Yes

This is a decent iPhone app to have. What you do is scroll through the extensive categories to chose the subject you fancy (words, numbers, or phrases), and then pick one of the 2000 Thai words. You then listen to the recording, record yourself saying the word or phrase, and then play back your voice to see how close you came.

You also have the ability to create your own word bank from the existing words, but you cannot add new words of your own. Next to each category listing is a progress bar (that grey oblong box shown above). And (rare) there’s even a search (a search that works fabulously). The flashcards (where you can quiz yourself to your heart’s delight), have sound, Thai script, and transcription. Detailed instructions come with this app (another rarity). And the flashcard section can be controlled via settings as well.

This program uses transcription, meaning no tone markers. But with sound, is it really needed? Up to your preference really.

WordPower Thai Lite

Word Power LiteWordPower Thai LiteNo longer online
Price: £0.59 | $0.99
Author: Innovative Language Learning
Date: 15 September 2009
Version: 2.1
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Unlimited (but one per day)
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: No (Transcription)
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: Yes
Quiz: Yes

This app is similar to their full version, but you are limited to one new word a day. So what this program really should be called is Thai Word of the Day on Steroids. And no worries if you want access to more Thai words, you can upgrade to their full version at any time.

Let’s face it, not everyone can commit full-time to learning a language. We know there are many things going on in your life: school, work, the kids, that special someone. That’s why we developed WordPower – Lite for the ultra-busy, 21st century lifestyle. There is absolutely no reason to miss out on all the benefits of learning another language just because you’re light on time.
With WordPower – Lite, start down the road to fluency and the many perks that go with it: greater job opportunities, higher income, broader view of the world, shock and awe unsuspecting friends and family, and many more.

Gengo Flashcards Thai

Gengo Flashcards ThaiGengo Flashcards - ThaiGengo Flashcards ThaiGengo Flashcards Thai
Price: £4.00 | $5.99
Author: Innovative Language Learning
Date: 8 July 2009
Version: 1.3
Internet connection required: No
Word count: Unlimited
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: No (Transcription)
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: Yes
Quiz: Yes

Gengo is broken into two main operations: Flashcards and games. You can use the flashcards that came with the app, or create your own by taking a photo of the object, and then add in the Thai as well as the sound.

Tip: To add new words, you will need to turn on your Thai keyboard. To do this, go to >> Settings >> General >> Keyboard >> International keyboard >> Thai. Leave English selected. Then switch from English to Thai by clicking on the icon that sort of looks like a world.

In the flashcard section you get one photo. You then say the Thai word to yourself. To see if you are correct, either click on the small icon to the bottom right for the Thai script and translation, or play the sound button at the top right. If you got it right, you click the green check. If wrong, you select the red cross. And yes, you are on your honour.

In the games section you select a subject from the category and three photos appear. At the same time, you’ll hear a Thai word. The idea is to click the photo that matches the Thai sound. If you missed hearing the Thai word, click on Play Sound. If you need hints, click on the small round icon on the bottom right and the photo will flip around to show the Thai script, transcription, and translation of the word.

I loved this app when I first started playing around with it, but there is a problem. Some of the photos are ballpark, not absolute. For instance, in the computer section you get a photo of a guy and a gal smiling in front of a computer. And the answer? A social networking site. In the body parts section you get a photo of a women shown from her chest to her nose. Did you guess mouth? Hmm… To make this work you first have to study the flashcards to memorise what they are being called here, and then hope that you remember the illusive names when you play the game. And if you think about, this is almost like learning Thai in real life.

This is another app with a help section, so kudos to them. But on the downside, this app is slow loading on startup.

Gengo Flashcards Lite – Thai

Gengo Flashcards ThaiFree Gengo Flashcards ThaiNo longer online
Price: Free
Author: Innovative Language Learning
Date: 17 July 2009
Version: 1.3
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 10?
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: No (Transcription)
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: Yes
Quiz: Yes

As in the full version, there are two main operations: Flashcards and games. The free version is limited to fruits and weather, and you cannot add new cards.

Gengo Flashcards Lite provides a revolutionary way for you to quickly grow your vocabulary. The application combines visual cues with the voices of native speakers to provide you with the most effective method of learning and retaining hundreds of vocabulary words. With these special flashcards, we’re adding another sensory receptor to your learning experience so you’ll learn Thai that much faster! You’re now learning just like a native speaker.

iStudy: Thai Vocabulary

iStudy Thai VocabularyiStudy: Thai VocabularyNo longer online
Price: £1.19 | $1.99
Author: Ronald Bell
Date: 9 February 2009
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 103
Thai script: No
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: Yes

This app uses karaoke Thai, but if you are not fussed, then go for it. There are two modes in this app: Test mode and study mode. In test mode you are on your honour to select correct or incorrect. A report card tracks your progress.

uTalk HD Thai

uTalk ThaiuTalk ThaiuTalk ThaiuTalk HD Thai
Price: £5.99 | US$9.99
Author: EuroTalk
Date: 15 June 2009
Version: 1.0.2
Internet connection: No
Word count: 260 words
Tone tips: Yes
Thai script: Yes
Zoom: No needed
Sound: Yes
Quiz: Yes

I reviewed this iPhone app in a previous post, Thai Language Phrase books, but it belongs here instead.

This is a beautifully designed learning app for beginners of the Thai language. It covers the bare basics of Thai vocabulary, with a few phrases thrown in.

The sections include: Word practice, easy game, easy game+, and hard game. You can record and playback your attempts at speaking the Thai language. The Thai script is a decent size.

In the preferences you can set the volume and chose from 80 available languages, as well as clear your history. The graphics incorporated into the design go a long way to making this program easy to use. Cheers to their design team!

The downside? To match the design quality of this product, more content is needed.
Seriously more content as 260 words are not enough.

ATTN: I was just told that EuroTalk has a much larger version in the works, so kudos to them! And while we are waiting for the Pro version, uTalk Thai has been upgraded to uTalk HD Thai. It now works on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. And the language count has been increased to 80 as well. This is an exciting app; one to follow for sure.

Learn by Thai nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs…

Two products (TempleBar and Levitate) compliment each other so I’ve put them in a section on their own. Both companies have created simple learning products for the Thai market. And while the apps don’t include sound, they are useful.

TempleBar: These simple, but effective learning apps teach Thai words by SRS (spaced repetition software). The apps remember the Thai words you’ve learned, as well as the words you need to concentrate on. You can even track the progress for up to 4 users, and reset the scores if you so choose. There is no sound, but legible Thai script and transliteration (with explanation) are included. If you have a Thai friend who wants to practice English, or if you want to come up with the Thai name for an English word, just reverse the order (English shown instead of Thai). The about (help) section is extensive and indeed helpful.

The apps come with a limited number of Thai words but you can add your own. As mentioned above, here are brief instructions for turning on your Thai keyboard. Go to >> Settings >> General >> Keyboard >> International keyboard >> Thai. Leave English selected. Then switch from English to Thai by clicking on the icon that sort of looks like a world.

Levitate: This is a much simpler application. There is the choice to learn words (multiple choice answers), browse (forward and back arrows), and reset your score. You cannot add new words.

Thai

ThaiThaiThaiNo longer online
Price: £2.99 | $4.40
Author: TempleBar Development LLC
Date: 15 August 2009
Version: 1.6
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 900 ++
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: Yes

The sections are: Practice all words, practice nouns, practice verbs, practice descriptives (verbs and adjectives), and add your own words. Turn the browsing mode on when you want to review the words beforehand.

Thai Adjectives and Adverbs

Thai Adjectives and AdverbsThai Adjectives and AdverbsThai Adjectives and AdverbsNo longer online
Price: £1.19 | $1.99
Author: TempleBar Development LLC
Date: 31 July 2009
Version: 1.6
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 325 ++
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: Yes

The sections are: Practice, browsing, and adding words. In browsing mode you can review the Thai adjectives and adverbs beforehand. Clicking on the other buttons, you can read the guide, set the viewing options, and see the TempleBar about page.

Thai Adjectives Quiz

Thai Nouns QuizThai Adjectives QuizThai Adjectives QuizNo longer online
Price: £1.19 | $1.99
Author: Levitate LLC
Date: 29 June 2009
Version: 1.0
Sound: No
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 250
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Quiz: Yes

With this app you learn Thai adjectives and adverbs by using multiple choice questions.

The multiple choice quiz shows you the Thai word and you choose an answer. Then you see if you were right or wrong. But what makes this quiz SMART is the progress tracking in the background.

The program remembers which words you have trouble with, and which you have learned well. It focuses on the problematic items, while using longer spans of time between repetitions of learned material.

Thai Nouns

Thai NounsThai NounsThai NounsNo longer online
Price: £1.19 | $1.99
Author: TempleBar Development LLC
Date: 4 August 2009
Version: 1.6.1
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 300 ++
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: Yes

As with the others fromTempleBar, you learn Thai nouns by SRS (spaced repetition software). The sections are: Practice, browsing, and adding words. In browsing mode you can review the verbs beforehand. The other buttons are mentioned above.

Thai Nouns Quiz

Thai Nouns QuizThai Nouns QuizThai Nouns QuizNo longer online
Price: £0.67 | $0.99
Author: Levitate LLC
Date: 28 June 2009
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 250
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: Yes

Learn Thai nouns by multiple choice questions. You have three choices: Learn, browse, or reset.
When I started this review I found it with Sneakernet Studios (priced at $1.99), but it’s also being created by Levitate LLC who is charging $0.99 in the iTunes app store. I’m confused…

Thai Verbs

Thai VerbsThai VerbsThai VerbsNo longer online
Price: £1.19 | $1.99
Author: TempleBar Development LLC
Date: 4 August 2009
Version: 1.6.1
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 270 ++
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: Yes

Learn Thai verbs by SRS (flashcards). The sections are: practice, browsing, and adding words. In browsing mode you can review the verbs beforehand. The other buttons are mentioned above.

Thai Verbs Quiz

Thai Verbs QuizThai Verbs QuizThai Verbs Quiz
Price: £1.19 | $1.99
Author: Levitate LLC
Date: 29 June 2009
Version: 1.0
Internet connection required: No
Word count: 250
Thai script: Yes
Tone tips: Yes
Zoom: Not needed
Sound: No
Quiz: Yes

Learn Thai verbs by using multiple choice questions. You have three choices: Learn, browse, or reset.

My top Thai alphabet and Thai vocabulary picks…

When I started this review, I wasn’t going to put forward an opinion on which iPhone apps I feel are the best. But after wading through all these apps, here you go.

The Thai alphabet:

Thai Language “Koh-kai by Ritsuro
Thai Alphabet App by iPhone and iPad Developer Thailand
NEW! TH-Write by Nati Namvong (no longer online)

Thai word of the day:

WordPower Thai by Innovative Language Learning (no longer online)

Thai words:

uTalk HD Thai by EuroTalk
Gengo by Innovative Language Learning
Thai, Thai Nouns, Thai Verbs, Thai Adjectives and Adverbs by TempleBar Development LLC (no longer online)
MyWords Thai by Innovative Language Learning is especially strong as well, but the glitches need to be fixed first. The much simpler apps are also useful, but my preference is more over less. I’m especially fond of the apps where you can add your own words and sound.

Learn Thai on Your iPhone: What’s gone before…

Learn Thai on Your iPhone: What’s next…

Previously I reviewed iPhone apps: Thai Language Phrase books. Next up will be Thai-English dictionaries for the iPhone.

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

21 Comments

  1. Richard Barrow

    June 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    That is certainly a very thorough review of Thai Alphabet and Thai Word apps for the iPhone. I honestly didn’t realize that there were so many. Having reviews from someone who has no hidden agenda is always worth its weight in gold. On behalf of everyone out there struggling to learn Thai, thank you very much for doing the research for us.

  2. Thank you Richard. It’s been a long time coming, but then it took me a long time to do. And if the iTunes store had a better search, it wouldn’t have taken me as long to gather everything in. I found several more just today actually.

    The only agenda I have is to give an honest enough review so that the app designers might take it upon themselves to improve their apps (if its needed). We are in early days of app development so they can only get better.

    Pssst… if you happen to purchase any via the iTunes logos beside each one, I just might get 5 baht for the hours and hours of work I put into this post :-D

  3. Fantastic job Catherine. Thank you for doing all of the leg work for the rest of us!

  4. Bought some of your recommends already! Question for you. If I buy the Templebar Thai app, do I still need all of the others sub apps like verbs, adj, adv or will the first app pretty much cover it all?

  5. Cat, mega impressive review. I’ve been waiting patiently for your next installment. I have played around with a few apps but I knew you would tear them apart to see what makes them tick.

    Very happy I waited to download more because now I will be armed with the knowledge needed.

    Seriously Cat, your resources on the Thai language are the best on the net…keep up the great work.

  6. You are welcome John :-) I do believe that the Templebar Thai app includes all of the vocabulary (nouns, verbs, etc). So yes, you could go with just the one.

    Thanks Talen. The next huge review will be for dictionaries. Actually, I was surprised to find a lack of reviews out there for most anything. Both you and Richard have reviewed dictionary apps, which is great.

    If anyone out there has a blog, please give serious thought to reviewing any iPhone apps you have. Reviews, even if they are not a 100% positive, support the Thai iPhone app market.

    I can’t imagine the developers are making very much out of apps, but are depending in part on the marketing gained from having one out there. So maybe reviews will keep them interested in creating and updating their apps.

    And more reviews will also give me more posts to link to ;-)

  7. Thanks for the great overviews. One question…which of these apps would you recommend for learning to read Thai? I already speak some Thai and find that if the English pronunciation or translation is displayed underneath the Thai word, it’s too easy to “cheat” by looking at the pronunciation or definition first. In other words, is there an app where all you see is the word written in Thai? Thanks.

  8. Andrew, I’m the same, I’ll cheat if given the chance. Not that I want to, but they often make the English larger than the Thai script.

    The Thai Alphabet App doesn’t have anything to cheat with, but it’s too beginner for you.

    So what you need to do is look at the apps with quizzes (they are noted above).

    MyWords Thai has a game. You click on Thai script, and then click on the English to match.

    WordPower Thai has flashcards. You can set the cards to initially show Thai, Romanisation, or English. When the card comes up, you mentally guess, and then click the green arrow to be shown what’s left (if you chose English, then you’ll get the Thai with the Romanisation on the flip side). There is also a sound icon to hear each word.

    Gengo Flashcards Thai has a game where you get three photos and sound. No words. If you click on the small circles with the i in the middle, you then get Thai script, transliteration, and the English translation. So you have to make an effort to cheat. The practice area also gives you a photo and the sound (ditto on peeking at the Thai, English, and transliteration).

    uTalk HD Thai has games with several levels of difficulty: easy, easy game +, hard game. You match the sound to photos. The game does not quiz you on Thai script, but by matching the sound to the photo. But when you are practicing with uTalk, you can put your thumb across the middle of you iPhone and click the red down arrow to get new words in Thai script and matching sound. That way, you are only reading the Thai script while listening to the Thai word, not reading the transliteration and English translation below.

    You made a good observation as it’d be great to be able to turn off transliteration on the apps.

  9. Andrew – two Suggestions:

    In a coming post I’ll be reviewing flashcard iPhone apps. Those might suite you better as you can set up your own cards, so you are in control.

    Another possibility is the Anki app for the iPhone. There are existing downloads for Thai, so you won’t be starting from scratch.

  10. Catherine an absolutely fantastic post, it must have taken hours and hours to write. After this, iPhone should give you a free contract for life. They couldn’t have promoted their Thai language apps any better.

    What your post shows is the wide range of good Thai language applications on the market and also that competition is rife. Some of the prices are a give away, Ritsuro’s Thai Language “Koh-kai” at 0.99p being a prime example.

    I will shortly be updating my mobile and I am toying with getting an iPhone. Your post has gone a long way to convincing me to do so.

    10 out of 10 for the post.

  11. Thanks for the kudos Martyn. It was indeed a time-consuming post to write, but I was driven to find out for myself as well so there was a dual aim.

    If you are getting the new iPhone, then be sure to check out Richard’s blog, Using an iPhone in Thailand (edit: no longer online), as he’s following all the developments. It’s supposed to be quite an amazing upgrade, but I’m holding out as mine is just fine.

    Also, with the recent software update, Richard says it’s like having a new phone anyway. A good thing, as Apple products last a long time. So if I’m waiting for mine to wear out before making the leap, I’m going to be disappointed.

  12. A heads up. I’ve just added a wonderful new Thai alphabet app: TH-Write by Nati Namvong

  13. Another heads up… the iPhone software has updated so I’ll be going through each of the apps in the series to make sure they work like they should. Stay tuned.

  14. Heads up: There’s a new alphabet app on the market – I Know My กขค

  15. Heads up: I just added the megga Thai alphabet app – Reading Thai.

  16. Thanks very much for such a comprehensive review of these apps. Never knew so many existed

  17. Just saw that innovative has issued some more apps for the ipad: advanced thai, learn with vdo and beginners thai.
    Second: thai alphabet helper for iphone has been updated. no more crashes when you click on the words to listen to them…but no more sound too! (on my iphone 3g with ios 4.1)

  18. hi again!
    seen the review about rosetta, ltp and l-lingo.
    anyone has used or reviewed highsppedthai.com?
    brgds

  19. Hi Michel, I don’t have an iPad so I cannot review them, only make a mention.

    So no more sound in Alphabet Helper? Odd… I’ll go through the above again, after the new year.

    I have the original (draft) High Speed Thai course. He asked me to give my opinion so I did. But as I don’t have the updated version, I cannot in good conscience review it. And as the course is so expensive, I don’t see that happening unless he sends me an updated copy.

  20. Hi Catherine, the links from the products like “Thai Adjectives and Adverbs” to “TempleBar Development LLC” are broken (error 404).
    brgds

  21. Hi Reiner, thanks for that! It’s a new industry so some of the app makers have moved around a bit so I’ll check through tomorrow and clean them up.

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