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Learn Thai Language & Thai Culture

Review: Learn Thai Podcast Relaunches!

Overview of Learn Thai Podcast

Seeing Learn Thai Podcast anew…

I ran into Jo and Jay years back, when they had a few choice Thai sound files on offer. It was a simple affair, and popular. They dropped out of sight to later reappear with a professional looking product loaded down with audio and video files. I contacted Jo with a, ‘Hey, is that YOU?’

It has been my plan to review LTP, so when Jo mentioned their coming upgrade, it was time.

An overview of LTP…

When you first jump into learning a foreign language, you automatically start compiling a mental wish list of what you need to make your language learning adventure easier. And for a tonal language such as Thai, sourcing that list could save you from future frustration and bother.

After figuring out how I learn languages, for Thai I discovered that I had needs: I needed visuals, I needed to hear the tones while reading actual Thai script (not transliteration), and I needed to be able to test what I learned.

And at the top of my wish list? The desire to see and hear Thais speaking, and to study the breakdown of their conversation (vocabulary, phrases, and grammar). I mean, how many times have you sat amongst Thai friends, wishing that you understood everything being said? And how many times have you tried to quickly write down or record the conversations to review later?

If you are reading this right now, then I’m betting your answer to my question is, ‘recently’.

Checklist for LTP:

  • Visuals: Online lessons, downloadable YouTube videos in many formats.
  • Sound: Individual sound bites in online lessons, YouTube videos and mp3 files to download.
  • Thai script: Script included with all lessons, complete Alphabet course, transliteration.
  • Thai only: Lessons without English translations.
  • Conversations: Movies and sound files of actual Thais talking.
  • Testing: Reviews after each lesson, vocabulary trainer for individual words.
  • Extras: Printable notes to download.

Incase you didn’t catch that, LTP is big on sharing videos, some with Thais talking. And from what I’ve seen, LTP is one of the few complete Thai courses that offers real conversations spoken by real people. On video. With explanations.

So if you have a similar checklist, then please do read on.

Free LTP 6 day course…

To give you an idea of how LTP works, they’ve created a free 6 day course. The free course comes with: Audio files, video files in a wide range of formats, and pdf transcripts to download. Be sure to download the free study guide as well. LTP’s study guide outlines the various learning methods, and gives a sample schedule to follow.

Free LTP 6 Day Course

  • Day 1: Grammar Lesson: Question Words in Thai.
  • Day 2: Review Lesson: Question Words in Thai.
  • Day 3: Vocabulary Lessons / Introduction to cycles.
  • Day 4: Conversation Lesson: Bell and Wa plan their summer holidays.
  • Day 5: Grammar Lesson: Bell and Wa plan their summer holidays.
  • Day 6: Review Lesson: Bell and Wa plan their summer holidays.

After you complete the mini-course, you will know if LTP is for you. But no matter if you are wavering or not, check out their Learn Thai Podcast Premium Course Structure.

Learn Thai Podcast premium courses…

Under the signup form for the free LTP 6 day course there is a 1 year curriculum download in pdf format. Including the writing section, there are presently more than 700 lesson segments on offer, so you will find their recommendations enormously helpful for planning your Thai studies at LTP.

This 1 year curriculum is just a suggested learning schedule. You can download and keep all lessons on your computer so you can learn at your own pace. The course enables you to access lessons at any time. So if you want to start learning with intermediate lessons earlier, no problem.

To prepare for this product review, I deleted the LTP files I already had in iTunes. I did it because I wanted to start from the beginning. Because that way, I could describe most everything for you. Fresh. And while I have been using iTunes for years, pulling LTP in properly taught me a few new tricks (tricks that I’m sure most everyone knew but me).

To pull the files into iTunes, I copied the RSS feed url for my level, went up to the iTunes menu >> Advanced >> Subscribe to Podcast >> and pasted the feed url into the available box. What this does is sucks in a list of the lessons, each in the different formats to chose from. After reading about video resolution, I deleted everything except for HD and SDw, and then pushed the button that said ‘select all’. And from now on, whenever LTP adds new lessons, the lessons appear in my iTunes automatically. Btw – HD and SDw plays fine on my iTunes, iPhone, and Video iPod.

Learn Thai PodcastNow, you can study the downloaded lessons by watching the videos and listening to the mp3 files, but don’t forget that LTP has downloadable pdf’s and text files for each lesson too. These are especially useful in the reading and writing section.

And if you are learning how to read Thai, their online lessons at any level are invaluable. See, what you do is listen to the audio files by repeatedly clicking the red arrow next to the Thai word. So you get to listen to the pronunciation while being able to read the Thai script at the same time. And YOU are in control.

Learn Thai Podcast Premium Course: Beginner…

The beginners course covers 3000 basic vocabulary words that you absolutely must get into your head if you are serious about learning Thai: Verbs, adjectives, personal pronouns, conditional questions, confirmation questions, question words, conjunctions, prepositions, family, professions, pets and animals, body parts, groceries, cooking, drinks, Thai spices, drug store, numbers, time, telling time, days of the week, and months. And more (go here to see the full list).

And not only do you acquire the needed vocabulary, you get immersed in beginning grammer and pronunciation as well. Mini-conversations are included and new lessons are added all the time so keep an eye on your iTunes. The available conversations for all levels can be found at: Speak & understand real street Thai.

As mentioned, you need to get the basics down. And to do this, you need to go into repetition overdrive and listen, listen, listen, repeat, repeat, repeat, read, read, read. Now, you can spend a lot of time creating sound and text files to pull into a SRS (Spaced repetition learning systems). Or, you can start studying right away with a course such as LTP. Up to you.

On a personal note: I’ve made no secret about the fact that I’m an insomniac. When I’m in full non-sleeping mode, I have no desire to do much of anything. But what I can do is sit my face in front of a computer and watch video files. Over and over. It’s mesmerizing.

So when you’ve had a long day and you don’t have it in you to study, perhaps sit your face down and start watching too?

Learn Thai Podcast Premium Course: Intermediate…

The beginner course has conversations in text, whereas the intermediate lessons ramp up to video conversations. But you can follow along with the video conversations no matter what level you are.

The intermediate course is built around conversations and it goes like this: Vocabulary, grammar, conversation, review. Both the grammar and the vocabulary lessons include sentences with sound only.

As I’m a visual person, I especially love how the conversations work. Some of you will study the vocabulary and grammar before the conversations, but I would do it the other way around as I get a lot out of seeing people talk. So I would first watch the conversations, then go to the vocabulary and grammar, and then back to the conversations to check how I’m doing, and then finish with the review.

To see just what I mean, LTP uploaded sample videos for you to play with:

Just incase you missed it: By the time you get to the Intermediate level, you might be ready to do away with the English translations. You are indeed given that option, so if that’s your thing, be sure to take advantage.

Learn Thai Podcast Premium Course: Advanced…

At my last count, there were around around 30 lessons on this section (but don’t quote me). In the Advanced lessons you get regular conversations and newscasts. As it’s advanced, the conversations are noticeably longer. And while the conversations up to this point have been modern Thai, in the news section you are treated to the formal Thai spoken on TV and in certain settings.

The Advanced course is split into two sections like so:
News: Vocabulary, grammar, report, review.
Conversation: Vocabulary, grammar, conversation, review.

In the Advanced course, same as with the others, there are pdf and text files to download.

Reading and Writing and the Thai alphabet…

For the Reading and Writing course, the subjects include: Thai alphabet, theory, and practice. To break it down you get lots of tone markers and tone rules, live and dead syllables, consonant clusters, and real clusters. And, as always, there’s more.

The Thai alphabet course uses mnemonics. It might feel a bit odd at first, but if you are a visual learner it really is the easiest way to learn shapes, sounds, and classes. And to get you practicing at writing out each letter, alphabet sheets are available for download.

After you sufficiently suss the Thai alphabet, you’ll want to move on to the reading and writing lessons. First you go through the Thai alphabet again (consonants and vowels). If you are studying via your computer, you will notice a skip in numbers every once in awhile. So perhaps treat the gaps as a hint to get over to LTP to download the practical practice pdfs.

And if you are following the course with a mixture of on and offline, again, this is where the ability to click those red arrows comes in handy.

We are often told that learning how to read and write Thai is terribly important, so perhaps I should have put this section up front? Or have you heard this from me too many times before?

And that’s a LTP wrap…

Jo and Jay have put a lot of work into Learn Thai Podcast, and they continue to add more resources and courses. And btw: if you do sign up for the Thai courses at LTP, be sure to pass over a huge hello from me.

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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.

33 Comments

  1. This is a great way to learn! Unfortunately, due to my location, I have a dial-up connection and watching anything like this is a bit of a nightmare due to the slow connection. Is this available in any sort of hard copy that one could purchase?

  2. Excellent review Cat. Jo & Jay have definitely put a lot of time and thought into their program and it shows. The LTP site is both professional to use and easy to navigate and find what you need. I haven’t seen anything else like it on the net.

    The lessons I have reviewed were very well done and had me Learning and remembering Thai quickly.

  3. Hi Sophie, LTP certainly does make it easy to study Thai. If your computer is too slow to download the files, do you have access to a library or coffee shop? Because you download everything to your computer, you can watch them anywhere (iTunes, iPhone, iPod, PC versions of the same, etc). And the only time you will need to connect again is to get the new ones coming in. As for clicking the sounds online, sure, you would need to be connected. But the files are so small I’m not sure if it’d be that much of a problem (I have been on nightmare connections where anything is a problem though).
    .-= Catherine Wentworth´s last blog ..Review: Learn Thai Podcast Relaunches! =-.

  4. Talen, Jo and Jay have indeed taken a sweet angle with LTP. The conversations are key!

    .-= Catherine Wentworth´s last blog ..Review: Learn Thai Podcast Relaunches! =-.

  5. I’ve spent an hour or two browsing the website and subscribed to the 6-day trial. I find it fascinating and in many ways just what I would need now to start sorting out my Thai.
    The only thing I found really puzzling that on the handwriting sample page, they used a turtle as a mnemonic picture for the letter t-montho. Maybe it is my four years that I have spent in kindergarten classrooms, learning to read and write Thai alongside Thai kids, but I thought that was really confusing. A turtle is for t-tao and nothing else in my mind. Having said that, I love mnemonics and try to use it wherever I can. I really like the idea of beach for low consonants, mountains for high, for example. Are all the other letters equally messed up as well, I am wondering? Luckily, even if I decide to subscribe to the full course, I won’t have to use this material to memorise the letters.

  6. Hi Betti, Turtle in Thai is not going to mean anything to a foreigner. So the mnemonics are not about learning the word attached to each Thai letter (and apparently, adults do not use the same). It’s to help learn the sounds, the tones (low, medium, high), and whether the alphabet changes if at the end of a word or not.

  7. Yes I guess it makes sense for beginners who never attacked the Thai writing system before. It looks well thought out and I can see straight away that it must be really effective.
    However, for someone like me, it is confusing.
    Adults use t-tao etc for spelling things, like their names, no?
    On second thought, I think it would have been less confusing if they had used images that are not in the “original” Thai alphabet. Like, ph-samphao seems to be a parrot, which is not associated with any other Thai letter. Much much better.
    I don’t want to generalise, this is strictly my personal point of view only and it really keeps me wondering.

  8. Hi Sophie,
    unfortunately we do not offer a hard copy yet but this is planned for later in the year.

    Betti, I see your point but the main priority for us was to teach people the alphabet in a way that they can use it. The meaning and name of each letter is nice to know but doesn’t really help when you just want to read and write Thai. Like Cat said, the associations are to remember the shape and not the name of the Thai letter.

    Hope this helps!
    Jo
    .-= jo´s last blog ..New Website Design =-.

  9. thank you for the explanation Jo. I understand your point.

  10. Hi Cat, Great idea. Computer under my arm and off to the library where…….yes, I can download it. You know how I LOVE to head to town, but this will be worth the trip, I do believe. Sophie

  11. Sophie, I can see how learning Thai is going to get both of us out of our caves ;-)

    Please let me know how you get on with LTP. Everyone will use it differently. My preference is a bit backwards.

    Ah, btw – I forgot to mention this suggestion in my review. You can make quiz sheets from the text downloads quite easily. Just set up a word doc with two columns: Thai script on one column (transliteration if you need it), and English on the other. Then you print out and fold the sheet longways and quiz yourself.

    Creating flashcards takes more skill, but they are doable once your sheet is set up.

    Have fun!
    .-= Catherine Wentworth´s last blog ..Bangkok: I’m Getting the Last Word in Edgewise =-.

  12. Just subscribed to LTP and I have to say my fav part is the conversations. I seem to memorize better when I can imagine myself in a conversation. And it’s a great way to learn colloquial Thai if you’re not living in Thailand. I love the little side explanations on word and phrase usage. On the downside, I get very little from the audio vocab… when I here him say for the third time, “and another way to say X…”, I can only roll my eyes. There’s just no way I can memorize lists of words that way. I can’t comment on the alphabet section because I keep putting it off… After banging my head against the wall over at Thai-language.com I don’t what to do other than hire a Skype instructor and hope for the best on that score. There has to be some way of cracking open written Thai without having a degree in linguistics…

  13. I have to disagree with this review.

    Jo & Jay are diligent workers and have created an *enormous* amount of material.

    Unfortunately, they are utterly inexperienced when it comes to teaching language. The beginner course is a vast hodge-podge of non-essential words, and poorly arranged lessons. Beginners will feel utterly lost with this course.

    Repetition is not stressed at all. And words, sentences and grammar lessons are not phased in order of daily usefulness or necessity. Their approach is unnecessarily meticulous and granular — and makes for a painful learning experience for beginners.

    I subscribed to the Premium Course for One Year, and found it to be both vast and well-produced from a technical / audio-video production standpoint — but nearly impossible to learn from.

    This is not how people learn. Learning takes place through stressed repetition of key phrases and expansion on those same phrases by adding a word here and there.

    Jo and Jay take an encyclopedic approach which gave me nothing but frustration.

    There are far better options available. Pimsleur is the best place to start, IMHO.

  14. Hi Popo, thank you for taking the time to share your opinion of LTP. I also like Pimsleur but you only learn a small amount of words during all of that study. I believe it’s something like 300? So if you want to ramp up your vocabulary to a high degree, you need to go for broke.

    But, each to their own. Some students prefer programs such as Anki, where you get a rolling list of words. Others need the sounds, words, explanations, etc, like in LTP. And btw – LTP isn’t just about the audio-video… but as I’ve already outlined what’s available in my review I won’t mention it again here.

    Is there a perfect Thai course available? Not that I know of. So in the meantime… ;-)

  15. Hi Popos,
    sorry to hear our course didn’t work for you. Pimsleur courses set the intervals in which you repeat words thats why they also cover so few words. We cover more than 2500 words and with the podcast format you can skip forward and backward and repeat words whenever you want. So if you want to repeat certain words just skip to them or put them into the vocabulary trainer on our site.

    Anyway, we hope you have found what you were looking for now.

  16. You said “I copied the RSS feed url for my level”. Being new to iphone, podcasts and the rest – where is the rss feed url – and thanks for explaining how to put it into itunes.

    Can you link when you refer to a url?

    Thanks

  17. Eva, did you purchase the course? I don’t believe you’ll be able to access the feeds until you do. Only the free feed is available to everyone.

  18. Yes, of course I’ve purchased the course. But accessing a feed when I don’t know what a feed is, and I don’t want access, I want the lessons on my computer so that I can choose them and then play them, like I would any other file seems impossible to manage. I’ve so frustrated with the organisation or lack thereof on this site. The lessons are great – at least the first 6 that were sent to me daily in emails – which I COULD download and save, but even with the support emails they are sending me, I’m getting no where.

  19. “Yes, of course I’ve purchased the course.”

    Eva, you did not make that clear and as I’ve just come in from 20 hours in transit from the US, I wasn’t about to spend time explaining it if that wasn’t the case. Personally, I’d rather be sleeping ;-)

    You can easily find out what a feed is by googing. But in the meantime, here are additional instructions for getting the LTP videos into your iTunes.

    Login >> under ‘Your Subscriptions’ click to join the course area (I went with ‘NEW LTP Premium Course’) >> a box will pop up, log in with your name and password >> once in, on the right hand side of the page, under ‘Quick Navigation’, you’ll find the RSS feeds. Follow the rest of the instructions in my post above.

  20. Just as a quick addendum to my last post, I did end up going with a Skype instructor (Kruu Ladawan @ThaiWithJoy) for some reading/writing lessons and I have to say that for me, that’s the way to go if you want to become literate. Just two lessons and I’m on my way to reading and writing pasa Thai! It’s exciting and I can see why nearly everyone recommends learning the alphabet. Now I can go back to LTP and really benefit from PDF’s and eventually start reading the A/V subtitles. Popo’s a bit overly critical of LTP, in my view. It’s not a perfect system, but you get your money’s worth. Pimsluer is a good review format if you’re not living amongst Thai speakers, but it’s a very limited set of sentence patterns.

  21. Thanks for stopping by Dan. From what I can tell, Ladawan is one of the top Skype teachers available so you chose well. Enjoy your studies (learning to read Thai is a blast).

  22. Catherine, have you or anyone else had a look at ThaiPod101 website? It would appear to be a competitor of LTP. I have been using it and so far find it ok. However, there seems to be a lot of materials and lessons on the site, but the conversations are very short and it seems to lack direction somewhat. Anyone able to offer any opinion on that site? Perhaps a review could be done.

  23. Malto, yes, I have. From what I’ve read, ThaiPod101’s other courses (Chinese, Japanese especially) are highly regarded. But for Thai I came away with the same impression as you did. Also, I contacted ThaiPod101 to see about doing a proper review but unlike LTP and others they were not really interested. Their response plus an overly aggressive marketing style put me off spending any more time on them.

  24. Thanks for your reply.

    I also find thaipod101 is heavy on the marketing but unresponsive otherwise. I have found that over the last week the flashcard feature on the site has not been working. Despite sending them an email on 15/08/11 and posting twice on their ‘forum’ (which btw seems to have zero activity) under tech difficulties section, I have had no response. I should add that I have paid for the premium access on tp101. Leaves me wondering if anyone is at home there. I’m thinking of giving up on them and possibly giving LTP a go.

    On a positive note, I have only just been turned on to your blog and its top quality stuff. Its already given me a few good links and inspiration. I’ll certainly be keeping up with what you are doing here.

    I’m currently also using ‘Speak Thai With Confidence’ by David Smyth and finding it quite handy. So far I am finding learning a new language very enjoyable. I’m going to start tackling the thai alphabet though shortly.

  25. Malto, sorry to hear that (and ouch on paying for premium access). It’s disappointing when we hand over our hard-earned money and the customer service is nonexistent.

    It’s great to hear that you are going to learn the Thai alphabet. I know some are leery of learning the alphabet in the beginning but I really do feel it’s important (as do others). There are a lot of Thai alphabet resources here so you won’t go hungry :-)

    It sounds like you are off to a great start on learning Thai. Good luck and please stop by to share your experiences with the different resources. The more, the merrier!

  26. I have to agree with popo. The volume of content is huge but I was very disappointed with learning Thai podcast. In all lessons except the news report lessons the sound quality is very poor. I think the lesson sets are poorly organised and the podcasts themselves have little real substance. The bulk of the audio time is made up more from repetition than anything else (My MP3 player already has a repeat button).

    I would say that for a beginer the website is compleatly useless as i allready had intermediate thai (could have spontaneus conversation) but still found the beginer lessons tricky the advanced lessons were easyer. I think if they took a simpler format they would produce a better product. For example thailanguagewiki is free but far more usefull. Another example of a free product of better quality is learning thai with mods youtube page. products like chinesepod have the best format i have seen for language learning.

    On the plus side I did recieve a refund almost intantaneously. without any questions

  27. I’m having a hard time getting a response from LTP. I bought the course on the promise (implication?) that I could download the course to my computer. I’m now in the US with a good internet connection, but when I’m in Thailand my connection is poor, so I was excited that I could download the course while in the US and run it from my computer in Thailand. But it seems not the case at all. Or certainly not easily or efficiently. In any case, my inquiries to LTP have been ignored. I’m very disappointed.

  28. Don, I can’t imagine why you are having problems downloading LTP because it’s dead easy. But I’ll pass over your query to LTP.

  29. Hi Catherine, thanks for the prompt reply. Actually my problem is not with downloading — that’s cake.
    What I was hoping to do was get the entire course on my computer all at once. Alas, I can find no easy way to do that. It seems I have to download all 800 lessons one by one by one by one… Yikes! Since I only have three more days in the US. I was hoping (unrealistically it appears) that I could get the whole 60 GB in one big download.
    Of course, something on the LTP site may be eluding me — it happens more often than I’d like — but my inquires to LTP for clarification have so far been unanswered. So, as I say, disappointed.

  30. Hi Don,
    please get in touch with us. Rhonda, Jo or me are always responding to emails we get through the website. We can send you a DVD with all lessons. Just send us an email and we can talk directly.

    Thank you,
    Jay

  31. “…the whole 60 GB in one big download” Yikes indeed! That’d strain a server for sure. But with Jay to the rescue, looks like it’s sorted. Good luck and enjoy your time in Thailand :)

  32. I like the concept, but the execution is REALLY poor. I am an audio engineer, and I cannot understand how they managed to get the audio in the videos so dreadful. Mumbled words, dogs barking over words, traffic noise, poor audio definitions; it’s as if they used the microphone on the video camera at about ten feet away, never bothered to mike up the individuals speaking, never even bothered to clean up their audio when it was recorded. The result is a set of audio clips that would be embarrassing for even an amateur broadcaster. And it’s no good saying ‘That’s real life’, because it isn’t. It’s just bad audio technique.

  33. Hi Richard. Thanks for your feedback. I’m not an audio engineer but “mumbled words, dogs barking over words, traffic noise” to me reflects real life in Thailand (it’s noisy out here even in the temples). Once students understand a bit of Thai, getting super clear audio isn’t really helpful when you are out and about. But like I said, I’m not an audio engineer and wouldn’t know how to ‘mike up’.

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