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Review: PickupThai Podcast by Yuki and Miki

Pickup Thai Podcast

PickupThai Podcast…

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

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

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

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

Don’t fart in public again, OK?

You think your boyfriend looks like Brad Pitt?

My heater broke, so I went to Thailand.

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

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

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

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

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

PickupThai Podcast: Sweet Green Pod…

Pickup Thai Podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

PickupThai Podcast: Spicy Red Pod…

Pickup Thai Podcast

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

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

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

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

PickupThai Podcast: Sweet Green and Spicy Red…

Pickup Thai Podcast

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

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

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

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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

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
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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Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Thai Bites

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Thai Bites

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Thai Bites…

In January Stu Jay Raj launched Jcademy’s CTF Challenge. Shortly after his wonderful Thai Bites started rolling out.

Thai Bites are small ‘bite sized’ lessons in Thai that are based on Stuart Jay Raj’s Cracking Thai Fundamentals programme.

Thai Bites are available as a monthly subscription package where subscribers will be sent regular ‘Thai Bites’ to their email each day.

Once a week a free bite will be released to the public at Stu’s Thai Bites playlist at YouTube.

But to get the full program, subscribe to Thai Bites at Jcademy.

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Review: L-Lingo Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software

Review: L-Lingo Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software

Review: L-Lingo Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software…

Please note that this is an updated version reflecting minor changes. Specifically, the Android version is not released as previously noted and at this time grammar notes are available for the Thai version only.

I have been studying the Burmese (Myanmar) language for over a year, however until recently, I could barely hold a conversation. I know the alphabet (itʼs very similar to Lanna Thai), know a few hundred words, understand basic grammar (itʼs almost the same as Japanese), however when I ordered Burmese food near the Indian temple in Bangkok (Silom), I would get lost after “hello” and “thank you”.

When I say that I have been studying Burmese, I mean that I have been taking classes at Ramhamhaeng University which I am using to fulfill the foreign language requirement of the Bachelors Degree majoring in Thai that I am working on. Classes meet once a week for two hours which since the classes arenʼt all that popular (1-8 students), it means that I get a fair amount of time practicing with my teacher. The problem is, aside from my interactions with the Burmese restaurant staff, I have zero additional exposure to the language. I canʼt get Burmese TV, podcasts or movies. Burmese phonology is very different from English and Thai, it has tones but they are different from Thai tones so my ability to speak Thai doesnʼt really help that much. Actually, my studies with Japanese are probably more helpful as it means I donʼt need to get my head around a new grammar system (both Japanese and Burmese are Subject-Object-Verb with markers after each sentence part to indicate role).

This realization that I needed more exposure to Burmese led me to the Internet and to the strangely named L-Ceps and L-Lingo offerings (the software is great, however the name is one of the things that I donʼt really get). Fortunately it also happened to be at a time when I was about to have a two week break from university, and I really couldnʼt think of any better way to spend my time than to dive into the language. I gave myself a goal of doing 40 hours of study during the 14 days that I had off and then chronicling it on my South-East Asian blog, Goldenland Polyglot. On an ideal day I spent 45-50 minutes studying followed by 10-15 minutes of mild exercise and then back to studying. My initial goal was to write this review immediately following the ten day immersion, however I ended up getting side-tracked with a billion other things until just now.

L-Ceps offers language education specifically geared towards Asian languages viz. Arabic, Burmese, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Korean, Malay, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese. The software is developed in Flash and works either as an online ($9.99 USD / month) or desktop ($49.95 USD) version for Mac, Windows and Linux. There are are mobile versions currently in development, with a multi-platform release planned for 2011.

When you first start the application, you are given the choice of studying your target language using either English, German, French or Spanish. Obvious omissions from that list are any of the Asian languages which they teach. My Burmese classes at university are all taught using Thai, so it would be great if I could somehow configure L-Ceps to drill mean the same fashion. Using a second language to learn a third (or fourth or fifth) has helped me to not forget what I had learned in any of the previous languages.

People with experience using Rosetta Stone will notice obvious similarities when first opening up an L-Ceps application, however the differences soon become apparent. L-Ceps has designed their applications from the ground up to focus on Asian languages with their own alphabets, grammars and unique pronunciations. Each of 105 different lessons introduces six new words grouped around a common theme and then runs you through a series of quizzes to test your memory. Vocabulary from previous lessons are used in current lessons, with sentences that get progressively longer and more complicated to help cement your knowledge. As you can see from the screen capture below, Asian models and Asian places are used in the photographs (in other lessons I noticed Thai busses), which is a nice added touch when studying Asian languages.

Review: L-Lingo Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software

Each lesson starts by individually introducing each of six words and then progressing to the screen above where you can mouse-over the picture to hear the word or phrase used. With languages that use a non-Roman script, you have the option of using the native scriptor the Romanization. The only problem with the screen above and many of the other screens is that they have a designed-by-engineers feeling, which, while utilitarian, isnʼt always the most visually pleasing. Before moving to Asia and becoming a language nerd, I was a software developer nerd for years and remember building many an application that was slow to be adopted due to its user interface not being designed by professional designers. That aside, everything does work flawlessly (another benefit of having engineers design applications), in months of working with the application, I donʼt once remember it crashing or behaving in a way that it shouldnʼt have.

The application really shines when you move into the quiz section, the first one looks similar to the above screen, except that a single word or phrase is spoken and written on the screen and then you are prompted to click on the matching picture. Depending on the lesson, a second batch of six photographs might follow using a similar quizzing method.Eventually, you move on to a picture quiz which uses just four pictures and increasingly complex sentences. The problem with sentences with increasingly difficult grammar is that for Burmese there are no grammar notes to help you along. The Burmese in the image below translates into English as “The woman is not standing, she is sitting in the office”, the words for woman, office, stand and sit have all been introduced, however the grammatical structure needed to form negative sentences never is. Burmese sentences are negated similar to French ones in that the verb is surrounded on both sides with short words (ma-buu), which can be confusing if you arenʼt taught it directly.

I eventually started using some extra books (Burmese for Beginners Book and CDs Combo by Gene Mesher along with my school textbooks) which helped a lot. While the lack of grammar notes in the Burmese version is a problem, it is not an issue with the Thai version. At present the Thai (and Chinese) versions of the software have grammar notes, and notes for Burmese will be part of a free upgrade soon.

Review: L-Lingo Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software

In addition to the picture quizzes, there are three word-based quizzes. In the first one, you are presented a word in Burmese and then you choose between the correct of four English words. The image below shows single words, but many of the quizzes use full sentences.

Review: L-Lingo Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software

After successfully completing the Burmese into English quiz, L-Ceps switches things around and gives you a single word or sentence in English and then has you pick the correct Burmese translation.

Review: L-Lingo Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software

In the final quiz you are shown a picture and hear the word spoken in Burmese, then you have to write it on a piece of paper, click a button to see the correct answer and then tell the computer if you got it correct or not. This is the only feature that seems poorly designed. Writing and typing are pretty much the same thing, the quiz should function by having the user type in the answer using the native alphabet and then automatically determine if the answer is correct or not.

At the completion of each quiz, you are presented with a summary of your results, a list of your wrong answers which can be copied to the clipboard, and then given the option of going back and reviewing the wrong answers or moving forward with another guided quiz. The only thing that struck me as strange in this screen is the way that you can click on items from the list and have them copied to the clipboard. Not that itʼs not a good feature to have, rather I was surprised that it was included only for the wrong answers. I couldnʼt find a way to see a list of all words in the lesson and copy them to your clipboard.

L-Ceps does provide some great offline learning tools, including MP3s, lesson notes and printable flashcards which became my constant companion on public transportation, however the ability to easily import text into Anki or another SRS would be a benefit (I know, I should stop complaining and just learn to type the Burmese alphabet).

Review: L-Lingo Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software

After finishing 40 hours with the program, the biggest improvement in my skills was in my ability to learn new words. With a language like Burmese, most students are going to find the new sounds to be quite a hurdle. Itʼs not like learning Spanish or French where you can easily find mnemonic devices that relate back to English. Here you are faced with a plethora of phonemes, most of which will be new to you. Spending 40 hours with L-Ceps in two weeks meant that my brain had time to absorb the new sounds and find ways to build mnemonic devices.

L-Ceps is a new company and their products show the lack of maturity that comes from a new company. That said, their faults are few and far between. The Burmese product needs grammar notes (again, the version has them), the user interface needs polish and the writing quiz should be better. At the same time, they are presenting Asian languages in a format that makes them easy to learn, and with the compliment of MP3s, printable flashcards and lesson notes you have a complete package which you can use to study in multiple environments. I have already begun recommending that friends use their products, and will continue to do so.

Luke Cassady-Dorion
Goldenland Polygot

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Learn Thai with Smart.fm (iKnow)

Learn Thai with Smart.fm

The Tower of Confusion and Smart.fm (iKnow)…

EDIT: It’s always difficult when a company rebrands to this extent (Smart.fm to iKnow). Do I delete the post and do a rewrite, or just tweak? Anyway…

The Tower of Confusion discusses language learning. If you have the time, cruise through Edwin’s Learning Tips or see what he has to say about Stuart Jay Raj.

In Edwin’s post, The Most Effective Way to Learn Hiragana, I was reminded once again about Smart.fm (now iKnow).

One nice thing about Smart.fm (iKnow) is that it provides example sentences and audio clips associated with each word.

(Please note that the Thai section is different from the Japanese in that not all sets have sound).

Learn Thai with Smart.fm…

Smart.fm (iKnow) is similar to Byki Deluxe (a top fav of mine) in that you can add your own files. One difference is that Smart.fm for English is 100% online, and with Byki you don’t need to be connected to the Internet.

At the present time, Smart.fm (iKnow) has 39 sections for learning Thai: consonants, vowels, holiday vocabulary, basic conversation, reading, speaking, etc. Some have transliteration only (no Thai script), some have Thai script, some have sound. Some have even been lifted from Benjawan’s Thai for Beginners.

Overall, for Thai it’s a crap shoot. No surprise as Thai is not exactly a popular language to learn. But as Smart.fm is a quality product, the Thai section will eventually grow. Maybe.

I did a quick whip round to select a few sections, and found Paul Garrigan. Small world. Paul is a busy guy but he was happy to share his experience with Smart.fm.

I think Smart.fm (iKnow) is probably the best example of this type of tool. It is easy to manage and fun to use. I particularly like the Brain Speed test. I turn off the typing part of the test because I just can’t type Thai that fast; I might try to learn Thai touch-type when I have more time.

The Brain Speed test is one of the learning options. It is a game and you only have a few seconds to give the correct answer from a list of options; it is very fast. Those who get the highest scores on the game go into the Smart FM wall of fame – of course my name is missing from this list.

I only use the most basic functions. It is possible to add sounds and pictures but I don’t bother with this. I just create a set and use the add item to input a Thai word and its English equivalent.

If you want to know how Smart.fm works, go to: A Guide to iKnow!

The Smart.fm (iKnow) iPhone app and more…

Anyway, I’m sitting here with scads and scads of old Thai lessons with script and sound, so maybe I’ll throw them on Smart.fm (iKnow) in the coming weeks. And maybe my stuff will be live before this post is. We’ll see…

Follow iKnow on twitter: @iKnow

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Review: L-Lingo, Learn Thai Podcast, and Rosetta Stone

Learning Thai: L-Lingo, Learn Thai Podcast, and Rosetta Stone

Learning Thai: L-Lingo, Learn Thai Podcast, and Rosetta Stone…

I have a very logical mind. My job is software development, quality assurance in software engineering and search engine optimization. My hobby is chess and on my holidays I solve Sudokos.

My mind is always working. I want to “understand” the software problem, the position on the chess board, and the structure of languages. But as I have no “feeling” for foreign languages, I have to “build” the sentences, piece by piece.

I started learning Thai with Rosetta Stone, but had nearly no progress. Learning without translation and grammar was impossible for me. Frustrated, I stopped studying Thai for 12 months.

With L-Lingo I found a similar concept to Rosetta Stone: pictures, audios, Thai- and Latin-writing, translations and lessons. But there was no introduction to grammar, and I needed it. I thought “I will never understand, I have to memorize the sentences”.

I found the grammar explanations the most important advantage of Learn Thai Podcast (LTP). The grammar introduction helped me to “understand” the sentences and get a feeling for the structure of the Thai language. Also, being able to download mp3 lessons to listen to while traveling in Germany was a huge help.

After some weeks with LTP I had a basic understanding of Thai so I again tried Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone uses a very intensive method to repeat and check the content. And while I don’t feel that it is possible to learn solely with Rosetta Stone, I did find it helpful to repeat the basic lessons.

Rosetta Stone and L-Lingo have a better course structure and statistics than LTP. They say “follow me, I show you the next lesson”. In LTP there are hundreds of lessons, and I have to repeat each lesson until I have learned it. With LTP there are no tests and no visual indicators for my progress.

So my breakthrough with the Thai language started with LTP, but I learn vocabulary best with L-Lingo. For my Thai studies so far, I’ve been using a mix of three courses: start with LTP to learn “content”, learn vocabulary with pictures and quizzes with L-Lingo, and finish with the intensive tests in Rosetta Stone.

Reviewing the L-Lingo update…

When L-Lingo updated this week I was asked give my opinion. The new grammar notes are a good introduction for beginners, and if I had this software a year ago I would have seen much more progress in my Thai studies.

Each lesson is introduced with a short summary and grammar notes for the lesson. The new words needed to understand the sentences are also introduced. I found this angle very good for my learning style.

In comparison to LTP, the L-Lingo grammar notes are shorter and easier. LTP’s grammar instructions are much deeper. For instance, in LTP, when teaching “how to ask questions”, the question words and how to place them in sentences is explained.

LTP is more helpful for me because after learning basic vocabulary I am now creating real life sentences. In addition, the grammar lessons in LTP are labeled, so I can choose lessons that are interesting to me.

L-Lingo has matching grammar notes for each lesson, while LTP has grammar notes for topics. Both ways are good, but for learning grammar I prefer the LTP way. To learn the grammar together with the vocabulary in the course program of L-Lingo, the grammar notes are a good solution. Maybe L-Lingo can extend the notes (I cannot explain what I’m missing, but it feels a little bit short for me).

In some notes from L-Lingo the explanation for new words are in the examples (but I haven’t checked to see if L-Lingo introduces every new word). For me, it is important to know the words being used, even if they are not in the exercises. Here LTP is nearly perfect for me because every word in every example is translated. And even if the words are not in the exercises, you get a feeling for the common words like “have”, “is”, “he”, “they”, “everybody”, and how to use them.

L-Lingo made a big step in the right direction with the grammar notes but I will continue with my method of learning by using the three courses together: LTP, L-Lingo and Rosetta Stone.

Learning languages is very hard for me (even getting new English vocabulary is not easy). Now, with LTP and L-Lingo, I am making progress in Thai. Week after week I see that my vocabulary is extending. Sometimes I even understand words in Thai movies or songs :-)

In spring next year I will try “learning with Skype“. I want to have human partner for speaking and understanding, for discussions and getting into unexpected situations.

Reiner Eiteljörge

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Complete Thai: David Smyth Updates Teach Yourself Thai

David Smyth updates Teach Yourself Thai

David Smyth updates Teach Yourself Thai …

Only a handful of Thai courses are highly thought of, and David Smyth’s Teach Yourself Thai is at the very top of that list.

When I asked polyglot Stu Jay Raj which books he’d recommend to students of the Thai language, David’s Teach Yourself Thai was the only course mentioned. And if you remember, Luca Lampariello (another polyglot), explained how he uses the series for his method described on WLT: An Easy Way to Learn Foreign Languages. There are many more kudos aimed at TYT, but I’ll stop here for now.

A heads up: Due to David’s generosity, I ended up with an extra boxed set of Complete Thai: Teach Yourself Thai. If you want to win one of your own, please read on.

Teach Yourself Thai: Contents…

When I sit down to write a review, I first check the contents to see what’s on offer. And skimming down the list below, you can see that Teach Yourself Thai is designed to continuously reinforce each lesson.

  • What you will learn: Overview of the lessons.
  • Dialogues: Thai script and transliteration that follow along with the audio files.
  • Quick vocabulary: Newly introduced words.
  • Insights: Language and culture tips from the author.
  • Key phrases and expressions: Important phrases studied in the lesson.
  • Language notes: Grammar usage pertinent to the lesson.
  • Exercises: Questions to solidify the lessons into your brain.
  • Reading and writing: Practice studying the Thai alphabet, vowels, tones, etc.
  • Reading practice: Practice reading the Thai script previously studied.
  • Key points: Outline of the main elements of each lesson.

To make sure the necessary subjects are covered, I also spend time with the chapter contents.

David Smyth updates Teach Yourself Thai

  • Meet the author: A brief background on David Smyth.
  • Only got a minute, five minutes, ten minutes?: Crash course on Thailand and the Thai language.
  • Introduction: A bit more about the Thai language, as well as how to use the course.
  • Pronunciation: Introduction to a tonal language.
  • Lesson 1: How to say hello and goodbye, polite particles, addressing people, low class consonants, vowels, 1-10.
  • Lesson 2: Your name, your nationality and place of origin, confirmation seeking question: chai mai, what questions, mid class consonants, vowels, 11-20.
  • Lesson 3: Job conversations, where questions, location words, possession, live and dead syllables, 21-101.
  • Lesson 4: Polite expressions, yes and no questions, mai and ler, location expressions, low class consonants, vowels, vowel shortener.
  • Lesson 5: Taxi talk, how much questions, using can: verb + dai, hesitation device: gor, high class consonants, 1000-1,000,000.
  • Lesson 6: Buying food at the market, asking what something is called, asking someone to repeat a word, question word + nai, yes no questions: ler and na, script review.
  • Lesson 7: Shopping transactions, polite requests: kor + verb + noy, how questions, classifiers, colours, continuous actions, tone mark: mai ayk.
  • Lesson 8: Ordering food, polite requests: kor + noun, reu yung, questions, alternative questions: X rue Y, location words: krun and tahng, two different uses of dooay, mai toh, and other tone marks.
  • Lesson 9: Names of dishes, would like to: yak ja + verb hai, getting someone to do something, using can, verb + bpen, if sentences, verb + lairo, low class consonants, vowels.
  • Lesson 10: Talking about your knowledge of Thai, verb + bpen + adverb, why questions, comparisons, mai koy – tao rai, using not very, words beginning with consonant clusters.
  • Lesson 11: Kin terms, asking how many, asking who, nah + verb, less common consonants, vowel shortener.
  • Lesson 12: Talking on the telephone, talking about the future, ja + verb, when questions, polite requests: chooy + verb + noy, verbs for saying and thinking with wah, seeking advice and making suggestions, miscellaneous spelling rules.
  • Lesson 13: Coping strategies for when you don’t understand, to know: sahp, roo, roo jack, use of hai to mean for, names of letters, using a Thai dictionary.
  • Lesson 14: How to talk about living and working in Bangkok, talking about things that happened in the past: keree + verb, ways of intensifying adjectives and adverbs, more uses for gor.
  • Lesson 15: Making travel arrangements, to visit: teeo and yee um, expressing distance between two places, telling the time, questions about time.
  • Lesson 16: Booking a hotel, days of the week, rue bplao, questions.
  • Lesson 17: Looking for accommodation, gum lung ja + verb, negative questions, relative pronouns, months and seasons, dates and ordinal numbers, hai: to give, mai dai + verb.
  • Key to the exercises: Answers to the lessons.
  • Appendices: Consonant classes, Vowels, summary of tone rules, taking it further.
  • Thai-English vocabulary: Roughly 400 words.
  • English-Thai vocabulary: Roughly 400 words.
  • Grammar index: Page numbers to locate the grammar rules discussed in the lessons.

I’m not going to go over each aspect of the course, but I would like to bring up the above mentioned 400 word vocabulary list.

The early stages of learning a tonal language such as Thai can be rough because everything is new. But with learning most any language, we are told that communicating at a basic level is possible with a bare bones vocabulary of 500. Fine. I buy that. Sort of.

But here’s the thing… where do we start with Thai? I’m bringing up this because, unlike with other languages, there is no such list available for the top 500, 1000, 2000, or 3000 words even, that one must know to get by in Thai.

Bottom line: David’s course is designed to teach students how to use 400 of the most commonly used Thai words (yes, I peeked – and yes, there are more than 400).

So there you go. The top 400 must know Thai words = an important selling point of David’s Teach Yourself Thai Complete.

Going for the quotes…

For comparisons, I do have the earlier version of Teach Yourself Thai. But instead of explaining the differences to you, I thought it more beneficial to ask David Smyth for a run-down of his updated work.

The new version of Teach Yourself Thai (called Teach Yourself Complete Thai) is, at 358 pages, rather longer than the previous edition (242 pages).

I like to think that there have been a number of improvements. The first and second editions had 2 long dialogues in each unit, which was the standard format for all Teach Yourself language books. The result was that the dialogues were rather long and sometimes contained too much vocabulary and grammar for the learner to take on comfortably in one section. In the present edition, most units contain 3 or 4 shorter dialogues which, I hope, makes the content easier to absorb.

Another significant difference is that Thai script is now included in the language notes, with example sentences now appearing over 3 lines, in Romanized Thai, followed by Thai script and then English translation. This means that there is now more Thai script in this edition than the previous one. By covering up one or two of the lines, users can use the examples to test themselves on their reading and writing. I was really pleased that the publisher recognized the value of this revision, even though it is not the most efficient use of space on the page.

Other changes include revised ‘insight’ notes, a ‘key points’ section at the end of each unit, more pronunciation exercises, replacing some unwieldy dialogues (e.g getting to the Reno Hotel in a samlor, and buying four 12-baht stamps) and updating with words like ‘internet’ and ‘Suvarnabhumi.

No matter how many times you proof read a book like this, there are always misprints and errors that slip through. If any users notice errors and care to inform me at I will try to ensure that the corrections are incorporated in future reprints.

Btw: David’s interview on WLT can be read here: Successful Thai Language Learner: David Smyth.

Polyglot Geoffrey Barto from Multilingua (and others) recently wrote a review of the Teach Yourself Complete update.

With Teach Yourself Complete, it feels like some real strides have been made. There seems to be more emphasis on content and doing something with it and less emphasis on puzzling things out by means of vocabulary lists.

If you take up the whole package – text plus CDs – and load the CDs on your iPod, you wind up with a fairly handy program for learning [ ] 5-15 minutes at a time. If you’re short of time, you can do one dialog. If you’ve got half an hour to kill, you can make it halfway through a chapter. In either case, you should start by listening, then turn to the book to make sure you’ve understood. In this way, for the first time, you can really use a Teach Yourself course to learn a language by ear while having a text as a fallback, instead of the other way around.

And as Sophie (regular visitor and fellow hermit) is presently learning Thai via TYT, I asked for her opinion as well.

I cannot say enough positive things about Teach Yourself Thai by David Smyth. I have been trying other resources and I have to say this one works the best for me and is my absolute favorite. It is the one I will be using. Why?  Because it is so wonderfully well written, clear, and easy to understand.

David Smyth updates Teach Yourself ThaiI love the way the lessons progress and build upon each other. He puts it all together as far as the study course. Read, write, listen, and repeat, repeat, repeat. The audio is clear and easy to understand and I love the voices of the people he chose to use. If I don’t care for someone’s voice it is extremely hard to listen to them. I like the way he gives you a road map of how to draw the letters. I love how he explains everything so well and it is actually interesting to read and certainly helps one grasp the reason behind it all. I am so new to learning Thai but his book truly makes me feel like I can definitely do this.

How to improve this course…

As I mentioned – or did I? – I believe that Teach Yourself Thai is one of the top courses for beginners of the Thai language. But even so, improvements can be made.

  • Thai script: Even with the increased amount of Thai script, more could be added.
  • Binding: The binding of the book did not last long (either that or I’m awfully hard on books).
  • Audio: In addition to the present audio files, audio without English speakers would increase the usefulness.

If I were to shoot for the moon, I’d also like flashcards with sound, online games, etc, to compliment this course.

Now, this next point I’m making is not about improving the course, but a heads-up. The transliteration targets some British speakers and you might be confused when the audio files are not what you expected. So when you come across fuzzy spots, perhaps write down what you believe you are hearing? Just a thought.

Where to buy Teach Yourself Thai Complete…

When Teach Yourself Thai Complete first arrived in Bangkok, it was the book only (no boxed set with audio files). A few weeks later, the entire package appeared at Kinokuniya. It was total weirdness back then so I’m guessing that the delay was due to the Red Shirts taking over our shopping district.

For online stores, Amazon has the product at their UK branch: Complete Thai: Teach Yourself (Book/CD Pack). And the UK Book Depository has it in stock as well: Teach Yourself Complete Thai (Teach Yourself Complete Courses) (Paperback). But at the time of this post, I have been unable to locate it in US stores.

Now about that contest…

When I decided to review Teach Yourself Thai, I bought a copy at Paragon. And when I contacted David for a quote, I was sent another copy (thanks TY!) And now one of those copies is up for grabs.

To be included in the draw, the rules are simple.

  • You need to leave a comment(s) below.
  • The comment(s) need to be reasonable.

Each comment gets counted, so go ahead and leave as many as you like. But the comments must add to the conversation as well as pertain to this post. So ‘cool’ ‘great’ ‘rad’ on their own do not count as comments. Nor does, ‘this contest is really really fab and I really, really, really, wanna win a copy’.

The draw will run a week and be over on Thursday morning, 8am BKK time. I will number the reasonable comments and email the total to Kaewmala (Thai Women Talks). Kaewmala will throw the numbers into a beautifully coloured bowl, stir them around a bit, select one, and then announce the winning number in the comments below. Ajarn Pasa (Tweet Yourself Thai) will come in with the name that matches the winning number.

And that’s it really. If this draw goes well, I will consider a repeat as I’m sitting here with dual copies of a number of Thai courses and resources.

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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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Overview: Learn Thai Podcast

Overview of Learn Thai Podcast

Learn Thai Podcast…

Learn-Thai-Podcast.com started when Jay worked in Thailand 4 years ago. He came here to work for a design company and we just did some lessons for fun. We stopped at some point but received a lot of positive feedback so about 2.5 years ago we decided to do this seriously and make a real online Thai course. This is when we started the original Premium Course.

I love languages, studied English and have been or I’m still learning English, German and Japanese so I knew a bit about language teaching methodology and linguistics. Right from the start I was responsible for the lessons and all the content and I always received feedback from Jay and other foreigners on how well one lesson structure worked. In the beginning we did about seven to ten different lesson formats before we decided to go for the one we have now (with 3 repetitions and word by word translations). Everyone agreed this worked best.

Since then and now over 700 lessons later it has been a great experience. While I enjoyed teaching the basic Thai grammar, Thai word usage is a whole different and for me very fascinating field. A lot of the things we teach in intermediate lessons about word usage can’t be found in any Thai textbooks because there are simply no written rules for that. Speaking habits come and go and change over the years and exploring this area is not only really helpful for people who want to speak more like native Thai speakers but also a bit like venturing into places no one else has been before. I absolutely like that even though it causes me lots of headache while working on lessons. Some concepts are so unique to the Thai language that it is hard to express them in English but I do my very best and so far we always came up with the right descriptions to explain them to our course members. We also always test our lessons with some people who don’t know Thai and see if they understand what we explain. No matter how difficult the subject if someone who is new to Thai can’t understand most of it right away we have to break it down even further (to more easily digestible bits).

We have done 3 courses over the last years. A beginner course in which people learn all the basics of the Thai language, grammar, pronunciation, 3000 of the most common Thai words and some speaking habits. An intermediate course in which we focus on sharpening peoples listening skills, explain more advanced grammar and a lot of word usage. A reading & writing course in which we walk people step by step through the process of learning to read and write with theory and practice lessons and writing exercises. We are currently redoing all of these courses and adding lessons along with brand new lessons every week to our new LTP Premium Course. So we have one subscription now for all three courses, plus we just started an advanced section with more lessons.

Our idea with all lessons and the essential idea with all our courses is to enable members to take baby steps with our lessons while making giant leaps in learning the Thai language. For example once you understand that for the falling tone in Thai you just have to start a syllable with a bit higher sound and end up at the regular sound of your voice it becomes much more easy. We are trying to find these foreigner-friendly concepts that just work and pass them on to our subscribers.

I think this is also one of the benefits of the Internet. A lot of things can be made a lot easier because we have all the time of the world. We do not have to fit all content on a CD or DVD and therefore can cover things with a lot of detail and as we always do with a lot of examples. Why so many examples?

Instead of learning a language like it is sometimes taught in school, through repetition and strict rules, we want to emphasize usage based language acquisition. Of course the best thing would be that everyone could just walk out and immerse themselves in the Thai language but that isn’t possible for a lot of people. So we try to add as many examples and usage scenarios to our lessons as possible to help people to get a feeling for the language and to learn it more naturally.

There is no way around learning rules, especially in the beginning when you have just started to learn Thai, so if a new member learns with our course before he should move on to conversation lessons we recommend to do the basic sets of grammar lessons (that all come with a review lesson to reinforce what you have learned… yes! lots of examples!) that has a foundation to start from. Things just become a lot more simple in Thai if you know the basic rules very well (and there are not that many too!)

After that and in all our intermediate and advanced lessons we focus on conversational Thai (or in some advanced lessons formal Thai like you see on TV). With these lessons people also learn Thai within a context so it is easier for them to remember it. Our intermediate and advanced lessons come as individual groups or how we call it cycles in which all lessons relate to each other. How we do this can be seen in our video about cycles.

About the technological side of things Jay has some more things to say: I’m a technology geek I have to admit it. I get excited thinking about the mobile Internet and read technology blogs several times a day. We choose the Podcast format as our form of delivery because it is very easy for people to receive new content and if you have always new content already on your computer or mobile device you will use it more often and therefore it is easier to create a habit of learning Thai (which is so important if you really want to learn the language).

We did a survey some months ago and over 70% of the people mentioned the ease of using the course and the content delivery as one of several reasons why they enjoy learning with us. We are dedicated to this idea and will support future technology that enables users to learn better in any way possible. We are already working on some more ideas to make it easier for people who use the mobile Internet to enjoy our content (and vocabulary trainer).

The site has grown a lot, and we currently have over 55gb of individual lessons. This will of course get even more with the new LTP Premium Course and its new video formats. We also have over 16.000 entries in our database, along with audio files, that will become available in the vocabulary trainer as we post all the updated lessons in the coming months (along with the new lessons).

Jo and Jay,
Learn Thai Podcast

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