If your motivation to study Thai is wavering, you really should try FunEasyLearn – it’s a seriously addictive smartphone app! It’s free (except for removing ads – up to you) so all you have to lose is your time.
But before you start wading through this lengthy review … if Thai-English vrs English-Thai vocabulary lists matters to you, go no further. The vocabulary in this app comes from an English database so there’s a chunk of Thai specific vocabulary missing.
So sure, you won’t come across vocabulary for coke in a bag, sticky rice with mango, tuk-tuks, sanuk, etc.
BUT! There is a LOT of vocabulary! If I could learn how to spell a chunk of the 6000 words in this app I’d be chuffed to bits. Seriously. My spelling is sucky.
A quick tutorial from FunEasyLearn…
They do have a video (below) plus an animated walk-through inside the app but I wanted more so contacted the gang at FunEasyLearn for tips:
Our apps help you to learn most common words and phrases. These words and phrases are useful when travelling, meeting new people, developing life-long friendships or simply in any daily conversation.
Easy Steps to Use our App:
When you run the app you can find three rows: Topic, Subtopic and Game.
Just choose the Topic you want to learn first (for example Topic: Shopping).
Then choose Subtopic (for example Subtopic: supermarket).
After this choose the game you want to play (we recommend to start with Vocabulary game).
Tap “Play” button and that’s it!
Besides the fact that you learn many useful words and phrases, these games help you to improve your writing, reading and pronunciation.
Tips for you:
Spin Categories – allows the app to choose a random topic, subtopic and game for you.
Review Manager – helps you to review your wrong answers, right answers, or even all the phrases.
Favourite words or phrases – permits you to choose your difficult words/phrases, set as favourite and revise them later. After you selected your favorite words/phrases just go to Main Menu, choose Review words/phrases and tap Review Words/Favorite Phrases button.
TIP: When going to the next level (say, from beginner to intermediate), to see the new vocabulary, under ‘Level’ in xxx, make sure ‘Learn words from previous level’ is turned off.
Now that you’ve read the quick explanation and watched the video, I have two suggestions: Either 1) Go have fun with the app, or 2) keep reading for a detailed overview.
Walk-through of the Beginner level: 1000 Words…
This is quite a big app so I mapped it out with only the Beginner’s level turned on. There are three levels (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced) and they all suck into the Topics shown here – keeping to one level to start helped to make it manageable.
The top nav…
On the main screen there are three icons across the top: 1) Manage App, 2) Search bar, and 3) to the far right, a Flower.
Manage App (circle icon):
Level: Select level (beginner-intermediate-advanced), turn on/off learn words from previous levels, turn on/off Thai script.
Statistics: Scores, overall stats, current streak, streak targets, levels completed, words reviewed, your skills, learned word target.
Store: This is where you can get more levels by paying to get rid of ads. Beginner is £2.99 and Intermediate £8.99. Via the mysterious Flowers section I received 60% off the Advanced level.
Restore purchases: Just as it says.
Support: FAQs and making contact (plus reporting any mistakes you find).
Settings: Native language, sounds, reset tutorials (the animated walk through), one word a day notification (haven’t figured it out yet), review word notification (haven’t figured it out yet).
App: Rate the app, more apps, about this app. Icons across the bottom go to Facebook, twitter, Google+, and YouTube.
Search (search bar):
I love this search. It’s beautifully designed (as is the entire app). When you click on the search bar (without typing in anything) the vocabulary for the Topic you are studying appears. Scroll up and down to see all of the vocabulary for the different Subtopics under Topic. At the end of each Subtopic you’ll see how many words for that Subtopic are in other levels.
Each word first shows the English and the Thai script, with a Favourites star on the right (to put the word into a Favourites list). The three bars denote which level the word comes from (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced).
Click inside a box and it expands while saying the word using a real Thai voice, not machine generated (T2S). The transliteration now appears below the Thai.
At the bottom of the expanded box are three icons: 1) audio (repeats the word), 2) book (takes you to the word’s dedicated Vocabulary page – clicking the left arrow takes you back), and 3) the Favourites star again.
Flowers (flower icon): As you play the game, you earn flowers that you can then redeem inside the app. Flowers are what makes the app free. Earn flowers, get new levels for free. I was only on the app a short while when I was offered 60% off the Advanced course so it’s worth paying attention to.
The main guts of the app…
As mentioned in FunEasyLearn’s tutorial above, the app operates around three main nav sections: 1) Topic, 2) Subtopic, and 3) Games.
In the graphic to the right the selected Topic is People, the Subtopic is Body, and the Game is Vocabulary.
To work the app you slide each nav section to the left or right to line up different choices. When working your way through a section, reaching the end automatically moves you to the next one.
Tip 1: As you go through the app don’t think of it as linear. Think of it as peeling an apple all in one go. You start at the top (People), with each section leading you into the next, and the next, and the next, until you reach the bottom, the end of the course. But that’s only if you follow a set route – you can also wiz around willy-nilly. I started by bouncing all over the place but got dizzy so went in search of a logical way to attack the app.
Tip 2:Also important to know is that clicking on a Topic/Subtopic/Game running down the middle either selects or deselects that item. Just remember that you need to have one from each section selected (Topic/Subtopic/Game) before the bottom arrow allows you to play a game. If three are not selected and you double click on the arrow, it will select for you. Surprise!
So now, on to the guts of the app…
As per my confession, when I first started playing with the app I was twirling all over the place so I backed off, started from the beginning, and then worked my way to the end, taking notes as I went. And that’s what you’ll read below.
2) Subtopic (middle nav slider): Each of the top nav subjects (shown above) break down into mini-subjects (Subtopics) within the middle nav. Tip: The course starts with People but when you open the app most any Topic could be in place.
Subtopic – People: Body, Face, Hand, Foot, Muscles, Skeleton, Internal organs, Family, Relationships, Emotions, Life events, People review favourites, People review wrong, Review. Then >> Children’s clothing, and the Subtopic bounces to the next in line, Appearance…
Subtopic – Appearance: Children’s clothing, Men’s clothing, Women’s clothing, Accessories, Hair, Beauty, Appearance Review Favourite, Appearance Review Wrong, Review appearance. Then it goes into >> Illness…
Subtopic – Health: Illness, Doctor, Injury, First aid, Hospital, Dentist, Optician, Alternative therapy, Health Review Favourite, Health Review Wrong, Review Health, and then >> House…
Subtopic – Home: House, Internal systems, Living room, Dining room, Kitchen, Kitchenware, Bedroom, Bathroom, Nursery, Utility room, Workshop, Toolbox, Decorating, Garden, Garden plants, Garden tools, Gardening, House Review Favourite, House Review Wrong, Review Home >> Emergency services…
Subtopic – Reference: Time, Calendar, Numbers, Weights and measures, World map, North and central America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania >> Reference Review Favourite, Reference Review Wrong, Review Reference >> Review All Wrong Answers…
Subtopic – Review words: Review All Wrong Answers, Review All words, Review All Right Answers, Review All Favourite Words >> Body… (where it goes back to the beginning which is People). Tip: If you only have a few words to review it will pull from the general list (words you might not have seen).
3) Games (bottom slider nav): Vocabulary, Choose word, Find image, Match words, Listen and choose, Write word, Listen and write.
Games – Vocabulary (book icon): This section introduces each word with Thai script, transliteration, a graphic, and audio recorded by real people. Here you study the information, record your voice to see how close you can get to the Thai (it’s great – the app converts your voice into Thai script), create favourites, then move onto the next word.
There’s no way to turn off transliteration but it doesn’t last for long (unless you’ve selected the ‘transliteration only’ option via the settings). Vocabulary is the only game where you can click the star icon on the top right to make the word a favourite (otherwise use the dictionary search). The arrow on the top left takes you back to the main screen. The thick arrow on the right auto scrolls the screens. Turn off auto scrolling by clicking on the || icon that replaces the right arrow. Across the bottom left of the screen there are two audio controls. One repeats at a normal speed and the other at a slower speed. The icon to the right records your voice (you first need to let the app access your microphone). Speak into your phone and a Thai translation in Thai script appears. It’s pretty nifty for getting your pronunciation right, as well as enforcing spelling.
Games – Choose word (finger icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise with audio. There’s a single graphic across the top with the English word below. The two boxes across the bottom each have a word in Thai (default setting is script, no transliteration). If you select the correct Thai word the box turns green, the word is spoken, and you advance to the next selection. Select the wrong word and the box turns red with an X on it. You must select the right word to advance. There are no cheats (more about those below).
Games – Find Image (magnifying glass icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise with audio. There are four boxes, each with a word in English. Along the bottom there’s a Thai word in Thai script (no transliteration unless you’ve changed it in the settings). You need to select the correct word in English. If you select the right word, it’s spoken, the square goes green and then it flips to the correct graphic. If you get it wrong you get a box with a red X inside. You must get a correct answer before moving on.
Games – Match words (scale icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise but sans audio. There are two rows of boxes: the row on the left has Thai script (unless you’re studying with transliteration) and the row on the right has English. Click one of each to match the boxes. Get it correct and the two boxes go green and disappear. Get it wrong and the two boxes turn red and then back to white. There is a cheat: Click the ? symbol in the lower right corner and it’ll match boxes for you.
Games – Listen and choose (earphones icon): This is a listening exercise. On the screen are four squares with graphics inside. You have to match a graphic with the audio that you hear as soon as four boxes appear. Get it right and the box goes green and you advance to the next screen. Get it wrong and the box goes red with an X in the middle. There are two sound icons on the bottom left. One replays the audio at a normal rate and the other at a slower rate. The icon to the right is cheat for those in a Thai script setting; clicking the icon gives you Thai transliteration.
Games – Write word (paper/pencil icon): This is a spelling exercise. There’s a single graphic with word under it in English. Under that is a partially filled in word (unless it’s a two letter word), with dashes denoting missing letters. Below are boxes with a choice of letters in Thai script (unless you’ve chosen transliteration). You need to click the boxes to fill in what’s missing. When you get it right you’ll hear the word spoken and then move onto the next. There is a cheat: Clicking on the ? symbol fills in the missing items one by one.
Games – Listen and write (radio icon): This is a listening, spelling exercise. Similar to Write word, there’s a single graphic but in this one there’s no English. Instead of words, the audio plays automatically with dashes showing how many spaces you need to fill in. All of the letters are missing. Below are boxes with Thai script (unless of course, you are using transliteration). Click on boxes to fill in the spaces. To the left is an audio icon to hear the word once more. Again, the cheat is the ? symbol.
Basic navigation inside each game: When you start playing a game, across the top there’s an arrow on the left that takes you back to the home screen (logical). There’s also a round icon on the right that tells your game progress, game score, and what Topic and Subtopic you are in. Depending on the game, across the bottom the icons change.
Game Wheel: You only get the screen that has all of the game icons (shown above) when you’ve completed a game. The circular icon with the arrow on the end replaces the icon of the game you just completed – click to repeat the game. The home icon takes you back to the main screen. The centre icon takes you to the next game on the list.
Here’s a breakdown of the icons: Vocabulary (book icon), Choose word (finger icon), Find image (magnifying glass icon), Match words (scale icon), Listen and choose (earphones icon), Write word (paper/pencil icon), Listen and write (radio icon).
Learn 6000 Thai Words on iOS, Android and Windows 10…
This app has it all. Listening, reading, writing and spelling.
And if you haven’t figured it out (and before I forget to mention) this app is brilliant for those who can read Thai or are learning how to read Thai and want improve their spelling using Thai script. I haven’t seen anything like it.
If you are using transliteration (only) the spelling sections (Write word and Listen and write) might need a miss but the rest should keep you hopping. Let me know how you get on?
There’s still more I need to figure out but I can promise you that eventually, I’ll get to the bottom of the app. But, instead of delving further, I’m going to get back to having fun getting my spelling up to speed. If I find anything new I’ll add it to this review. If you find anything, please let me know either by leaving comments below or via my contact form.
After creating the post, Thai Slang You Might Need to Know I thought it’d be whacking great fun to create phrases out of each slang word. And Thai friends though it would be interesting as well. Game on.
But when I went looking for volunteers, not a one would touch it with a ten foot poll. “Go for it” they said “it’ll be a learning experience for you” they said. So here we are.
Be warned. I seriously did not feel comfortable creating the translations for this post. I don’t use a lot of Thai slang personally, so I did struggle.
Sean Harley: Slang evolves constantly (some go out of fashion, some make a comeback, some don’t, some become really popular, etc). It can also be ‘jargony’, for example it may mean something to teenagers but something else to adults.
This list is not new slang, it’s been around for awhile (you can find many of the words in Benjawan’s Speak Like a Thai series (1&2). And while the teenagers of today do have their own evolving language, many of the terms below, like hi-so and gik, are quite common. But of course there will be pockets of the local population who would have to ask for translations of a few, same as I did.
My translations had a double aim: First) to give an ballpark idea of the meaning in English. And second), where possible, to share English idioms with a Thai friend.
Needless to say, my Thai friend and I had a whale of a time with her trying to get Thai slang through to my thick head, and me trying to explain often old-fashioned Western slang to her.
We both loved it. Perhaps too much. My head still hurts.
Now, not everyone will agree with the translations below. As mentioned, this was a learning experience for me, so under those circumstances it’s to be expected.
All I ask is that you please share your corrections/suggestions either by commenting below, or via the contact form. Both will be welcomed.
Ah. I almost forgot. To see how Google Translate (GT) gets on with Thai slang, I added those as well. Ha! And what a laugh that was … just see for yourself.
Finally, Thai slang put into phrases…
กรอบ /gròp/ dirt poor
sŏm-chaai jon gròp loie tòok faen tíng
Somchai’s girlfriend left him because he’s dirt poor.
GT: Somchai was crushed by the fans.
กร่อย /gròi/ boring
rêuang pà-jon pai têe kăo lâo gròi mâak
The adventure story he told was so boring!
GT: The story of his adventures very chilly.
กระตั๊ก /grà dták/ abundant
kăo jèep pôo yĭng gèng kăo mee faen bpen grà dták
He’s good at flirting, that’s why he gets extra bits on the side.
GT: He flirts with a good woman, he has a girlfriend.
กระต่ายตื่นตูม /grà-dtàai dtèun dtoom/ the sky is falling (rabbit frightened of noise)
rêuang nít dieow tam dtòk jai bpen grà-dtàai dtèun dtoom
You are making a mountain out of a molehill.
GT: A little scarecrow shocked.
กิ๊ก /gík/ boyfriend, girlfriend, lover in a non-serious relationship
pôo chaai kon née mee gík bpen grà dták
This guy gets bookoo fluff.
GT: This guy has a gaggle.
เกิด /gèrt/ have a chance to shine
sài chút née bpai ngaan · gèrt nâe non
Wearing this suit makes you look like a million bucks.
GT: Put this dress to the birth of course.
แก้มือ /gâe meu/ try to do better when given a second chance (to fix a new hand)
wan gòn kăo lên mòt ngern · wan née kăo jà gâe meu
The other day he lost all his money gambling. Today he expects to win.
GT: The day before he played all the money. Today he will revenge.
Note: These files are for personal use only (please do not place them on other websites).
Before I go I’d like to think Benjawan for letting me use her slang list. Benjawan also suggested changes to the first run of the phrases – again, thanks! And I’d like to thank KP (my long-suffering Thai friend), who records for WLT and answers a gazillion questions about the Thai language and the Thai people, and my terrible Thai. Thanks to all!
Can you learn a foreign language while you sleep?…
Wouldn’t it be great to learn Thai when sleeping? No more drills. No more tedious word lists. Just start snoozing and let your subconscious do the hard slog for you.
Dream on … it’s not going to happen. Or rather, not in the way you might think. Not yet anyway.
But there is one way you can reinforce the Thai you are studying and that’s by first revising a set list of words or phrases right before you sleep, then again before you enter the NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) phase.
The study relates memory retention is stronger for those who study vocabulary, then use a verbal cue, such as a tape that recites the same vocabulary, during sleeping. The key is the studying has to be within short order of the nap learning time.
“You can only successfully activate words that you have learned before you go to sleep,” says Schreiner. “Playing back words you don’t know while you’re asleep has no effect”.
At the moment I’m experimenting with an iPhone sleep app for Italian instead (SleepyItalian) because the sleep mode from the Languagecourse.net app doesn’t work with iOS (for me, anyway).
So why am I featuring an app that doesn’t fully work on iOS? Because the rest (most everything but the sleep mode) works fabulously. The app is sort of like Glossika, only with fun bits to play with. And to see what I mean, check out Sven Elven’s a sleep learning screen record download from box.com, or get the free app to play with. Or both.
I plan on reviewing the app in full but as this post is about revising vocab/phrases while you sleep (a lightweight Xmas post) I’ll leave that for later.
A brief walkthrough of ‘Learn Thai Words & Vocabulary Free’ sleep attributes…
In the main menu of the app select Sleep Learning Timer (almost at the bottom of the home page navigation).
From the sleep learning menu:
Start in x minutes: The time when the program starts (let’s say you know you will be asleep in 30 minutes so set the timer to 30 or 40 minutes).
Duration: From the next drop down menu choose the duration you want to study.
Course: Choose the course you want review while you sleep (tip: a course won’t appear in the menu until you first study it while awake).
Background music: Select none, white noise, or white noise with binaural beats (the iOS does not have this option).
Volume Calibration: Set your volume then click the button to see how loud the audio is. Reset if needed.
Yes/No: The next window gives you the choice of doing a final review of the words/phrases before you go to sleep (Yes. Show word list) or go straight into the sleep mode (No. Start sleep learning session now). The review is text only, no audio (pity).
Continue/Start: If you are ready to get to sleep press ‘continue’ or ‘start’ or ‘start sleep learning’ (depending where you are in the process, the selection is different). The screen will then dim.
The program will start playing random phrases at the time you’ve chosen. The phrases will be spaced out about 10 to 15 seconds apart. Once your allotted time is over the audio will stop.
From Sven: Very easy to use and a great tool even if you are awake. I use it while running …
Thank you so much Sven Elven – I couldn’t have done it without you!
A website growing in popularity with the Thai community for its online Thai Typing Trainer is Mike’s Thai-Notes. Mike is presently in the process of adding yet another free course – one that teaches you how to read Thai.
Thai-Notes is a website with a variety of applications to people learning Thai. Its latest addition is a reading course. This course takes the beginner from reading the first few characters and vowels, in small, easy steps, to a comprehensive mastery of all the rules of reading Thai with its many complexities and irregularities. Provided within each lesson are lots of opportunities for practice through simple, interactive games.
New materials introduced in a logical way, based upon frequency, makes sure that beginners get maximum use out of what they learn.
The course also includes instruction and worksheets for those who want to learn to write Thai characters and words.
Currently there are 12 lessons available online (out of a planned 70). Until the course is complete new lessons will be added.
In this post, I’m going to take a step back and reveal everything I discovered about how to study Thai as a beginner, so you can benefit from my experiments and start your journey to learn Thai on the right foot.
I’ll start by describing in detail how I learnt Thai during my mission to Bangkok. Next, I’ll answer common questions about learning Thai. Then, I’ll finish with my recommended action steps for those who want to learn to speak Thai, followed by some great resources.
NOTE: Each relevant comment gets counted, so leave as many as you like.
The draw will run from this moment until 31st December (New Years Eve), 6am Thai time. As soon I’m awake(ish) I (or someone else) will throw the numbers into random.org, and then announce the winner.
Good luck all and ho ho ho!
Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Review…
The Cracking Thai Fundamentals course by Stu Jay Raj was put together in 2000 to help members of the FCC (Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand) understand the Thai language. When researching the characteristic problems expats have with learning Thai as a second language, Stu developed an interactive system to kickstart students into learning the Thai language along with Thai culture (they go hand-in-hand).
Stu has since gone on to teach other expats, and has even taught the course in Thai to Thai teachers. I lucked out in my first year in Thailand when I came across CTF in Bangkok. It was such an entertaining eyeopener, I took it twice (as did many others in my class).
As there’s only so much of Stu to go around, to enable a wider audience to take advantage of CTF he created an interactive, online version at stujay.com, a membership site.
So there’s Cracking Thai Fundamentals the on-the-ground course, Cracking Thai Fundamentals the online course, and now Cracking Thai Fundamentals the book. When I asked Stu “why the book” he came back with:
Stu Jay Raj: Yes … I am getting older. The problem with the live course is that I have to choose between giving a brain overload or giving a watered down version. The book gets to go into more detail and can be used over the longterm. The online course was developed for a similar reason.
No matter which flavour you go with, the on-the-ground course, the online course, the course in book form, or even a combo, all are suitable for students of Thai sporting various backgrounds. Those brand spanking new to Thai will benefit by avoiding the many traps students often fall into, and those already deep into studying Thai will notice more than a few “ah ha’s” along their CTF journey.
Josh Sager: An Operating System for the Mind: It’s important to mention right off the bat that this is not a Thai language learning “system” as you are perhaps accustomed to using. Stu himself is adamant in making this point clear. The book does not give you vocabulary lists to memorize, lessons on sentence structure, or quick phrases you can use while visiting Thailand as a tourist. Cracking Thai Fundamentals is a suite of tools designed to ultimately provide you with a deeper understanding of the Thai language; it’s a way to take what you already know, what you are currently learning, and smooth out the rough edges. Think of it like expanding your paint palette from 8 to 128 colors to help you paint more vivid pictures.
Review: Cracking Thai Fundamentals…
As Josh has done a fabulous job reviewing the book I’m going to focus on linking the chapters in the book with Stu’s online course at stujay.com.
For those of you who want to sample the online course before you buy, I’ve marked the FREE sections.
Stu Jay Raj: At a bare minimum I would encourage everyone reading the book to use the free online initial Preparing to Crack section along with the Consonant Compass… both interactive and downloadable versions. Laminate an A3 version of the Constant Compass and have it beside you as you learn.
Section One is chockfull of tips to help prepare yourself for your Thai journey. It goes from changing your mindset (plenty of “ah ha’s”) to rearranging your actual life on the ground (paper dictionaries to computers).
Section Two is a full body, interactive chapter, where, with a few choice words, you are shown how feel their meanings before learning how to create actual sentences. For beginners, this is a brilliant intro into understanding how the Thai language works.
Section Three covers the Thai sound system, the Thai writing system, and the system behind the system. Taking you back in time, this is where Stu opens up the magic of Indic based scripts to lay a foundation for reading, writing, and speaking Thai.
Section Five is understandably a large chunk of the book as it takes you through the Thai consonants. To assist your understanding, it goes through Stu’s pronunciation glyphs, the five cardinal points of articulation, and then over to each consonant in turn.
Section Six covers the bane of most language learners of Thai, tones. By this section you will already have constants and vowels down, along with an understanding of the map of the human mouth, so with a bit more work you will be able to slot in the tones.
Final: How to Make the Cracking Thai Fundamentals Vision a Reality (page 545)
Stu Jay Raj: Lastly, don’t forget that Thai Cracking Fundamentals is not a complete system to teach you Thai; that it is a system to help lay a new physical and mental operating system that will work hand in hand with all the other methods that you are using to learn Thai.
The final part of the book is a general “where do you go from here” section filled with advice on how to use what you’ve learned.
Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Draw reminder…
As if you’d forget … the draw will run from this moment until 31st December (New Years Eve), 6am Thai time.
For years I’ve been hearing raves about Somsonge Burusphat’s Reading And Writing Thai. It was created way back in 2006 and continues to gather an enthusiastic fanbase.
Reading And Writing Thai is a complete guide to reading and writing Thai at all levels. It is researched and designed by a Professor of Linguistics with extensive experience of teaching Thai to non-Thai speaking learners. A linguistic approach has been applied to the book so that the learners not only learn how to read and write the Thai language but also understand some aberrant linguistic phenomena.
The book is suitable for self-study or classroom use. It is organized in an easy way. The book gradually builds up reading and writing skills from the beginner level to advanced level. A beginner can begin the basics and then move on to intermediate lessons within the same book. The final lessons are for advanced students to increase their reading and writing skills.
Included: Common and rare consonants, consonant clusters and sequences, simple and complex vowels, tone markers, exceptions to writing rules, graded texts.
The price is quite reasonable. You can purchase Reading and Writing Thai for around 350 baht at Asia Books in Bangkok or Chiang mai. You can also get it online from DCO Books (they ship everywhere).
One of my main concerns about the book was the lack of audio files. So, on a wild hair day back in June, a Thai friend and I decided to make it our project. We’ve just finished.
The audio was recorded by a Thai teacher in Bangkok via an iPhone, and then sent to me in Chiang mai where I edited out the blips (but I still need to check for accuracy). Due to the extra materials in Chapter 17 (Reading Graded Texts) Veradej Wisetjarkhun pitched in to help. My thanks to them both!
You can download the free audio files from Box.com: Reading and Writing Thai Audio. If you don’t already have one you’ll need to get a box.com account you can access the files without an account. But no worries – the membership and downloading files is free.
As the book is for beginners, the audio has been recorded slow and sure, speeding up towards the end. For variety some lessons have both fast and slow audio. Please note that the recordings are not fancy. Some have rain in the background (we’ve been experiencing the rainy season) but they are clear and easy to understand.
Jamie McGregor completed the entire course so I asked for tips and insights:
Little Tip #1: There are now sound files to accompany this book (a huge thank you to Catherine Wentworth and her friend) which will be a huge boost to anyone learning from this book. Make sure you download them! However, when I studied with this resource there were no sound files to accompany the exercises, which made it extremely frustrating as a beginner to teach myself the Thai script. My way of overcoming this problem was to download the Thai-English Dictionary (with full pronunciation software) onto my iPhone. When learning new words I would type them into the dictionary to play back. For about two months, I did this one to two hours, three to four nights per week. This method really worked for me. It helped get me through the exercises by myself without using a teacher. So if you can’t get a hold of the sound files or a Thai teacher I suggest you download a dictionary with audio.
Little Tip #2: I’ve read comments where some people mention that they struggle to decipher the breaks between words, and that they couldn’t see where words began or ended. To get around this problem I drew little lines between each word. This gave me practice breaking up words. Some people may not want to do this, that’s fine, but for those who do have trouble with the breaks I highly recommend it. Here’s an example of what I did below:
Somsonge does a good job with introducing Thai consonants in bite-sized chapters. This method helps students learn a little bit at a time without being overwhelmed by the large amount of characters. The short and long vowels are introduced and explained in a simple yet effective manner. When working through the exercises I had no problems understanding and learning vowels.
The book gives ample opportunity for writing practice. An amazing feature is that you translate small sentences from Thai script into English, from English into Thai script, and from transliteration to Thai and back. There are also sections throughout the book where you write and compose your own sentences by using what you learned in previous lessons.
By the time you reach the end of the book you should be well-equipped to complete and understand the final chapter of the book which consists mainly of “graded texts”. These texts are a great “icing on the cake” and are an awesome addition to the materials. You will be able to read things such as: The Thai National Anthem, food menus, travel advertisements, weather reports, recipes, comics, and interesting cultural notes and information about Thailand.
Thank you Jamie. It was your enthusium for Reading and Writing Thai on FCLT that brought it to my attention once again. Previously, I didn’t do much more than skim through the book before placing it back on the shelf.
Now, I’m not a fan of transliteration (as you well know) but after going through this book I can understand why transliteration has been included – it was designed to be used without audio. To help get the Thai alphabet and tones into your head, and to reinforce what you know, Somsonge has students bouncing back and forth between Thai script and transliteration. And when you think about it, it’s a logical solution.
So while I’m not hooked on transliteration, I see this book as catering to those who prefer using that method to learn the Thai alphabet. And really, that’s why I’ve taken the time to create recordings. That, and the fact that Reading and Writing Thai has proper lessons throughout, and as far as I’m concerned, the lessons alone makes it a valuable resource for learning to read Thai (and audio only makes it better).
If you somehow missed it, here are the audio files from Box.com:
Reading and Writing Thai audio files via Folder and by Single Files (note: inside the folder there’s an option to download all files at once).
Benjawan (the Queen of Thai learning materials) agreed to choose the winners of the Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook iOS App. Only, instead of FOUR winners, she’s chosen FIVE! Fabulous.
Here are the winners: Jaime, Mary, Manu, Alan S and Charles Soon. If the winners would please send a message via my contact form and I’ll get the codes to you asap. And could you please do us a favour? We’d seriously love to hear your experience with the phrasebook. You can do that by leaving a comment below or emailing. Either are fine.
My thanks goes to everyone who took the time to leave a comment. And note that a month of giveaways is coming soon, so please do keep an eye on WLT.
If you didn’t win the Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook iOS App…
For everyone who didn’t win this wonderful Phrasebook app, below are the details at iTunes (just click on the logo and it’ll take you there).
Price: $14.99 Seller:Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand Released: 06 April 2015 Version: 1.9 Word count: 12,000+ Audio: Native speaker (female) Thai script: Yes Transliteration: Yes Turn off Transliteration: Yes Zoom/pinch: No need Font control: Yes Help: Yes (amazing) Requires iOS: 5.1.1 or later Optimised for: iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
Talking Thai–English–Thai Phrasebook by Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand: This phrasebook + mini-dictionary app is in a league of its own, with full-text search access to more than 12,000 professionally edited words, phrases, and ready-to-use, customizable complete sentences organized into 250+ practical categories like “Language Difficulties,” “Hotel,” “Renting a Place,” “Food/Drink,” “Price Haggling,” “Transportation,” “Health,” “Shopping,” “Sightseeing,” “Love/Romance/Sex” and even “Swearing/Insults.”
The Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook app has leapfrogged into the Smartphone market. Traditional Thai phrasebook apps have sentences and a smattering of vocabulary, leaving you searching in vain for an exact fit. The Talking Thai-Eng-Thai Phrasebook also gives you sentences and vocabulary but the real magic comes with sentence patterns.
To show you what I mean, let’s put off a detailed overview of the app for the moment and go straight to the Domestic Help section in the Categories. You might recognise some of the phrases from my HouseTalk series.
Categories >> Domestic Help >> Maid >>
To select the phrase you need, scroll down the list by sliding your finger south along the face of your iPhone, or by using the see-through blue scroll button on the righthand side of the screen.
You’ll find three types of sentences: Complete sentences, sentences with placeholders where you can insert words and numbers from a list, and sentences with grammatical placeholders.
Complete sentences are obviously used as is. Clicking on placeholders in sentences with insertable words comes back with subjects such as: Currency conversions, numbers, dates and time, locations, colours, materials, and things you might want to buy.
Grammatical placeholders are complex creatures so will appear in a future update. Until then, clicking on the placeholder gives you the grammar rules for that particular pattern. But in the meantime it’s dead simple to work with the placeholders sans inserts. Some of the results won’t be exactly correct but you’ll be understood. Here you go.
Select the sentence pattern you want to work with.
Click the grey ‘add to favourites’ box (look for the plus).
Click the search icon at the bottom left nav to find the word you need.
Favourite that word as well by clicking the plus in the box.
Click on the favourites icon at the bottom right nav.
To hear both, check the box to the left of each selection.
Practice saying them in the correct sequence a few times and voila you have your new sentence!
Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook: Settings…
Before you go any further with the Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook it’s a good idea to get your settings sorted.
First up, adjust the text size of both the English and Thai together or separately (for me, I’ve made the English small and the Thai script large).
Next set the volume for playback and keyboard clicks (my volume is turned on high and the keyboard clicks turned off).
Following is gender (I’m a female and like my ฉัน and ค่ะ/คะ’s thank you very much).
If you want to use transliteration there’s a whole slue to choose from: Paiboon (two types), Easy Thai, TLC (thai-language.com), Tiger, Haas, IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), ALA-LC (American Library Ass), TYT (Teach Yourself Thai), LP (Lonely Planet), T2E (thai2english.com), and Thai Govt+.
And now comes the setting I’ve been waiting for. You can hide the pronunciation! Fabulous.
Here’s the rest of what you can do in settings: Keyboard selection, digits, currency, clocks (I went with 12 over 24 hour).
Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook: Navigation…
The navigation abilities are all over this app. Across the top left is a home icon (takes you back to the home of the section you are in), an up arrow (takes you to the top of that the screen you are in). And across the top right are simple forward and backward arrows that navigate you to where you’ve recently been and back again. The arrows might be skinny little things but they are huge timesavers.
On the nav across the bottom of the app there’s Search, Categories, Help, Settings, and Favourites. We’ve already discussed Settings and Favourites, so here are the rest.
Search: You can search using English, via Thai sounds (transliteration), and Thai script. There’s also an extensive ‘how to’ that walks you through all the fiddly bits.
Categories: As there are over 250 categories I won’t list them individually, but along with over 12,000 words and phrases, they are tucked inside Essentials, Situations, Conversation, Glossary, and Places.
Help: The help is incredible. It not only shows you how to use the app, but includes a mini-course on the Thai language. The Speaking and Listening section teaches initial and final consonants, vowels (length and sounds), tones, similar sounds, syllable and stress, irregular sounds, parts of speech, verbs, objects, prepositions, questions and classifiers, word register, months, and the 12 year cycle. Wow.
I’m not exactly saving the best for last, but to me, the ability to suggest a word and/or phrase is a big deal. If a search comes back with “no matches” you can suggest it. What does that mean? By clicking on the proffered link that takes you to Paiboon Publishing, you can then suggest that your word or phrase gets added to the next update. How great is that? It’s like you are one of the team, helping to improve an already wonderful app.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In late 2015 the Talking Thai-English-Thai Phrasebook will be rolled into the Talking Thai-English-Thai Dictionary. If you don’t have the dictionary and you get the phrasebook now, via an in app purchase you can upgrade to the dictionary. But if you already have the dictionary and you don’t want to wait for the phrases, then by all means, go for it. It won’t break the bank and will help support the ongoing development of Paiboon apps (quality always costs more to build than is expected).
More about the Talking Thai–English–Thai Phrasebook iOS app…
Price: 14.99 Seller:Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand Released: 06 April 2015 Version: 1.9 Word count: 12,000+ Audio: Native speaker (female) Thai script: Yes Transliteration: Yes Turn off Transliteration: Yes Zoom/pinch: No need Font control: Yes Help: Yes (amazing) Requires iOS: 5.1.1 or later Optimised for: iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
Reminder: The draw will run from now until the 22nd of April, 6am Thai time. Good luck!
Three iOS apps have been kindly donated to WLT by uTalk, a language learning company who designs some of the classiest iOS apps on the market. I totally fell in love with uTalk’s first Thai app, and generations later, this one is better still.
NOTE: As many Android users have iPads, I thought it necessary to point out that an iPhone is not needed to run this app.
To win an app, the rules are simple:
Leave your comments below.
The comment(s) need to add to the conversation.
Note: Each relevant comment gets counted so leave as many as you like. If this is your first time leaving a comment on my site, it will need to be approved. But no worries, once approved it’ll automatically slot in at the correct time.
Duration: The draw will run from the time the post goes live until the Sunday, 21 December, 6pm UK time. At that time I will number the reasonable comments and run them through an online randomizer. The winners will then be announced in the comments of this post. There will also be a dedicated post, but not after Xmas.
Good luck everyone! And ho ho ho.
The uTalk Thai iOS app review…
uTalk iOS apps are a pleasure to use, and this is their slickest yet. The icon driven navigation bounces you through the course, making learning a joy. But this app is not just about pretty pictures. There’s actually Science Behind EuroTalk.
The course is designed around what is called ‘dual coding’. By engaging your visual and verbal memory, dual coding improves both your retention and ability to recall words and phrases. So basically, instead of forcing rote learning down your throat (tedious), uTalk Thai’s quizzes entice you to interact with the study materials.
The quizzes are not just fun, they have been created with learning/retaining in mind. To make any progress (even inside each lesson), you really do need to learn the words and phrases that are 1) spoken (native audio), 2) written (in either Thai script or transliteration), and 3) recorded (by you).
Getting around uTalk Thai…
There are 100 free languages to choose from, each with 15 essential words. After you’ve made a purchase click on the installed course to get started, or just select one of the available free courses.
Settings: User, Language (choose the language for the app, not the target language), Purchases (delete or restore), Support (sound and purchase explanations), and Rate uTalk.
World Tour: No matter if you’ve done well or awful (I tried awful to see) you are given the option of going on a World Tour. Don’t worry, the plane won’t crash! I have yet to figure out the sense of doing this activity but there’s sure to be one. Fun?
Nav and topics…
Once you’ve chosen your course, the next screen gives you the option to search or select a topic. As you can see in the graphic above, the search bar doubles as a dictionary search. Making a selection takes you to where the word (phrases included) appears in the course. Clicking the arrow at the top left of the screen takes you back to where you were.
In the full course there are 36 topics: Alphabet, First Words, Phrases, Social Phrases, Likes and Dislikes, Adjectives, Prepositions, Numbers, Numbers up to Twenty, Numbers up to Ten Million, Colours, Shopping Words, Shopping Phrases, Clothes, Vegetables, Fruit, Food and Drink, Restaurant, Outdoors, Sports, Leisure, Business, Technology, Calendar, Emergencies, Illness, Doctor, Body, Transportation, Travelling, Vacation, Countries, Bhra-tate-tai (ประเทศไทย), Directions, Accommodation, Time.
Selecting one of the topics takes you to a screen (shown in the graphic) with icons for Practice, Easy Game, Speaking Game, Hard Game, Memory Game, Recall. For this review I’ve chosen Accommodation.
The Practice Activity…
In the Practice Activity you listen, read (Thai script, transliteration, and English), and record yourself.
At the top of the Practice screen is a graphic of the word/phrase. Below, in a lighter coloured band, is the word/phrase in Thai script, then transliteration, followed by the English translation (or the language you selected in the settings). This is the only section where you get everything (audio, visual, Thai, transliteration, English).
Audio: To hear the word/phrase spoken by a native, either click within the lighter coloured band or on the arrow at the bottom left of the screen. If you first hear a native male voice, clicking again on the arrow gives you the native female voice, and visa versa. To slow down the native audio, just click on the 1x (it then changes to 1/2x).
Recording: The recording icon does just what you’d expect (records your voice). It’s up to you whether or not you say a word or phrase twice just like they do. After you record, your recording plays automatically. To hear yourself again just click on the arrow that has now appeared to the right of the recording icon.
To compare your recording to the native audio click on the far left arrow (think of the left arrow as the native audio and the right arrow as your recorded audio). If you are dissatisfied with your recording, rerecord.
Tip: To get the best out of the practice area, take the time to get as close to native as you can. Pay special attention to tone and vowel length as both are important in a tonal language. And be sure to record your gender (in Thai there are different pronouns and polite particles for male and female). If you can, get a Thai teacher to listen to your pronunciation.
To finish the activity: After you are satisfied with your recording, select the next word/phrase by scrolling down with a finger flick. Continue recording words and phrases until you’ve completed the Practice section. To get back to the main screen click on the back button at the top left of the screen (this navigation works for all sections).
The Easy Game…
This is a listening and reading game. There is Thai script and transliteration, but no English. Some of the photos and graphics are not exact matches (it’s difficult to portray thoughts and some actions), so in order for your brain to link the audio to the visual you really do need to pay attention.
As soon as you click on the game icon, the game starts. One after the other, graphic boxes appear with matching audio (a mix of male and female voices). The graphics bounce around the screen, switching places. Once they settle you hear a word as well as see it written in Thai script and transliteration.
To move to the next screen you only need to match one graphic to the audio by clicking on it. But, if you do get it wrong, the matching Thai audio for that square is spoken and a big red X appears along with the spoken ไม่! Get it right and you get a big green X with a response ใช่! A ใช่ advances you to a new selection.
Tip: Often the ฉัน and ผม in phrases won’t match the photo, so guessing doesn’t work!
The Speaking Game…
In this game you listen, record your voice, and in the game match your recordings to the native speaker’s. Only Thai script is shown, there is no Thai transliteration or English words.
First off, a screen with a selection of graphics appears and a native male voice is heard. From what I experienced, you cannot switch to a female voice. When you click on the recording icon the native voice is heard again (twice), and then you record yourself saying that word.
Note: In this game your recordings are used in the quiz, so you really do need to get it right!
After you’ve completed (recorded) your first set, a new screen comes up with nine icons. That’s when your recordings come into the game. You are to match your recording to one of the graphics on the screen. When you select (click on) a graphic, a native voice speaks the selection, following with either ใช่ (yes) or ไม่ (no). If you get it wrong, you get a native recording, a nasty red X appears on the selection, and you need to choose again. If you get it right, a green X appears and the screen reloads.
Tip: If you need to hear the audio again click on the graphic BEFORE you click on the recording icon.
The Hard Game…
This game is audio (male voice) and graphics only. No Thai script, no transliteration, no English.
What you do is listen for the Thai word, then slide the correct graphic into the dotted space at the top of the screen. If you need to hear the audio again just click on the native repeat arrow on the bottom left. A wrong answer gets you a ไม่ along with a red X, and the incorrectly chosen graphic goes back where it came from. As in the previous game, a right answer gets you a ใช่ and a green X. To move to the next screen you need to get all but one right.
The Memory Game…
This is a timed game with graphics and audio only. No text at all.
Graphics appear with accompanying audio. A timer appears at the bottom, showing you how much time you have to memorise each position before the graphics disappear.
To play the game, memorise the location and then click on the blank graphic that used to match the audio. As before, click the native arrow on the left to repeat the audio. The game gets more difficult as it progresses, adding more graphics per screen until the end.
The Recall Activity…
This activity uses English and Thai script (no transliteration), and recorded audio (yours and theirs).
With this activity you are on your own and on your honour. As shown above, there’s a graphic with a matching English word or phrase. Click the recording icon to record yourself translating the English to Thai. Right away you hear your recording, followed by the native audio. It’s only then that Thai script replaces the English.
Next, two boxes appear. One has a red X and the other a green X. It’s on your honour to select whether you were correct (green) or you bombed (red). If you are not sure, clicking the arrow that’s appeared over the central graphic plays both your recording and the in-app audio. The number at the bottom of the screen denotes how many words/phrase there are to finish in this set.
My wish-list for uTalk Thai…
Statistics: With all the hard work needed to study with this app, for anal users (we know who we are) it’d be great to see a graphic showing progress.
Transliteration: A pet peeve of mine, the ability to turn it off would be wonderful.
Native audio: You don’t get to choose to hear only male or female audio, and in some places there is only male. This could be an issue for those trying to pitch their voices to match (in Thai at least, the male is much lower than the female).
Thai vocabulary: In the food section especially, the foods are western. English loanwords (steak, coke, beer, cream, hamburger, hotdogs, etc) are ok, but also needed are local foods people will order in Thailand. This is a universal problem with multi-language courses. An English vocabulary/phrase list is translated into many languages, missing out on the uniqueness of the target language.
Formal vrs street: Most Thai courses error on the formal side and this one is no different. Being able to choose between formal or casual phrases would make the app more useful. Baring that, explain it somewhere in the settings (that no, Thais don’t say krap at the end of every sentence!)
Explanations: Thai is a tonal language. At the very least they should point out the need to pay attention to vowel length and tones. One of the best examples I’ve come across can be found in the Talking Thai-English-Thai iOS dictionary.
Customise: I’d love to be able to add new words and phrases (with audio and graphics), similar to what BYKI offers.
More about uTalk Thai…
Price: Free (in-app purchases) Seller:EuroTalk Ltd Updated: 20 October 2014 Version: 2.0.3 Word count: Free version – 15 essential words (1 topic) uTalk Essentials: £6.99 – 500 words and phrases? (11 topics) Premium package: £11.99 – 1,000+ words and phrases (35 topics) Audio: Native speakers (both male and female) Thai script: Yes Transliteration: Yes Turn off Transliteration: No Zoom/pinch: No need Font control: No Help: Yes (slim) Requires iOS: 7.0 or later Optimised for: iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch