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Tag: Thai vocabulary (page 1 of 6)

HouseTalk: A Handy Shortlist of Instructions for Your Thai Maid

HouseTalk: Learn Basic Thai Cleaning Instructions

Giving your Thai maid instructions…

When planning a move to Northern Thailand I knew I’d have to get another maid so I put together a general list of things I wanted done. If you are contemplating something similar, at least parts of the list will come in handy for you as well.

Suggestion: After tweaking to suit, print out the text file for maids who can read Central Thai (you’ll also need to delete the transliteration and perhaps the English). But for maids who can’t read (not all maids can), either memorise your version of the list or have them listen to the edited audio. It won’t be perfect but it’ll be a start.

Tip: Audio and pdf downloads are at the end of the post.

Shortlist of Instructions for Your Thai Maid…

วันพุธ วันเสาร์: 9.00 – 16.00
wan pút wan săo: 9.00 – 16.00
Wednesday and Saturday: 9.00 – 16.00

** วันเสาร์ทุกอย่างเหมือนวันพุธยกเว้นไม่ต้องซักผ้าปูที่นอนของห้องนอนใหญ่
wan săo túk yàang mĕuan wan pút yá-gà-wâyn mâi dtông sák pâa bpoo têe non kŏng hông non yài
Saturday everything is the same except for sheets.

sák sêua pâa gòn
Start washing clothes first.

** ซักผ้าปูที่นอนของห้องนอนใหญ่
sák pâa bpoo têe non kŏng hông non yài
Wash sheets master bedroom.

sák pâa chét dtua kŏng hông náam túk hông
Wash towels in every bathroom.

gwàat bor-rí-wayn bâan
Sweep outside.

doo lae nôk chaan hâi sà-àat yòo sà-mĕr
Always keep the balconies clean.

láang jaan
Do dishes.

tam kwaam sà-àat hông krua
Clean kitchen. 

ao kà-yà bpai tíng
Empty garbage. 

tam kwaam sà-àat hông náam
Clean bathrooms.

bplìan saai maew
Replace kitty litter.

chét fùn fer-ní-jer
Dust furniture.

dòot fùn prom
Vacuum carpets.

tam kwaam sà-àat péun
Clean floors.

rêet pâa
Iron clothes.

** ปูที่นอนของห้องนอนใหญ่ 
bpoo têe non kŏng hông non yài
Make bed in master bedroom.

ao pâa chét dtua kwăen wai nai hông náam túk hông dûay
Replace towels in every bathroom.

ngaan èun èun têe kuan tam
Special instructions:

ซักผ้าปูที่นอน ห้องนอนแขกด้วย 
sák pâa bpoo têe non · hông non kàek dûay
Wash sheets in guest bedroom when there are guests.

อย่าเอาเสื้อผ้าและผ้าอื่นๆที่ซักแล้วตากแดด ให้ใช้เครื่องอบผ้า
yàa ao sêua pâa láe pâa èun èun têe sák láew dtàak dàet · hâi chái krêuang òp pâa
Do not put clothes and other laundry in the sun, use the dryer.

อย่าใส่ผ้าที่เลอะเป็นคราบลงในเครื่องอบ เอามาให้ฉันดู
yàa sài pâa têe lúh bpen krâap long nai krêuang òp · ao maa hâi chăn doo
Do not put stained clothes in the dryer, bring them to me.

yàa rêet táp roi bpêuan
Do not iron over stains.

อย่าเอาเสื้อผ้าที่เป็นคราบไปเก็บ แต่เอามาให้ฉันดูก่อน 
yàa ao sêua pâa têe bpen krâap bpai gèp · dtàe ao maa hâi chăn doo gòn
Do not put stained clothes away, bring them to me.

อย่าเอาเสื้อผ้าที่ขาดไปเก็บ แต่เอามาให้ฉันดูก่อน 
yàa ao sêua pâa têe kàat bpai gèp · dtàe ao maa hâi chăn doo gòn
Do not put ripped/torn/worn clothes away. Bring them to me.

ถ้าเห็นเสื้อที่กระดุมหลุด ช่วยเอามาให้ฉันด้วย
tâa hĕn sêua têe grà dum lùt · chûay ao maa hâi chăn dûay
Bring clothes with missing buttons to me.

sìng têe mêua rai têe hĕn wâa kuan tam
Extras to do during the month:

tam kwaam sà-àat péun bua
Clean skirting board/baseboards.

tam kwaam sà-àat roi bpêuan bon pà-năng bâan
Remove marks from walls.

chét grà-jòk
Clean mirrors.

chét nâa dtàang
Clean windows.

ปัดฝุ่นหิ้งหนังสือห้องรับแขก + ห้องนอน 
bpàt fùn hîng năng-sĕu hông ráp kàek + hông non
Dust bookshelves in living room + bedrooms.

bpàt fùn fer-ní-jer máai
Dust wooden furniture (use wax).

bpàt fùn dtó gaa-fae
Dust coffee tables (use wax).

láang dtôo yen
Clean refrigerator.

tam kwaam sà-àat kâang lăng dtôo yen
Clean behind refrigerator.

tam kwaam sà-àat nai dtôo hông krua
Clean inside kitchen cupboards.

yàa bplòi hâi sìng kŏng mee fùn
Don’t let things catch dust.

sìng têe kuan tam mêua rao mâi yòo bâan
Things to be done when we are not at home:

tam kwaam sà-àat bâan
Clean house.

rót náam dtôn máai
Water plants.

hâi aa-hăan bplaa
Feed fish.

ให้อาหารแมวทุกวันจันทร์ วันพุธ วันเสาร์
hâi aa-hăan maew túk wan jan · wan pút · wan săo
Feed cats Monday, Wednesday, Saturday.

Downloads: Basic Thai cleaning instructions…

The below downloads include the Thai script, transliteration, and sound files to the phrases in this post.

Pdf download 525kb: HouseTalk: Handy Shortlist of Maid Instructions
Audio download 2.3mg: Handy Maid Instructions

Please note: The materials are for your own personal use only.

The Thai HouseTalk series…

Connecting posts:

Disclaimer: When compiling the HouseTalk posts I often run the Thai phrases and vocabulary through Thai Skype teacher Khun Narisa. But when I code the posts I often tweak a little. So what I’m saying is that snafus are all mine and will be dealt with as such.

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Sleep Learning: Reinforce Your Thai While You Sleep

Learn while you sleep

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.

Verbal cues during sleep can boost the memory, at least when it comes to vocabulary: A new study reveals that it may be easiest to learn that second language if you incorporate some verbal cuing during a snooze right after studying.

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”.

Learn Thai Words & Vocabulary…

For Thai, the only app with the above mentioned sleep attributes I could find is Learn Thai Words & Vocabulary Free (created by Languagecourse.net). They’ve only recently added the sleep mode so if you already have the app, check it out.

Learn in your sleepAt 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.

Learn while you sleep

Learn while you sleep

Learn while you sleep

Learn while you sleep

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!

iOS: Learn Thai Words & Vocabulary Free
Android: Learn Thai Vocabulary Free

Note: Here’s a smattering of subliminal products for Thai.

For those who want to know more…

Abstract: Boosting Vocabulary Learning by Verbal Cueing During Sleep Reactivating memories during sleep by re-exposure to associated memory cues (e.g., odors or sounds) improves memory consolidation.

Learn while you sleep

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Listening & Vocabulary Building using Hormones (Thai Drama): Final Season Episode 3 Part 2/6

Hormones 3, The Final Season Episode 3 Part 2/6…

Main characters: Ms. Pasarapa, Jane
Segment Time: 4:40—8:10

Background: In the last lesson, Jane and her classmates were studying English in Ms. Ying’s high school English class. Ms. Ying is a very traditional teacher and is overly strict with her students. In this clip, Jane and her classmates are meeting their music teacher, Ms. Pasarapa, on the first day of the semester. Kruu Pasapara is totally the opposite of Khruu Ying and tries to motivate her students by using informal language and humor.

Note 1: This clip is quite difficult. You shouldn’t expect to understand or learn everything. Just focus on the things that are easy enough for you at your level or which you find interesting. I promise the next lesson will be much easier.

Note 2: This clip has English subtitles, which you should turn off, at least for the first few viewings. I have put my own English translation at the end of the dialog below so that the exercise is not too easy. Try not to look at the English until you have tried to study the text on your own.

Answers: The answers to the exercise can be found at the very bottom of this page.

Transliteration: Download the pdf to get both Thai script and transliteration.


  1. Learn the vocabulary below.
  2. Watch the scene 2-3 times with subtitles covered.
  3. Read the script and try to fill in the missing words without using the video.
  4. Watch the video again to check your answers.
  5. Next, read the English translation towards the end of this post to help you.
  6. Check your answers (found at the bottom of this post).
  7. Try shadowing a few of the easy phrases and short sentences from the video. Shadowing is simply pausing the video after you hear a target phrase and then repeating it. For example, stop the video after you hear “นั่งลง (sit down)” and say it out loud.

Important Vocabulary:

ไง: What’s up?; Hi.
แนะนำตัว: introduce oneself
สั้นๆ: brief; short
ฝากเนื้อฝากตัว: entrust one to someone’s care; become dependent on someone
ทาย: guess; predict; forecast
คะแนน: point; grade (score)
คนละ: (to) each; each differently
เนี่ย: informal emphasis particle
ย่อมาจาก: short for (abbreviated)
ความเร็ว: speed
ป่ะ: shortened, informal form of ‘หรือเปล่า’, ‘rěubplàao’ (or not?)
เลขคู่: even number
ตบมือ: clap; applaud; give someone a hand
รู้สึกยังไงกับ…: How do you feel about…?

เสียง: sound
วิชาดนตรี: music class
เครื่องดนตรี: musical instrument
กลอง: drums
กีต้าร์: guitar
ฟัง: listen
ได้ยิน: hear
เพลง: song
ได้ยิน: hear
เพลง: song
จังหวะ: beat; rhythm
สามสิบ: 30
หนึ่งร้อย: 100
ร้อยยี่สิบ: 120
สี่ร้อย: 400


นักเรียน: นักเรียนเคารพ

นักเรียน: สวัสดีครับ/สวัสดีค่ะ

ครูภัสราภา: ไง กินข้าวกันมาอิ่มๆ จะหลับแล้วเหรอ
…แยกย้ายกันไปนอนป่ะ ครูว่าครูก็ง่วงๆเหมือนกันนะเนี่ย
…เฮ้ย ตื่นมาวัยรุ่น
…ครูจะมาสอน ___ (1) สากล
…ถ้ายังไง ฝากเนื้อฝากตัวด้วยนะจ๊ะ

นักเรียน: ครับ/ค่ะ

ครูภัสราภา: เอามา…
…เดี๋ยววันนี้นะครูจะเปิด ___ (2)ให้ฟัง
…แล้วให้ช่วยกันทายว่าเสียงดนตรีที่ ___ (3)
เนี่ยมันเกิดมาจาก ___ (4) ชนิดไหนบ้าง

นักเรียน: เจย็ด…วัยรุ่นว่ะ เพราะอะไร (ร้องเพลงอยู่)

ครูภัสราภา: ดูๆๆๆๆๆ เมื่อกี้อ่ะคือ ___ (5) อะไร

นักเรียน: ___ (6) คับ

ครูภัสราภา: ครึ่งคะแนน…เกือบแล้ว

นักเรียน: กีต้าร์โปร่งฮะ

ครูภัสราภา: ถูกต้อง แบ่งคะแนนคนละครึ่งนะจ๊ะ ___ (7) ต่อนะ
ได้ยินไหม ตุบๆ เสียงอะไร

นักเรียน: ___ (8) ละคับ เสียงกิกๆคือเสียง hi-hat เสียงตุบๆคือเสียงเบส
ดรัม เสียงแปะๆคือเสียงตบมือ
แต่น่าจะเป็นเสียงแซัมฮะ… เสียงกลองจากคอมคับ

ครูภัสราภา: โอ้โฮ นี้พวกเธอนี้มันเด็กเก่งเรื่องดนตรีเนี่ย เหอ รู้ละเนี่ย เชื่อได้
…มา งั้นครูขอยากขึ้นอีกนิดนึงนะ
…ใครเคย ___ (9) คำนี้บ้าง

…‘BPM’ย่อมาจากอะไร Beat Per Minute มันคือหน่วยวัด tempo หรือว่า
ความเร็วของ ___ (10) มันคือการนับว่าในเพลงเนี่ยมี ___ (11)

…ลองนึกภาพตามนะ: หนึ่งสองสามสี่ห้าหกเจ็ดแปด
เก็ตป่ะ คำถามคือ ___ (12) เนี้ย BPM คือเท่าไหร่ เอ้าเร็ว!

นักเรียน: ___ (13) คับ

ครูภัสราภา: ช้าไป นิดนึง

นักเรียน: ___ (14) ค่ะ

ครูภัสราภา: ใกล้ละๆ

นักเรียน: ___ (15) คับ

ครูภัสราภา: บอกว่าใกล้แล้ว ใครตอบได้บ้าง

เจน: ___ (16) ค่ะ

ครูภัสราภา: เฮ้ย ถูกต้องเลยอ่ะ มั่วถูกป่ะเนี่ยเหอ

เจน: หนูลองนับหนึ่งสองสามสี่ตามที่ครูบอกค่ะ และเข็มวิ
มันก็ลงที่เลขคู่พอดี แปลว่าหนึ่งวิก็มีสอง ___ (17) หนึ่งนาทีก็เลย
___ (18) ค่ะ

ครูภัสราภา: โอ้โฮ ตบมือให้เพื่อนหน่อย เชื่อได้ละนะ ชื่ออะไรจ๊ะ

เจน: เจนค่ะ

ครูภัสราภา: เจนอ่ะ เก่งนะเนี่ย ไอ้พวกนั้นตอบไม่ได้สักคน
เอามามากลับมา… เรื่องของสุนทรีแห่งการฟังเพลง
ทุกคนหลับตา นี้ครูจะเปิดเพลงให้ ___ (19) นะจ๊ะ แล้วเดี๋ยวครูจะถามว่า
แต่ละคนเนี่ยรู้สึกยังไงกับ ___ (20) นี้บ้าง

English Translation:

Student: Students—show respect.

Students: Good afternoon. (Literally ‘Hello’)

Ms. Pasarapa: What’s up? Are you all full? Are you gonna fall asleep?
…You wanna go and get some sleep? I think I’m feeling a bit sleepy, too!
…Hey! Wake up kids! (Literally: teenagers)
…First, I’d like to introduce myself.
…My name’s Pasarapa.
…You can call me ‘Ms. Louktarn’ for short.
…I’ll be teaching you music.
…In any case…How do you do? (Literally: Entrust yourselves to me).

Students: Okay.

Ms. Pasarapa: Alright guys…
…Today I’m going to play a song for you.
…and have you guys guess what kind of musical instrument the sound you hear comes from.

Student: Whoa! She rocks! (Literally: Fuck! Teenager!) Why? (singing)

Ms. Pasarapa: Duu duu duu duu duu (that you heard) just then… what sound was that?

Student: A guitar.

Ms. Pasarapa: Half a point…almost!

Student: An acoustic guitar.

Ms. Pasarapa: That’s correct! Each person gets half a point. (Literally: shares half a point). Listen some more. Do you hear that? Dum dum—what’s that sound?

Student: The drums. The tick tick is the hi-hat.The dum dum is the bass drum. The clap clap is clapping. But they are probably digital drum samples.

Ms. Pasarapa: Wow!! Hey, are you guys musicians or what? You guys are good, I can tell.
…Okay, allow me to make it a bit harder (this time).
…Has anyone heard this word before?
…What does BPM stand for? Beats per Minute. It’s a unit of measurement for the tempo or speed of the song. It’s a count of, in a song, how many total beats there are in one minute.
…Try to visualize it: 12345678. Got it? The question is… what is the BPM of this song?
Come on! (Literally: Oh, hurry up!)

Student: Thirty.

Ms. Pasarapa: Too slow. A bit more.

Student: 100.

Ms. Pasarapa: Close! Close!

Student: 400.

Ms. Pasarapa: I said close! Can anyone guess?

Jane: 120.

Ms. Pasarapa: Wow! Exactly! Just a wild guess, huh?

Jane: I tried counting 1 2 3 4 like you told us to. Just then the second hand landed on an even number, which means in one second there are two beats. So in 1 minute there are 120.

Ms. Pasarapa: Wow! Give your friend a hand! That was good! What’s your name?

Jane: Jane.

Ms. Pasarapa: Jane? That was good! Not even one of those guys (musicians) could answer!
Alright guys… now it’s time for music appreciation. Everyone close your eyes. I’m going to play another song for you. And then I’ll ask each person how they feel about the song.

Additional Notes:

1. เจย็ด: this is a vulgar word which derives from ‘เย็ด’, meaning ‘fuck’. He most likely adds the ‘J’ sound for emphasis.
2. ถ้ายังไง: “If any case; Anyway…”
3. เชื่อได้: seems to be some kind of slang which means “That was good!”
4. เก็ตป่ะ: “Got it?” Get comes from the English ‘get’.
5. วิชาดนตรีสากล: (music class) is the full formal name for this subject.


1. วิชาดนตรี 2. เพลง 3. ได้ยิน 4. เครื่องดนตรี 5. เสียง 6. กีต้าร์ 7. ฟัง 8. กลอง 9. ได้ยิน 10. เพลง 11. จังหวะ 12. เพลง 13. สามสิบ 14. หนึ่งร้อย 15. สี่ร้อย 16. ร้อยยี่สิบ 17. จังหวะ 18. ร้อยยี่สิบ 19. ฟัง 20. เพลง

REMINDER: Download the pdf to get both Thai script and transliteration.

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Listening & Vocabulary Building using Hormones (Thai Drama): Final Season Episode 2 Part 1/6

Hormones 3, The Final Season Episode 2 Part 1/6

EDIT: This video has already been taken offline – if you find it on Youtube, please contact me.

Main characters: Jane, Ms. Ying

Segment Time: 9:34—12:20

Background: Jane, a high school student, has recently returned to Bangkok after having studied abroad (in New York) for two years. This scene takes place in her English class.

Note: This clip has English subtitles, which you should turn off, at least for the first few viewings. I have put my own English translation at the end of the dialog below so that the exercise is not too easy. Try not to look at the English until you have tried to study the text on your own.

Answers: The answers can be found at the very bottom of this page.
Transliteration: Download the pdf to get both Thai script and transliteration.


  1. Learn the vocabulary below.
  2. Watch the scene 2-3 times with subtitles covered.
  3. Read the script and try to fill in the missing words without using the video.
  4. Watch the video again to check your answers.
  5. Next, read the English translation towards the end of this post to help you.
  6. Check your answers (found at the bottom of this post).
  7. Try shadowing a few of the easy phrases and short sentences from the video. Shadowing is simply pausing the video after you hear a target phrase and then repeating it. For example, stop the video after you hear “นั่งลง (sit down)” and say it out loud.

Important Vocabulary:

แบบฝึกหัด: exercise (homework or in-class assignment)
แปล: translate; mean (something)
ตัวอย่าง: an example; a model
สัมภาษณ์(งาน): (job) interview
เสนอตำแหน่ง: offer a position/job
โมโหร้าย: hot-tempered
อนุญาต: permit; allow; excuse
เมืองนอก: abroad; foreign country
พิจารณา: consider; take into account
บริบท: context
ใหญ่หลวง: huge; enormous; big; big time
กิริยามารยาท: manners; etiquette; politeness; decorum
สัมมาคารวะ: respect; esteem; politeness (to one’s elders)


ครูหญิง: แบบฝึกหัดที่ครูเพิ่งจะแจกพวกเธอไป
ครูต้องการ ____ (1) เธอแปลประโยคสั้นๆจำนวนห้าสิบ
ประโยค ครูจะแปลข้อหนึ่งเป็นตัวอย่าง จด ____ (2)
 ทัน ถ้าพวกเธออยากมีงานทำน้อยลงหนึ่งข้อ
(reads out #1 in English first)

ริชาร์ดไปสัมภาษณ์งานเพราะบริษัทบอก ____ (3) จะสามารถเสนอตำแหน่งดีๆ ____ (4) กับเขาได้ แต่ระหว่างสัมภาษณ์งานเขารู้ตัว ____ (5) มีโอกาสไม่มากนัก 
ผู้จัดการ…ผู้จัดการ…full of hot air…ผู้จัดการเป็นพวกโมโหร้าย

เจน: ขออนุญาตค่ะ

ครูหญิง: มีอะไรนางสาวเจน ลุกขึ้นพูด

เจน: หนู ____ (6) ครูแปล ____ (7) นะค่ะ

ครูหญิง: ฉันเป็นครูสอนภาษาอังกฤษมายี่สิบปี
เธอน่ะยังเกิดมา ____ (8) นานเท่านั้นเลย อย่าคิด ____ (9) เรียนเมืองนอก

เจน: หนู ____ (10) บอกว่าตัวเองฉลาดค่ะ หนูแค่บอก ____ (11) ครูแปล ____ (12) ถ้าครูแปลผิดแล้วปล่อยไปแบบนี้เนี่ยคนอื่นก็ต้องจำผิดสิค่ะ

ครูหญิง: ในการแปลประโยคจะต้องพิจารณาจากบริบท ‘hot air’ ในที่นี่หมายถึง

เจน: หนูเซิร์ชแล้วค่ะ ‘full of hot air’ เป็นสำนวน แปล ____ (13) ‘talking nonsense’ ค่ะ

ครูหญิง: ยังไงก็แล้วแต่ ปัญหาอันใหญ่หลวงของเธอก็คือเรื่องกิริยามารยาท ถ้าจะ ____ (14) มีสัมมาคารวะแบบนี้เธอก็คงอยู่ที่นี่ ____ (15) หรอก กลับเมืองนอก 
(?can’t catch this word) ของเธอไปเถอะ นั่งลง คุยอะไรกัน ทำงานไป

English Translation:

Ms. Ying: The assignment (exercise) I just passed out to you — I’d like you to translate fifty short paragraphs (sentences). I’ll translate #1 for you as an example. If you want one less to do, (keep up with me and) write this (one) down.

“Richard went on (sic=to) the job interview because the company said they would be able to offer him a good position. But during the interview, he realized there is not much opportunity. The manager was just full of hot air.”

Jane: Excuse me.

Ms. Ying: What is it Jane? Stand up and speak.

Jane: I think you translated it incorrectly.

Ms. Ying: I’ve been an English teacher for 20 years. You weren’t even born yet (when I started teaching). Don’t think that (just) because you studied abroad, you can come here and act like you are smarter than people here.

Jane: I didn’t say that I’m smart. I just said that you translated (it) wrong. If you translate it wrong, and then just let it go, then others will remember what’s incorrect.

Ms. Ying: When translating a sentence, you must take into account (consider) the context. In this context, ‘hot air’ means being ‘hot-tempered’.

Jane: I googled it already. ’Full of hot air’ is an idiom which means ‘talk nonsense’.

Ms. Ying: In any event, your huge problem is your manners. If you show no respect like this, you surely can’t fit in here. Go back to your country. Sit down. What are you talking about?! Do your work!

Answers: 1. ให้ 2. ให้ 3. ว่า 4. ให้ 5. ว่า 6. ว่า 7. ผิด 8. ไม่ 9. ว่า 10. ไม่ได้ 11. ว่า 12. ผิด 13. ว่า 14. ไม่ 15. ไม่ได้

REMINDER: Download the pdf to get both Thai script and transliteration.

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Translating Thai Song Lyrics: How I Do It, and You Can Too!

Translating Thai Song Lyrics

Translating Thai Song Lyrics: How I Do It, and You Can Too!…

Hi, It’s Ann Norman of CarabaoinEnglish.com. I’ve made it a project to translate as many Carabao คาราบาว and Aed Carabao แอ๊ด คาราบาว songs into English as I can before I die or get bored, whichever comes first.

I’ve finished about 150 songs out 1,000+ existing songs (more are being written each week). I’m having lots of fun and I’ve decided to share my translating secrets with you, so you can have just as much fun translating your favorite Thai songs into English.

Step 1A: Google for lyrics and plug everything into Thai2English.com…

Note: please download the T2E Software (a wonderful resource) if you have Windows.

Goggle for lyrics using the song title and name of the band, which you have copied and pasted from a YouTube + “เนื้อเพลง” (lyrics). The band I follow is famous, and the lyrics are almost always online.

Next plug your lyrics into Thai2English. This word-by-word translation program is WONDERFUL and the only reason I can do any of this. It is also very glitchy.

Read the output and be prepared to mentally override half of what comes out, especially homonyms. For instance, my Thai2English guesses that each instance of ตา (“dtaa”) probably means “grandmother.” (In song lyrics, it almost always means “eye.”) The program is also easily confused by the word ได้ /dai/ when it does not mean “get or receive” but instead plays a grammatical role in the sentence–as it so often does.

So plug in your lyrics and read the Thai2English output with your brain in gear, combining their huge hints with your existing knowledge of the language.

Step 1B: Re-divide the words in the Thai2English box…

When output is nonsensical, help the program by breaking up the words yourself, and try again. Run the words through in different groups.

Words that sound alliterative probably go together. If you have a combined word that sounds like “bliap-blong” (a made-up example) it’s a good bet that the “blong” part just adds flavor to the meaning of “bliap,” and vice versa. The meaning of “bliap-blong” will be probably be similar to the meaning of the two one-syllable words separately. (The word เปรียบเทียบ /bpriap-tiap/ is a real life example. Each part means “compare” and so does the whole word.)

Unfortunately it can also work the other way. Two words you totally understand as separate words can go together to make a new word or meaning that you don’t know. Just recently, I discovered that ก็ /gor/ and ตาม /dtaam/ (“also” and “follow”) go together (ก็ตาม) to mean “no matter.” Thai2English will make wild guesses about which sets of words go together. Redivide the words into different sets and see if that gets you a more sensible answer from Thai2English.

And watch out for tricky divisions like “mai bliap mai blong” used to mean “mai bliapblong” (I am using my made-up word in this example). Below are some examples of this pattern from actual song lyrics:

สักวี่สักวัน /sak wee sak wan/ = สักวี่วัน sak weewan (even one day)
ตามเหตุตามผล /dtam hayt dtaam pon/ = ตามเหตุผล (dtaam hayt-pon) (according to the reasons)
ไม่อดไม่ทน /mai ot mai ton/ = ไม่อดทน (not bear up [under pressure])

Throughout, keep in mind this is POETRY; the songwriter will be playing with words—to make a joke, to be alliterative, to surprise.

Step 2: Google Translate…

Google translate is notoriously horrible at translating Thai sentences. However, it is actually REALLY good at translating individual words and sometimes phrases of up to 3 words. Take your problem words and phrases to google translate, and look at the suggestions there.

Step throughout: Decipher any English loanwords…

A long word that doesn’t sound very Thai probably isn’t. And it might be English. Close your eyes and relax; the answer might come to you. My favorite example: In a song titled “Santana Carabao” (referring to the bands Santana and Carabao): I had the mystery line:

ฮูสสต๊อกได้บอกเล่าเรื่องราว ถนนสายดนตรี ฮิปปี้ร๊อคแอนด์โรล
hoo satook dâai bòk lâo rêuang raao tà-nŏn săai don-dtree híp-bpêe rók aen rohn.

The English loan words “hippie” and “rock and roll” were easy to hear, and I quickly got: “Hoo-satook” told the story of the path of music: Hippie, rock and roll.

But who or what is “hoo-satook”? The answer came to me days later as I watched a tribute to Carlos Santana on a music awards show. I learned that he had achieved stardom playing at the famous music festival … (I’ve written it here backwards): “kcotsdooW”.

Step 3: Use Google images…

Translating Thai Song LyricsThis is a really slick TRICK. Take your mystery words and phrases to google images and see hundreds of pictures of what your string of letters might mean. And prepare yourself for anything. Because maybe Thai2English hid the meaning of these words from you for a reason. I have unwittingly requested images of “shot in the head,” “trampled,” and “crotch itch” in the process of translating Carabao songs.

And yes, the word “crotch itch” (สังคัง /sang-kang/) appears in several Carabao songs, probably because it is alliterative with the word “society” (สังคม /sang-kom/). So these words can be paired to good effect in a protest song: “อนาถหนาสังคมสังคัง” “Pitiful diseased society!” (Or something . . . I am open to suggestions!)

Googling images is the only way to go when your song mentions an exotic tree, flower, or food that English speakers have no name for. Even if you can’t explain your findings to the next person, at least you will know that that tree in this song has bright orange flowers, or that the snacks Aed Carabao is singing about his mother making are those Chinese kanom with mung beans in the middle.

Google images is the only way to match proper names to faces or brand names to products.

My favorite google image translation story: I was translating the lyrics of a brand new, song—a gorgeous melody with just voice and piano, called “Yaak Daiyin” ([What Words Would You] Like to Hear?]:

The verse was falling out beautifully:

“We have mountains, rivers, and oceans. We have all kinds of animals sharing the habitat. There are humans, there is you and me. Here is paradise: the one and only world right here. They say that our world is equal to the tip of the mustache of a shelled slug . . . . “

YIKES! It seemed all the poetry had come to a screeching halt with the mention of the mustached slug. But, then I thought, “He says ‘They say . . .” so it’s a saying. There WILL be pictures.” I googled “tip of the mustache of a shelled slug”: ปลายหนวดหอยทาก.


LOOK AT THOSE little translucent balls on the tip of the antennae of the snail! And, no, they are not really antennae. A mouth is in the middle, so why not call it a mustache? And so, like magic, the rest of the verse falls out:

“They say that our world amounts to the tip of the antennae of a snail, that life is cheaply tossed away like a cigarette butt. We must learn about our hearts and minds; release the spirit to cross the bridge to freedom.”

Step 4: Google the meaning of a word IN THAI and read the answer in Thai..

Note: if necessary, use Thai2English.

Plug your word into google search. My untranslatable word is “แว่บ”. When I plug that into google search, the helpful search suggestions includes “แว่บ แปลว่า” (“’weip’ translates as”). Other suggestions may be “BLANK คืออะไร” (“What is BLANK?”) or “BLANK หมายถึงอะไร” (“What does BLANK mean?”) click on one of those.

In this case the Thai dictionary online says: “ปรากฏให้เห็นชั่วประเดี๋ยวหนึ่งก็หายไป เช่น แสงไฟจากรถดับเพลิงแวบเข้าตามาเดี๋ยวเดียวแว็บไปแล้ว. ว. อาการที่ปรากฏให้เห็นชั่วประเดี๋ยวหนึ่ง เช่น ไปแวบเดียวกลับมาแล้ว เพิ่งมาได้แว็บเดียวจะกลับแล้วหรือ.” Running that through Thai2English (and my brain), we get: “To appear for just a moment and then disappear, for instance the light from a fire engine ‘waep’s’ into the eye for just a moment and then ‘waep’s’ away.”

There! Aren’t you glad we did this like a Thai, and got the full definition? (And if you are really ambitious, search Thai Wikipedia for whole articles relating to your song or its theme.)

Step 5: Beg help from your friends…

Be humble. You are never going to get to the end of this foreign language learning. This is especially the case with proverbs and sayings. There is too much context and history that you are missing out on. There are random-sounding expressions that come to mean a thing for reasons no one can remember. Why does “putting on airs” mean “pretending to be higher class” in English? I don’t know and it’s my language. So go check your translation with the experts, and be prepared for the possibility that your best guess was wrong. And don’t feel bad. It is already very satisfying to just get 85% or 90% of the way to understanding the songwriter’s intentions.

Step 6: Your mystery word might not mean anything, and the odd metaphor is open to interpretation…

A Thai friend recently told me, “In your translating, you might see that many words you can’t find because they are just put in without meaning, but it makes a beautiful sentence!” This is music, this is poetry. There are pretty-sounding words thrown in. There are vocalizations: the ooo’s and ahh’s and la, la, la’s.

Ponder the metaphors but don’t get frustrated with not knowing. Neil Young was searching for a “Heart of Gold.” Aed Carabao famously loves that song. In a recent concert at Khun Aed’s home in Chaing Mai, in the patter between songs, he mentions that although he is a big admirer of Neil Young, he never got to meet him. And if he were to meet him, he’d love to ask him one question: “’Heart of Gold,’ is the meaning like a person is searching for the value of the heart, or something like this?”*

(No, I don’t think it is . . .)

Then he launches into a perfect cover of “Heart of Gold.” When I first watched the concert DVD, I was stunned: Did pondering this question provide Khun Aed inspiration for his even better song “ทะเลใจ” /Telay Jai/ (Ocean Heart), which IS about a person coming to terms with their own heart so they can be happy?!

At that moment I decided never again to apologize for only halfway understanding a song.

In turn, I’m not sure I completely understand Aed Carabao when he sings about the little bird drifting and bobbing, blown by the wind, till it unfortunately falls into the center of the ทะเลใจ.” But I LOVE IT!

Step 7: Stop fussing!…

You are close enough. Don’t overanalyze. Play the song. Listen closely, hum, bounce, and sing along, and let the movie play out inside you.

*The concert is “วันวานไม่มีเขา” /Waan Wan Mai Mi Kow/, the Exclusive Concert at Aed Carabao’s home in Chiang mai. You can listen for yourself at 1:16:4 of this video:

Ann Norman

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Adam and Ben Bradshaw: Farang Rian Thai ฝรั่งเรียนไทย

Farang Rian Thai ฝรั่งเรียนไทย

Adam and Ben Bradshaw: Farang Rian Thai…

Being a fan of Adam Bradshaw for years, I finally interviewed him in 2011. When it comes to speaking Thai, Adam is one of the best out of the many talented expats I’ve come across.

Since breaking into the business, Adam has been involved in many projects involving the English and Thai languages. His most recent (and my favs) are The Breakdown and Talking Thailand. Both are quality shows (and I believe Adam’s drive for perfectionism has something to do with it).

When Adam’s brother Ben (also talented in languages) showed up in Thailand last year they teamed up to produce Farang Rian Thai (ฝรั่งเรียนไทย). During each show Ben shares his progress with learning Thai. That’s awfully brave of him!

At the moment there’s only three episodes but there’s sure to be more soon.

Farang Rian Thai (ฝรั่งเรียนไทย): Episode 1…

Farang Rian Thai (ฝรั่งเรียนไทย): Episode 2…

Farang Rian Thai (ฝรั่งเรียนไทย): Episode 3…

Where to find Adam and Ben Bradshaw…

ajarnadam.tv: Farang Rian Thai
Facebook: AjarnAdamBradshaw
Facebook: Ben Bradshaw
Facebook: AdamBreakdown
YouTube: jadambrad
Twitter: @AjarnAdam

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Kru CAN: Going Beyond Basic Thai

Kru Can

Kru CAN: For those who want to go beyond the basics…

Kru CAN is a Thai Skype teacher with three years experience under his belt. And while I do promote Thai teachers on WLT (one-on-one and Skype) that’s not why I’m sharing his site. I’m doing so because of his growing collection of posts to help students learn how to read Thai.

The posts on Kru CAN’s site teaches Thai from Level 1 (beginner) to Level 5 (advanced). The subject matter is: Thai Vocabulary, Grammar Usage, Easy Story in Thai, Easy-to-read Articles in Thai, Easy-to-read Articles in Thai with Audio, Easy-to-read News in Thai, Thai Language Exercises, and Conversations in Thai.

Note: All posts have pdf downloads but only the audio post has audio. Some posts have keywords/vocabulary to learn, and most posts have transliteration.

Thai Vocabulary: A list of words with Thai script, transliteration, and English translation. Each lesson has an animated banner to help you learn the words. Each word has three cards: Thai script, Thai script + transliteration, Thai script + transliteration + English translation.

Grammar Usage: Grammar samples with Thai script, transliteration, translation, and a vocabulary list.

Easy Story in Thai: Short lessons with three or four sentences. Each lesson has Thai script with spaces between words and English translation. There is no transliteration.

Easy-to-read Articles in Thai: Thai script with no spaces between words, transliteration (IPA I believe), English translation, and a vocabulary list to learn.

Easy-to-read Articles in Thai with Audio: Audio spoken in an easygoing manner, Thai script (separated by word for lower levels only), transliteration and translation.

Easy-to-read News in Thai: Consists of paragraphs with Thai script and English translation. Some have transliteration and vocabulary lists.

Thai Language Exercises: A selection of sentences in Thai script with missing words. Answers appear in the comments several days after the post goes live.

Conversations in Thai: Some have Thai script with English translation, while others also have transliteration.

Personally, I’d love to see audio in all posts. If you too would like to hear Thai spoken, perhaps this will help: Does your computer speak Thai.

Where you can find Kru CAN:

Web: Kru CAN
Facebook: Kru CAN
YouTube: Kru CAN

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uTalk Thai iOS App Review and Xmas Giveaway

uTalk Thai

uTalk Thai iOS app Xmas giveaway…

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?

uTalk Thai

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.

uTalk Thai

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).

uTalk Thai

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!

uTalk Thai

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.

uTalk Thai

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.

uTalk Thai

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.

uTalk Thai

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…

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

Blog: EuroTalk
Facebook: EuroTalk
Twitter: @eurotalk

Btw, there’s a uTalk Challenge going on: Can uTalk a new language in one month? and Why I’m learning Thai in January – a poem. If you do join the challenge, please let us know in the comments, ok?

Once again, Happy holidays everyone – and good luck on winning one of three uTalk Thai iOS apps!

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Feedback Needed on New Thai Product: Read What I Want

Read What I Want

New Thai Product: Read What I Want…

Brett Whiteside (Learn Thai From A White Guy) is looking for feedback on a new project called Read What I Want.

Read What I Want is a tool for helping people learn to read faster by allowing them to access reading materials that they would normally consider way above their level.

RWIW makes use of crowdsourced learner-generated priority rankings on words and phrases so the reader knows what words/phrases in a particular passage matter to them right now and which ones are ok to skip over.

It will have all the standard functionality of definitions, audio, user lists and flashcards. The color-coded ranking which lets the user know how valuable that word is to them. For Thai and many languages, things like police rankings, people and place names, and foreign words can be really hard to figure out when you are just getting started. So for example, let’s say somebody goes through my reading course and now they can pretty much read everything, but they don’t really know any words. They can start skimming just about anything and picking out the blue colored words to learn first. They don’t need to try to figure out the whole passage if they don’t want to and they can skip the crossed out and lower ranked words that they can see don’t matter so much for them right now.

Read What I Want will eventually work with all languages. As there’s a need, Thai will be first.

Process for user interaction:

  • User submits link or copied text.
    • Manually.
    • Via bookmarklet.
  • Text gets parsed by system.
    • Words/phrases get colored (or shaded) by pre-existing (eventually) user-generated data determining the priority “weight” of each particular word/phrase.
    • Audio generation (entire passage + individual word/phrase).
      • If word has existing file → access file.
      • If no — generate via text-to-speech.
      • Passages should be recorded (users may be able to vote on recording priority).

Please take a few minutes to check out the demo site and fill out the survey. Thanks!

Demo Site: Read What I Want
SurveyMonkey: Read What I Want Survey

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Thai Language Thai Culture: Thai Reading Lessons and Vocabulary Building

Thai Language

How I Taught Myself to Read Thai…

As many of you know I began reading Thai long after I was speaking it. Even though I had a good vocabulary I had never seen these words written before. After learning the alphabet, I worked on a way that helped me to deconstruct Thai sentences, analyze the written vocabulary, and then reconstruct the sentences and interpret their meanings.

Since reading Thai is a very popular language activity we thought that we would share the method I used to teach myself reading. In fact, I still use it almost daily to try and improve my reading and vocabulary.

I find that using the computer to practice reading has made things much easier than before. I get my Thai sentences online, use a word processor as a work area, and have easy access to dictionaries and apps.

I have broken each exercise into various steps. Large problems are easiest to solve when we break them down and solve a series of smaller ones.

First we need to find a real Thai sentence to work on. All the following sentences in our exercises have been taken from recent Thai online newspaper stories.

Question: What if you run into a sentence that’s too difficult to figure out? 

Suggestion: Get a native speaker to help you out. There will be idioms and slang that we just won’t be able to decipher (especially in Thai newspaper headlines) and we’ll need help. But I would work on it by myself first by working through each step in this method.

In the first exercise we will walk you through each step with examples. In later exercises you can try out this method on your own. When you have done so and come up with your solution we will then give you a solution, probably different from yours, that we came up with.

Reading & Vocabulary Building: Exercise 1…

The newspaper article shows a file picture of Kim Jung Un. The complete article with the picture is here: เกาหลีเหนือจับนักท่องเที่ยวอเมริกันรายใหม่

The Thai sentence is: รัฐบาลเกาหลีเหนือเผยการจับกุมนักท่องเที่ยวอเมริกันรายใหม่

Listen to the sentence:

Step 1: Copy Thai sentence.

First take the sentence, copy it (Ctrl/command c) and paste it into a Word document (Ctrl/command v). At this time you can enlarge the characters to make it easier to work with. Like this.


Step 2: Separate words.

Deconstruct the sentence into words separated by spaces for easier reading. We posted one method of finding where one word ends and another begins in Does Written Thai Need Spaces. To make reading the Thai script even easier, put a marker as well as a space between the words.

รัฐบาล | เกาหลี | เหนือ | เผย | การจับกุม | นักท่องเที่ยว | อเมริกัน | ราย | ใหม่

Step 3: Underline words you DON’T know.

Find and underline the vocabulary you aren’t familiar with. Each person will probably have a different number of words to underline depending on your vocabulary and reading level. Below is one person’s result.

รัฐบาล | เกาหลี | เหนือ | เผย | การจับกุม | นักท่องเที่ยว | อเมริกัน | ราย | ใหม่

Step 4: Write English translations for words you DO know.

Under the Thai sentence write the words that you already know. This will give you an initial idea of what the sentence is saying.

รัฐบาล | เกาหลี | เหนือ | เผย | การจับกุม | นักท่องเที่ยว | อเมริกัน | ราย | ใหม่
Government | Korea | north | | | | tourist | American | | new, again

Step 5: Look up new words.

Do a PC, tablet, or smart phone search in a dictionary app or an online dictionary of the underlined words (Double click on the word. Ctrl/command c to copy it. Go to the dictionary. Ctrl/command v to paste it in the search window. Hit Enter.

Note: When looking up words you may find multiple meanings. By Step 4, from the context you already know the meaning that best fits.

เผย: to disclose
การจับกุม: to arrest
ราย: an individual (can also be used as a classifier for people)

Side note: การจับกุม can be a tricky one to figure out. When dropping the complete phrase, รัฐบาลเกาหลีเหนือเผยการจับกุมนักท่องเที่ยวอเมริกันรายใหม่รัฐบาลเกาหลีเหนือเผยการจับกุมนักท่องเที่ยวอเมริกันรายใหม่, into online dictionaries, you’ll discover that จับกุม is ‘arrest’, but การ has several meanings. Put in front of a noun or verb, การ forms noun derivatives. On its own you’ll come across task/work/job. But if you get creative and look for ‘arrest’ in the Talking Thai-English Thai Dictionary, you’ll find การจับกุม [n]. None of the online dictionaries I searched through had that combo so do check in more than one dictionary when searching for words.

Step 6: Add English translations for the words you just looked up.

รัฐบาล | เกาหลี | เหนือ | เผย | การจับกุม | นักท่องเที่ยว | อเมริกัน | ราย | ใหม่
Government | Korea | North | disclose | arrest | tourist | American | individual | new, again

Step 7: Reconstruct and interpret.

Now try and put all this together into a complete thought that flows like a native speaker would say. Add the grammar you think is appropriate.

Reconstruct the Thai sentence by deleting all the spaces and read it again, this time with an understanding of the sentence’s meaning.

The government of North Korea has disclosed that it has arrested another American tourist.

Save the word document and go back to it as often as you wish until you can recognize the words that you didn’t know before.

You may also copy the looked up words and keep them in a running list for your own vocabulary studies. We’ll put a list of the new words for Lesson 1 at the end.

Reading & Vocabulary Building: Exercise 2…

The newspaper article shows a file picture of rain showers. The complete article with picture is here: อุตุชี้เหนือ-อีสานฝนตกหนัก+กทม.มีเมฆมากโอกาสมีฝนตก+ร้อยละ+60

The Thai sentence is: พยากรณ์อากาศประเทศไทย ระบุภาคเหนือ-อีสาน เกิดฝนตกหนักในหลายพื้นที่ 

Listen to the sentence:

Now work on the sentence by yourself first and when you have found your solution take a look at our solution below.

Step 1: Copy Thai sentence.
Step 2: Separate words.
Step 3: Underline words you don’t know.
Step 4: Write English translations for words you do know.
Step 5: Look up new words.
Step 6: Add English translations for the words you just looked up.
Step 7: Reconstruct and interpret.

Here is one solution below.

Step 1: Copy Thai sentence.

พยากรณ์อากาศประเทศไทย ระบุภาคเหนือ-อีสาน เกิดฝนตกหนักในหลายพื้นที่ 

Step 2: Separate words.

พยากรณ์ | อากาศ | ประเทศไทย | ระบุ | ภาค | เหนือ – | อีสาน | เกิด | ฝนตก | หนัก | ในห | ลาย | พื้นที่ 

Step 3: Underline words you don’t know.

พยากรณ์ | อากาศ | ประเทศไทย | ระบุ | ภาค | เหนือ – | อีสาน | เกิด | ฝนตก | หนัก | ในห | ลาย | พื้นที่

Step 4: Write English translations for words you do know.

พยากรณ์ | อากาศ | ประเทศไทย | ระบุ | ภาค | เหนือ – | อีสาน | เกิด | ฝนตก | หนัก | ในห | ลาย | พื้นที่ 
| weather | Thailand | | | north | Issan | | rain | heavy | in | many |

Step 5: Look up new words.

พยากรณ์: predict, forecast
ระบุ: to detail, specify
ภาค: region
เกิด: to happen
พื้นที่: area

Step 6: Add English translations for the words you just looked up.

พยากรณ์ | อากาศ | ประเทศไทย | ระบุ | ภาค | เหนือ – อีสาน | เกิด | ฝนตก | หนัก | ในห | ลาย | พื้นที่ 
forecast | weather | Thailand | specify | region | north | Issan | happen | rain | heavy | in | many | area

Step 7: Reconstruct and interpret.

พยากรณ์อากาศประเทศไทย ระบุภาคเหนือ-อีสาน เกิดฝนตกหนักในหลายพื้นที่ 
The weather forecast for the North and Issan regions of Thailand specifies heavy rains in many areas.

Reading & Vocabulary Building: Exercise 3…

The newspaper article shows a picture of two elephants kicking a football. The complete article with picture is here: วังช้าง+แล+เพนียด+ร่วมสนุกเกาะกระแสฟุตบอลโลก+2014

The Thai sentence is: วังช้างแลเพนียดร่วมสนุกเกาะกระแสฟุตบอลโลก 2014

Listen to the sentence:

Now work on the sentence by yourself first. When you have found your solution take a look at our solution.

Step 1: Copy Thai sentence.
Step 2: Separate words.
Step 3: Underline words you don’t know.
Step 4: Write English translations for words you do know.
Step 5: Look up new words.
Step 6: Add English translations for the words you just looked up.
Step 7: Reconstruct and interpret.

Below is one solution.

Step 1: Copy Thai sentence.

วังช้างแลเพนียดร่วมสนุกเกาะกระแสฟุตบอลโลก 2014

Step 2: Separate words.

วัง | ช้าง | แล | เพนียด | ร่วม | สนุก | เกาะ |กระแส | ฟุตบอล | โลก | 2014

Step 3: Underline words you don’t know.

วัง | ช้าง | แล | เพนียด | ร่วม | สนุก | เกาะ | กระแส | ฟุตบอล | โลก | 2014

Step 4: Write English translations for words you do know.

วัง | ช้าง | แล | เพนียด | ร่วม | สนุก | เกาะ กระแส| ฟุตบอล | โลก | 2014
elephant | and | | | fun | football | world | 2014

Step 5: Look up new words.

วัง: palace
เพนียด: elephant corral
ร่วม: join with
เกาะ: to cling to
กระแส: current, tide

Step 6: Add English translations for the words you just looked up.

วัง | ช้าง | แล | เพนียด | ร่วม | สนุก | เกาะ | กระแส | ฟุตบอล | โลก | 2014
palace | elephant | and | elephant corral | join with | fun | cling to | tide | football | world | 2014

Step 7: Reconstruct and interpret.

วังช้างแลเพนียดร่วมสนุกเกาะกระแสฟุตบอลโลก 2014
Elephants and friends join in the fun of Football World Cup 2014.

Interpretation notes:

วัง ช้าง แล เพนียด seems to be a made-up phrase. We could interpret it as “The elephants and their keepers (friends)”.

ร่วม สนุก เกาะ กระแส sounds a bit idiomatic (ร่วม สนุก – “get together for some fun”; เกาะ กระแส “go with the tide”) so we can come up with something like “join in the fun”.

Sometimes reading a foreign language takes a lot of guess work and puzzle solving. And since this is our own interpretation we can go ahead and just disregard words and phrases that confuse us if they aren’t integral to the meaning. This is the basic difference between translation and interpretation.

Vocabulary List:

เผย: to disclose
จับกุม: to arrest
ราย: an individual (can be used as a classifier for people)
พยากรณ์: predict, forecast
ระบุ: to detail, specify
ภาค: region
เกิด: to happen
พื้นที่: area
วัง: palace
เพนียด: elephant corral
ร่วม: join with
เกาะ: to cling to
กระแส: current, tide

Future reading lessons…

I hope these exercises help. If they prove useful, in the coming weeks we will be posting another reading lesson with some more exercises for you to practice with. In the meantime you can use this method to break down and work on other Thai phrases and sentences that you find. Here is where you can find links to many online Thai newspapers: mister-kwai.com/thai-news

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

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