Learning Thai Language

Wouldn’t it be great if you could converse with all the Thai merchants, friends, waiters, drivers and neighbors in their own language? Surely that would bring you closer to understanding their way of thinking, and provide a more enriching and holistic travel experience. Plus get you lower prices!

The official language of Thailand is referred to as Central Thai or Siamese, and incorporates words from Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer. It belongs to the Tai group of languages and is a tonal language. The intriguing – and for most foreigners – unintelligible script, is based on Khmer lettering, which has Indian origins. Many dialects are spoken in Thailand, and some regions’ languages are closer to Lao than Central Thai, especially in the North and North –East (Isan). In general, these neighboring countries have a lot in common linguistically (over half of the vocabulary and grammar is shared) and Lao and Thai people can usually understand each other. Speakers of dialects and minority languages in most cases speak Central Thai as well, which is used in schools and universities.

If you are dedicated and disciplined enough to brave the Thai language, many language schools in Bangkok will be able to provide group and individual classes. Tuition fees are typically between 100 and 200 baht for group classes, more for one-to-one sessions. Some foreigners eager to stay in the Kingdom, are also attracted by the one year non-immigrant ED visas. These can be issued if you enroll in a one year Thai language course, so long as this course is recognized by the Thai Ministry of Education. So it’s two in one: learn the local language and avoid the time consuming and costly visa runs.

A few recommended Thai language schools in Bangkok include:

-          AAA Thai Language Center (6th floor, 29 Vanissa Bouilding, Th Chitlom, Pathumwan, Chitlom)

-          AUA Language Center (179 Th Ratchadamri), famous for its intensive courses

-          Thailish Language School (427 Th Sukhumvit, between Sois 21 & 23, Asoke, Sukhumvit), which specialises in conversational skills.

 

Most language courses will include learning the Thai script, as there is no universal way of transcribing Thai into the Latin alphabet. Therefore, many versions of the same word can exist when transcribed into English.

 

If you aren’t scared by the challenge of a new language and culture, get out there and master some Thai.

Chok Dee Ka (good luck!)