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Learn to speak Thai Language where people know it best: In Thailand


Some say that Thai language is very difficult to learn. We don't agree. As is any language, it is quite easy to learn if you learn it in its country of origin, where you can apply and hear Thai language every day. Since Thai language is a tonal language, in which a word with a rising tone can have to totally different meaning from the same word with a falling tone, the biggest challenge is to develop the right hearing. Plenty of foreigners learned speaking Thai language and get through all every day situations with it, as did the authors of this privately owned Web site.

Besides the Thai language schools you find on this page, we collected information about Thai to English dictionaries and translations, and programs leading to an academic degree in Thai language you can study at Thai universities. One page introduces the books of Benjawan Poomsan Becker, the probably best known textbooks for learning Thai. Some Web sites specialize on the training of Thai phrases and grammar, which are also listed on this site. We also cover is online learning or e-learning, which we do not recommend for your first learning steps in Thai language. For repetition and keeping in training, however, such online learning programs can be very helpful. Eventually, we collected some tips for you how to prepare for the government certificate in Thai language, which equals grade 6 school level.

Thai (ภาษาไทย, or: Phasa Thai) is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai-Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively link the Tai-Kadai languages to any other language family. Some words in Thai are borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer. It is a tonal and analytic language. Thai also has a complex orthography and relational markers. Thai is mutually intelligible with Lao.

Standard Thai, also known as Central Thai or Siamese, is the official language of Thailand, spoken by over 20 million people (2000), including speakers of Bangkok Thai (although the latter is sometimes considered a separate dialect). Khorat Thai is spoken by about 400,000 (1984) in Nakhon Ratchasima; it occupies a linguistic position somewhere between Central Thai and Isan on a dialect continuum, and may be considered a variant of either. A majority of the people in the Isan region of Thailand speak a dialect of the Lao language, which has influenced the Central Thai dialect.

In addition to Standard Thai, Thailand is home to other related Tai languages, including:

  • Isan (Northeastern Thai), the language of the Isan region of Thailand, a socio-culturally distinct Thai-Lao hybrid dialect which is written with the Thai alphabet. It is spoken by about 15 million people (1983).
  • Nyaw language, spoken mostly in Nakhon Phanom Province, Sakhon Nakhon Province, Udon Thani Province of Northeast Thailand.
    Galung language, spoken in Nakhon Phanom Province of Northeast Thailand.
  • Lü (Tai Lue, Dai), spoken by about 78,000 (1993) in northern Thailand.
  • Northern Thai (Phasa Nuea, Lanna, Kam Mueang, or Thai Yuan), spoken by about 6 million (1983) in the formerly independent kingdom of Lanna (Chiang Mai).
  • Phuan, spoken by an unknown number of people in central Thailand, Isan and Northern Laos.
  • Phu Thai, spoken by about 156,000 around Nakhon Phanom Province (1993).
  • Shan (Thai Luang, Tai Long, Thai Yai), spoken by about 56,000 in north-west Thailand along the border with the Shan States of Burma (1993).
  • Song, spoken by about 20,000 to 30,000 in central and northern Thailand (1982).
  • Southern Thai (Phasa Tai), spoken about 5 million (1990).
  • Thai Dam, spoken by about 20,000 (1991) in Isan and Saraburi Province.

Many of these languages are spoken by larger numbers of people outside of Thailand. Most speakers of dialects and minority languages speak Central Thai as well, since it is the language used in schools and universities all across the kingdom.

Numerous languages not related to Thai are spoken within Thailand by ethnic minority hill tribespeople. These languages include Hmong-Mien (Yao), Karen, Lisu, and others.

Standard Thai is composed of several distinct registers, forms for different social contexts:

  • Street or common Thai (ภาษาพูด, spoken Thai): informal, without polite terms of address, as used between close relatives and friends.
  • Elegant or formal Thai (ภาษาเขียน, written Thai): official and written version, includes respectful terms of address; used in simplified form in newspapers.
  • Rhetorical Thai: used for public speaking.
  • Religious Thai: (heavily influenced by Sanskrit and Pāli) used when discussing Buddhism or addressing monks.
  • Royal Thai (ราชาศัพท์): (influenced by Khmer) used when addressing members of the royal family or describing their activities.

Most Thais can speak and understand all of these contexts. Street and elegant Thai are the basis of all conversations; rhetorical, religious and royal Thai are taught in schools as the national curriculum.

To all those interested in multiple foreign languages, we recommend The Language Chronicle, a source for information on foreign languages and how to learn them. And now, enjoy to Learn Thai Language!




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