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Advice on Learning Thai Language for Travel

Advice on Learning Thai Language for Travel

Old Nov 27th, 2005, 05:15 PM
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Advice on Learning Thai Language for Travel

I am planning a two week vacation to Thailand - would love advice on purchasing a Thai phrasebook and audio CD so we can work on some basic communication skills in advance of our trip. thanks
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Old Nov 27th, 2005, 05:44 PM
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I went to my local library and checked out an audio tape of the Thai language. You may want to try there first. If they don't have one in stock they can usually request one from another branch and notify you upon it's arrival.
I also purchased a Thai phrase book (Lonley Planet I think) and plan to do my best to 'speak the language'. There are many phrase books out there, just find the one that is right for you.
I understand that they speak English in Thailand but also thought it would be fun to try my hand speaking Thai while we are there.
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Old Nov 27th, 2005, 07:15 PM
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its nice to learn the language, but may i assure you that it will not be necessary in most of thailand, except maybe in the country...
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Old Nov 27th, 2005, 08:44 PM
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Rumrita1, I bought the Pimsleur series and I have tried out a few phrases in several Thai restaurants in Portland and the Thai wait staff was thrilled that I knew some of their native language.

Some people, including myself, choose to learn some basics of the language native to the country that they are exploring. It isn't about whether or not it is needed.

Also, keep in mind that not everyone spends the majority of their time in Bangkok where English is widely spoken. Many people travel to some remote places where knowing a few words is definitely an advantage. I would guess that you would receive a warm reception any where in Thailand if you spoke a few words of Thai!

I learn a bit of the language of every country I travel in and it widens smiles and opens doors for me everywhere.

Rumrita1, another option, if it is available is a series called "Inflight...". I used "inflight Turkish for my trip to Turkey this year and it was great! I plan on buying "Inflight Thai" if it is available before my trip in Feb.

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Old Nov 27th, 2005, 09:38 PM
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I'm another one who always likes to learn as much of the local language as I can before a trip. It's true that it's rarely necessary, but I really enjoy being able to speak a little of the language, and I do think the effort is usually appreciated.

My favorite language courses are Pimsleur, although they are VERY expensive.

For my upcoming trip to Thailand, I bought Thai for Beginners CD and book, by Benjawan Poomsan Becker, since I was holding out for the release of Pimsleur's Comprehensive Thai couse (16 CDs).

I've found Thai for beginners OK, but somewhat frustrating. You can't use the CDs in the car, since the translations to English are mostly only in the book.

The book does have exercises for learning to read and write Thai, though, if you're interested in doing that.

Because of my frustration with Thai for Beginners, I've decided to go ahead and buy Pimsleur's short-version (5 CDs) Thai course that is currently available. I have yet to find any language course that can beat Pimsleur.

I also bought a Lonely Planet phrase book, but I think that without listening to some tapes or CDs first, it wouldn't be worth much, since Thai is a tonal language and it's pretty hard to learn the different tones without hearing them.
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 12:10 AM
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 02:21 AM
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Thai really is a very tough language for westerners to learn. It's hardly worth making the effort for just 2 weeks. So many Thais (especially in the tourist areas) now speak English, and even if you can speak Thai well, they'll be only interested in conversing with you in English.
However, learn a few basic sentences/questions like "thank you - hello - goodbye - how much? - it's delicious - not too spicy - very good" These words will come in handy, be appreciated, and can easily be found in all Thai phrase books.
I wouldn't suggest trying anything more complicated in Thai, such as directions, travel arrangements or medical complaints because it's way too easy to get it wrong and end up with a massive balls-up on your hands.
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 05:13 AM
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Learning the language may not be necessary but will improve your travelling experience immeasurably. Teach Yourself Thai - David Smyth is very good and comes with a cd or tape. Linguaphone also have a book and 4 CDs which cover most situations a tourist might encounter. As one of the previous posters pointed out Thai is a tonal language and is difficult to learn to speak correctly, unless you learn to read and write in Thai script. The audio aids are essential to get the tones right having said this , many Thais will understand you from the context of what you are doing at the time. The Thais will really appreciate you making the effort and you are likely to get much better service as a result. Also, bargaining over the price of goods in Thai is great fun!
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 10:44 AM
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I have a Thai language series. Can't remember the name of it. I'll look it up when I get home and post later. I bought it at Dokya...Thai bookstore...here in Los Angeles. I'm practicing my Thai,too since I vacation often in Thailand. I think it's great for you to try learning to speak some words/phrases. I try doing the same when I travel. Back during my days at university, I studied 9 languages...basically to use them while traveling. Some of them I remember quite well and some of them I don't. But, I try brushing up on them when I travel so that at least I can still pronounce the phrases out of the travel phrase book if I need to. Knowing some of a language does enhance the experience and people are so appreciative that at least the person tried. Happy Travels!
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 02:09 PM
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I can't recommend any particular books or tapes etc but can't emphasise enough the need to HEAR the words rather than read them in a book. As has been said above Thai is a tonal language and I know from experience that if you say the word as you think it sounds you will be met with some blank looks. That said it is great to see you are making an effort and Thai people will react with pleasure that you should even try to speak their difficult language. Do try to grasp some basic phrases and deliver them with a smile and you will be amply rewarded. Enjoy that lovely country and people!
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Old Nov 28th, 2005, 03:11 PM
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Absolutely, Thai is a TONAL Language and if you don't pronounce it just
right , they do no understand you. The basic phrases, hello, Good Morning etc. are relatively easy, beyond that....!??
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Old Nov 29th, 2005, 12:15 AM
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For travellers who want to pick up just a few necessary phrases, the best series that I've found is the "In Flight" Series by Living Language. I've used both the Czech and the Hungarian ones. It's relatively inexpensive (especially from Amazon) and has an accompanying CD.

As has been mentioned, Thai has tones. This means that you should spend lots of time imitating the tones, not memorizing something else, like verbal conjugations (je suis, etc. etc. amo, etc. etc.); the CD is especially handy for this purpose.

The series is not uniform in quality, but it does cut things down to a manageable quantity for travellers and the CDs are invaluable.

For Thai, there is also the Rough Guide Phrasebook, which I found very useful.
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Old Nov 29th, 2005, 06:06 AM
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thanks everyone - I ended up buying Lonely Planet's Travel Talk Thai - which has both a phrase book and a cd for the phonetics. It was was pretty inexpensive too - I was not ready to commit the the money for a more advanced progam like the Pimsleur.
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