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The best methods for learning the Thai language




Stock photo via Sakon Nakhon

If you are planning to stay in Thailand, then learning Thai may be a good idea as it can be handy and help you survive long-term. Different methods of learning Thai can offer different benefits, and it really depends on what method is convenient depending on your needs.

Learning at a Thai language school

Note: Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, learning at a Thai language school is not available at the moment.

Attending a Thai language school may be for you if you have the time to go and the money. At school, you will get to study with other learners and practise in and out of the classroom. Most Thai teachers also offer one-on-one private lessons that can speed up your command of the language.

Most of the Thai language centres focus on serving 2 different purposes. One is for actually learning the Thai language, while the other is a bit more watered-down version of learning Thai as part of keeping an education visa. If you choose to get an education visa, the class pricing will be higher as it includes the visa.

In Bangkok, there are several language centres that can help you learn Thai. Duke Language School is considered the best language centre in Bangkok. Other language schools that are reputable, include AUA Thai (which features a unique teaching style that was adapted from a famous algebra teaching method). Rak Thai Language’s method of teaching is similar to the Union Thai method, which was created over 40 years ago for the purpose of teaching missionaries to be fluent in the language.

Pro Language School is also another reputable language school to attent as well as Jentana & Associates. The latter school is great for those who want to learn specific Thai vocabularies, such as business, law, etc. Sumaa also has good ratings by former students.

If you are dead-set on getting fluent in Thai, Chulalongkorn University has a Centre for Thai as a Foreign Language. For those enrolling in the programme, you can also obtain an education visa using this route. The programme is divided into 3 courses:

1.Intensive Thai Programme

Price: 28,000 baht

Times: Monday-Friday, 9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm

Duration: 6 weeks

2.Communicative Thai for Beginners

Price: 12,000 baht

Times: Monday and Wednesdays, 6pm-8pm

Duration: 10 weeks

Enrollment period: January, April, July and October

3.Thai for Mandarin Chinese speakers

Price: 27,000 baht

Times: Monday-Friday, 9am-12pm, or 1pm-4pm

Duration: 6 weeks

Learning Thai online

Studying the Thai language online is another popular option. As you don’t have to leave the comforts of your home and can study whenever you want, it is a more convenient option for many. However, your motivation must be high as it is easy to put off studying using this method.

Online learning does have its cons, however, as the lack of physical and social interaction is evident. Immediate feedback from teachers is missing as well. is a reputable online learning platform for Thai and upon signing up, you get a free, 7-day premium class trial. Their lessons are divided into 4 different proficiency levels, allowing you to choose which one you think suits your skills the best. The lessons revolve around using the language practically, as they include everyday phrases that you can use in daily life.

The platform also offers cheat sheets, flashcards, word banks, and bonus apps for additional learning.

Learn Thai from a White Guy is also a popular online learning platform. Brett Whiteside, the “White Guy,” created his system that was based on 10+ years of direct experience and teaching Thai to foreigners. As a native English speaker, he is accustomed to the many questions and issues that non-native Thai speakers may face when learning the language. He also knows the problems associated with a speaker of a non-tonal language learning a tonal language.

His course is broken into 3 areas that are divided over 4 courses. Those areas include:

1.Read Thai

2.Learn common Thai sentences and phrases

3.Understand basic conversations

The 4 courses include:

1.Read Thai in 2 weeks

2.Starter Sentence Pack

3.Need to Know Sentence Pack

4.Talking Thai

Those who enroll in the courses, get access to audio clips, examples, exercises and almost weekly supplemental material by email.

Online tutoring

An online tutor is another great way to tackle the Thai language. A tutor can provide uninterrupted attention, while answering your specific questions. They can also teach you exactly what you want or need to know. As they are usually cheaper than taking private classes, it could be a great way to learn the language. is a great website that will allow you to choose your online Thai tutor. After choosing, you get a half-priced trial hour in which you can try out the tutor and lesson to see if it is right for you. If it is, you can go ahead and continue learning with your chosen teacher. If it is not, you can switch.

Taking private classes

Taking in-person, private classes or tutoring is probably the most effective way of learning the Thai language. As you can clearly hear the tones and get immediate feedback, if you have the funds, it may be worth the price. Bangkok’s Sumaa learning centre offers such classes at a starting cost of 39,000 baht. The course at Sumaa offers 60, 1-hour classes. And, if you just want to try out the course, you can pay for a minimum of 10 classes at 1,000 baht each, and then add more later at a rate of 650 baht per class.

Another option is hiring a freelance tutor. In Bangkok, rates for a private tutor range from 300 baht to 500 baht per hour.

Reading Thai language books

If you like to learn through reading books, this is a good option. However, beware of the pitfalls in learning the correct tones that are used in the Thai language. As you don’t have someone speaking to you or someone to assess your tonal skills, it could not be as efficient as some of the other methods listed. It is recommended to use books as a secondary resource due to the absence of hearing, seeing, and speaking to someone who can give you feedback.

Learning Thai with a mobile phone app

Google Play or the Apple Store can be used to find a Thai language learning app. Just type in “learn Thai,” and you will see many apps that claim to teach you the language. It is best to look at the app’s ratings before committing and try out the app before relying on it to learn the language accurately. Learning Thai through an app or even YouTube is one of the cheapest ways to master the language. However, keep in mind that feedback may be minimal if present at all.


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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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