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Thai language

Thai is a tonal language with 5 tones (mid, low, falling, high and rising). The Thai alphabet has 44 consonants, 15 vowel symbols and 4 tone marks. Each letter of the Thai alphabet is learned with its associated object: ก "g" as in chicken, ข "k" as in egg, ฃ "k" as in bottle, ..., up to ฮ "h" as in owl. There are numerous transcription methods for writing Thai in Latin letters, all of which are of limited use in Thailand. It is highly recommended to start learning the Thai alphabet from the start.

Thai transliterations into English can be quite inaccurate, as the language has several vowels and consonants which English does not have. It also does not have a couple of consonants which English does have. (c,q,v,x,z)

In addition, for some strange reason the letters "g" and "j" are frequently mistranslated as "k" and ch" respectively. This is despite the Thai language having the same letters in its alphabet, both of which are pronounced the same as in English. Some notable examples are:

Phuket - actually pronounced Pooget , Krabi (Grabee), Kanchanaburi (Garnjanaburee) , Koh (as in Koh Samui etc), is pronounced "Gau".

Also in any transliteration containing an "h" after a consonant with the exception of "ch", ignore the "h" and just pronounce the consonant. As in Phuket, Nong Khai, Khao Lak , Thonburi and so many others.

Another seriously mispronounced letter is "v". This letter does not occur in the Thai language at all, and is always actually a "w". (Suvarnabhumi - Suwannapoom - being an example.)

Language schools in Bangkok for studying Thai

  • Piammitr (Plenty of Friends) Language School located near Asok Courses are 60-hours of class time and last one month.
  • Thai Language Achievement School in Silom
  • Unity Thai Language School
  • Jentana & Associates Thai Language School
  • Walen School
  • AUA (American University Alumni) Language Center Bangkok. The AUA uses a non-traditional method where all teaching is done in Thai without books or any use of English. Students learn by looking and listening and eventually after a certain number of hours are expected to begin to speak Thai "naturally".
  • Chulalongkorn University Intensive Thai classes. Intensive Thai courses with an emphasis on learning to read and write academic Thai at a university level.

Language schools in Chiang Mai for studying Thai

  • Effective Thai near the Ping river Small group and 1-to-1, online and in Chiang Mai, ED visa

Websites and Apps for studying Thai

  • thai-language.com Reference documents, interactive lessons, dictionary, and forums for learning Thai (website)
  • Thai Script Learn reading, writing and pronunciation of the Thai script (Android app)

It should be noted that Thai Immigration has decided to clampdown on the frequent misuse of Thai Educational visas which at one time could be obtained for five years provided the applicant enrolled at an approved educational establishment. With effect from August 29, 2014, ED visas will only be issued for 90 days. The initial validity can be extended by an additional 90 days three times thereafter, but only for a maximum period of one year.

More information can be obtained by visiting the Thai Immigration website.