How to Learn Thai: 6 Convenient Ways to Learn Thai Effectively

Kelsey Wetherbee Published on December 19, 2022

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สวัสดีค่ะ! Do you want to learn Thai but can’t find high-quality resources that you enjoy using?

In this guide, I’ll show you the most effective methods to learn Thai and the best products you can use to build a complete study routine. We have included everything, from modern tools like apps, online language courses, podcasts, and YouTube channels, to more traditional resources like books and tutors.

The Langoly team has over 5 decades of combined language learning experience, and our goal is to make your experience with languages as easy as it can be. Over the years, we’ve personally tested and reviewed over 600 language products, so we’re familiar with the type of tools that make learning a new language effective. After reading this guide, you’ll be on the right track to fluency in Thai!

Best Thai App

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Try Pimsleur

Best Thai Course

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Try Banana Thai

Best Thai Tutors

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Try italki

There are many reasons to learn Thai. First of all, it’s one of the most spoken languages in Asia and one of the most spoken languages in the world with over 60 million speakers. Known as the “Land of Smiles,” Thailand is an increasingly popular tourist destination. It’s a hub for digital nomads, as well as people who own a business or have retired there. Even if you don’t plan to travel, learning Thai can be useful for talking with friends and family of Thai descent. The biggest population of Thai people outside of Thailand is in Los Angeles, California, but there are also large Thai communities in South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

How to Learn Thai: Achieve Fluency with These 6 Methods!

Learning Thai doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take hard work and dedication. One of the best ways to learn effectively is to create a language-learning routine and stick with it. Studying a little bit every day helps you see steady improvement and remember what you already learned. But, to make sure you develop all the skills you need to become fluent, you’ll need to combine different Thai language resources. That’s why we’ve included the 6 different methods on this list.

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Finding high-quality resources to study Thai can be hard and frustrating, especially if you’re a complete beginner. So, to save you time and stress, we’ve created this list of the 6 best methods to learn Thai. We applied the strict methodology we use to test all the products included in the Langoly website, so you can rest assured that you’re learning the language the way it’s spoken in real life. This way, you can focus on your goal instead of worrying about the quality of the products you’re using.

thai boats

Use the Best Thai Apps

Language apps are a popular way to learn Thai if you like interactive exercises. Thai can be hard to learn due to the many linguistic differences between this language and English. But, with apps, you can complete brief lessons to absorb basic information bite by bite. Apps also offer different features that can make learning new Thai vocabulary easy and engaging. Pimsleur, Mondly, and Drops are three great apps you can use to start learning the vocabulary and grammar you need to understand basic Thai.

Commitment: Low
Price: Low-Medium
Convenience: High

Look at more Thai apps

Pimsleur

Pimsleur is an excellent choice if you want to become conversational in Thai quickly. The focus is on pronunciation and conversation, and you’ll start speaking from the very first lesson. Each lesson teaches you how to apply the language in context, so you can navigate different daily scenarios in Thailand. What I like the most about Pimsleur is that it also includes cultural notes that talk about the relationship between Thai culture and the language. Pimsleur offers a 7-day free trial, and you can also read more about the app in this Pimsleur review.

Mondly

Mondly is a good choice for beginners because you learn the basics of Thai vocabulary and grammar. While Mondly offers a structured lesson plan, you can also choose what to study next and which tools you use, so there’s a lot of flexibility. The lessons are short and interactive and include unique features like AR lessons and a chatbot you can use to practice speaking and writing in Thai. In my experience, Mondly has everything you need to kickstart your Thai studies effectively. Mondly has a 7-day free trial so you can test it out. You can also read more about the app in this Mondly review.

Drops

Drops is the best app to learn Thai vocabulary because it can teach you useful words and phrases for all sorts of topics. One of the reasons why I like Drops is that it has vocabulary lists for topics most apps don’t include, like Halloween-related words and phrases for natural disasters. The lessons are fun and keep your attention with unique animations. It’s a great addition to other study methods, and I recommend it if you want to expand your vocabulary before a trip to Thailand. You can try Drops for free for 5 minutes every day. To learn more about the app, you can read this Drops review.

Take an Online Thai Course

If you prefer structure when learning a language, an online Thai course is a good option. Courses have a set lesson plan you can follow to progressively expand your knowledge. Many courses now offer flexibility and can be tailored to how and what you want to learn. Some involve live classes while others are self-directed and allow you to learn on your own schedule. Banana Thai, Udemy, and Thai by Chom have courses that can help you reach the next level of Thai.

Commitment: High
Price: Medium-High
Convenience: Medium

Banana Thai

Banana Thai makes learning Thai “as easy as peeling a banana.” The school offers several self-directed courses that you can take at your own pace. You can take A1-B1 courses, as well as pronunciation classes, reading classes, and group conversational classes on Zoom. This way, you can truly focus on the skill you want to practice. They also offer private lessons if you prefer 1-to-1 tutoring. There’s a lot of variety, which is why I included it in this list. To see if Banana Thai is a good choice for you, you can join the 5-Day Challenge and receive 5 free video lessons sent to your inbox.

Udemy

Udemy is an online learning platform for a large variety of subjects, but its language courses are some of the most popular. There are almost 400 Thai courses currently available, which makes it a great place for Thai learners of all levels to find a study resource. The majority are for beginners and focus on travel vocabulary, but there are also basic grammar lessons and even Thai for Muay Thai fighters. The courses are generally inexpensive and you can preview each one to see their content before you buy anything. You can search for a course that you like on the Udemy website, or read this Udemy review to learn more about the platform.

Thai by Chom

Kru Chom is a certified language teacher who has created a series of online courses. She uses entertaining content like infographics and videos to teach you the language, and you feel like you’re taking a class with a friend. Some courses are self-directed so you can learn on your own schedule and at your own pace. You can also join live Zoom group classes if you prefer to interact with other students. I recommend this course to Thai learners who prefer “classroom-style” lessons. You can learn more about the options available on the Thai by Chom website.

Find an Online Thai Tutor

Learning Thai with a qualified teacher is one of the most effective ways to study. You benefit from their knowledge and experience and receive instant feedback. It’s the best way to practice speaking and improve pronunciation. Finding a Thai teacher used to be hard in countries where the language isn’t primarily spoken. But, now many platforms allow you to take online classes with a native Thai teacher from the comfort of your home. italki, Preply, and Thai Style are secure platforms that can connect you with a qualified teacher who fits your learning style.

Commitment: Medium
Price: Medium-High
Convenience: Medium

italki

italki is an online platform that can help you find a native Thai tutor no matter where you are. There are currently over 60 tutors available for Thai online lessons. You can search for a tutor based on different filters such as availability, what they teach, and price. italki is one of my favorite platforms to study less popular languages because you can message your tutor beforehand to let them know what you’d like to study. This way, you can tackle the topics you struggle with the most. Most teachers offer a discounted trial lesson to see if they are a good fit for you. You can learn more about it in this italki review.

Preply

Preply is another popular language platform where you can search for a Thai tutor. There are more than 100 Thai teachers available for language lessons. Teachers create their own curriculum so you can study exactly what you want. In each teacher’s profile, you can watch an introduction video, see their schedule, and read past student reviews to ensure they’re the best option for you. Most teachers offer a discounted trial lesson so you can see if you like their teaching style. You can read more about the platform in this Preply review.

Thai Style

Thai Style has group and 1-on-1 classes that you can take over a variety of platforms like Skype, Zoom, or Messenger. For private tutoring, you can buy a package of 10, 20, or 30 class hours. You can take courses to speak, read, and write Thai or buy a course that focuses on all of these skills. They have lessons for complete beginners and for upper intermediate students. In addition to the live classes, you receive access to study material that you can use to continue your studies in between lessons, so I think this is a very complete option. You can take a free trial lesson to make sure you like your teacher and the platform.

Study with High-Quality Thai Books

Books have proven to be one of the most effective resources when studying a language like Thai. They have clear explanations and examples that show you how to structure sentences and write in Thai, which is what most learners struggle with. Now, there are many options that let you self-study Thai and include practice activities and audio components to help you develop the rest of your skills. Thai for Beginners, Thai: An Essential Grammar, and Read Thai in 10 Days are comprehensive choices you can use to expand your knowledge or address specific doubts about Thai.

Commitment: Low
Price: Medium
Convenience: Medium

Thai for Beginners

Thai for Beginners is a comprehensive overview of all the important language topics like reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It has clear explanations and step-by-step instructions that teach you the skills you need to communicate. You start by studying the writing system, and then it introduces basic topics like greetings or telling time. The book also includes tracing exercises and practice material to ensure you know how to apply the language. If you’re a complete beginner, I recommend you pick this book to start your Thai studies. You can learn more about the book here.

Thai: An Essential Grammar

Thai: An Essential Grammar is an in-depth reference book for Thai grammar. It covers essential topics like sentence structure, pronunciation, and the Thai writing system. This book focuses on formal Thai to show you the different grammatical patterns of the language. This way, you can learn how to use the language instead of relying on memorizing conjugations and tenses. While it’s not meant to be a stand-alone book for learning Thai, it’s a useful reference for upper-beginner to advanced learners. In my opinion, this is the best choice if you want to gain a natural understanding of Thai grammar. Find out more about the book here.

Read Thai in 10 Days

Read Thai in 10 Days is a useful manual for learning how to read and write the Thai alphabet quickly. It’s broken down into 10 units – one per day – and teaches a manageable number of characters. There are pages to practice writing the characters and sound files so you can learn correct pronunciation. You can also find short and entertaining texts you can use to test your Thai reading skills. Overall, this is an easy book to complete and I recommend it for complete beginners of all ages. Read more about the book here.

Watch Thai YouTube Videos

Watching YouTube videos to learn Thai is a bit unconventional, but can be one of the most entertaining ways. If you’re trying to improve your listening skills, watching videos narrated by native speakers can provide you with the perfect opportunity to test your knowledge–and for free! Some YouTube channels focus on teaching specific grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation points, much like you would see in a classroom. Many channels focus on Thai culture and travel, which is great if you want to learn more about Thailand. The channels below all have high-quality content that can teach you more about the language and its culture.

Commitment: Low
Price: Low
Convenience: High

Let’s Learn Thai!

let's learn thai

Let’s Learn Thai! With Kanitsa is a YouTube channel with videos about all kinds of topics related to the Thai language. She talks about TV series, has quizzes, and teaches Thai slang. You can also start studying the language from zero with her Let’s Learn Thai series. In each video, she explains important vocabulary and grammar topics. If you start with her complete beginners’ playlist, you can learn each topic in order, which makes her channel a great place to learn Thai in my opinion. There are over 237 videos available and she’s still posting new videos.

ThaiwithMod

Mod is a Thai language teacher who makes videos about important grammar and vocabulary topics. She explains concepts very clearly and includes the Thai characters and romanization of the word. There is a thorough Thai for Beginners series with over 100 videos as well as other short videos that teach useful words, common mistakes, and more. What I like about her channel is that she makes an effort to make the information understandable and accessible to beginner Thai students. She has uploaded over 200 videos and continues to post new videos every week.

Thai Talk with Paddy

Paddy is an Australian who speaks Thai and wants to share his experience with the language. In his videos, he walks around the streets of Australia and interviews people in Thai and English about travel and Thai culture. Recently, he returned to Thailand and started making videos about local Thai culture. If you want to hear naturally spoken Thai, I recommend you stop by his channel. He has over 100 videos and uploads a few new videos every month.

Listen to Thai Podcasts

Podcasts are an excellent way to improve listening comprehension and understanding. They’re easy to study with because you can go hands-free and listen to them anywhere. It’s a great way to squeeze in some study time, even if you have a busy schedule. ThaiPod101, Learn Thai | Motivated Beginner, and You Too Can Learn Thai are excellent options to learn something new. All you have to do is listen!

Commitment: Low
Price: Low
Convenience: High

ThaiPod101

thaipod101 homepage

ThaiPod101 is an online platform and app that features hundreds of podcast lessons that cover language learning topics as well as Thai culture. Each podcast has a transcript and detailed lesson notes that help you practice what you hear. They have content for every level from absolute beginner to advanced. You can try ThaiPod101 for free for 7 days to see if you like it or read this ThaiPod101 review to learn more.

Learn Thai | Motivated Beginner

Learn Thai | Motivated Beginner is hosted by Grace and Edgar. Grace is a native Thai teacher who teaches the important aspects of the language and gently corrects Edgar, who is learning Thai. As the name says, it’s geared toward learners who already know some Thai but are motivated to improve. The episodes focus on topics like verbs, vocabulary, and useful phrases. All episodes are available for free on Spotify.

You Too Can Learn Thai

You Too Can Learn Thai is hosted by Khru Nan who has a Ph.D. in Linguistics. She teaches grammar and vocabulary topics, as well as includes episodes with Thai conversations so you can practice comprehension. It’s a good podcast if you don’t want to waste your time with chit-chat and want to jump into practice. There are over 100 episodes available that you can listen to on Apple Podcasts.

How to Learn Thai: Final Thoughts

Becoming fluent in Thai won’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. It’s important to enjoy the journey, and using the right tools can make your study time pleasant and more effective. Using a variety of resources will help you improve all areas of language. For example, an app might help you learn vocabulary and grammar, but a podcast is better to practice listening. If you stick with it, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’re progressing!

Want to learn more? Check out our Thai resource page.

How to Learn Thai: FAQ

How long does it take to learn Thai?

It takes 1100 class hours to learn Thai to a proficient level, according to the US Department of State. But this number is an estimation and will depend on other personal factors such as your natural ability to learn languages and if you already speak a language that is similar to Thai.

To see how long it will take you to learn Thai, check out this Fluency Calculator.

How can I learn Thai quickly?

To learn Thai quickly, you need to dedicate time every day to study. Consistent practice is key to seeing improvement and retaining what you already learned. You can use a variety of different resources to improve all language skills. For example, YouTube videos can help you improve listening and understanding, but a textbook can help explain difficult grammar topics.

How do I learn Thai at home on my own?

There are many options available to learn Thai at home. One of the most popular and effective ways is to use a language app like Pimsleur or Mondly. You can also take online group classes or with a 1-on-1 tutor to improve your conversation and listening skills. There are new options like listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos that show you how Thai is actually spoken.

How hard is it to learn Thai?

Thai is considered a difficult language for English speakers to learn because it has significant linguistic differences. For example, Thai is a tonal language and uses a different writing system. But this doesn’t mean that learning Thai is impossible. By sticking with a study routine and with frequent practice, you’ll be able to reach your language goals.

How do I learn Thai fluently?

You can reach a good level of Thai by studying independently, but to become fluent, you will need to practice with native speakers to improve your speaking and understanding. You can see if there are any local Thai conversation groups in your area or take classes with an online tutor. This is a convenient option that allows you to learn from home but speak with someone located in Thailand.

How do I learn Thai for free?

There are many ways to learn Thai for free. Some language apps, such as Drops and ThaiPod101, allow you to access some of the content for free. If you don’t want limits, you could find a YouTube channel that teaches Thai or try the FSI Thai Language Course.

Kelsey Wetherbee

Kelsey is the Content Manager and Editor of Langoly. She is a TEFL-certified English teacher with more than eight years of classroom experience in three different countries. She’s an avid language learner with an advanced level of Spanish and is currently studying French. Whenever possible, she loves to travel and enjoys meeting people from all over the world. Connect with Kelsey on LinkedIn.

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2 Comments

  • I’d like to start learning Thai. Is online the best way to start?

    • Hi Sally, in my opinion, online or with a language app is the best way to start. They’re fairly inexpensive and can help you learn the basics. That way you can test out the language to see if you like it.