Thailand is a very good choice to live, but….in which language do they communicate? This is the first question all we do, just from the first second when we knew we were coming to live here…
Leaving our comfort zone and moving here includes being unable to talk to Thai people in their own language and all the difficulties that come along. From not understanding what we are told, the meaning of every street sign, notice or just price tags at supermarket shelves, or to not being so sure about what we are buying or just feeling useless at the time of asking for directions to find a street or a shop or whatever the situation might be.
So, based on our years living in Pattaya, we offer our experience and research that will save you time and effort.
In this simple, humble way , it is how we are Linking Pattaya Together…
Learning Thai Language
While the Thai language is the official language of Thailand, fortunately, one could say English is its unofficial second language. As more and more tourists and business visitors from around the world are coming to Thailand, English has naturally had became the common linguistic “currency”. But it is also true that more and more foreigners are learning Thai.
It really doesn’t matter whether we came as tourists, residents, exchange students, pensioners or on business, or if we are a wife with a working husband, we all are expats living in Thailand. Being an expat means that we are guests in this country, so , it would be a great whether we speak the national language or, at least, just try to learn a few words and phrases, out of respect for the Thais.
Beyond any doubt, speaking Thai makes our life in Thailand a little bit easier, and also should be considered more an investment than an expenditure, especially if you have a gift for learning new languages, because Thai is surely not the easiest language to learn on this planet, but as we have said, it is essential to make an effort.
If only I’d known…
- We expats might experience difficulty picking up the Thai language as it is considerably different from many foreign languages. The Thai language features five tones: high, mid, low, rising, and falling, each of which changes the meaning of particular ‘words’. Foreigners, or ‘farangs’, unfamiliar with tonal languages often have difficulty pronouncing even the most basic terms when learning to speak Thai, but with some practice, it can be done, many times thanks to the help of local people, who would keep talking to us in Thai while enjoying how we struggle with their language. But it is very worth trying, as Thai people really appreciate our effort and readily accept our poor “Thai“.
- In addition, while most Thais speak and understand the Central Thai dialect, there are various regional dialects, including those of Southern Thailand and Northeastern Thailand, the latter of which is essentially just the Lao language (as most of the population is of Lao descent). In northern Thailand, which had been the independent kingdoms of Lan Na and Chiang Mai from 1259-1939, a distinctive form of Thai is still spoken by the local inhabitants, all of whom can also speak central Thai. But all variants of Thai use the same alphabet.
- Also, to make the whole thing a little bit more challenging, we have to know that Thai can change depending on different social contexts, so we have:
- Street or common Thai (phaasa phut, spoken Thai): informal, without polite terms of address, as used between close relatives and friends.
- Elegant or formal Thai (phaasa khian, 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 Pali) used when discussing Buddhism or addressing monks.
- Royal Thai (racha sap): (influenced by Khmer) used when addressing members of the royal family or describing their activities
So, be prepared to start a conversation and discover with the greatest dismay that you just can’t understand a word but keep trying, it is worth the effort, although you don’t have that gift.
Having said that, if you like to go to fresh food markets, speaking Thai really does a difference, at least knowing the necessary names of the products that you intend to buy.
The big supermarkets offer English tags on their shelves, and you could find some of their staff speaking a reasonable English. In shopping Malls, there is not a problem at all, staff in all shops speak good English and all signboards are also written in English.
Where can we go for learning Thai?
There are crash courses for tourists, more in-depth for expatriates or full courses for linguists or language enthusiasts. Please, have a look at the list below:
Alvi’s home of Thai Culture and Languages
Pattaya Education and Computer School
Success Language Center
Thankful Knowledge learning Center
Text and Talk Academy
You could find an extensive list of Thai language Schools, listed according different areas of Pattaya, by visiting this website: www.pattaya.net/do/index.html#ThaiLanguage
Online Thai Language Courses,Textbooks & Software :
Although it is advised to learn with a teacher in groups class or privately, you always could go to this site for further learning :
Learn Thai Podcast
Thai Girl Talk
The Fundamentals of Thai Language
Learn Thai One on One Online
Free Thai Language Learning Resources Free Thai courses, ebooks, audio books, songs, dictionaries, audio files, videos, podcasts, YouTube channels, alphabet lessons, grammar lessons, cheat sheets, flashcards, typing tutors, keyboards, games, quizzes, study aids, iOS apps (iPhone, iPad, iPod), radio, tv, newspapers, spoken Thai, written Thai. For more information, visit this website: www.womenlearnthai.com/index.php/resources/learning-thai/
Thai 2 English Dictionary
Thai Learning Software:
Desktop software application designed to help students learn to speak and read Thai. You can find more information in the following website: www.learn-thai.com/
Thai language Learning Software
If you are looking for translations from German to Thai and Thai to German, you could consult:
CTA- Certified Translation Pattaya
After living in Pattaya for a while you will realise that there are more, much more than what we just have listed in this page, but to try to include all it is just impossible. We tried to put on the table what you should expect once living here, not to scare you. Thai people are kind and great at the time of giving a hand to a helpless ‘farang” . So do not worry at all.
Pattaya is a city that you must experience yourself. As we do. Every single day is a new experience, a new challenge. But we really hope that we had been of help with the information collected in this page. Although you might find further information when you were already living here, we tried to give you a basic help. If you have some comments, please, lets know. In this way, we will keep linking Pattaya together.