ENGLISHandTHAI is not a "personality" driven site. At Thai Trends and ENGLISHandTHAI, Thailand is the star... not hosts trying to be popular and impressive... not teachers looking for recognition and praise. Our priority is focusing on satisfying your desire to learn the Thai language while taking you on an informative and entertaining journey through this beautiful land and culture.
We also understand that you may just want to learn a few basic words and phrases to get through a trip and satisfy the desire to have a little Thai language under your belt, however, we don’t leave you alone with phrases and call it a day....after all... what do you do when the person actually answers you in Thai, or asks you a question in Thai? We give you the answers to that.
Take "Hello" in Thai for instance - สวัสดี
This is universally shown in English as SAWASDEE.
One additional word that we see consistently (and so have you if you have ever eaten in a Thai restaurant) is PAD THAI, the English translation for ผัดไทย - or Thai fried noodle dish. ENGLISHandTHAI will show you how to order this dish accurately and clearly, taking you to a new level of fluency in the Thai language.
Remember, a tonal language like Thai is quite a dramatic change for non-tonal language speakers and requires different techniques than moving from English to French for example which uses nearly the same basic alphabet.
So as long as you understand that you may be at a natural advantage and pick all this stuff up with great ease, or you may sneer at your parents for passing on the “I need a little more time than other people at this” gene, you can, and will, learn Thai as long as you have the desire and put in the time and concentration at first. All of this is no different than learning to drive a car; thinking about everything at first, then one day after all the days and months of concentrating on the minutia of it all, you find yourself so automated driving to work that you need to scold yourself and change your habits after realizing that you’re eating, drinking and checking your email all at fifty miles an hour in traffic. While the learning cycle is comparable, the great part is that reaching automation, or fluency, in Thai usually doesn’t result in the possibility of running into a telephone pole.
Let’s get moving.... time to learn where the brake and gas pedals are located.
It’s been shown that by the age of 5, most children begin writing letters of the alphabet, writing and retelling simple stories and will learn and distinguish between several languages if those languages are spoken to them since birth. There seems to be a certain innate ability for humans to acquire languages with relative ease in the early years of development. So if you are reading this and you are under the age of 5, make sure you tell your parents to expose you to as many languages as possible. For the rest of us old folk, we have to chug along at a slower rate - and even that is relative since we all have different innate abilities and varying speeds at which we learn.
Thai Language Learning
Now the little ones don't necessarily have ALL the advantages.... those of us over 5 have a language we already know well (hopefully the one you're reading now or the rest of our instruction is going to be a little problematic). Since you can't easily "unlearn" your native English language to truly learn as you did when you were a child, you can make the best of it - and we show you how.
The main reason for this is that the letter ส is represented by an S in English so this is the letter that is used where the ส is used. (ส has a tone associated with it, which we will address)
Native Thai speakers see these universal translations and learn to accept them as accurate translations. After all, they can say สวัสดี just fine - clear as a bell. You, as an English speaker will say what you read (Sawasdee) and probably realize it's not quite what you heard from the Thai speaker. If you listen carefully, and actually you don't need to listen that carefully because it's very clear, that the Thai speaker said, "Sa-wut-dee" (yes, spoken with tones - we will teach you the importance of tones - if the tone is wrong, you are most likely saying a completely different word or no word at all!). So you see that Sa-wut-dee is a much better representation for SPEAKING correctly than Sawasdee. "Wait a minute," you say when we tell you that the "a" is pronounced like the "o" in "hot". You pronounce "hot" one way and your English speaking friend from another country says it more like "hawt". Don't worry, we are well aware of accent issues and cover that for you so you are speaking clearly and understanding regardless of regional variations.
So the positive is consistency, but the negative is accuracy regarding the TRUE sound of some words as actually spoken. For example...