The most effective way to gain fluency* in Thai is to read aloud and listen to modern, colloquial texts.
If you're just beginning then start with simple children's stories about everyday life. Avoid the stories about witches and monsters; and don't bother with fables. Very little of that is relevant for everyday conversation.
Saying that, children's stories are not easy! The language used is often a little obscure and "literary". We are currently producing a number of short interactive children's audiobooks below that have been selected because they're kind of easy and fun to read, and some of the material is useful for everyday conversaton. This page will be updated as soon as they are ready.
If you want to be fluent in conversational Thai then this is the course for you. Everyday Thai for Beginners is sufficient for interacting with Thai people about basic, everyday matters (shopping, ordering food, money, saying hello and asking about interests, friends and family). But now you want to have a relatively fluent conversation with Thai friends and colleagues about their personal lives and activities and their thoughts and feelings. A romance novel is most appropriate because it will usually include all the elements of relating to people on an intimate level.
Sydney Remember was selected for this reason, plus the fact that it's written in an easy, straight-forward and colloquial style, with plenty of modern (and useful) slang. It's also a fun story about a Thai girl from Bangkok who goes to live with her cousin in Sydney, has to deal with visa issues, finds a place to stay, finds word, learns English and makes friends with various characters that she meets.
It's a one-year course, working through each lesson in a relaxed fashion, two one-hour sessions per week with a Thai tutor, a little reading and listening plus an additional 10 minutes everyday building up your vocabulary using Anki.
The interactive audiobook course is designed to be read aloud and listened to one sentence at a time, over and over again, until you can hear and understand each word clearly. There's even a slow-play button! View the hidden English translation by clicking on the icon.
Anki spaced-repetition flash cards
It comes with the 3,000-word Anki flash cards to build up your vocabulary, as well as a convenient karaoke-style audiobook (for iPad/iPhone or Android devices) that allows you to listen to the story being read out to you at variable speeds and repeated several times so that you "get it" crystal clear. It's the best form of language ear training there is.
Once you've finished the novel, you are ready to learn "business" or "commercial" Thai.
"Top" is a young teenager who didn't enjoy studying, but loved to play computer games. He hit on the idea of selling virtual weapons and made a cool fortune while still at school... until his account was shut down for "unauthorized activity". Then he tried his hand at various other business ideas, failing at most of them, but eventually became successful by selling roast chestnuts at various shopping malls.
Until that activity was curtailed.
So he struggled on, looking for other ideas. He eventually hit on the idea of selling fried seaweed, but he almost couldn't figure out a way to sell it commercially. After a string of bad luck and bad judement, he almost didn't get the lucky break with 7-11 to supply all of their stores with his product. He needed a factory, but although the banks would have lent him the money based on his busines plan and purchase order, they couldn't do so because he was still only 19 years old.
It's an intriguing and inspiring story of how "Top" perservered against all odds until he eventually became a "Baht Billionaire", at the tender age of 23.
The language is colloquial because the biography Top Story is based on interviews with "Top", but as the subject matter is about commerce and finance and marketing and production, you will learn how to discuss business in Thai.
- more details and trial courses to follow -
* By "fluency", I mean being able to speak without having to think about it. It does not mean academic correctness and you will not necessarily do well in a language test, nor be able to converse in an academic, university setting.
Understanding spoken Thai isn't easy and it's the culmination of reading, vocabulary-building and ear-training. That's why these fluency courses are designed to be listened to, over and over again, at slow and normal speeds, until you can pick out every word clearly.