Speak everyday conversational Thai
in only 7 months of minimal and effortless study
This remarkable program was developed and refined by Wiworn Kesavatana-Dohrs (or P. Som! for short) over the last 30 years as a first year university course in Thai Language at the University of Washington. The "Rapid" version of the course is an interactive, expanded course based on the book Everyday Thai for Beginners (currently available from Amazon or Asia Books for around 800 baht)..
After you've learnt to read with the Rapid Method, it will then only take you seven months to complete a one-year university program.
What is remarkable about this program is that we've incorporated all the minimalist accelerated learning principles of the Rapid Method so that you can become fluent in basic everyday Thai with hardly any time or effort - no more than around 20 minutes of self-study every day and two 1-hour sessions per week with your Thai teacher. (The university course is one hour every day, plus several hours of homework study each week...)
With the Rapid Read Thai course, you already have an amazingly solid foundation that allows you to continuously pick up additional vocabulary from your surroundings and to develop good diction that makes it much easier to communicate from day one.
The follow-on Everyday Thai for Beginners course focuses on conversational phrases and speaking drills. You need to engage a private Thai teacher who will follow the Rapid Method strategy. We can recommend a Thai teacher for you (only 300 baht per hour) who will usually work with you online using Skype, or I can instruct your own teacher in the "Rapid" stragedy to follow. You need someone who knows enough English to be able to interpret (as opposed to translate) meanings between English and Thai, and explain how to communicate within the context of Thai culture – and of course someone who can check your pronunciation and chat with you in Thai, so that you start to develop your ear for the Thai language.
There's a good chance that satisfactory completion of the Everyday Thai for Beginners course can be used as a transferrable credit for undegraduate university students.
The Everyday Thai for Beginners online course costs 7,000 baht ($195/£140/€180) and you should budget an additional 21,000 baht ($580/£410/€530) for the sixty 1-hour lessons with your private Thai teacher (at 350 baht/hour). Please add 5% if you wish to pay your teacher by credit/debit card or PayPal.
If you can already read Thai then see how well you get on with the first few lessons of the Everyday course here. You can also download the first sample lessons in case you want to get started with your own Thai teacher right away:
The Everyday Thai for Beginners course consists of the same material as the book but redesigned to incorporate the "Rapid" method of learning. The ebook is interactive, with embedded audio, so that you can listen to the vocabulary and the sentence patterns immediately. The idea is to progress quickly and effectively through self-study. However, I strongly recommend that you work with a Thai tutor, first to understand each chapter and get your pronunciation just right, and second to practice speaking using the vocabulary and sentence patterns you have been studying.
Anki spaced-repetition flashcard files
The package includes a set of 1100 flashcards using the "Anki" spaced-repetition memorization system that has been especially adapted to include mnemonic hints to help you memorize each word and example sentenes (with audio) for each word. There's no point in learning how to speak unless you acquire a basic speaking vocabulary. Anki will help you do that with minimal effort.
With the top 1100 words memorized, and a little practise speaking and listening to typical sentence patterns, you can communicate competently in virtually any everyday situation.
The interactive clickable audio-book version (with printable PDFs for use with your teacher) and the 1100-word Anki flashcard file is available now
Download Anki for free directly from the Anki website. (Anki costs $25 for iPad or iPhone. Download from the Apple App Store. It's free for all other computers and devices. You need the free desktop version to be able to manage your cards and synchronize with your mobile device.)
Note: there is no transliteration. The Thai words are only in Thai script, so you need to know how to read before this course will be of any use to you.
Building up your vocabulary is an important aspect of the 'Rapid' approach. Words are your basic building blocks for expressing yourself and understanding others. You need them. The more you know the better, but it's important to learn the useful ones, the ones used by people in regular conversation, and that you'll come across in notices, street signs, menus and the internet. Everyday Thai includes most of the important words you need to know. Whatever anybody says about learning only 100 words, or 300 words, you can't really have even a basic conversation without at least 1,000 words. When you aim for 'fluency' in the next phase, you should learn at least 3,000 words.If you choose to work with a Rapid-certified teacher, this will be your schedule: Work through one lesson on your own (50 minutes on day one) just to familiarize yourself with the words and basic concepts. Then work through the vocabulary for that lesson using Anki (10 minutes on day one and two) followed by an hour on day two with the Thai teacher who should explain what's going on grammatically, help you with your pronunciation and practice some simple conversations with you. You should spend the rest of the week doing 10 minutes a day of Anki.
Speech Training. This is crucial yet often overlooked aspect of learning a language – perhaps because it's just muscle training rather than a linguistic exercise. Take a few sentences and repeat them over and over again in a loud and exaggerated way (don't be shy!) until you can say them quickly and accurately without thinking. The idea is to develop strength and fine motor control so that you mouth and tongue operate automatically. Do it for one sentence until you can do it pat – like a tongue twister. Later, you can vary the pattern slightly: Can I have a cup of tea, Can I have a glass of milk, Can I have a bottle of beer, etc.… Do this 10 minutes a day, while walking, driving, showering… An excellent resource for this is Instant Thai.
It helps to spend another hour with your Thai teacher around day 5, but this time just have fun. The Rapid teacher guides the conversation carefully using only the vocabulary and concepts that you've learnt up till that point. She also diagnoses and corrects your pronunciation, using the 'speech training' method.
The following week, you then move on to the next lesson. There are 30 lessons, so that means seven months, but only spending 2 hours 'studying' (plus 1 hour doing vocab and an hour or two with speech training and conversation) per week. You get to experience several hours of language learning without realizing it, especially as you can slip a lot of into your day, while travelling or waiting or just as part of having a coffee/tea break. You'll be surprised how much you'll be able to say and understand in a few months, with so little effort.
After completing the Everyday course, you can follow my ‘fluency’ course, which is based on a novel called Sydney Remember. The writing style is straight forward, with lots of typical conversation and slang. I’ve digitised the book and produced an audiobook version to practice listening and speaking. After completing this book, you should be relatively fluent in being able to speak and understand Thai. It takes a year to work leisurely through the book, around 10 minutes a day.
Unless you have a lot of free time on your hands and enjoy spending hours studying every day, there is no need to rush. I’ve designed my system specifically for people who lead busy lifestyles. I also don’t have more than about 10 minutes a day to learn Thai. It’s better to do 10 minutes every day over several years – getting gradually more and more expert in the language – than to try to cram it all in over a few months (and get nowhere, and then give up).