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The Proper way to learn Thai from your Thai Girlfriend

If your serious about learning Thai and you live in Thailand then the best way to do it is to live with Thai people. The easiest way is to get a Thai girlfriend to come live with you. But why is it that guys live in Thailand for many many years even with a Thai girl and yet they still don’t speak Thai? How is it that guys find a girl and live with her and she ends up speaking English really well yet the guy still struggles to put a sentence together?
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So I’ve had my Thai girlfriend live with me for over 2 years now and she never speaks English, in fact I’ve rarely heard her speak English, though I’m sure she can. I know she understands everything I say and we only watch movies in English with no subtitles but the fact that she never speaks English is how I’m able to speak really good Thai. There is no point in getting a Thai person to run language drills with you, I mean you can do that by yourself you don’t need someone to help you remember words you can only do the remembering yourself. But using those words in real world situations is what helps you better remember.

So in order to get the most out of your live in Tutor you need to set some ground rules. These ground rules are going to help you be at a conversational level in Thai language within 3months. Yes only 3 months. There is no reason you can’t read/write/speak Thai at a conversational level within 3 months if you live with a Thai girl but you have to follow some rules in order to make that happen.

The Proper way to learn Thai from your Thai Girlfriend

Yes learning Thai this way will make you pull your hair out!

Learning Thai Rule number 1 – She only speaks Thai

Never let her speak English! Thai girls want to know how to speak English and they have more to gain by speaking English, job prospects, finding other boyfriends etc. So it is difficult to get her to understand and help you by only speaking Thai. The best way to make her understand is to tell her simply that this is Thailand and it’s more important for YOU to be able to speak Thai than it is for her to speak English. You can train your girl by ignoring anything that she says in English. It doesn’t matter what situation your in or what you really want to talk about you have to put your foot down and say only Thai!

Learning Thai Rule number 2 – You only speak Thai

Getting her to speak only Thai you’re going to have a lot of communication problems and be using your hands and dictionary a lot. That’s OK, it’s supposed to be difficult or everyone would speak really good Thai. So she probably understands more English than you do Thai but you need to act as if she doesn’t speak any English at all and only use Thai language with her. If you’ve never spoken a word of Thai before this might be difficult in the first month but it will get easier every single day. Don’t say a word in English or

Learning Thai Rule number 3 – What is this in Thai?

The last rule is simple and you can use this not only for your live-in girlfriend but for every Thai person you meet. I call it “Ask what it is Thai” and I still use this every single day I live in Thailand. At any opportunity you have talking to a Thai person even going to buy some noodles point at something and ask in Thai “What do you call this in Thai”. Repeat the word they give you three or four times until you can say it OK. If you don’t know what something is called in Thai ask, if you don’t ask you’ll never know. I’ve spent hundreds of hours just doing that pointing at something and asking what you call it. Even in the bedroom you can do this and it helps make conversation, point to the cupboard, the chair, the curtains the door knob parts of your body, parts of her body. Ask what they call it in Thai. When you see and touch things remember the words next time are so much easier.

Learning Thai Rule number 4 – Learn to Read Thai

You must learn how to read Thai. I’m not saying this so I can sell my learn Thai alphabet book I’m honestly saying that if you can read Thai you’ll learn Thai 10 times faster than those who can’t read. And it only takes a month or two to be able to read a Thai restaurant menu by yourself. This can have benefits beyond just eating out by yourself but in every aspect of day to day life in Thailand. Once you have learned the Alphabet at any chance you get to read small easy words, names of shops, menu’s bus time tables, names of streets and places, get your girlfriend to say the word then make sure you can read it. Often Thai words could be read incorrectly and just as Thai people learn they have someone read the word to them first.
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In order to fast track your Thai language skills you need to put yourself in a position where you have to speak Thai. I’ve said before that Thai people can’t teach you Thai and that’s true (well at least I think so) but that only means they can’t teach you to learn Thai but they can be good practice. If you don’t live with any Thai’s then get a Thai Girlfriend. If you don’t have a girl or don’t want one then just rent a thai girl, it’s cheaper than language classes and more fun as well.

If you follow these four simple rules for learning Thai from your Thai girlfriend I guarantee you that within 3 months you’ll be speaking conversational Thai be able to read the bus signs and sit at a restaurant and actually be able to read the menu.

Best of luck learning Thai and if this method works for you please leave a comment below.


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About Chris

Chris founded Living Thai and author of the books Learn the The Thai Alphabet and How to make money in Thailand also the Blueprint for Living in Thailand. Chris started this blog with the aim of educating westerners on how to have the best time in Thailand, to make new friends and to vent his frustrations Chris is also fluent in both written and spoken Thai.

4 Responses to The Proper way to learn Thai from your Thai Girlfriend

  1. Mr. Somchai January 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Yes agree very much with rule 3. Also as an addition to that rule I always repeat the word at increasing intervals in time. Example I pass by a noodle shop with some strange looking meat I’ll point and say an nii arai passaa Thai khrab? They tell me and I repeat a couple of times until I get the pronunciation right. At which point they usually laugh and I repeat again. I think for a minute do I really want to order it? Yes I do. Au moo ghrob kaao khrab (or whatever it is, used it again a minute or two later). They bring you the dish in 5 minutes repeat it again then. When you finish ask how much and tell them in Thai that crispy pork rice was delicious. Then when I pass the shop again the next day I point and say it again just for laughs. I should be able to remember the word for the next 10 days, and if I order it within that time, I’ve pretty much got it stuck in my brain for the long haul.

  2. Doug1 January 23, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    How do Thai’s communicate with texting? Do they use English alphabet to phonetically spell Thai language words?

    • Chris January 24, 2012 at 7:19 am #

      Thai words dude.

  3. Leonard Shelby January 24, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    They use Thai letters for texting. You’ll sometimes see transliteration of Thai language with the Latin alphabet on Facebook.

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