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How long it really takes to learn Thai

This is no joke but I learned to type 20 words a minute in Thai language within 3 months! But learning to read and write to a point that I could write an interesting email to a friend all in Thai took at least a whole year for me to accomplish. But how much effort I put into it each day so broken down into hours it took 1200.

Honestly I'm not the smartest cookie in the world and you've seen how bad my written English is so it's clear I'm not the worlds smartest guy. Therefore if it only took me that long you should be able to do it faster. But be truthful how many hours have you actually done?

1200 hours may seem like a lot of work but it's not. You remember Thai better if you use it all the time no matter how small it is, so imagine you spend 3 hours a day talking to someone in Thai with a dictionary trying to say sentences how much more would your Thai be improved?

I speak fluent Thai yet I've never met any Farang that even tries to speak Thai to me, why?

I knew this guy a while back who would always complain that the Thai people around Chiang Mai never speak Thai to him. I'm not gonna call the guy out but just saying if he stopped whining about it and tried to use as much Thai as he knows, everywhere and to anyone whether they are Farang or Thai how much of those 1200 hours would he be eating into? Not to mention how more likely they would be to speak Thai back to him.

In order to read Thai and understand it you need to know how to speak it first!

I always recommend learning the Thai alphabet first because it only takes a few days to be able to start reading simple words. This is your basis and if you don't write the alphabet you'll never be able to Type it. We live in an information world and as backwards as Thailand is they use things like social media more than we do! If you can't Type and read Thai you'll never get to see this part of the Thailand.

How long it really takes to learn Thai

Vocabulary is the most important weapon you have in learning Thai and to be proficient you need at least 8,000 words. I helped you guys out with the first 500 words but the rest is really excercises and remembering the words you actually use. And that's why Thai learning programs and schools fail because everyone uses different Thai day to day.

For example I don't do massage so I would rarely talk about the different parts of the body, well there's one I like to use everyday 😉 But apart from that Nudda! Things like how are you today and where are you going, what have you been up to, wow you look hot! These are sentences you'd say almost every day. If you know how to say these words then from now on don't utter these sentences in English anymore for the rest of your time here in Thailand.

Why you should be repeating the simple stuff

You probably say สบายดีไหมครับ - sabai dee mai krup - How are you?

Where'as I'd more likely say เป็นไง - ben gnai - How are you?

Everyone Talks differently no matter what your language, I'd say wassup bra whereas you may say g'day. In Thai someone might even say to you ดีปาว - dee baow - which again means How are you? Though that last one would more likely come across in a chat conversation the point is if you don't keep using the Thai you won't figure out different ways of saying things.

Why learning Thai enables you to interact better with Thai girls

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About Chris

Chris founded LivingThai.org in 2011 and has received over 3 million visitors. He has lived here for over 10 years and speaks reads and writes very good Thai.

5 Responses to How long it really takes to learn Thai

  1. ChiangMaiGuy October 25, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    it does depend on age too – when I was younger I simply could retain more and learn quicker now it takes real effort to remember the classifiers etc. (took me 3 weeks to get the ‘top 30’ classifiers in my brain) 😛

  2. Fred89 March 1, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Hi Chris
    You said you went to different school and finish all their books, what is the more efficient school for you ? I mean for the day life and can speak “quickly”… Thx

    • Chris March 1, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

      I don’t think it matters unless you are in private classes. What you learn at school isn’t neccesarily what you will use. I know most schools you won’t be able to read the alphabet for 3-6months while those who bought my book can read it in a day.

      • Fred89 March 3, 2013 at 7:58 am #

        Ok but i will apply a visa ED so which school can you recommend ? and which must be avoided ?

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