A great way to learn the Thai alphabet (or any alphabet for that matter), is to use flashcards. Of course, it all depends on your learning style as some prefer to read books, others prefer video, and even more like interactive applications where you can use multiple senses to help embed that knowledge while learning. We’ve got most of these covered and, to help you with learning Thai, we created our our set of learn Thai alphabet flashcards.
Your download is below, but just a quick note on the Thai alphabet and Thailand…
Learning Thai and Thailand
As you may (or may not) know, in case you’re at the true beginner’s stage, Thai is a tonal language. This means that the way you pronounce syllables and words determines the meaning; and, if you pronounce the word with a different tone then it’s likely that you’ll change the meaning. I say likely as not all words are pronounced in all tones, many are though.
As Thai is a tonal language and the script is unfamiliar to foreigners, they came upon a system to help foreigners learn Thai. This system is called transliterated Thai: it’s the way in which the Thai word is spelt out in English.
For example, if you wanted to say hello, in Thai the word is สวัสดี. In transliterated Thai, this is pronounced sa-wat-dii.
However, the way I’ve written the transliterated version doesn’t take into account the syllable tone. Therein lies the problem with transliterated Thai.
So, to incorporate syllable tone, we have to use additional characters. Each different system being another version of ‘transliterated Thai’.
In Thailand there are 12 different version of transliterated Thai.
Russ tried most of them – some work, but most don’t.
In our opinion, the best system is that created by Paiboon publishing company.
It’s very visual; it’s easy to use and understand; and, it easily differentiates between long and short vowels (another component of the Thai language).
So, with the above example (สวัสดี), using the Paiboon system, we would write this as sá-wàt-dii.
The marks above the syllables signify the tone (high for the 1st (/), low for the 2nd (\), and middle for the 3rd (no tone mark)); and the single vowels in the first 2 syllables indicate short vowels, with the double vowel in the 3rd indicating a long vowel.
How Simple Is That?
Unlike other books, our entire system (4 books and 2 apps) uses this same transliteration – you learn it once (and what I’ve just written above is pretty much most of it) and then you’re good to go – all the way through to learning to read Thai.
Then check out our Quest (Quick, Easy, Simple Thai) system by clicking here (opens in new tab).
In the meantime, you can download the learn Thai Alphabet Flashcards…