There are many amazing things about Thailand, so it isn’t surprising if you stay there longer than you first intended. If you do plan to stay in Thailand long-term you will have a more rewarding experience if you can communicate in Thai. You will experience a side of the country that most visitors don’t see.
Some reasons to learn to speak Thai.
There are several reasons to learn to speak Thai. If your partner is Thai you may be motivated to learn. As your Thai improves, you will start to understand your partner better. If you live or work in Thailand, you may well want to integrate with the culture. To do this you will need to understand the language. This will help you to become accepted by locals. If you travel to more remote areas of Thailand, you will not be able to communicate in English. Thai people don’t expect foreigners to speak Thai so if you can communicate even at a basic level, you will find that Thai people respond very positively. Even a modicum of Thai language learning will open the doors to an amazing culture.
Do I need to learn the Thai script?
Learning the Thai script is the most important step in learning the Thai language. It will show you the correct sounds of the language. Some of the phonetics in Thai are not used in English and the best way to get on top of this is to learn the script. You can get by without learning it, but your pronunciation will never be precise and it will be difficult for Thai people to understand you. If you don’t understand how the structure and phonetics of Thai work, it will be very difficult to acquire new vocabulary. You will find it almost impossible to distinguish between certain Thai phonetics at first, but once you can do this it will make everything in the language easier. Your daily life in Thailand will seem to open up when you are able to read menus and signs in Thai.
Is Thai difficult to learn?
There are aspects of the language which are difficult to assimilate, and other aspects which will feel quite easy. Thai script may seem intimidating at first but with time it will start making sense, and learning it will help your pronunciation. Thai is a fixed tonal language, so if you use an incorrect tone, it changes a word’s meaning. The Thai language contains some sounds that are unfamiliar to native English speakers, but the fact is that we use some of these sounds in English without being aware of it.
The easy things.
There are some aspects of the Thai language that are actually much easier than English. There are no tenses like there are in English and time is indicated by simple markers. Thai verbs do not conjugate so the form of the verb never changes. There are no plural nouns in Thai, as the language uses classifiers for counting nouns. These things are all very easy to pick up and learn, so don’t be discouraged.