Learning to read Thai

Being Thai-American, I am lucky enough to be able to converse in both Thai and English. I grew up in the United States so English happens to be my mother language. As for my Thai, I have become more fluent in Thai the longer that I have lived in Thailand. I especially noticed that my vocabulary expanded as I worked and studied over the past few years. But, I was never formally instructed in Thai so my reading and writing skills are rather poor.

Recently, I have begun trying to increase my reading proficiency in Thai. The difficult part in reading Thai is that, unlike English, each word is not separated by spaces. This makes it difficult to break down where one word begins and ends. With practice, one is able to distinguish between one word and another.

There are a few good websites offering lessons on learning Thai. One that I particularly like is Thai-Language.com The website offers a lesson section with reading exercises, vocabulary building, listening exercises and quizzes. There is plenty of information for English-speakers with any level of interest—from beginners who wish to learn a few phrases before their vacation to advanced students who may be living, working, or retiring in Thailand someday.

While doing the reading exercises, I noticed that if you place the computer cursor over the word you are reading that word becomes highlighted in yellow. As the cursor moves along, there is also a pop-up showing the meaning of the word in English. There is the option to hide or show the transcription of the Thai text in phonetic English. On the right hand side is a translation of the text in English.

The dictionary section offers a few different ways to find the meaning of Thai words, including a phonemic transcription, reverse phonemic transcription, bulk look up and google translate tool. The bulk look up tool has a handy feature in that it can break down the Thai sentence into words and look them up all at once.

All in all this website offers quite a few tools to help make learning how to read Thai more proficiently an easier task. It’s worth looking through and utilizing this wonderfully free Internet resource.

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