Video on Social Enterprise in Thailand

This video captures a dialogue of several social entrepreneurs in Thailand. The images are of Bangkok and some of the problems we face in Thailand such as pollution, poverty, etc. It is a bit inspirational to those of us in Thailand that want to make a difference in a sustainable way. The video is in Thai without any subtitles.

Learning English by reading The Bangkok Post

In this book review of “You Can Read the Bangkok Post”, is touted as a way to independent learn and improve your English with using a dictionary. The book provides strategies that can be applied to any issue of the Bangkok Post and includes some general information about how to read newspapers.

The review provides some examples of the different articles, activities and content in the book, so you can see how the book is set up before you even go to buy it or look at it in the books store. One thing that I thought was humorous is that the English version of the text is provided concurrently with the Thai translation. This means that you don’t need to open a dictionary, but it also means you don’t have to work very hard for comprehension. I don’t know if that’s a pro or a con since working with the text is crucial. I would prefer an emphasis on using context clues and working with word bases to infer meaning of unknown words rather than providing the translation. Maybe I can use this book in reverse to increase the level of my Thai language vocabulary and proficiency.

Source: Bangkok Post

Thai and Khmer languages

In this interesting blog from the Brooklyn Monk in Asia, author Antonio Graceffo, discusses the similarities between Thai and Khmer languages. He was in a Khmer-speaking region of Thailand when he found himself switching between the two langauges unconsciously. Thai, Khmer and Laos are similar languages in the region and Thai is the linguistic dominant language. Meaning that other people adapt their speaking to Thai listeners rather than Thais adapting themselves to the foreign pronunciation. He goes on to relate his own experiences learning Vietnamese and the cultural similarities that can trigger and influence the learning of languages beyond ligustic similarities.

Buddhism terms in English and Thai

There is a good section in this website on Thai and Lao Language that discusses different terms and vocabulary about Thai Buddhism. It also includes sentences in Thai and translation into English. It serves as a good primer into Thai Buddhism, Thai terms used in Buddhism and as well as practice in reading the Thai Language. It definitely help clarified a few terms for me related to Thai words used in Buddhism as many English text on Buddhism use the Pali words.

Types of Buddhism/Scripture
The Buddha/The Three Gems
Monks & Lay People/Being Ordained
Temple Activities/Language a Monk Uses
Dharma/Impermanance/Four Noble Truths
Path to Enlightenment/Precepts
Merit/Rebirth/The Four Principles


Thai Terms for Character Analysis

There are a number of components that Thai talk about when they talk about the soul and character.

The soul is divided into two parts: Khwan and Winyan. The khwan is the spirit, the essence of life, or the soul element; while the winyan is the consciousness of the soul. Winyan is from the Pali word vinnana and it refers to the part of the soul which remains after death.

To describe character there are three components: Sanda, Nisai and Chai (Chit-Chai). Sandan is related to the inborn traits that a person has, often dealing with a person’s upbringing. Nisai is used to describe a person’s characteristics or personality. Chai or Chit-Chai can be used interchangably with the term heart or mind. Most often a person’s nisai is described in terms of the character of his chai. Sandan, nisai and chai are frequently used to describe or judge the quality of the character of a person.

Source: Thai Buddhist Character Analysis

Thai Buddhist Prayer

Many Thais who practice Buddhism will suat mon, or chant, before going to sleep every night. Saying the prayers starts by putting your hands together in a Wai position, sitting with your knees on the ground facing the Buddha and bowing your head towards the ground 3 times, or bowing 3 times on the pillow. Then followed by these two general payers:

  1. Namotasa
    Namo tatsa pakka-wato ara-hatto samma samputtat-sa,
    Namo tatsa pakka-wato ara-hatto samma samputtat-sa,
    Namo tatsa pakka-wato ara-hatto samma samputtat-sa.
    ( * And slightly bow with your head to your hands 1 time
    or bow towards the floor 1 time *)
  2. Arahang Samma
    Ara-hang samma-sam-putto pakka-wa put-tang-pakka-wan-thang api-wa-temi, (Bow 1 time)
    Sawa-ka-tho pakka-wa-tha tammo
    tammang namat-sami, (Bow 1 time)
    Supha-thi-phanno pakka-wa-tho
    sawa-ga sang-koh sang-khang na-mami (Bow 1 time)

And then feel free to finish with a well-going wish followed by finishing off with a bow towards the ground/pillow 3 times.

Thai Reader Project by University of Wisconsin

If your Thai learning adventure has become a struggle due to the lack of intermediate to advanced materials, check out the University of Wisconsin’s Thai Reader Project.

The authors have attempted to create effective lessons in the reading of Thai that will help learners progress from the level of basic literacy to reading at the advanced level.

The lessons are based on authentic readings of the sort that learners of Thai will encounter in daily life in Thailand, ranging from basic informational texts to such as menus, timetables, newspaper advertisements and the like, to more complex texts such as news articles, editorials and short narratives.

There are two readers with 76 lessons. Volume I is for beginners up to high readers, Volume II is for intermediate to advanced readers. These are free resources which can be downloaded as PDF files.

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 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.

Learning Thai this Mother’s Day

If you’ve ever tried to learn how to read and write in Thai, you’ve probably discovered that those curvy letters and numerous characters make Thai a challenging language to master. But, as with most things a bit of practice goes a long way to improving your Thai.

This Mother’s Day, try reading a few messages on the website written in Thai by primary students. The difficulty increases with the age of the student so you can find the level appropriate to your ability.


Survival Phrases in Thai

If you have the Top 10 Phrases down, here are some more phrases to help you make your way in Thailand.

I’d like…                                             yahk..

Can I have…?                                    kor…dai mai

Could you give me…?                       hai…pom (dichan) dai mai

Could you show me…?                     chuay bork pom (dichan) noi…

Do you speak English?                     khun poot pha-sah angrit dai mai

I can’t speak Thai.                            pom (dichan) poot tai mai dai

I can speak a little Thai.                  pom (dichan) poot tai dai nit noi

Could you speak slower please?     poot chah-chah noi dai mai

Could you repeat that please?        poot eek tee dai mai

Could you spell it please?                chuay sa-got hai doo noi

Could you write it down please?     kian hai doo noi

Can you translate it please?            chuay bplair an-nee hai noi