As you probably know, the Thai language is pretty unique. Speaking any language will require at least a basic understanding of grammar and a sizable lexical memory — which takes time to build up.
So, how long does it take for an English speaker to master spoken Thai?
The Thai spoken language study length depends on the learner’s purposes. If the goal is a daily conversation, it could be done in 3 months. But if the goal is to communicate in business settings or other intricate scenarios, “Effective Language Learning” suggests taking at least 1,100 hours.
So, your Thai study session length actually depends on you. But are there any ways you can shorten the study time a bit? Read on to find out some tricks to learn Thai faster.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Spoken Thai Fluently?
As mentioned, it could take you around 1,100 hours to master spoken Thai. And that’s about 1 and a half years if you study for 2 hours a day. However, these numbers are only rough references for an average native English speaker. Some factors can make these numbers shrink.
Your 1st Language:
If you are a native of other languages, the hours might shorten significantly. Why? Because your mother tongue might be more similar to Thai than English.
For example, Cantonese sentence structures and grammar are close to Thai ones. If your first language is Cantonese or something similar, you will learn Thai faster than others.
Another factor is your language learning experience. If you have learned a second language before, you might have understood Thai linguistic logic faster. Why? Because you have already broken through the language barrier once.
Learning a language is not easy. You have to step out of your comfort zone and wrap your mind around something that doesn’t even make sense initially. But if you have done it before, you will start to see a pattern. And that pattern will help you acquire more languages in the future.
A Bit of Luck:
Finally, your innate language learning aptitude. Some people are born with what many call a “language gift.” If you were one of those lucky people, you might breeze through the Thai language.
With these factors in your favor, you can master intermediate Thai as fast as three months. At this level, you can perform greetings & farewells, introductions, instruction, and daily conversation.
Advance Thai might take longer than that, but you might not need that in the first place. If your goal is to communicate with your Thai friends or enjoy Thai media, intermediate Thai would be more than enough.
6 Tips to Speed up Your Spoken Thai Study
As discussed before, learning a language is no simple feat. But usually, people want to do it fast. So, are there any tips and tricks you should perform alongside your Thai study? The answer is yes.
Here are 6 tips you need to know to learn spoken Thai.
1. Make a Thai friend
This one might be difficult if you live in the 1860s. But it’s the 21st century, and making international friends is just a few clicks away. Just go online and post on your social media regularly. You might attract a Thai person into your life.
Once you have Thai friends, you will be more eager to learn Thai to communicate with them. You can ask them to teach you some essential slang unmentioned in a book. Or you can even let them check your pronunciation.
The most essential advantage of having Thai friends is the exposure to original accents and real-life vocabulary. You will hear it all the time in a conversation circle. And your brain will pick them up fast.
2. Watch Thai Films, Series, and TV Shows
If you have basic Thai knowledge, it is recommended that you give Thai movies a try. You might have added K-dramas to your watchlist already. So, adding one more show from another language wouldn’t hurt.
When you watch Thai media, turn on the subtitles. You might have to rely on it for a long time. But when that moment you notice an error in the subtitle comes, the satisfaction is beyond imaginable.
Learning Thai from entertainment media will make the process less stressful. Reading a book might bore you to death, but watching TV will keep you up for hours.
The recommended Thai movie is called “Bad Genius.” For the series, “Kahon Mahoratuk” is a great choice. And for TV shows, “The Wall Song” is arguably the best.
Interested in Thai TV Shows? Check out our detailed guide on ‘F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers Series.’
3. Listen to Thai Music
With Thai music, you don’t have to go for old folk songs and nursery rhymes. (But if you like them, that’s fine too.) You can listen to any tune that sounds good and resonates with you.
Learning Thai from songs might be tricky, but it will be worth your time. You will learn many “poetic” languages, and word plays this way. Many Thai slang and memes originate from music. So, you will catch up with the newest language trend this way.
And besides, everybody loves music. Learning a language from something you enjoy will encourage you to learn more and more. You might end up becoming a big fan of a Thai indie band.
4. Read Thai Novels
You might think that reading novels doesn’t help with speaking. However, Thai fiction will expand your vocabulary and help you learn sentence structure faster than you think.
Plus, you can learn many fancy words and quotes to impress your Thai friends from novels.
If you don’t know where to start, Win Lyovarin is arguably the best gateway. He has won many S.E.A. Write Awards, and his books cover various topics that you might find interesting.
5. Switch Your Computer/Phone Language
Sometimes, it takes force to make progress. And by switching your devices’ language, you’re forcing yourself to learn.
Keep in mind that this method is recommended for those who already know Thai to an extent. Why? Because it can backfire horribly. If you changed your device language to Thai and found that you didn’t understand a thing, it could be back-breaking to switch back.
So, make sure that you’re ready before you commit.
6. Go to Thailand
This is the equivalent of the “cold turkey” of language acquisition.
You can force yourself to speak Thai by living in a Thai-spoken environment. This way, your speaking skill will improve fast since your survival depends on it. And if you slack off, you will be punished immediately.
Of course, not everyone can afford to go to Thailand. So, please use this tip only if you have the budget. If you don’t, the five tips before will suffice.
Master Thai at Your Own Pace
At the end of the day, learning Thai will take time. No matter how excellent you are with language study, you cannot acquire one instantly.
So, study at your own pace.
Rushing through everything might be nice, but you might miss some practical nuance of a word or grammar. Think of learning Thai as a journey and enjoy the view as you go.
Remember, you’re not learning just the language; you’re witnessing the beauty of Thai cultures and values too.
Like always, if you want to learn more about Thailand, stay with ThaiGuider. You might learn something you never knew about this unique country.