How to learn Thai by yourself

How to Learn Thai at Home: 3 Best Online Courses & Apps

Have you thought of learning Thai by yourself? Most people who plan to move or stay in Thailand has. And if you are one of them, you might want to know how to learn Thai online and which app to try.

Learning Thai at home is possible, but it is less effective than learning with a tutor at a language school. Online courses and language apps have everything you need to learn Thai by yourself. However, it requires determination and dedication. Getting to an advanced level can take more time outside of the classroom.

Of course, there are thousands of online classes and apps to choose from. And you might be unsure which one is the best for you. Read on to find out how to tackle these courses effectively.

Can you learn Thai by yourself?

Short answer: yes, you can learn to speak, read, and write Thai yourself. It is now the 21st century. And there are hundreds of ways you can master the Thai language without taking a step out your door.

Of course, the recommended approach is to take an online course.

Even though taking a course is technically not self-learning (since you study with a form of “teacher”), you still can learn anywhere, any time. And some don’t even require you to pay anything.

You can access systematic Thai learning processes and assessment tools in one package through an online course. You don’t have to waste time finding where you should start or where to go next. Just go through the material. Eventually, you will get to your goal.

Some courses let you consult with native Thais or expert linguists who help you overcome obstacles. This feature is arguably the most valuable. Why? Because having a reliable source to answer your questions is crucial for acquiring a language. 

For example, you found a grammar point that made no sense and tried to look things up on the internet. However, what you read only made things more confusing. In this case, consulting experts would be more efficient.

Another advantage of an online course is the certificate. And you can use the document to apply for jobs — or to brag. Moreover, you can use language learning apps along with the course to enhance your progress.

Of course, the apps might not be as extensive as the courses. But they can still help you. Whether it’s vocabulary, grammar, or even speaking, — today’s language apps cover most things you need.

How to choose a ‘self-learning’ Thai course

During the process of choosing a Thai course, you should ask yourself the following 3 questions:

1. What’s my goal?

At the end of the day, your goal decides everything.

If your goal is only to converse with a Thai friend, you don’t need a super-deep course that requires hundreds of hours. A speaking-focus one would suffice.

However, If you want to work in Thailand, you might want to choose a long in-depth course. The working environment requires specific language use. So, choose one that can equip you with the industry’s phrases, idioms, and vocabularies.

2. What’s my current level?

Many have fallen into the trap of “learning what you already know.”

If you’re half Thai and can speak the language but don’t know how to write, don’t waste your time with speaking sessions. Choose a class that focuses on reading and writing.

But if you are a beginner who doesn’t know what “Sawasdee” is, start with the basics. Don’t skip beginner content. Even though they sound boring, they are crucial to your Thai language acquisition.

3. What’s my Budget and time limit?

No matter how ambitious you are, your resources will still limit you.

In terms of money, ensure that the course you pick won’t ruin your bank account.

However, this might beg the question: “Can you learn Thai completely for free?”

Of course, you can learn Thai for free — but only at a beginner level. With how most online courses work, mastering a new language without paying a dime is almost impossible.

Most free content you see on the internet won’t get you far. If you aspire to advance Thai, you should prepare a suitable budget.

Money aside, you must also know how much time you have.

In general, longer courses are better. You will get more in-depth content and more exercise to play around with. However, that’s not always the case. Why? Because your circumstance might not fit such courses.

For example, if the course takes a hundred hours and you need to go to Thailand next week, it might be better to pick a quick conversation course.

Best online courses and apps to learn Thai by yourself

Now, you might be itching to know which course you should take.

How to learn Thai for free

It will be hard to find a free practical course online. Duolingo, unfortunately, doesn’t cover Thai — as of 2023. But there are still decent ones to get started on.

1. Lingo Polo

This is arguably the most intensive you can get for a free course.

With Lingo Polo, you can access tons of audio files to learn vocabulary and phrases. And these files have more than just beginner words and idioms.

The great thing about Lingo Polo is that the exercise can be challenging. You can really test out your skills and improve your lexicon with this course.

However, it might be a bit confusing for some learners since the course is in blogging style. So, you need to be aware of that.

2. Live Lingua

This website offers you lots of material to go through. There are 12 courses with 137 e-books and 263 audio files — all free.

The unique thing about Live Lingua is the Thai dialects sections. Even some paid courses don’t cover as much.

However, the course is a bit old school. The font and format of the e-book are… hard to read. And the audio file quality is not ideal.

And if you don’t like reading a lengthy text, this might not be your best choice. As mentioned, there are tons of materials. It will take a long time to finish the whole thing.

3. Everyday-Thai

Looking for a free way to develop your ear for Thai tones? This is it. Everyday-Thai offers a great pronunciation check tool in the form of flashcards you can look at and listen to.

For a beginner, this could be valuable. You must ensure that you can distinguish Thai 5 tones 100%. Or else, you might experience massive misunderstandings in real conversation.

Unfortunately, this Everyday-Thai doesn’t cover anything else other than that. So, if you want to learn grammar, choose something else.

If you want to streamline your free Thai learning even more, check out this guide on the Fastest way to learn Thai.

How to learn Thai at a cost

Here are the recommended courses and apps.

1. Thaipod101

This is arguably the best choice if you like a casual learning style.

For a subscription service of $8 – $47 monthly, you get a variety of topics to practice your listening and speaking. You can also download extra material like flashcards and documents to read through too.

Unsure if the podcast-style teaching is worth your money? Don’t worry. Thaipod101 also has free content you can try out, then decide later. The overall quality of the freebies is no joke as well.

2. Drops

If you learn Thai for 5 minutes every day, you will eventually acquire it. That’s the premise of this app.

Drops focuses on developing your vocabulary and making the new words stick. 

It won’t info-dump on you. Instead, it offers small quizzes and exercises you can go through each day without much stress. The point is you progress slowly but surely.

This app also has a free deal of 5 minutes per day. So, you can try your hand at that before paying $2.91 a month.

3. Pimsleur

You might have heard this name if you have been in the language learning circle. It’s one of the most famous language-learning apps/courses out there in the market. And luckily, Pimsleur covers basic Thai as well.

Under Pimsleur’s name, you don’t have to worry about quality. It is more or less guaranteed. However, the volume of the material might be a bit lacking for the price of $119.95. And the repetitiveness doesn’t help much.

Nevertheless, Pimsleur is still Pimsleur. And you can definitely learn a lot from it.

Should you learn Thai by yourself?

If you’re not a fan of the classroom environment, self-learning Thai is a great option. You can learn anywhere. You can learn anytime. And most importantly, you make progress at your own pace.

Just remember, choose the course or app that fits your needs the most. No one wants to throw away a hundred bucks to find out it’s a waste down the line. So, know yourself first. Then choose.

Like always, if you want to discover more about Thailand, stay guided with ThaiGuider. You might learn something you never knew about this unique country.


I am working on a FREE Thailand Travel Guide with a FULL 7 Day Itinerary. Be the first to receive it!

Thank you for signing up.

Something went wrong.