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What is the ‘best’ way to learn Thai?
What is the best car? What is the best way to travel? What is the best cell phone? Subjective questions only have subjective answers. Ask five people and you’ll get five different answers. I’m asked this question all the time so hopefully my following advice will work for you, too . . .
When I first started learning, I wanted to speak Thai as fast as possible. I figured learning to read and write would slow me down by months, so I decided to not ‘waste’ my time with it. I figured writing in karaoke (using English alphabet to write Thai) would be fine. And to an extent it was. Many beginners start off feeling the same way. But I was wrong . . . oh so very wrong!
After learning Thai for about 7 months, I started to learn to read and write it. It was more of just to amuse myself, because I can. I still wasn’t that serious with it at that time. I had a Thai friend write the English equivalents next to each Thai letter for me, and from that point on I was able to teach myself with little outside help or those ‘learn to read Thai’ books. I’m sure books would have helped, but this was a long time ago when learn Thai books were scarce. And I was a stubborn poor college student so wasn’t willing to pay money when I felt I didn’t need to. I chugged on, day after day, and after a few months I realized I should have started reading/writing on day 1 of learning Thai.
To read and write in Thai dramatically improves your pronunciation, opens up a whole world of Thai-language practice material, and lets you learn on your own without requiring a Thai friend to help. In other words, instead of reading/writing wasting my time, it actually sped up the learning process and helped me save time. A short-term loss for a long-term gain. In the very long term, when you become an ‘expert’, the only ‘learn Thai’ material available that you haven’t already read is written only in Thai.
to be continued . . .