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Thai Alphabet Consonants Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Beginner

My more recent tutorials have been bordering the intermediate level, clearly leaving out the beginners who still have not learned the Thai script. I apologize, so let’s back track a bit to get everyone up to speed.

Why have you not learned the Thai script yet? One strong argument against learning it is ‘I just want to speak Thai, and don’t want to waste time learning to read it. I can get by with just speaking.’

I admit I once, regrettably, felt this way myself – but I disagree on both points. Learning the script will probably take you two months of effort, but after you learn, it’ll dramatically speed up your ability to learn spoken Thai. It’s kind of like building a house with a hammer – sure, you need to spend time and money to buy the proper tools, but after you have them, building the house will be much easier. By being able to read/write it, you can chat online with your friends, make better use of the dictionaries, not be dependent on others to translate written material like menus, and have improved pronunciation of words (ie no farang accent).

As I can only learn the Thai script once, I can’t compare methods and say which method is the best. But I can tell you the method I used that worked for me. When I was in Thailand I bought two children’s workbooks, one on consonants, and one on vowels. I asked a Thai friend to write down the English equivalent of each letter next to the Thai letter for me. I then started memorizing two or three letters per day, writing each down 30 something times for practice. As I walked around the city, I tried picking out the letters I learned on the signs for practice. This took about a month of effort, about an hour each day. I then spent the next month trying to combine letters into words.

For your convenience, I’ve done the same here below for you. For some Thai letters, you’ll see two equivalent English letters. If the letter is at the beginning of a word, you use the first equivalent letter, and if it’s at the end of the word, you use the second equivalent letter. The pink letters are obsolete, and the orange letters are extremely rare, so I wouldn’t bother learning them as a beginner. The letter อ can be either a noun or a vowel, and doesn’t always make a sound.

WordPress wasn’t able to format this chart is a nice way, so I uploaded it as an Excel spreadsheet here.

g, k ch t y
k y, n t I, n
k d n l, n
k t b w
k t bp s, t
k t p s, t
ng t f s, t
j, t n p h
ch, t d f l
ch, t dt, t p aw*
s, t t m h

 

 

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