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How to Learn Thai Online Successfully at Your Own Pace

When speaking monosyllabic languages such as Thai, pronunciation is not always the main thing you need to be worried about — it’s how you deliver the tone. This is why learning Thai through a structured online course is essential. 

For instance, online courses come in audio or video formats, meaning you can always play and replay a lesson. Tonal inflections are tricky to learn, and making sure that you can listen to them repetitively makes sure that you can communicate clearly.

With the increasing preference of consumers to find online options, it’s no surprise that many are jumping on the online learning bandwagon. And the benefits are many. 

In this article, we will explore the many reasons why learning Thai online is effective and some tips and tricks on how to do so.

Table of Contents
  1. Benefits of learning Thai online
  2. Tips and tricks for learning Thai online
  3. To conclude

1. Benefits of learning Thai online 

In addition to having your life so much easier when you can speak, read, and write Thai, here are more benefits of learning Thai online from the comfort of your home.

A- Learn anytime, anywhere

Although the best Thai language schools are in Thailand (obviously), there is no need to be physically in Thailand for you to get quality learning. You can study whenever, wherever — while waiting for your documents at the ChaengWattana Immigration, taking the BTS to work, or enjoying your cup of joe at Starbucks. 

You can even do so before you come to Thailand. (And get brownie points from the Thai embassy, where you’ll eventually apply for your Thai visa.)

B- Learn at your own pace

Take your learning as fast or as slow as you need to. Is there any area of the language that you feel you could do with more time spent on it? Or would you like to go back to a specific vocabulary word that you keep on forgetting and want to focus on it? Or maybe you simply want to master the five tones and take a quick break from learning? 

All of these you can do without affecting the progress of other learners, similar to what could happen if you were taking in-person classes.

C- Ensure personal safety

The pandemic brought with it the need to wear masks and physically distance ourselves from others. And many are still hanging on to these two practices to have a sense of personal safety. If you feel the same way, you have all the more reasons to take your learning online. 

You can stay in the comfort of your home and avoid the commute and the crowd. 

2. Tips and tricks for learning Thai online

Learning on your own comes with its own set of pros and cons. 

But by setting the right expectations and learning from the mistakes of others who have successfully done it, you can improve the outcome of your Thai language learning. 

Here are some tips and tricks to ensure you have a productive online learning experience:

A- Start with the basics

It always pays to start with the rubrics of the Thai language and follow a structured learning path. For example, mastering the vowels, consonants, and the five tones will ensure that speaking and reading sentences will be easy later. 

One of the many learning resources that I prefer is ThaiPod101. The platform has four levels: Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. 

Although the Absolute Beginner is for those who have zero knowledge, it also uses conversations of real-life scenarios and a breakdown of the words used in the conversation.

10 Lines You Need in Introducing Yourself

Learn ‘survival phrases’ even before you land in Thailand

Absolute Beginner courses also feature ‘survival phrases’ such as those you need to learn when ordering food, riding a bus or train, basic courtesy words, and many others.

This is very useful when you just arrive in Thailand and need basic and easy words to help you live or travel here easier. 

After that, you can take their courses on the Thai alphabet, consonants, and tones. It will help you to learn Thai much faster since it gives you a strong foundation for learning Thai later on. 

B- Follow a regular schedule

Set a schedule for yourself that will allow you to learn regularly. Even with the Free Lifetime Account, ThaiPod101 lets you access 3-5 new lessons per week and 3 lessons per day.

Choose a time when you can concentrate on the lessons without any distractions. 

Create long-term and short-term goals and use them as a basis for your study plan. Whether you prefer to follow a daily or weekly schedule, make sure to commit to them. It can be quite challenging to do this when you first start but sticking religiously to a  schedule allows you to build a habit — it soon becomes second nature to you.

C- Learn, review, repeat

The best way to ensure the retention of the lessons is to review them regularly. On ThaiPod 101, you can print out the lesson notes and transcripts that accompany the audio lessons. 

Since both resources are available for download, this is especially helpful if you’re going somewhere with a poor internet connection. This makes sure that you don’t miss out on any of the lessons.

D- Make your learning unique to you

Personalize your learning by taking advantage of tools from ThaiPod101. Subscribe to the ThaiPod101 Word of the Day, which allows you to get a new word in your email daily. 

This can serve as your reminder to follow through with your lessons. Learning one word a day helps you build your vocabulary, which will come in handy when learning syntax and context later on.

Additionally, if your focus is to enrich your vocabulary, ThaiPod101’s paid subscription has a section dedicated to Vocabulary. It allows you to build your personalized word bank and make use of visual flashcard decks. 

You can also create a list of the 100 most common words, 2,000 most common words, Thai phrases, and so much more.

Thai Core 100 Word List

Build your list of 100 or 1,000 words that are completely unique to you

You can make these lists unique to your daily experiences so that any time a situation comes up, you know what to dig up to help with your Thai conversation.

E- Feel free to follow along (or not)

ThaiPod101’s lessons come in 2 to 10-minute audio and video clips, so all you really need is your phone and internet connection. You can practically do this whenever and wherever. And since the lessons are already planned out for you according to your set learning pathway, there is no need for you to come up with a lesson plan, browsing around on what to learn next.

If you do take the pathway laid out for you, take note that you need to take an assessment every 2-4 lessons. The assessment requires you to achieve a 70% grade to move forward. It will also suggest you review the lessons and retake the assessment if you cannot pass the required grade.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to take the pathway, you can also listen to or watch the 1-minute video on demand.

F- Seek help if needed

There’s nothing more important than recognizing when you need help. 

If you have doubts or get stuck on a lesson, don’t hesitate to reach out to an instructor or an expert on the language. You’ll be better off having a professional having your back when needed instead of trying to find the answers by yourself on the internet.

Chat Box

If all else fails, help is available whenever you need

For example, the Premium Plus subscription on ThaiPod101 comes with 1-on-1 access to a teacher. There is a tool called My Teacher Messenger where a chat box is available at all times so you can communicate with your assigned teacher while taking the lesson.

3. To conclude

There are many modalities of learning the Thai language. But if you prefer to learn at your own pace, learning online is your best bet. Many are the benefits of online learning, and these include unrivaled convenience, not having physical barriers, making sure you stay safe in the era of the pandemic, flexible time management, and so much more.

However, to ensure that your online learning experience is effective, you need to keep yourself accountable. It takes discipline to learn by yourself, so it is important to create goals and plans and make sure to stick to them. 

Also, finding the most suitable online platform that caters to your personal needs is crucial. One of the most popular options out there is ThaiPod101. 

With a number of features and tools that the platform offers, it is easy to see how ThaiPod101 was able to help many non-Thai speakers learn to read, write, and speak the language at their own pace.

Appreciating Our Mentors: Teachers’ Day in Thailand

Teachers are valued in every country around the world, but few nations show teachers their due respect like Thailand does. This is reflected in Thai Teachers’ Day, celebrated each year to encourage the humility of students before their teachers. 

In this article, you’ll learn all about Teachers’ Day in Thailand, from its recent beginnings to how it’s celebrated. Let’s get started!

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1. What is Teachers’ Day?

A Teacher Standing in Front of a Blackboard

National Teachers’ Day is a Thai holiday celebrated each year on January 16. On this day, students go out of their way to show their teachers ความเคารพ (khwaam khao-róp), or “respect.” 

It was General Phiboonsongkram who first suggested the creation of Teachers’ Day in Thailand. He spoke on the topic with teachers, the mass media got involved in promoting the holiday’s implementation, and the National Cabinet made it an official holiday in 1956. The first celebration took place the next year in 1957. 

This holiday is rooted in the belief that teachers are some of the most valuable contributors to society, and as such, deserve to be recognized and appreciated for their devotion. This extends not only to school teachers, but to teachers in any field of life. 

Thai people often associate the profession of teaching with that of the taxi-boat profession. The taxi-boat service was once a crucial element of Thai society because Thai people traveled largely by river in the past. Just as a taxi-boat driver takes passengers to their destination and goes back for more passengers, so do teachers bring students to their destinations and continue to do so for students over the years. Teachers are seen as a path to the future. 

2. Teachers’ Day Traditions and Celebrations

A Student Giving Her Teacher Gift

In Thailand, Teachers’ Day celebrations begin the day before. 

Every โรงเรียน (roong-riian), or “school,” in the nation hosts special events honoring teachers. The first activity is for teachers and students to make merit by offering food to the monks. Afterward, students honor their teachers by bringing them a พานไหว้ครู (phaan wâai khruu), or “flower tray with candles and incense,” and bowing at their feet. In addition, there are competitions to see which student can create the best Teachers’ Day slogan; the winner receives a small scholarship. 

In some high schools, students may give speeches on this day to reflect on the influence of teachers in their lives. Teachers themselves are encouraged to think back on their own teachers. 

Teachers’ Day celebrations in Thailand involve a lot of symbolism. There are four symbols that are particularly important: 

  • ดอกเข็ม (dàawk khĕm), or “Ixora,” flowers.

    Ixora flowers have sharp petals, which represent a sharp mind.
  • Eggplant flowers.

    Eggplant flowers grow downward, which represents the humility of students toward their teachers and their willingness to เรียน (riian), or “study.”
  • Cynodon grass.

    Cynodon grass grows easily, which represents the growth of students’ knowledge.
  • Tok rice.

    Tok rice is a white rice that has been roasted and popped, representing the ability of students to flourish and shine brightly with enough discipline.

Visit our ‘Plants’ Culture Class lesson to learn about five other plants that are common in Thailand.

3. The Wai Kru Ceremony

การศึกษา (gaan sùek-sǎa), or “education,” is taken very seriously in Thailand, as is the art of teaching. So it should come as no surprise that there is another special day for teachers in Thailand: Wai Kru, or Teacher Appreciation Day. This ceremony takes place near the beginning of the Thai school year (normally mid-May), and involves students showing respect and humility toward their new teachers. 

The most important activities for this day include saying a Buddhist prayer, reciting a chant, offering gifts to teachers, and engaging in special performances. Sometimes, the head teacher of a school will give a speech and present awards to certain students. 

Wai Kru in Thailand is also performed outside of the formal education system. For example, it is popular in the arts. 

4. Essential Vocabulary for Teachers’ Day in Thailand

Flower Tray with Candles and Incense

Now let’s review some of the words from this article, plus a few more! 

  • สอน (sǎawn) – “teach” [v]
  • โรงเรียน (roong-riian) – “school” [n]
  • การศึกษา (gaan sùek-sǎa) – “education” [n]
  • ครู (khrŭu) – “teacher” [n]
  • นักเรียน (nák-riian) – “student” [n]
  • เรียน (riian) – “study” [v]
  • กตัญญู (gà-dtan-yuu) – “grateful” [adj.]
  • ดอกเข็ม (dàawk khĕm) – “Ixora” [pr. n]
  • เรียนรู้ (riian rúu) – “learn” [v]
  • ความเคารพ (khwaam khao-róp) – “respect” [n]
  • พานไหว้ครู (phaan wâai khruu) – “flower tray with candles and incense” [n]

Remember that you can hear the pronunciation of each word on our Teachers’ Day vocabulary list! 

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about this popular Thai holiday with us, and that you’re feeling inspired to keep studying. Is there a Teachers’ Day celebration in your country? Or maybe a particular teacher you are กตัญญู (gà-dtan-yuu), or “grateful,” to have had in your life? Let us know in the comments! 

To learn even more about Thai culture and holidays, you can read the following blog posts from

And this is only a sample of what we have in store for you! Create your free lifetime account today to gain access to numerous learning resources, themed vocabulary lists, and fun audio and video lessons. We make learning Thai easy and enjoyable, so what are you waiting for? 

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Making Merit: End of Buddhist Lent Day in Thailand

Considering the prominence of Buddhism in Thailand, it should come as no surprise that Buddhist holidays take the spotlight in this culturally rich country. 

At the end of Thailand’s rainy season, just before the country’s most bountiful harvest, the Buddhist population celebrates วันออกพรรษา (wan-àawk-phan-sǎa), or “End of Buddhist Lent Day.” If you’ve been keeping up with our blog recently, you may have read about the start of Buddhist Lent; today, we’ll talk about its conclusion. 

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

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1. What is End of Buddhist Lent Day?

A Golden Buddha Statue

In a previous article, we discussed the beginning of Buddhist Lent in Thailand. Today, we’ll focus mainly on the End of Buddhist Lent Day, but we first want to touch on a few key facts about the Lent itself. 

History of the End of Buddhist Lent Day

You may be surprised to find out that Buddhist Lent hasn’t always been observed in Buddhism

Buddhist monks used to travel and teach about Buddhism year-round, according to their availability. But this caused problems during the rainy season, with people complaining that the monks ruined their fields and crops by walking through them in the rain. Buddha heard of this and decided to implement the Buddhist Lent as a way of keeping monks away from the crops during this season.

Monks are encouraged to จำพรรษา (jam phan-săa), or “stay in the Buddhist temple during the Buddhist Lent” and รักษาศีล (rák-săa sǐin), or “observe the precepts,” during this time. Also, during Buddhist Lent, no alcohol is permitted for drinking among monks, and the general population is discouraged from drinking. Those who do so are richly rewarded (keep reading to find out how!). 

    → You know what? This is a great time to brush up on your Religion vocabulary. 😉

The End of Buddhist Lent Day in Thailand

Now, onto today’s topic. 

On End of Buddhist Lent Day, monks are finally able to leave the temple and spread the teachings of Buddha freely. This is a day of celebration, and the perfect occasion to ทำบุญ (tham bun), or “make merit,” for the rest of the Buddhist population. The End of Buddhist Lent also marks the traditional end of the rainy season. 

This day calls for an array of religious traditions, which we’ll talk about in a minute. First…

2. When is the End of Buddhist Lent This Year?

Because the date of Buddhist Lent Day varies each year, so does its end date. For your convenience, here’s a list of the dates for End of Buddhist Lent Day for the next few years.

  • 2020: October 1
  • 2021: October 20
  • 2022: October 10
  • 2023: October 28
  • 2024: October 17

3. Buddhist Lent Day Activities & Traditions

Listening to a sermon in the Buddhist Temple for End of Buddhist Lent Day

The most important religious event for this holiday is a traditional Buddhist Lent ceremony called Pavarana. During this ceremony, monks have the opportunity to both atone for their own wrongdoings and gently call out other monks for their wrongdoings. A unique fact about this tradition is that young monks are allowed to criticize older monks, just as the older monks may criticize the younger ones. Humility is an essential component of Buddhism, meaning that older monks are not to be so prideful that they can’t take criticism. 

For the rest of the Buddhist population, it’s common to ตักบาตร (dtàk bàat), or “give food offerings to a Buddhist monk.” However, these food offerings are different from the offerings given year-round. It’s called the “Thevo food offering event,” during which the Buddha statue (which is normally standing in the shrine) is put onto a cart and pulled through the streets. A bowl is put in front of the statue, and monks walk behind the statue holding their own bowls. Buddhists in the area will prepare both sweet and savory foods, and offer them to the statue and the monks as they walk by. 

About a month after the End of Buddhist Lent, the monks will เทศนา (thêet-sà-năa), or “give a sermon.” Because there’s normally an abundance of food during this time, people who come to listen will offer the monks food. In this special sermon about the final incarnation of the Buddha, there are thirteen “episodes,” and the sermon normally begins in the morning and ends that night. This sermon is intended to teach the general Buddhist population about sins, virtues, giving, and other important aspects of Buddhism. 

    → Learn how to talk about popular Thai Foods with our dedicated vocabulary list. 

4. Now…About That Reward?

Buddhist Monks with Palms Together

Okay, how are monks rewarded for perfectly observing the Buddhist Lent?

In short, they’re exempted from certain regulations that would normally apply to them. For example, they’re allowed to leave the temple without informing the abbot, and without bringing all of their robes. 

These exemptions make it easier for the monks to leave the temple and spread Buddha’s teachings.

5. Essential Vocabulary for End of Buddhist Lent Day

A Buddhist Monk

Let’s review some of the Thai vocabulary from this lesson! 

  • วันออกพรรษา (wan-àawk-phan-sǎa) – “End of Buddhist Lent Day”
  • พระพุทธเจ้า (phrá-phút-thá-jâao) – “Buddha”
  • พุทธศาสนิกชน (phút-thá-săa-sà-ník-gà-chon) – “Buddhist”
  • จำพรรษา (jam phan-săa) – “stay in the Buddhist temple during the Buddhist Lent”
  • เทศนา (thêet-sà-năa) – “give a sermon”
  • พระสงฆ์ (phrá sŏng) – “Buddhist monk”
  • ตักเตือน (dtàk dtuuean) – “advise”
  • ตักบาตร (dtàk bàat) – “give food offerings to a Buddhist monk”
  • ความสามัคคี (khwaam săa-mák-khii) – “unity”
  • รักษาศีล (rák-săa sǐin) – “observe the precepts”
  • ฟังธรรม (fang tham) – “listen to sermon”
  • ทำบุญ (tham bun) – “make merit”

Don’t forget that you can find each of these words and phrases on our Thai End of Buddist Lent Day vocabulary list, along with audio recordings of their pronunciation. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know how Thai monks observe the Buddhist Lent, and how they officially end their Lent season. Are there similar holidays in your country or religion? If so, we would love to hear about them! 

If you want to learn more about Thai culture and society, we recommend the following pages on

We exist to help you reach your Thai language learning goals, on your time and terms. For access to tons of great content, create your free lifetime account today and take the first step toward language mastery. 

We hope to see you around!

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Premium PLUS: The Golden Ticket for Language-Learning


Do you remember the moment you fell in love with languages?

Do you desire to learn or advance in Thai quickly and effectively?

Then you need a Thai tutor.

A common question that first-time language-learners ask is “Where do I begin?” The answer? Guidance.

For native English-speakers who want to learn Asian languages, for example, timelines provided by the U.S. Foreign Service Institute can appear discouraging. However, defeating these odds is not unheard of. If you want to beat the odds yourself, one of the best learning options is a subscription to Premium PLUS from Innovative Language.

As an active Premium PLUS member of and myself, I have an enjoyable experience learning at an accelerated pace with at least thirty minutes of study daily. The following Premium PLUS features contribute to my success:

  • Access to thousands of lessons
  • A voice recorder 
  • Spaced-repetition system (SRS) flashcards
  • Weekly homework assignments
  • A personal language instructor

As someone who decided to make Japanese her second language one year ago, I am extremely grateful for Premium PLUS.

Allow me to emphasize on how these Premium PLUS features strengthen my language studies.

Gain Unlimited Access to Audio and Video Lessons!

Woman learning a language with Premium PLUS on a tablet

As a Premium PLUS member, I have full access to the lesson library and other Premium features. Best of all, I’m not limited to one level; I can learn to my heart’s content with upper-level courses.

There are lessons on various topics that tackle crucial language-learning elements, such as:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Conversation

Specifically, there are pathways. Pathways are collections of lessons that center on a specific topic. Some Innovative Language sites, like, even have pathways geared toward proficiency tests. For example, the JLPT N3 Master Course pathway.

Because of the abundance of lessons, I’ve found pathways in the lesson library to help me prepare for certain events. Thanks to the “Speaking Perfect Japanese at a Restaurant” pathway, I spoke fully in Japanese while dining in Japan. Additionally, I participated in conversations at language exchange meetups in South Korea after completing the “Top 25 Korean Questions You Need to Know” pathway.

Each lesson has lesson notes, which I read while simultaneously listening to the audio lesson. This strategy enables me to follow along on key points. Lesson notes generally contain the following:

  • Dialogue
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar points
  • Cultural insights

As someone who’s constantly on-the-go, I heavily benefit from mobile access to lessons. Podcasts and lesson notes are available on the Innovative Language app and/or Podcasts app for iOS.

All lessons and their contents are downloadable. Prior to my flights to Japan and South Korea, I downloaded lessons on my iPhone. The apps make learning more convenient for me during my commutes.

Practice Speaking with the Voice Recording Tool!

a young man practicing his pronunciation with a microphone headset

Pronunciation is an essential ingredient in language-learning. Proper pronunciation prompts clear understanding during conversations with native speakers.

Prior to learning full Korean sentences, my online Korean language tutor assigned the “Hana Hana Hangul” pathway to me. It demonstrated the writing and pronunciation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Throughout this pathway, I submitted recordings of my Hangul character pronunciations to my language teacher for review.

I was given a similar task on with the “Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide” pathway. My Japanese language teacher tested my pronunciation of the Japanese characters kana. My completion of the two pathways boosted my confidence in speaking.

Speaking is one of the more challenging components of learning a language. The voice recording tool in particular was a great way for me to improve my speaking skills. Further, because the lesson dialogues are spoken by native speakers, I’m able to practice speaking naturally.

This feature is also available for vocabulary words and sample sentences. Being able to hear these recordings improves my pronunciation skills for languages like Japanese, where intonation can change the meaning of a word entirely. The voice recorder examines my speed and tone. I also follow up by sending a recording to my online language tutor for feedback.

A great way to boost one’s speaking confidence is to shadow native speakers. During the vocabulary reviews, it’s helpful for me to hear the breakdown of each word; doing so makes a word that was originally difficult to even read a breeze to say!

Some lessons create opportunities to speak your own sentences. For example, the “Top 25 Korean Questions You Need to Know” pathway presents opportunities to answer questions personally. This helps you gain the ability to give answers as the unique individual you are.

Example Scenario:

The host asks the following question:

어디에 살고 있습니까?

eodieseo salgo isseumnikka

“Where do you live?”

If you live in Tokyo, you would readily say the following:

도쿄에 살고 있습니다.

Tokyo-e salgo isseumnida.

“I live in Tokyo.”

Increase Your Vocab with Spaced-Repetition Flashcards and More!

A child learning words with flashcards

Imagine having a conversation with a native speaker and hesitating because you lack a solid vocabulary base.

Premium PLUS offers various features to expand learners’ vocabulary, including Free Gifts of the Month. ThaiPod101’s free gifts for April 2020 included an e-book with “400 Everyday Phrases for Beginners,” and the content is updated every month. When I download free resources like this, I find opportunities to use them with co-teachers, friends, or my language tutors.

An effective way to learn vocabulary is with SRS flashcards. SRS is a system designed for learning a new word and reviewing it in varying time intervals.

You can create and study flashcard decks, whether it’s your Word Bank or a certain vocabulary list. For example, if you need to visit a post office, the “Post Office” vocabulary list for your target language would be beneficial to study prior to your visit.

In addition to the SRS flashcards, each lesson has a vocabulary slideshow and quiz to review the lesson’s vocabulary.

There’s also the 2000 Core Word List, which includes the most commonly used words in your target language. Starting from the 100 Core Word List, you’ll gradually build up your knowledge of useful vocabulary. These lists can be studied with SRS flashcards, too.

With the SRS flashcards, you can change the settings to your liking. The settings range from different card types to number of new cards per deck. Personally, I give myself vocabulary tests by changing the settings.

After studying a number of flashcards, I change the card types to listening comprehension and/or production. Then I test myself by writing the translation of the word or the spoken word or phrase.

The change in settings allow me to remember vocabulary and learn how to identify the words. This is especially helpful with Japanese kanji!

Complete Homework Assignments!

A woman studying at home

Homework assignments are advantageous to my language studies. There are homework assignments auto-generated weekly. They range from multiple-choice quizzes to writing assignments.

Language tutors are readily available for homework help. Some writing assignments, for instance, require use of unfamiliar vocabulary. In such cases, my language teachers assist me by forwarding related lessons or vocabulary lists.

In addition to these auto-generated homework tasks, language tutors customize daily assignments. My daily homework assignments include submitting three written sentences that apply the target grammar point of that lesson, and then blindly audio-recording those sentences. My personal language tutor follows up with feedback and corrections, if needed.

Your language tutors also provide assignments upon requests. When I wanted to review grammar, my Korean teacher sent related quizzes and assignments. Thus, you are not only limited to the auto-generated assignments.

Every weekend, I review by re-reading those written sentences. It helps me remember sentence structures, grammar points, and vocabulary to apply in real-world contexts.

Furthermore, I can track my progress with language portfolios every trimester. It’s like a midterm exam that tests my listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

Get Your Own Personal Language Teacher!

A woman teaching pronunciation in a classroom

My language teachers cater to my goals with personalized and achievable learning programs. The tangible support of my online language teachers makes it evident that we share common goals.

Once I share a short-term or long-term goal with my teacher, we establish a plan or pathway that will ultimately result in success. I coordinate with my teachers regularly to ensure the personalized learning programs are prosperous. For example, during my JLPT studies, my Japanese language tutor assigned me practice tests.

Your language tutor is available for outside help as well. When I bought drama CDs in Japan, I had difficulty transliterating the dialogue. My Japanese teacher forwarded me the script to read along as I listened.

Additionally, I often practice Korean and Japanese with music. I memorize one line of the lyrics daily. Every time, I learn a new grammar point and new vocabulary. I add the vocabulary to my SRS flashcards, locate the grammar in the Grammar Bank, and study the associated lessons online.

I send my teachers the name of the songs, making them aware of my new goal. One time, my song for Korean was “If You Do” by GOT7. My Korean teacher revealed that she was a huge fan of GOT7 like me! For Japanese, it was “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA,” also known as the Dragonball Z theme song. My Japanese teacher excitedly told me that she sang the song a lot as a kid!

A remarkable thing happened to me in South Korea. I was stressed about opening a bank account with limited Korean. I sought help from my Korean teacher. She forwarded me a script of a bank conversation.

After two days, I visited the local bank. It all started with my opening sentence:

은행 계좌를 만들고 싶어요

eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

Everything went smoothly, and I exited the bank with a new account!

The MyTeacher Messenger allows me to share visuals with my teachers for regular interaction, including videos to critique my pronunciation mechanisms. I improve my listening and speaking skills by exchanging audio with my teachers. In addition to my written homework assignments, I exchange messages with my language teachers in my target language. This connection with my teachers enables me to experience the culture as well as the language.

Why You Should Subscribe to Premium PLUS

It’s impossible for me to imagine my continuous progress with Japanese and Korean without Premium PLUS. Everything—from the SRS flashcards to my language teachers—makes learning languages enjoyable and clear-cut.

You’re assured to undergo the same experience with Premium PLUS. You’ll gain access to the aforementioned features as well as all of the Premium features.

Complete lessons and assignments to advance in your target language. Increase your vocabulary with the “2000 Core Word List” for that language and SRS flashcards. Learn on-the-go with the Innovative Language app and/or Podcasts app for iOS users.

Learning a new language takes dedication and commitment. The Premium PLUS features make learning irresistibly exciting. You’ll look forward to learning daily with your language tutor.

As of right now, your challenge is to subscribe to Premium PLUS! Complete your assessment, and meet your new Thai teacher.

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Celebrating Buddhist Lent Day in Thailand

Would you be willing to give up your guiltiest pleasure for three months?

Well, each year in Thailand, the Buddhist monks and other followers of Buddha’s teachings do just this. The first day of this three-month period is a holiday called Buddhist Lent Day, and this is what we’ll be talking about in this article!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Buddhist Lent Day?

A Buddha Statue

This holiday marks the beginning of the Buddhist Lent, which is a three-month period during which monks are expected ระมัดระวัง (rá mát rá-wang), or “to be careful,” not to venture outside the temple or pagoda.

This three-month period ends on End of Buddhist Lent Day, which is another Buddhist holiday that we’ll be covering in a future article.

If you’re familiar with Christian Lent traditions, you may find a few similarities while reading through this article!

Buddhist Lent Day History

In Thailand, Buddhist Lent Day got its start during the Buddha era. Monks of this time period had a mission to spread Buddhist teachings to as many places and people as possible. However, this constant traveling caused problems during the rainy season, with people complaining that the monks would walk through and ruin their crops.

Hearing of this, the Buddha made a new ระเบียบ (rá-bìiap), or “rule,” that monks were not to leave their temples for the three-month period of the rainy season. The only exception was if a monk had important กิจธุระ (gìt thú-rá), or “business,” that needed to be taken care of right away. In that case, a monk could leave the temple but was not allowed to spend more than seven nights away.

2. Buddhist Lent Day Dates

A Buddhist Temple on a Nice Day

The date of Buddhist Lent Day varies from year to year, as it begins in the eighth Buddhist calendar month. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next few years.

  • 2020: July 6
  • 2021: July 25
  • 2022: July 14
  • 2023: August 3

Also be sure to see our list of the Top Five Important Dates During the Thai Calendar Year!

3. Buddhist Lent Day Activities & Traditions

a Sermon in a Buddhist Temple

The Thai Buddhist Lent Day is largely a time for monks to prepare for their three months of solitude. They’re expected “to say prayers to Buddha,” or ทำวัตร (tham wát), and carefully observe all of the พุทธบัญญัติ (phút thá ban-yàt), or “Buddhist rules.” In addition, it’s very common for men to have a งานอุปสมบท (ngaan u-bpà-sŏm-bòt), or “ordination ceremony,” to become monks during the Buddhist Lent season.

The rainy season generally provides the perfect สภาพอากาศ (sà-phâap aa-gàat), or “weather condition,” to stay inside and study. For this reason, men will sometimes visit the temples to be taught Dharma.

Throughout the Buddhist Lent, Thailand’s non-monk population also gets involved. For the general population, this means attempting to rid themselves of อบายมุข (a-baai-ya-múk), or “all vices,” (or sometimes only one or two, such as drinking alcohol or killing animals). This is also a time to repent of บาป (bàap), or “sin,” in one’s life.

For Buddhist Lent Day, Thailand’s most famous activity is the Candle Festival. This tradition began a long time ago, before electricity was available for lighting. Because monks often had to perform their rituals in the mornings and evenings, Buddhists would make large candles for their local temple and offer these candles to monks in their area. Before handing over the candles, though, they would parade around the town with them.

Today, there are sometimes competitions to see who can carve the best decorative Lent candle. These candles are massive and so awesome to see!

4. Exceptions to Buddhist Lent Rules

You may be wondering when a monk can leave the temple without being in การฝ่าฝืน (gaan fàa fǔuen), or “violation,” of the Buddhist Lent rules.

As mentioned earlier, a monk can only leave the temple during this time for very important business. Here are some examples of when it would be okay for a monk to leave:

  • Taking care of other sick monks or parents
  • Convincing novices who want to leave the religion to change their mind
  • Carrying out essential monkhood duties
  • Accepting an invitation to make merit somewhere else

5. Essential Buddhist Lent Day Vocabulary

Buddhist Monks Praying and Making Merit

Here’s a quick list of some of the vocabulary words and phrases from this article!

  • บาป (bàap) — “sin”
  • อบายมุข (a-baai-ya-múk) — “all vices”
  • ตั้งใจ (dtâng jai) — “to intend”
  • นิมนต์ (ní-mon) — “to invite (monk)”
  • บิดามารดา (bì-daa maan-daa) — “parents”
  • การฝ่าฝืน (gaan fàa fǔuen) — “violation”
  • ลวดลาย (lûuat-laai) — “design”
  • ทำวัตร (tham wát) — “to say prayers to Buddha”
  • แห่ (hàae) — “to throng”
  • สภาพอากาศ (sà-phâap aa-gàat) — “weather condition”
  • งานอุปสมบท (ngaan u-bpà-sŏm-bòt) — “ordination ceremony”
  • วันเข้าพรรษา (wan khâo phan-săa) — “Buddhist Lent Day”
  • อนุญาต (à-nú-yâat) — “to allow”
  • ระมัดระวัง (rá mát rá-wang) — “to be careful”
  • วันแรม (wan raaem) — “waning moon night”
  • พุทธบัญญัติ (phút thá ban-yàt) — “Buddhist rules”
  • ตำหนิ (dtam-nì) — “to reprimand”
  • ระเบียบ (rá-bìiap) — “rule”
  • กิจธุระ (gìt thú-rá) — “business,” “work”

You can hear the pronunciation of each word by logging in to our Buddhist Lent Video Culture Class lesson!

Final Thoughts

Buddhist Lent Day is a major occasion in Thailand, both for monks and the general population.

Are there any special religious days like this in your country? If so, how do you or your country’s religious leaders observe it? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about Thai culture and the language, read some more free articles on

Stay safe out there, and keep studying with ThaiPod101. 😉

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3 Tips For Speaking Thai Like A Native Speaker


When learning a new language, everyone should have an ultimate goal to work towards. Whether you want to be able to connect with a Thai relative, easily order food while traveling, or take part in a spiritual journey in the kingdom, having an end goal for your learning can be very motivating. One of the more popular but difficult examples of this is learning to speak Thai like a native speaker. You would easily become the life of the party if people heard you, as a foreigner, speak like a local. So what ways can you work towards this goal? That is what we will be looking into today. Here are 3 tips you should follow to start speaking Thai like a native speaker.

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Tip 1. Focus On Vocabulary

Man studying

If your goal is to speak like a native, it is easy to get carried away by focusing on speaking and pronunciation. However, what is often overlooked is how big a role vocabulary plays. Your choice of words will reveal a lot about your understanding of the language. 

Anyone who has used a phrasebook for a language has likely come across a situation where they have said something, only to get back the dreaded look of confusion. While what you said may technically be correct, it may have been inappropriate for the situation or just not commonly used. Imagine saying ‘greetings’ to a close friend instead of just saying ‘hey’ or something along those lines. 

This concept is especially important in a language like Thai where there are different words you should use based on who you are speaking with and their social standing. You definitely do not want to sound rude. Try to listen and distinguish how people talk to their friends and how they talk to their superiors – that should help give you an idea of how to talk with others in a more authentic way. 

It is also worth mentioning that Thai can be seen as quite a laid back language in that it is possible to remove words from sentences or phrases and still have them make sense and, importantly, be understood. Pronouns are a prime example of this as they can often be removed if they are obvious from context. 

Colloquialisms and slang are also commonly used in Thai. As this sort of vocabulary is always evolving, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest words. Things like this are something you can only learn by talking with a local Thai person, making them an invaluable resource. Ultimately, knowing the appropriate vocabulary to use for each situation will really help you sound like you know what you are doing.

Tip 2. Perfect Your Accent

Pair of women talking

There are many different layers that go into learning Thai pronunciation. First, Thai is a tonal language, where a change in pitch can completely change the meaning of a word. Then there is the fact that Thailand is a very large country, and so people from one area of the country will sound different from those in another. So what is the best way to listen to the wide range of accents and different pronunciations? That’s right – through video and audio sources.

YouTube in this case is a goldmine, as there are people from all walks of life uploading to the platform. Whether through an educational video or a random vlog, you will start to hear the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in their speech. Everyone speaks in a unique way based on numerous factors. If you are able to replicate this, then you will definitely sound more like a legitimate Thai speaker.

Unless you have a particular reason for learning a more specific type of accent, you would be better off learning the more basic form. In Thailand, this would be Central Thai, which is seen as the standard for the country. Sure, it would be interesting to learn the Isaan way of speaking but for the purposes of having the most people understand you, Central Thai is your best bet.

Tip 3. Copy What You Hear

Woman listening to her headphones

Do you remember how you learnt to speak as a child? It was rare to learn a new word just by reading or listening. Instead, we would imitate what we hear by saying it out loud. While you are talking to a Thai friend, watching videos and listening to audio in Thai, you can do this and try to replicate the way they speak.

This method enables you to master several things: the flow of the language, the accent, and the pronunciation. Of course, you can also learn some new vocabulary this way. Repetition can be a great way to remember things, after all.

Try doing this using a number of different mediums and sources. That way, you will be exposed to the diversity that the language offers and master the fundamentals of pronunciation. So yes, watch and imitate several different YouTube videos and audio CDs, but try a few different sources to help you cover the nuances of the Thai language. 

For example, the Ling app is a great option for learning to speak Thai through imitation. As a companion, it helps to promote proper pronunciation using speaking activities. The voice samples used in the app are all from native Thai speakers as well, allowing you to hear the authentic sound of spoken Thai and imitate them accordingly. Pair this with the chatbot feature which walks you through a typical conversation with voice clips and you are well set to perfect your pronunciation of Thai and take another step closer to native-level speaking.

Take Your Thai Ability To The Next Level

The ability to speak Thai like a native is a popular goal for many people learning Thai. There is no better feeling than saying something perfectly when the people you are talking to are expecting basic level or broken Thai. With these four tips, you should find that you are able to enhance your Thai speaking ability much closer to a native level. With some time and persistence, you may just end up sounding like you have lived in the country your whole life. Now that would be something to feel pride in.

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Communicate Like a Native Using Thai Hand Gestures and More


Have you ever wondered why foreigners make weird faces or perform strange actions? Well, they may be how they communicate non-verbally with each other.

Just as in every language, you should learn about Thai non-verbal communication, such as hand gestures and body language, so that you can completely communicate like a Thai native. Thai hand gestures, Thai hand signs, and Thai body language are part of Thai culture and represent how Thai people think in general. Knowing about nonverbal communication in Thailand will make your trip so much better.

Thai people use body language as nonverbal communication in daily life. อวัจนภาษา (àà-wát-jà-ná-phaa-săa) is “nonverbal communication” in Thai. This article will teach you everything you need to know about nonverbal communication in Thailand, including the meanings of body or hand gestures, good Thai custom and etiquette, and what you should and shouldn’t do.

Below is our list of everything you should know on this topic, categorized for easy understanding. These are the most important gestures to learn when having a trip to Thailand, so we’ll do our best to explain the body language meanings in Thailand for you!

If you’re ready, let’s get started and delve into all the facets of Thailand nonverbal communication. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your Thai Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. Thai Greeting
  2. Thai Gestures Used to Show Your Opinion
  3. Thai Number Hand Gestures
  4. Actions
  5. Rude Gestures / Rude Manners or Etiquette
  6. Conclusion

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1. Thai Greeting

Thai Hand Gestures

Apart from saying สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dii), there are more Thai greetings and gestures Thai people use for greeting as well. These include the following:

1- ไหว้ (wâi)

Meaning: A way of greeting in Thai society, and one of the most common Thailand hand gestures.

How to do: Put your hands together in front of your chest and bend your head toward your forefinger. You can say สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dii) while doing this gesture.

When to use: You can use this gesture when you meet someone or when you say goodbye.

Example situation: Students should ไหว้ (wâi) their teacher after class, before she goes back home.

Additional note: If you greet someone who’s younger, you should wait for another party to ไหว้ (wâi) you first.

How Thai People ไหว้ [Wâi]

2- Nod Your Head Once

Meaning: This is a way to show that you recognize or acknowledge a greeting from another party.

How to do: Nod your head slightly one time.

When to do: Sometimes, when people greet you by ไหว้ (waî) or by saying สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dii), you may not be able to greet them back. So you nod your head once as a sign that you acknowledge that greeting.

Further, in Thailand, you may be greeted by a security guard, staff member at a restaurant, or staff member at a condo. It’s not rude to simply nod your head once as a way to show that you acknowledge their greeting.

Example situation: You drive into a parking lot and a security guard greets you. However, you’re driving and can’t greet them back, so you nod your head as an acknowledgement. Slight eye contact, in Thailand, may also come in handy in a situation like this.

3- Wave Your Hand

Meaning: Waving in Thailand is a hand gesture for goodbye. However, it’s not a formal action so you shouldn’t do this in or after a business meeting.

How to do: Put your hand up near your face and wave your hand a few times. You can say บ๊ายบาย (báai-baai) which means “goodbye” in Thai when doing this hand gesture.

When to do: Use this gesture when you want to say goodbye to someone.

Example situation: After going out on a date, you can do this gesture when you say goodbye before going home.

2. Thai Gestures Used to Show Your Opinion

Once you’ve mastered the above Thai gestures and greetings, you can move on to other Thai gestures. Thai people have a lot of hand gestures and body language signals that show if they like something or don’t like something. Here are some you might see Thai people do often.

1- Thumbs-up

Meaning: Thumbs-up in Thailand means “This is good.”

How to do: Make a fist and stick your thumb up.

When to do: Use this when you want to tell another party that something is good.

Example situation: You tried a food and it’s tasty. Since your mouth is full, you do the thumbs-up sign to show that it’s good.

This is Good

2- Thumbs-down

Meaning: Thumbs-down in Thailand means “This is bad.”

How to do: Similar to doing a thumbs-up gesture, you make a fist and stick your thumb out, but point down instead of up.

When to do: Use this when you want to tell another party that something is bad.

Example situation: Your friend tried on some clothes in the store, but you think it doesn’t look good on her so you do the thumbs-down sign.

This is Bad

3- Okay

Meaning: This hand sign means “This is okay.” It’s another one of the most common Thai hand symbols and is so easy to do.

How to do: Make a circle using your thumb and forefinger while pointing the rest of your fingers up.

When to do: This sign is used to show that you’re okay with the situation or that you’re okay with something.

Example situation: You’re checking whether the room is ready for the company event or not. You think it’s okay, so you use this sign to show other staff members this instead of shouting.

Okay Sign in Thai

4- Nod Your Head a Few Times

Meaning: This Thai body gesture means “yes” or “agree.” This is considered somewhat polite body language in Thailand for showing agreement.

How to do: Nod your head a few times.

When to do: When you want to say “yes” or indicate that you agree with someone or something.

Example situation: Your mother asked if you want her to cook dinner for you or not, so you nod your head a few times as a way to say “yes.”

5- Shake Your Head a Few Times

Meaning: This Thai gesture means “no” or is used to show disappointment.

How to do: Shake your head a few times. If you shake your head quite fast, it means “no.” But if you shake your head slowly, it’s used to show disappointment.

When to do: You can use this gesture when you want to answer “no” to someone, or to show that you feel disappointed with some action by doing this after seeing that action.

Example situation: You saw your child not being careful and accidentally dropping their food and making a mess in the kitchen. You didn’t want to be mad at him as he seemed to know that what he did was wrong. So you show your disappointment by shaking your head slowly a few times.

Additional note: When using this Thai body gesture to show disappointment, some people also sigh at the same time.

3. Thai Number Hand Gestures

The concept of numbers is universal. Apart from Arabic numbers, hand gestures for number are easy to understand as well. In each country, number hand gestures are slightly different. For example, the sign for “3” in some countries can be “8” in other countries.

For this reason, you should know how Thai do number hand gestures. ภาษามือ (phaa-sǎa muue) is “hand gesture” in Thai. Thai people often use number hand gestures when going shopping, making number gestures in Thai culture extremely useful.

1- How to Do

  • 0 — Make a fist.
  • 1 — Make a fist and point your forefinger up.
  • 2 — Make a fist; point your forefinger and middle finger up.
  • 3 — Point your forefinger, middle finger, and ring finger up while folding your thumb over your pinky finger in your palm area.
  • 4 — Point your forefinger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger up while folding your thumb to your palm.
  • 5 — Open one of your hands.
  • 6 — Do the thumbs-up sign (you can do this while opening the other hand to make it clearer).
  • 7 — Make a fist; point your thumb and forefinger out. (Your thumb and forefinger should make an “L” shape.) (You can do this while opening the other hand to make it clearer.)
  • 8 — Open your hand and then fold your ring finger and pinky finger to your palm (you can do this while opening the other hand to make it clearer).
  • 9 — Open your hand then fold your pinky finger to your palm (you can do this while opening the other hand to make it clearer).
  • 10 — Open both of your hands.

Hand Gestures for 1-10 in Thailand

4. Actions

There are some action-oriented gestures that Thai people use. has prepared a list of the most useful ones for you below.

1- Call bus/taxi

Meaning: This gesture means you want a bus or taxi to stop so that you can get on.

How to do: Extend your arm around 45 degrees from your body, and wave your hand a few times while looking at the bus or taxi.

When to do: In Thai, there’s no place for you to call a taxi so if you don’t use an app, you have to do this gesture for a taxi to stop. As for a bus, sometimes the bus may not stop at a bus stop if there’s no passenger getting off, so you have to do this gesture for the bus to stop as well.

Example situation: You want to get home by taxi, so you wait for the taxi in front of your office. Once you see a taxi coming, you do this gesture to make the taxi stop.

2- Make a Promise or Reconcile

Meaning: This hand gesture is used when you promise another person something or if you want to reconcile with another person.

How to do: Make a fist and stick your pinky finger out.

When to do: You use this gesture when making a promise. If the other party acknowledges the promise, he/she will do the same hand gesture and then link his/her pinky finger with yours. Then, you move your hands together up and down a few times.

When doing this to reconcile with another party, you make this hand gesture and stick your hand out to the other party while saying ดีกันนะ (dii gan ná) which is “Let’s reconcile” in Thai. Similar to making a promise, if another party is no longer mad at you, he/she will do the same hand gesture and then link his/her pinky finger with you before moving your hands together up and down a few times.

Example situation: Joy accidentally made her sister’s doll dirty, making her sister mad at her. She wanted to reconcile with her sister, so she did this hand gesture and told her sister ดีกันนะ (dii gan ná).

I Promise

3- Wave Your Hand Quickly

Meaning: Waving your hand in Thai has a meaning other than “Goodbye.” If you wave your hand quickly, it can also mean “don’t have” or “not.”

How to do: Put your hand up near your chest and wave your hand quickly a few times.

When to do: Use this when you want to tell another party that you don’t have something they’ve asked for.

Example situation: A friend asks if you have another eraser or not. Since you don’t have another one, you wave your hand quickly to let them know this.

5. Rude Gestures / Rude Manners or Etiquette

มารยาท (maa-rá-yâat) is “manner” or “etiquette” in Thai. There are many actions that Thai people consider to be bad Thai etiquette, that are perfectly fine to do in other countries. So if you live in Thailand, want to live in Thailand, or know Thai people, you should be aware of these gestures.

1- Foot Gestures

Feet are considered to be ของต่ำ (khǎawng dtàm) which means “things that are dirty” in Thai. Thus, it’s rude to put your feet on a table or desk that you use for work or study. Also, it’s considered bad manners in Thailand to point to things with your foot.

2- Manners at the Dining Table

There are certain things you shouldn’t do during the meal as they’re considered bad etiquette. To be a person with good table etiquette, please avoid doing these things:

  • Making noise by hitting the tableware. For example, when you’re listening to music, you may feel like hitting something to sound out the music’s beat. Don’t use your spoon or fork to hit the plate or bowl to make that beat. Using chopsticks as drumsticks isn’t okay either.
  • Using chopsticks, spoons, or forks to point at people. This is considered rude and you shouldn’t do it. This is definitely considered a rude hand gesture in Thailand.
  • Chewing or slurping loudly. When you eat, try not to make noise when chewing or slurping. It isn’t rude, but Thai people think that people who slurp have poor etiquette.
  • Speaking while eating. Don’t speak when you’re eating or chewing. It doesn’t look good in Thai’s view.

3- How You Stand and Sit

This part may sound a little bit weird. How can standing or sitting relate to manners? Well, these things are important in Thailand. Here are the things you should be aware of:

  • You shouldn’t sit with one knee up. Thai people think it doesn’t look good, especially when women do it.
  • Thai people are concerned with seniority. They believe that people who are older are higher in rank, so you should respect them and act as such. Thus, your position shouldn’t be higher than people who are older than you. For example, you shouldn’t stand while your senior is sitting.
    • In Thai, there’s a phrase called อย่ายืนค้ำหัวผู้ใหญ่ (yàa yuuen khám hŭua phûu yài) which means “standing near senior who is sitting” in Thai.

6. Conclusion

If you’ve reached this part, it means that you’ve learned a lot of Thai gestures, Thai hand signs, and Thailand’s body language. Some of these body language signs may be similar to what people in your country do, but some may not be. Still, if you keep practicing them, you’ll remember to do them while in Thailand. We hope you enjoyed this article on gestures to learn when having a trip to Thailand, and that you learned lots!

Once you’re good at Thai nonverbal communication, don’t forget to practice Thai verbal communication as well. You can visit to learn more interesting Thai lessons. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your Thai Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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Your Guide to Thai Words with no English Equivalent


Like every other language in the world, the Thai language has unique Thai words with no English translation. These untranslatable terms in Thai are naturally not very easy to learn. The reason is that you, as a foreigner, are learning something that you’re not familiar with at all, since the term doesn’t exist in your language. But don’t worry, will help you master untranslatable Thai words in no time.

Among Thai untranslatable words, the ones that are most often used in daily life (and confuse foreigners the most) are untranslatable words about feelings. Of course, seeing as these are feeling untranslatable words, Thai people understand them and use them regularly, but if you ask them to explain or describe each word, they may find it difficult.

Untranslatable Thai words represent Thainess, a uniqueness in Thai which you’ll be able to see from the list of untranslatable Thai words that has prepared for you. This is especially true of those feeling untranslatable Thai words, as they reflect how Thai people feel and behave. So apart from communication, this topic will also give you a fresh point of view about Thai culture.

We hope you can now see why the untranslatable word in Thai language-learning is such an essential aspect to go over and understand. Let’s get started with our list. Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. List of Untranslatable Thai Words
  2. Conclusion: How ThaiPod101 Can Help You Learn More Thai

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1. List of Untranslatable Thai Words

Best Ways to Learn

As mentioned above, there are many untranslatable words in Thai. Here’s the list of words you’re likely to see and use, put into three categories.

Our goal here is to help you learn what each untranslatable word literally means in Thai. From there, we’ll introduce you to each untranslatable Thai word’s meaning in English, so that you have a better idea of how to use them. Finally, we’ll show you each untranslatable word in Thai phrases and tell you when to use it.

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

1- Thai Untranslatable Words about Feelings

There are many Thai words with no English equivalent in this category. If you interact with Thai people a lot, whether in work or a relationship, you should learn these words so that you understand more about Thai people.

1. งอน (ngaawn)

  • Type of word: Verb
  • Meaning: งอน (ngaawn) is “a sulky feeling toward someone because of their action” in Thai. This word represents a negative feeling, but it’s not quite as strong as being angry or upset. The feeling ngaawn happens only between people who are close to each other, such as a couple, family members, or friends. There are many actions that indicate if someone feels ngaawn toward you, for example:
    • Someone talks to you sarcastically.
    • Someone has stopped talking to you, or isn’t willing to talk to you.
    • Someone doesn’t want to meet you.
    • Someone doesn’t act well toward you as they used to.
    • Someone will tell you how they feel directly.
  • Example situation:
    เมื่อวานตอนไปเที่ยวกัน เธอเอาแต่สนใจโทรศัพท์มือถือ เราเลยงอนเธอแล้ว
    mûuea waan dtaawn bpai thîiao gan thooe ao dtàae sŏn jai thoo-rá-sàp muue-thǔue rao looei ngaawn thooe láaeo
    “When we went to travel yesterday, you paid attention to nothing but your phone. I ngaawn you.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + ngaawn + name of person 2 = person 1 feels ngaawn toward person 2.

A Woman Ngaawn Her Friend

2. น้อยใจ (náauy-jai)

  • Type of word: Adverb
  • Meaning: น้อยใจ (náauy-jai) is the hurt or sad feeling you feel from not getting attention from people you care for. This word can also be used when those people don’t behave toward you like they should. Being noíjai or náauy-jai can lead to feeling ngaawn. People only feel noíjai toward the people they care for or are close with, such as a couple, family members, or friends. It’s one of the untranslatable sad Thai words, as noíjai is used to show unhappiness.
  • Example situation:
    thooe rúu-sùek náauy-jai thîi mâae sŏn-jai dtàae náawng-săao
    “She feels noíjai that her mother only pays attention to her younger sister.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + náauy-jai + name of person 2 = person 1 feels náauy-jai toward person 2.

3. ไม่เป็นไร (mâi bpen rai)

  • Type of word: Phrase
  • Meaning: ไม่เป็นไร (mâi bpen rai) is a phrase that shows you feel okay with the current situation, and there’s no need to do anything more for you. The phrase mâipenrai can be used in many situations, listed as follows:
    • As a reply when someone says thank you. It’s like “you’re welcome” in English.
    • As a reply when someone says sorry to you and you don’t feel angry toward them.
    • As a reply when someone asks if you’re okay or not, and you are okay.
  • Example situation:

    Situation 1
    เอ: ขอบคุณที่ช่วยฉันเรื่องงาน
    A: khàawp-khun thîi chûuai chăn rûueang ngaan
    A: “Thank you for helping with my work.”

    บี: ไม่เป็นไร
    B: mâi bpen rai
    B: “You’re welcome.”

    Situation 2: B accidentally stepped on A’s foot.
    เอ: โอ๊ย
    A: óoi
    A: “Ouch.”

    บี: ขอโทษด้วยค่ะ เป็นอะไรมั๊ยคะ
    B: khǎaw-thôot dûuai khâ bpen à-rai mái khá
    B: “Sorry, are you okay?”

    A: ไม่เป็นไรค่ะ
    A: mâi bpen rai khâ
    A: “I’m okay.”

  • Usage in sentence:
    You can use this phrase alone.

4. หมั่นไส้ (màn-sâi)

  • Type of word: Adverb
  • Meaning: Naturally, when you see that someone else has a good life or is happy, you may feel happy for them, feel indifferent, feel jealous, or feel หมั่นไส้ (màn-sâi).This untranslatable word means in Thai a feeling toward someone who acts over-the-top or shows off too much about something. This feeling isn’t quite jealousy, dislike, annoyance, or anger.
  • Example situation:
    เห็นรูปบนเฟสบุ๊คของแป้งมั๊ย อวดว่าไปเที่ยวญี่ปุ่นมา ช่างน่าหมั่นไส้
    hĕn rûup bon féet-búk khǎawng bpâaeng mái ùuat wâa bpai thîiao yîi-bpùn maa châang nâa màn-sâi
    “Have you see photo on Bpaaeng’s facebook,showing off that she has been to Japan. So
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + màn-sâi + name of person 2 = person 1 feels màn-sâi toward person 2.

5. เกรงใจ (greeng-jai)

  • Type of word: Adverb
  • Meaning: เกรงใจ (greeng-jai) is the feeling of being afraid to disturb other people, or afraid to have other people do something for you (even if the other parties are willing to do it for you).
  • Example situation:
    ไปเที่ยวให้สนุกนะ ไม่ต้องซื้อของฝากมาก็ได้ เกรงใจ
    bpai thîiao hâi sà-nùk ná mâi dtâawng súue khǎawng fàak maa gâaw dâi greeng jai
    “Have a fun trip!! And no need for a souvenir, greeng-jai.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + greeng-jai + name of person 2 = person 1 feels greeng-jai toward person 2.
  • Additional note: In Thai, there’s a term, which is ความเกรงใจเป็นสมบัติของผู้ดี (khwaam greeng jai bpen sŏm-bàt khǎawng phûu dii). Its literal meaning is “greeng-jai is a characteristic of noble people.” But to put it simply, it means “greeng-jai is a good manner.” This shows that Thai people are considerate.

6. เสียดาย (sǐia-daai)

  • Type of word: Adverb
  • Meaning: This feeling isn’t quite the same as regret. เสียดาย (sǐia-daai) is the sorry or negative feeling you feel when you’re in the following situations:
    • You’ve lost someone or something that used to be yours.
    • You don’t get someone or something you want.
  • Example situation:
    sǐia-daai thîi rao mâi dâi raang-wan thîi nùeng
    “I feel sǐia-daai that we didn’t win the first prize.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 (+rúu-sùek) + sǐia-daai + thîi (the situation you feel sorry about) = person 1 feels sǐia-daai that (the situation you feel sorry about).
  • Additional note: This untranslatable Thai word is used in an idiom as well: รักพี่เสียดายน้อง (rák phîi sĭia-daai náawng). Its literal meaning is “love older sister/brother, but sǐia-daai little sister/brother.” Thai people use it to explain the situation where you can’t choose between two choices because you want both.

2- Untranslatable Thai Action Words

Reasons to Study

Thai people have unique actions that only we do. Here are two examples:

1. ไหว้ (Wâi)

  • Type of word: Verb
  • Meaning: ไหว้ (wâi) is an action that Thai people use to pay respect, politely greet each other, or worship God.
  • Example situation:
    mûuea nák-riian jooe khruu khuuan tham khwaam khao-róp dooi gaan wâi láe glàao sà-wàt-dii
    “When students meet a teacher, they should pay respect by wai and saying hello.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Name of person 1 + wâi + name of person 2 = person 1 greets/pay respect to person 2 by wâi.

Thai People Wai As A Way of Greeting

2. บน (bon)

  • Type of word: Verb
  • Meaning: บน (bon) is to ask God for help and promise something (such as doing a certain action) in return if your wish is fulfilled later on. Thai people can ask God for help with anything from love, to work, to studying, to asking for a child. The things or actions people promise in return can be anything as well. The famous ones are: offering a boiled pig head, a boiled egg or a flower; to be vegetarian; to do a Thai dance; and the list goes on.
  • Example situation:
    เธอบนไว้ว่า ถ้าเธอคลอดลูกอย่างปลอดภัย เธอจะกินมังสวิรัติ 1 เดือน
    thooe bon wái wâa thâa thooe khlâawt lûuk yàang bplâawt phai thooe jà gin mang-sà-wí-rát nùeng duuean
    “She bon to God that if she delivers her child safely, she will be vegetarian for one month.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Subject + bon + wâa + (thâa……) = Subject bon that if…… (It is normally used with “if”).
  • Additional note:
    If you come to Thailand, you’ll see temples and shrines almost everywhere. There are many gods that Thai people respect, and Thai people still have much spiritual belief. Some gods Thai people like to bon are listed below:

King Rama V

3- Untranslatable Words about Cooking

Thailand is famous for its cuisine and desserts. So would like to introduce some interesting untranslatable words about cooking.

1. รวน (ruan)

  • Type of word: Verb
  • Meaning: รวน (ruuan) is to cook meat (of any type) until it’s almost cooked by stir frying it in a pan or pot. The meat will normally be cooked again at a later stage. This is one of the methods Thai people use in cooking.
  • Example situation:
    naaen gam-lang ruuan mûu sàp phûuea ao bpai tham yam
    “Nan is ruuan ground pork for spicy salad.”
  • Usage in sentence:
    Subject + ruuan + type of meat.
  • Additional note:
    Some examples of dishes that use the ruan method of cooking are ยำ (yam) which is spicy salad and ลาบ (lâap).

2. หัวกะทิ (hǔua gà-thí) and หางกะทิ (hǎang gà-thí)

  • Type of word: Noun
  • Meaning: หัวกะทิ (hǔua gà-thí) and หางกะทิ (hǎang gà-thí) are types of coconut milk. The process of making coconut milk is to add water to the shredded coconut meat, and then squeeze it until the water becomes coconut milk. The first part of coconut milk we get from this process is called hǔua gà-thí, while the coconut milk we get at the later stage is called hǎang gà-thí. Hǔua gà-thí is richer in taste than hǎang gà-thí.
  • Example situation:
    เวลาทำแกง ต้องใส่หัวกะทิไปผัดกับเครื่องแกงก่อน แล้วเติมหางกะทิทีหลัง
    wee-laa tham gaaeng dtâawng sài hŭua gà-thí bpai phàt gàp khrûueang gaaeng gàawn láaeo dtooem hăang gà-thí thii-lăng
    “When making curry, you have to stir fry hǔua gà-thí with curry paste first before adding hăang gà-thí later.”
  • Usage in sentence: There’s no specific way to use this word, and sentences can vary.
  • Additional note: In Thai cuisine and desserts, coconut milk or gà-thí is an important ingredient. If you like cooking, you should know the difference between hǔua gà-thí and hăang gà-thí, as it really matters in how the dish tastes.

Thai Curry with Coconut Milk as Ingredient

Conclusion: How ThaiPod101 Can Help You Learn More Thai

Thai words with no English equivalent isn’t an easy topic, so it may take some time for you to understand. The hardest ones are those related to feelings, which you may not really understand at first.

Here’s a tip for you: It will help you to understand better if you imagine yourself as the person in the given example situations throughout this article. It will be easier for you to imagine the feeling that Thais feel in various situations. Once you understand this topic, you can visit for more Thai lessons to master your Thai!

Before you go, let us know in the comments which untranslatable word in Thai vocabulary is your favorite! Was our untranslatable words in Thai lesson helpful to you? We look forward to hearing from you.

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