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Thai for Beginners 1st ed Edition

4 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1887521000
ISBN-10: 1887521003
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Benjawan Poomsan Becker was born in Bangkok and spent her childhood in Yasothon, a small province in Northeast Thailand. Her family is ethnic Laotian, so she grew up speaking both Thai and Lao. She graduated from Khon Kaen University in Thailand in 1990, with a B.A. in English. Benjawan gained extensive experience teaching Thai to foreigners while studying for her M.A. in Japan with the Japan-Thailand Trade Association and Berlitz Language School, and in the US with Thai temples, Stanford University and private students. She now resides in Berkeley, California where she continues to write and publish books on the Thai and Lao languages. Her books include "Thai for Beginners", "Thai for Intermediate Learners", "Thai for Advanced Readers", "Thai-English/English-Thai Dictionary for Non-Thai Speakers", "Improving Your Thai Pronunciation", "Practical Thai Conversation DVD Series", the popular "Speak Like a Thai Series" and many other titles on the Thai language.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Paiboon Publishing; 1st ed edition (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887521003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887521000
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Benjawan Poomsan Becker was born in Bangkok and spent her childhood in Yasothon, a small province in Northeast Thailand. Her family is ethnic Laotian, so she grew up speaking both Thai and Lao. She recevied a B.A. in English with first class honor from Khon Kaen University, Thailand. While obtaining her M.A. in Japan, she gained extensive experience teaching Thai to foreigners at the Japan Thailand Trade Association and the Berlitz Language School. In the United States, she taught Thai language at Stanford University, at several Thai temples, and in private classes. She operated a successful Thai and Lao translation business and is a registered Thai and Lao court interpreter in the state of California. She now resides in Berkeley, California where she continues to write and publish the leading learning books on the Thai and Lao languages. Her latest book, "The Interpreter's Journal" is the recipient of the 2011 Asian Book Publishing Award for Best Book / Best Writer on Asian Socio-Economic or Media scene.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book starts out at the beginning and goes through the language rather quickly building your vocabulary and getting simple phrases down. It's not really designed to just learn a few phrases that you might use on a short vacation. It's for people that are serious about learning Thai. I don't mean to say that it's a difficult book. It's not. The phrases you learn are short and simple but well thought out so you can learn to make other sentences by substituting words. There's no sense in learning at the beginning long and almost useless sentences that you don't know how to change under different circumstances.
I've spent so much money on Thai books and tapes and have been really discouraged. I started building web page that took the best parts of different books because I knew there was a better, more efficient way to learn Thai. But I found everything I wanted in this series of books. Also, there are several words like gaw and hai that are tricky to translate and it spends time explaining all their different uses.
The last part of the book has the alphabet and is taught the way Thai children learn, "Gaw gai, kaw kai, kaw kuart". I've been trying to learn it for so long but never found it on a tape. Speaking of the tape, or tapes - there are three - they do what is expected, read the vocabulary and phrases from the book. But they are great to have to drill the sounds and different tones into your head.
Lastly, the book uses good transliteration and has Thai script, which can be quite helpful to Thai people, and it clears up confusion if you're not sure exactly what sound they're making on the tape. This is besides the obvious reason, to learn how to read Thai. Oh, they focus on that too.
I don't know what else to say. It really is a must. The best.
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Format: Unknown Binding Verified Purchase
First off, I want to say that I would not recommend this book for casual students, or people who want to study a bit of Thai for a holiday. This book is people who are serious about learning the Thai language correctly. (For those going on holiday, I also strongly recommend the phrase book from Lonely Planet.)

Second off, I want to say a bit about a few 1 star ratings I see. One complains that the book does not come with the tapes or a CD. Another complains that the tapes don't come with a book. Well, yes, this is true. If you want both, you buy both. What in the world does this have to do with the quality of either, and how does it justify a one star rating? It may be a legitimate complaint that buying both is too expensive (I would disagree), but these kinds of complaints are like saying that DirectTV satellite TV is awful because it does not come with a TV to watch it on.

In my opinion as a fluent Thai speaker, who has looked at many systems to learn the language, this one is the best. Here is why:

1) It has you learning to read and write right from the beginning, and if you're serious about learning Thai I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of this. It will aid your pronunciation and understanding to the language immensely, and in the grand scheme of learning the language, learning the writing system is actually a small part.

2) While you're getting up to speed on the writing system, it's transliteration system is there to help you, and is the best in existence. It has an extended roman alphabet to accurately and consistently represent the Thai alphabet. You need to take a bit of time to learn the system, but the payoff is you will be leaps and bounds ahead of students of other systems as far as pronunciaton goes.
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Format: Paperback
This is a really sweet series of books for learning Thai and is about 2 cuts above any other Thai self-study course I've seen in 3 years of living in Thailand. A bonus is that it is also one of the most affordable.
A previous reviewer stated that the book does not teach the pronunciation of Thai script. That is incorrect. The Thai script sections are broken out separately at the end of each chapter, with pronunciation keys and vocabularly taken from the speaking drills. Learning Thai script (as opposed to merely speaking Thai) is not a quick process, and this is an issue with the language itself, not the course. I give the book five stars (6 if I could) for systematically and coherently teaching spoken Thai, while additionally offering one of the best primers on basic written Thai as a bonus for those who want to spend the extra time.
Finally, about the tapes being only 2 1/2 hours-- there are about 1000 vocab words (listed at the front of each chapter) and phrases in the book, almost all of which are spot on useful. If you learn them by heart, which doesn't take more than an hour a day over about 5 weeks, you will be carrying on in Thai at a basic but quite functional level that you can dramatically build on once you get to Thailand. Imagine that, actually speaking Thai, not just throwing in a random phrase or word here and there on your next vacation. It's quite possible, with this book.
I didn't find the tapes too fast, for the most part, and I hated language tapes in college for that reason. Anyway, there's always the rewind button for those odd moments. It is true that you will need the book with you, at least initially, for the conversation drills, since the English isn't repeated on the tape.
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