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102 Reviews
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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first book in a GREAT series!
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...
Published on October 18, 2000 by Bruce Dailey

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48 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a Quick Way to Learn Some Thai
First let me say English is my second language. I also spent one year learning español from books and tapes. When I visited Mexico, I was able to converse with the locals. But Thai is very different. I bought this book and the tape based on the recommendations here.
This book has ten lessons, including instructions on how to write Thai scripts. Each lesson has...
Published on March 30, 2003 by megustario


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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first book in a GREAT series!, October 18, 2000
This review is from: Thai for Beginners (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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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best out there for those serious about learning Thai, February 2, 2006
By 
Amazon Customer (San Francisco, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thai for beginners
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.

3) It presents the major grammatical elements of Thai in a well pased, logical way.

4) The vocabulary building is also very good, introducing common stuctural words quickly. Vocabulary is introduced in a context so many realated words can be learned at once.

I recommend this series to anyone who has an interest in learning Thai.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thai for Beginners, May 24, 2000
This review is from: Thai for Beginners (Paperback)
My husband and I tried several Thai language courses, but found each one of them lacking in the "flow" of learning. This course offers instruction in speaking, grammar, and writing. Each lesson gives you the right amount of information to keep you challenged, but not overwhelmed. The word choices in the vocabulary and sentence exercises allow you to quickly expand your speaking ability. -- It is evident that the writer has extensive experience in teaching Thai to foreigners. -- For true beginners to Thai, the accompanying tapes are also useful. These can be ordered using the form in the back of the book.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars teaches script AND conversation, April 2, 2004
By 
"day_vit13" (Bangkok, Thailand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thai for Beginners (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. I'd say that's a minor quibble, at best, but worth noting for those who plan to listen in their car. The English translation for the vocab IS repeated at the start of each chapter, however. If you can follow that, the conversation that follows isn't a stretch.
I've read a lot of language texts, and the Becker series (Thai for Beginners; Thai for Intermediate Learners; Thai for Advanced Readers) is one of the best for any language. It would be nice if Amazon offered the audio CD version of the cassettes, something which is a little more convenient in this day and age and certainly available in Thailand.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not complete., July 31, 2001
By 
Drew Balazs (Indianola, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thai for Beginners (Paperback)
If you are a farang who is trying to learn Thai, I salute you! The 5 tones, 44 consenants and 30 or so vowel sounds in Thai make it an incredibly hard langauge to learn. I believe that this book is a good starting point, but it won't take you very far. The major problem with teaching Thai to non-native speakers is the alphabet. Thai simply has sounds that don't exist in western languages. Although I like this book very much, it tends to focus on learning the phonetic english equivalents first, rather than learning the Thai alphabet. The great thing about Thai is that it is phonetic. Once you know the alphabet, you can sound out words.
So, this book is a good place to start, but you will definetely need other materials to help you.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best series of books for learning Thai, April 22, 2003
By 
Richard Barrow (Paknam, Thailand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thai for Beginners (Paperback)
If you are looking for a book to study Thai then you cannot go far wrong with this book. It has several advantages over competitiors. First, it is part of a series so that you can take your Thai to a higher level by using the same teacher. Also, the author has released a popular dictionary which uses the same transliteration system as this book. It has everything you could want.
It needs to be made clear that you need to buy BOTH the book and tape as they are sold separately. It might not be obvious to everyone. A friend of mine made a mistake on this. Anyway, the audio CD version has just been released and it is 100 times easier to use. A good book has just been made better.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Bunch!, April 12, 2001
By 
DR THOMAS H LAHAIE (Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Thailand) - See all my reviews
"Sawasdee, krup" = HELLO! For the past 13 years I have been looking at and studying Thai language learning materials. This is by far the best book / cassette tapes for a beginner and the second book / tape set in Khun Benjawan's series is also five star material. The content is something you will actually use when you visit the Land of Smiles = Thailand. It is written with an understandable phonetic transcription and strategies to help you understand the five different tones used in speaking "Pasa-Thai" = Thai Language. Soon you will be reading and writing as well as speaking this musical language. My only suggestion would be that the male speaker on the cassettes should speak more slowly and with more distinct articulation.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be clear that you must order the book separately, August 26, 2001
By 
James A Pennella (Concord, CA United States) - See all my reviews
I am very pleased with the content and quality of the tapes. I was shocked that the tapes did not come with a book. After careful re-reading of the authors description of the tapes, I see (although not exactly clearly) that the tapes come with out the book. You need the book to effectively use the tapes. Thus I wound up paying double of what I expected.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good start, June 17, 2005
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This review is from: Thai for beginners
This book used with the CD that IS NOT included is a very good way to start learning to read and write Thai. There are quality exercises as well as tests.

My major issue with this book as well as anything by Becker is the way they write the Thai Phonetic. I found it easier to learn how to read Thai than to try to decipher the way they write the vowels. No one would make sense of this system when they use ii as ee. Dan would be pronounced as Don according to their system. These are examples for the easy vowels, the complex ones are indecipherable.

The book is set up in 10 chapters. Each getting progressively harder. They introduce relevant vocabulary in each chapter.

I am a Peace Corps volunteer and have found this invaluable. If Peace Corps used this book as its teaching foundation I would have been much better served. I am moving on to the intermediate level and can read any word in the basic level.

PC Volunteers: If you want to get started early start with this one. Make sure you get the CD or tapes to accompany it. Practice all four skills; listening, speaking, reading, writing. It is not that hard once you get started and you will be ahead of everyone else. Start also by memorizing the different kinds of foods (that is a key to Thai culture).
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better then all other book/audio combination i've seen..., January 24, 2002
By 
Ron Sanberg (Haarlem, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This past year i've been looking for a good book/audio combination to learn Thai.
Quality of the tapes is good and the possibility to do the writing and reading at the end of each lesson is perfect!
You can't learn Thai properly if you can't read and write it!
And it's easy in this set!
That's what makes this set (and the following set's) better than the other (more expensive!) learning programs.
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Thai for Beginners
Thai for Beginners by Benjawan Poomsan Becker (Paperback - April 1, 1995)
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