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Thai for Beginners 1st ed Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.