Learning Thai-The Best Phone Apps out there to learn-
By: Adam Judd
One thing people often ask is, how can one learn Thai? Of course, that’s a vague question and there are literally thousands of ways to do so, but in this series, we are going to focus on only one category: Some of the best current phone applications to learn with.
There are many different programs out there and I have tried close to a hundred over the years. These are my picks for the best of the batch. Not all of them are free, so I will specifically call out that information if it costs you some money. Like anything, how much you learn directly correlates to how much you put in time-wise. Many of these programs can be used for only a few minutes a day and help you learn and pick up the language.
I will also break down the applications that are best for the different type of learning-Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Almost all of these apps can also be found on Google Play or the Apple Store.
I am nowhere near fluent in Thai but in the past seven months have improved substantially by putting time and effort into multiple programs. In January, I could not even read Thai, although I could speak quite a bit, and was embarrassed as I have lived here for over five years. Seven months later I can now read at a basic level and my understanding and spoken is approaching solid intermediate.
First up: Mondly Languages
Mondly is a freemium program that has both a premium and a regular version. I have subscribed to the premium for some time and for me, it is worth it.
Mondly provides easy registration and sign-up as opposed to many other programs, it simply asks you what your native language is and what language you want to learn and that is pretty much it. It costs 300 baht a month, or about ten USD, to sign up for the premium and in my opinion is completely worth it. It can be canceled easily at any time also and now includes Mondly Kids, a kid-specific version of learning Thai which I have not tried it this time but has good user reviews.
A great thing about Mondly is the premium includes over 30 languages for the same price.
It also provides three levels of learning, beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. For Thai, the different levels seem to primarily change from the basic matching of pictures and images and games to more serious Thai language grammar, spelling and speaking lessons. I use the intermediate version myself as I can now read basic Thai.
You can choose between reading Thai or having it spelled out in English. I personally suggest moving to read Thai as soon as possible and starting to recognize words and phrases rather than use a crutch. That being said, this will not truly teach you how to read Thai, I will speak about that in a future review and the best tools for that. However, what Mondly does well is teaching words, phrases, and categories in a fun and competitive format.
Mondly contains scoreboards and it’s fun for me to track my performance with thousands of people from around the world and how you are doing. It also encourages you to log in daily due to this. Additionally, Mondly offers daily quizzes and lessons that take five minutes and encourage you to log in every single day to complete your daily quiz.
Mondly keeps track of your total hours, words and phrases learned and spent as well as the days in a row currently learning. (As a note, I’m at 24 hours, 1532 words and 1439 phrases at the time of this review.) It also gives you levels and points to compare with others and reach the next level. (I am level 16 and have 7977 points.) This encourages you to log on often and compete with others.
The lessons are arranged in a logical order and connect and build upon each other but you can skip to any lesson at any time depending on how you feel. You can also take refresher courses and highlight words and phrases you have not seen in a while. There are also advanced courses that primarily focus on occupations that a foreigner may have or in-depth interactions in a restaurant, etc.
The app also uses chatbots in which you can practice your speaking and conversational skills.
Overall, Mondly is a great tool to help you learn Thai but I’ve found it’s best in short spurts rather than a long learning tool. It’s great for beginners, a great refresher tool and keeps you logging in on a regular basis. It’s not a complete tool as I mentioned as it doesn’t explain in-depth reading, writing or grammar (It has some grammar courses but they are limited) however for phrases, learning words, learning basics of speech and using a Rosetta Stone repetition style learning process it’s a great program.
The free version is enough for you to see if you will like it long term. Running through the entire course catalog, which is what I did, takes about 20 hours.
Overall score: 7 out of 10 on the AJ scale.