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Conversational Thai (Pimsleur Instant Conversation) Audio CD – Audiobook, 27 Feb 2006

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Pimsleur (27 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743551222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743551229
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 5.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 982,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Philip Solo on 24 Oct 2009
Format: Audio CD
Bart Simpson's anguished cry is apt as people think learning Thai is going to be a massive struggle and a brain hurting exercise. Thai is oft like Japanese and Chinese perceived as a 'hard' language to learn. I don't think it is. The 'tonal' elements which as Stokie Dave points out are unfamiliar as formal ideas to Westerners are not so much the problem at first it's also the fact they are accompanied by what can seem 'endless' variants of the Same Word..which with a different tone mean different things... agghh!

For instance the above Kao, can mean 'rice', 'he/ she/' 'come..' as in 'come in' and more and 'nan' can mean 'that' 'that is' or 'work' (nahn)and other meanings and don't get me started even on 'ma' 'maa' 'mah' etc... !!

In my opinion, Pimsleur is the very best language learning system I have encountered and the full 30 lesson Pimsleur Thai CD series (not as here the first 16) will fully equip you to start mastering it. I copied it onto my PC, phone, and travel CDs for my cars and in mobile time was immersed in the lessons, chattering away in Thai..! Pimsleur Thai uses a remarkably infusive and immersive conversational style with two Thai speakers and a western (American!) narrator, taking you through basic social encounters, greetings, questions, travel situations, dining, ordering, street directions, money and counting, plus general social introductions including family, status, nationality. From a simple ` hello' to directing errant tax drivers in at least 3 directions. What works so well with is the repetitive and reiterative sequences, and its structured progression, and the brilliant way in which half way through lesson 24 or something, the narrator will throw you back to say lesson 2, 5, or 21 in the next questions, reinforcing all you have learned.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 26 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A very good start to learning Thai 26 Aug 2011
By Mark Colan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I get asked whether I have a Thai wife a lot when I visit Thailand, when chatting with the locals. Why else would a farang be able to speak this much Thai? I have been told a few times that my accent is very good. It is still hard to understand Thai spoken to me, in part because of the many dialects, but this course is a big help for learning the way Bangkok locals speak, and with practice, the rest eventually comes.

All speakers speak clearly, not too fast, not too slow
Pimsleur approach with learn and review works for me
I am able to speak and be understood by Thais, albeit with a limited vocabulary
The subtle phonemes and the all-important tones are evident
More complete coverage of time and numbers compared to 10-lesson edition

no printed reference for the content
The Thai time system is odd, not well explained and causes confusion with learning numbers
incomplete numbers and time

This course has the first sixteen lessons of the much more expensive 30-lesson course, in exactly the same form. Many essential pleasantries are covered, along with making plans, ordering iced tea/beer/wine, telling time, numbers, asking directions and basic replies.

Thai people do not expect visitors to be able to say any more than a basic greeting, if that. I'll never forget the reaction when a Thai who accidentally stumbled into me apologized profusely in English, and I calmly replied "mai bhen rai" (it does not matter/no problem) - they were astonished! My ability to speak a bit of Thai totally changes my experience in visiting Thailand. Truth is, there is enough English comprehension there that you could get by without any Thai in any city, but people will like you more if you learn use some basic Thai.

I do wish Pimsleur would order the lessons by putting the content most useful to visitors up front. To me, that would be "hello", "thank-you", "excuse me", and "where is the toilet, please?", instead of "do you speak Thai?" and "yes I can speak it. can you speak English?" "No, I cannot speak English." The latter is not needed, because it becomes obvious whether you have a common language by just trying. But if you buy this set with the intention of mastering it before traveling, the order is not important. And asking for the toilet is much later, in the 30-lesson course. I just wished the first disk or two would start as a jump start for the basics.

There is no printed reference to words covered in the lessons. I wish they listed them in English with Thai script and Roman-transliterated spellings. While the Thai pronunciations are usually excellent, there are times I have not been able to understand the pronunciation until I look it up (on Thai-language dot com), and looking up words is difficult using Roman characters, because there are several valid spellings into Roman depending on which convention you use. I am a visually-oriented learner, and it would help to be able to see the words in written form.

I put the lessons on my portable player and listened and practicied while taking my morning walk. With no Thai people at home to practice with, I review the lessons if I am returning to Thailand after several months.

Pimsleur implies that you will master one lesson per day. That certainly was not the case for me; I had to do many lessons 3-5 times to really get it, because Thai is hard for an English speaker (and vice-versa).

Tones are a hurtle for many beginners. In these lessons, the tones are correct and evident. I was surprised at how naturally tones come to me when I speak the words; it's not like I have to stop and think now, what was the tone for this word? It becomes part of the rhythm of the language. The phonemes (particles of sound) are sometimes familiar, and often very foreign. Some letters, like d/t or p/b, are actually pronounced somewhere between these two. Some vowel sounds have me twisting my tongue in unfamiliar ways. But at least they are pronounced carefully, and with careful listening and practice, you can and will master them.

There are also things that make Thai easier. While most Thai words have nothing in common with Western words, many are single-syllable, or built from single-syllable words that you may already have learned. The same word can be used for several different English words, and somehow it makes sense (like nam can mean liquid, water, or sauce). Tenses are not part of the verb; they are indicated with words added to change tense, so none of the tedius conjugation memorization like you find in Latin-based languages. In these and other ways, Thai is actually more simple than you may realize. Then again, it also has difficult subtleties.

What I learned from this course is very useful for getting around in Thailand - and surprisingly, in Laos too, because many Lao people understand Thai, and Lao is similar.

To keep learning interesting, they teach you something, switch to a review, and return to the new material. For example, you never learn to count; rather, they introduce various numbers here and there from other lessons.

This leads to a minor complaint. We had learned the number two for ordering beer, and later, they introduce time. In Thai time, 8 p.m. is expressed as "two in the night," because the day is broken up into six-hour segments (unlike US AM/PM 12-hour systems or Euro 24-hour systems). In teaching me to say 8 p.m. (sawwng(R) thoom(F)), they then asked me to say the word for eight. The answer they wanted was saawng(R), which is really the number two; eight is bpaaet(L). They tell you that saawng(R) means both two and eight. That's true only when used to express time, where additional words indicate afternoon or night. This is confusing if you don't understand the Thai time system, and it is not explained well. If you continue to lesson 11 onward (in the complete course), you will learn the rest of time and numbers.

Lessons teach correct formal Thai, rather than Thai as spoken by locals. Lessons always give complete sentences, starting with personal program (like I) and the gender-specific ending (khrahp / kha). Thai people tend to speak more informally. Still, learning to speak very politely is a great way to start, especially if you may be talking to a Thai who expects to be spoken to with the higher status forms (any boss or older person), and you can easily figure out how to be terser and more casual when you are there with people who expect that.

Audiobookscorner dot com (and maybe pimsleur dot com) has a free download of the first 30-minute lesson so you can try it out before buying.

WARNING: Avoid the 2000 edition of this product. It is harder to pick up the correct pronunciation and tones with the speakers they used in those lessons.

I recommend this edition over the ten-lesson edition. You WILL want the additional 6 lessons offered here. If you can afford it, the 30-lesson version makes sense - or it may be available in your library when you finish here.

Overall, I have learned a lot. The minor complaints lead to four stars instead of five. It is indeed a good course, and with time and perseverance, you will learn basic Thai. A very good supplemental learning aid is the free thai dash language dot com.

khawp khun khrahp
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Taking on Thai 12 May 2007
By moveable feast - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Asian languages can be a challenge for western ears and tongues. I found this program very helpful and entertaining. The 8 disk version added another level of conversation not found in the 6 disk version and I was glad I had opted for this one. I was very comfortable greeting people, conversing, bartering and asking question in Thai, though my accent often brought smiles and giggles. The Pimsleur programs work best for anyone planning a short vacation, who speaks little to none of the native languge. Coupled with a good phrase book, like Lonely Planet's, Pimsleur remains my favorite language program.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
an excellent value 8 Feb 2008
By Stephen Kristian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I have worked with this set of CD's and have found them to be both easy to use and effective. They are very well designed. It is clear to see that much thought went into the material that was selected, and the presentation of that material. I highly recomend this very inexpensive language package for anyone seeking a first time experience with the Thai Laguage.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Dissapointing: Not Up To Pimsleur's Usual Standard 28 April 2009
By Jack Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am a huge fan of the Pimsleur method and have had great success with Pimsleur's Spanish and French programs. I wish I could say a good word for their Thai program.

First complaint is that it's far too short: 8 disks isn't even enough of a primer for Thai, and unlike their more popular language programs (offering 3 levels of 30 lessons each, for a total of 90 lessons) there are no follow on programs available.

Second complaint is the "native Thai speakers" that are used. I've lived in Thailand for over 3 years and NO ONE speaks Thai like the people in these lessons. The male speaker on the lessons is so soft-spoken, effeminate, and utterly soporific that you first can do little but snicker and quickly fall asleep listening to him. No grown man will make any effort to sound like he does.

Also, real Thai is the most muddled, soft-palated language on Earth: they have 47 consonants and don't pronounce any of them. Despite the fact that a Thai syllable may end in either a short/truncated vowel, a "long" sonarant vowel (which in practice is about 1.5 milliseconds longer than their short vowel) or one of 6 ending (unasperated and unreleased) consonants, in practice Western ears can't hear any of the ending sounds at all. As for the consonants that start a syllable, not only is it near impossible to distinguish between their Gs & Ks, their Ds & Ts, their Bs & Ps, their Ls, Rs & Ws, their Js & CHs, their Ys from no consonant at all, and even their Ms, Ns, and NGs, half the time it's impossible to identify the correct family at all: e.g., they'll say what sounds like a B/P but is in fact supposed to be an M or T or even a G. (And if you ask a Thai to repeat what they said slowly, they'll spit out each syllable like it was shot from a pop gun but will put long pauses between each syllable). To learn to deal with this a Thai language program needs to DRILL, DRILL, DRILL in tones and context. This program does not.

This program is only of use to someone who will be visiting Thailand for a few days and wants nothing more than to be able to say Hello, Excuse Me, and Thank You in Thai.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
learn a little 22 May 2013
By roger t. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
i've been to thailand three times and find that the people don't speak the same way. this is probably good if you want to speak very proper thai
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