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Everyday Thai for Beginners Paperback – 16 Nov 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (16 Nov. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9749575970
  • ISBN-13: 978-9749575970
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 16.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 486,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Orman on 9 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I am an expert in accelerated approaches to learning complex subjects such as music and languages (which I believe are more difficult to learn than maths by comparison).

This book is the ONLY book I recommend as a course for learning Thai. If you go to a Thai language school or have a private teacher then insist on following THIS book, not the curriculum that they devised (which is more often than not arduous and irrelevant).

The main feature of this book is that it uses Thai script throughout. I warn students and teachers to stay away from learning Thai phonetically because 1) you end up with a curious dialect that only Thais who are familiar with tourists can understand and 2) you limit yourself to 'language school Thai' because you cannot read the signs or the menus or read books or magazines or newspapers.

And, equally important, the course itself is simple, well structured, and useful. The first unit is about "getting to know each other". It's the first thing you'd want to do when meeting Thai people! The next unit is about "family", a vital aspect of Thai culture. After that it's "everyday life", then "time" and the ubiquitous communications about "food", followed by "getting around town" and eventually "running errands". The progression is just right for being able to communicate and function in a useful, albeit fairly basic, way in Thailand.

The structure of each unit is logical, starting with a bit of vocabulary, followed by useful sentence patterns and then a brief explanation of grammar - not too technical or linguistic, but just enough to understand the mechanics of putting words together to form sentences.
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By probbo on 13 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. Have tried many others but at last I have something with some structure. Having to learn the alphabet and rules makes progress slower but I am finding it a rewarding experience. I find that with this book and a good dictionary on my iPhone I am making some progress at last!
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By Mrs N Boyce on 26 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too advance for the beginners!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Don't be without it! 4 July 2009
By Aidan McDowell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the book every beginning student of the Thai language has been waiting for. The GREAT strength of the book may be a weakness for some readers. It is that the book doesn't rely on Roman transliteration at all. It assumes that you know how to read and write Thai script, and above all, that you know how to pronounce the language. There is no uniform system of transliteration for the Thai language. This is good, because it should get students of Thai over the idea that they need one. Transliterations are a crutch, and should be dispensed with as soon as possible; better yet, don't even get used to using them. There are a few Thai courses out there which rely entirely on transliteration, or introduce Thai script only late in the course. Such courses are useless, and you shouldn't even bother looking at them.

So how does one learn how to read,write, pronounce, and listen to Thai? I would highly recommend "Thai for Beginners" by Benjawan Poomsan Becker. Her book teaches the tone rules for Thai better than any I've ever found. Work through that book, and you'll have a basic vocabulary and lots of practice with pronunciation--more than enough to begin "Everyday Thai for Beginners." I also recommend that you buy the CDs and software that come with Becker's book. If you want a lot of extra practice listening to Thai, I would recommend Becker's two books "Practical Thai Conversation," Volumes I and II. These can be profitably used with "Everyday Thai for Beginners." Both have accompanying DVDs. (Becker's "Thai for Beginners" is so good that I used it to teach English to Thais when I was living in Thailand.) You might also get the course "Pimsleur Thai," if you want to listen to Thai being spoken while you're driving. Its major defect, however, is that there is no worthwhile book accompanying it, and the moderator makes frequent mistakes. And too, when you've gone though the entire 30 lessons, your vocabulary will be extremely limited. And worst of all, the course is very pricey.

I've been busy learning Thai for over 12 years now, and so I speak from experience when making these recommendations. I can't emphasize enough that if you want to learn Thai, you've got to do more than simply memorize a vocabulary list, and then try to string words together. If you do it that way, I can assure you that you won't be understood when you try to speak Thai with a native speaker, and you won't understand them either. Words MUST be used in complete sentences, at the very least. You've got to learn how to recognize them as part of an oral presentation--much like listening to a song. Unlike other tonal languages, the tones of Thai are quite subtle, and easily missed in everyday usage if you don't know how to listen for them. Like any other language, unless you learn how to make the same "noises" which native speakers of a language make, you won't be understood. No child ever learned his or her native tongue by picking up a book on grammar or vocabulary. Language is a form of life, and must be "lived" to be used and understood.

By the way, another very effective way to get used to hearing and pronouncing Thai (which, however, is not a substitute for a good text and CDs or DVDs, or practicing with native speakers) is to try to find a local Thai restaurant or bar that has karaoke. Try to get your hands on karaoke DVDs, listen to them, and practice singing. I've been doing this for some time now. It's a fun way to reinforce what you're learning. And when you visit the restaurant and try out your skills, even if you bungle it, your efforts will be appreciated. Thais really do love foreigners who take their language seriously enough to make the considerable effort it takes to learn it. And when you visit Thailand, being an American you'll become an instant celebrity if you know even a little Thai. People will want you to teach them English.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
superb book, even with the strange CD 28 Sept. 2009
By leosmith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As others have said, this is a great book that doesn't rely on transliteration. The learner needs to be aware that merely memorizing the characters and tone rules in the preface will almost certainly not be enough to allow one to get comfortably through the rest of the book. One really has to learn the writing system well so that they are not constantly struggling when they should be learning vocabulary and grammar.

I really like the reviewer Aidan McDowell's suggestion - learn the writing system by using Becker's first book, or perhaps her first 2 books. There is no shame or even damage in starting with transliteration, as another poster seems to claim. This is not Japanese kana. This is not Russian cyrillic. This is the hardest alphabet in use (Chinese characters aren't considered an alphabet), and takes many hours, spread out over many weeks, to get comfortable with it. Going through the first Becker book will give you vocabulary and grammar to reinforce the writing system as you learn it. The second book only provides transliteration for new vocabulary, thus weening the learner off of transliteration. At this point you will finally be good enough to use Everyday Thai for Beginners (ETB).

So why use ETB at all? After all, Becker is a beginner text too.
1) ETB covers more grammar, more vocabulary, and is better organized. It is written more like one would expect a western text book to be written, making it friendlier in many ways.
2) Thai is a difficult language. Covering the same material in a different way, this time without transliteration, is very helpful reinforcement.

It's a great text, but like so many texts, it comes with a not-so-useful CD. Ok many other language texts only attempt to give recordings of vocabulary and sentences in the book. This one does a little more, by doing some drills and patterns. But there is some really strange stuff here.
1) long vowels are way over pronounced. I understand the need to give good examples to distinguish long and short vowels, but this is ridiculous. The male speaker is fine. The female speaker does all the over-pronouncing, and unfortunately, it goes beyond long vowels. She also quite often pronounces too slowly. Very unnatural, and it's not recommended to imitate her.
2) there are 2 female announcers (I'm not talking about voice actors here). The native english speaker says the word "Patterns!" in a way that ensures the listener she wants to kill you. The native Thai speaker pronounces two phrases in English so poorly it took me a long time to figure out what she was saying. "question words" and "miscellaneous". I thought she was speaking Thai. It's worth buying the book just to hear this strange pronunciation - it cracks me up every time:)
3) This is the most important one. IMO, a CD should be able to stand alone. You should be able to play it in your car, without looking at the book, and use it. It's not so hard to design something like this, although I admit it would be more work that what they did here. Give us something we will find useful by itself, and we will play it again and again. Reading off a list of words and sentences in Thai is better than nothing, but not much.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Thai Language Beginner 20 Mar. 2009
By John S. Oles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A great find! Written with American teaching methods in mind. Each lesson starts with vocab, then grammar, then a series of drills along with a variety of extra activities to reinforce the lesson's goals. The CD is extremely clear and many examples are given in male and female voices. The only other example of such a logical layout is the AUA series of books, but they're difficult to find and outdated.
You won't find any transliterated text in this book, so buyer beware! But if you can read Thai, even at a basic level, this would be a good follow-on.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Review of books for beginning Thai Language Students 4 Nov. 2008
By Joseph M. Rubin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book introduces the Thai Language concurrent with the Thai writing system. In my opinion learning the Thai writing system is indispensable to the proper understanding and pronunciation. Most of the beginning books try to teach using a transliteration of english, which end up being really ambiguous, and, in the long run will waste alot of the students time trying to understand Thai sounds. The type of system used in the book will yield good results, and lay a good foundation for the student willing to put forth the necessary effort. Have fun!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good. But Beginner? Not really 5 Oct. 2012
By KorkenZieher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the common themes in the reviews of this book is that it is a bad idea to learn Thai phonetically, and I agree with that. The problem though, is that this isn't the book to learn those basics of character set and pronounciation. Becker's first book is a much better choice here.

Although I agree with the overall assessment of the book (it is way ahead of Becker in discussing grammar, for instance) it is most avowedly not a beginner book in the absolute sense. It would be near impossible to take this book off the shelf in isolation and learn anything useful. It also suffers some of the basic failings of Thai language courses in general, and that is that it teaches you what is important to Thais. The lesson on Thai family relationships is completely redundant for learning the language at a beginner level, when compared to say body parts, colours, foods, etc. There is a tendency in almost all Thai teaching, to teach the language as it would be learned by a Thai child - not as an adult learner of a second language, and this book also falls into that trap.

Clearly, most of the contributors here have some experience of Thai before coming to this book as did I. If you have a basic grasp of the rules of pronunciation and tones THEN it is a great next step - but it couldn't really be considered a first or entry level option.
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