Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
36
4.2 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£9.95+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 23 April 2001
Having tried many different textbooks this one has it all. It is perfect for those serious about learning the language, and gives a full understanding into the beautiful Thai language including the mysterious alphabet. Unlike other textbooks it assumes the reader knows nothing and by focusing on the four basic language skills, reading, writing, speaking and listening (with cassette support) one can progress quickly. Learning from these first principles has the advantage of moving the reader away from the shortcomings and inconsistency that a transliteration system gives as soon as possible. The clear presentation, to the point lessons, and self-testing aids make learning varied. The layout is easy to navigate and well structured, your Thai friends will easily be able to help you. The author, coming from a wealth of interpreting experience does not make the mistake of trying to teach too much, but gives the reader all they need to be understood. She uses modern concise language, and takes account of colloquial pronunciation. This readers copy, somewhat dog eared now after being taken up and down Thailand has certainly greatly helped one person to gain an understand of Thai people and the fascinating culture.
22 Comments| 83 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 April 2017
This disc is of very little use without the books to go with the coursework. They do not mention this. The English spoken on it is American. Took 4 atempts to get it to play.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 September 2010
This is an excellent book - very well paced and a good introduction to the Thai language (spoken and written). The book is heavy going, but very thorough, encouraging you to learn the (large!) Thai alphabet as a way of improving your pronunciation, and of removing your dependency on transliteration (there are several different transliterated forms of Thai, which are not useful within the country). I particularly like how this book slowly introduces the alphabet by showing a few symbols at a time, then having pages that encourage you to draw the symbols over and over again (it was exactly the same as learning joined-up handwriting in primary school, writing letter "a" over and over again).

One thing to note - the book *does not* come with CDs. You have to buy the CDs separately (or at least I did). Amazon sells both (Thai for Beginners), but the CDs are twice the price of the book (the CD pack comes with 2 CDs, but doesn't come with the book - this is really confusing and Amazon really should bundle the CDsand book together). I have yet to listen to the CDs (still ripping to my ipod), but I think that they are vital. Thai is a tonal language, and if you don't get the tone write, you will struggle to be understood. I am lucky that I have Thai colleagues who can help me with tone. If you don't have anyone to help, then you will find it very difficult without the CDs.
11 Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 February 2013
I've been studying Thai for a number of years now from a wide range of sources, this book being one of them. The good news is that you will be able to learn to read and write Thai from this book, and you will have the basis for speaking some basic Thai (although you will need to study further to develop an adequate range of vocabulary and grammar understanding). The bad news is that the book doesn't make it easy and you will have to work extremely hard to keep your motivation going.

Thai for Beginners is part of a series of 3 books. It is the best of the bunch by far. Thai for Intermediate learners is of lesser value and is only relevant for those that have learnt to read and write Thai, and Thai for Advanced learners is a total waste of time in my opinion. I've yet to get through it and doubt I ever will.

Personally I'd rate Thai for Beginners good for those wanting to learn to read and write Thai but of lesser value for those who simply want to learn to speak some Thai phrases. Learning to speak Thai is tough enough without having to learn Thai reading and writing which is considerably tougher. So, before buying this book really consider whether you want the pain of learning to read and write Thai. If you don't, you may find well over half this book is irrelevant to your needs, so best look elsewhere. Books like Speak Thai - Volume 1 (Book + DVD), which comes with DVD containing all the words and phrases so that you learn correct pronunciation (essential if you are to speak understandable Thai) and Teach Yourself Thai Book/CD Pack (Teach Yourself Language Complete Courses) might be better sources to learn to speak Thai for you.

So, what are the strength's and weaknesses of this book? The main strengths are as follows:
1) It teaches reading and writing Thai plus a good range of vocabulary and phrases in one book. It's about the only book out there that seriously attempts to teach speaking, reading and writing Thai in one course, and the fact it does this in one very modest book is a big plus.

2) It's well structured and that structure works well. Each chapter begins with a list of vocabulary, followed by conversation and sentences that incorporate some of those words, the latter being particular effective in showing how Thai sentences are composed using the words you have learnt. You are then given some word exercises to do, after-which you then get introduced to some aspect of writing Thai script, usually some consonants and vowel sounds, and then some basic reading exercises.

3) The idea of having sentences to teach you how to use some the words featured at the start of each chapter in vocabulary lists in phases is a good one, It is a surprisingly effective in teaching the way Thai sentences should be constructed and how to phrase things.

The main weaknesses are:
1) The narrative and explanation around the lesson content is minimal. If you like to have things fully introduced and explained you will find this is absent here.

2) The amount you are supposed to learn in a lesson at one time is ambitious to say the least. It is extremely challenging to have to learn and remember the long lists of vocabulary that start each chapter in one sitting. Personally, I'm not up to learning and remembering a list of 100+ words in one go and it really is not the most interesting way to learn Thai. The amount you are expected to learn in the reading and writing lessons later in each chapter is also extremely high. For instance, Chapter 1 expects you to learn and remember the Thai script and sounds of 7 unfamiliar vowels in one go, on top of all those 9 mid class consonants. It a big ask and quite frankly an unnecessarily challenging one. The introduction of these words in smaller segments would have made learning these words easier and less of an ordeal.

3) This book has no accompanying audio. If this is your first attempt to learn Thai you will not learn correct pronunciation without some audio. I would strongly advise you to buy the version of Thai for Beginners that comes with a CD so that you learn the correct pronunciation of words from the audio, as learning good pronunciation solely from the phonetic transliteration system used here is a challenge too far in my view. (Sorry, I can't find the product link for this). Note: I haven't bought this book with the CD so cannot vouch for how good the audio is. I've previously learnt using the Speak Thai - Volume 1 (Book + DVD) 'see, hear, speak' system (which I found very effective).

4) Very little grammar is taught and explained in this volume. You will need to buy Thai for Intermediate Learnersto learn more about Thai grammar, and the challenge with that volume is that you need to be able to read and write Thai at that stage to make purchasing the book worthwhile.

5) The biggest problem though is with this book for me is that I really don't like the phonetic transliteration system used at all. The phonetic transliteration system is how Thai words are written in Roman script so that learners can read and say those words. There are many accurate and easy to read intuitive based systems out there (how the word is spelt using our familiar Roman script is how you say it). Unfortunately Thai for Beginners uses a very scholarly script, and one that is overly complicated in my view, for instance:

o Where Roman characters are used you get vowel sounds that are spoken differently to how they are written, so for example, the vowel representation `ee' does not make the sound `ee' as in the word `meek' as you would intuitively suppose but the sound `a' as in the word `bay'. You also get crossed through `u' and `uu's that are pronounced differently from the non-crossed through `u' and `uu' counter-parts.

o Where Greek script characters are used (or whatever source script it is) you get letters looking like reversed number 3's, and reversed upside down e's and c's and you need to learn and remember the sounds associated with these symbols. The fact you have single letter and double letter vowel sounds using these characters means you have a lot of vowels written with unfamiliar letters whose associated sounds you need to learn.

So, the phonetic system used makes it all very confusing. There is a danger that you will spend half your time referring to the phonetic guide at the front trying to determine what sound these weird letters should produce in the words you are trying to learn, or worse still, guess, because you can't be bothered to check and so get learn the pronunciation wrong. Learning Thai is difficult enough without this unnecessary additional hurdle of dealing with a difficult and confusing phonetic system.

To conclude, this book is a bit of a mixed bag. I personally think that Thai for Beginners has a place as part of a range of other Thai language sources you are learning from rather than being the only source to learn from. I don't think it's the best first book to buy in your journey to learn Thai but is a good one to reinforce and supplement what you have learnt elsewhere and is a must if you want to learn reading and writing. Whatever you do, if you are just starting out learning Thai, make sure you buy a source with audio so that you learn the correct pronunciation from the beginning.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 April 2008
I have read a variety of books on the Thai language in my year in Thailand and this is the only book I've been able to make a real improvement in my Thai with.

In my ex pat community EVERYONE agreed that this is the best book to learn from. Oh and one tip for your studies, learn to read Thai Script it will accelerate your learning and help in real world situations.

I hope you have as much fun with Thai and Thailand as I did. Good Luck!!
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 January 2010
This is a textbook of the Thai language for complete beginners. The one I bought in Bangkok came with audio cassettes. Possibly the newer editions come with CDs.

Pros:
Covers all four language skills: reading, listening, writing and speaking.
Makes language rules easy to understand for English speakers.

Cons:
The audio material is somewhat unprofessionally produced (occasional background noises, unnecessary repetition of instructions which are always the same - "listen and repeat").
The glossary at the end of the book is no good - I had to make my own glossary in order to be able to find anything.

Even though I have learned to write Latin, Slav, Chinese and Tibetan characters during my life, I still found the Thai script extremely complicated. That's why I really appreciated the very helpful writing exercises in this book. But, of course, language is, above all, what you say and hear. This book comes with a lot of audio material that enables you to become familiar with the pronunciation. The speakers are Thais (as far as I can tell), so you can rely on the correctness of their pronunciation.

I've seen a couple more Thai courses and I consider this one the best. I used it before my second trip to Thailand. Even though I was too lazy to get through the entire course, I was still able to do some elementary communication in Thailand. I think it's a good book to get you started.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 February 2010
I've had to learn a couple of languages before, and i've found this book to be one of best for a beginner's guide. It starts off from scratch but moves quite quickly covering vocabulary, basic grammar and the writing system. By the end of the book you can read Thai and have a vocab of about 1000 words - pretty accelerated for a beginner's book. And I would definitely recommend buying the accompanying CD - unless you have a Thai friend to practise pronunciation on!
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 January 2015
Very useful for self-study together with the audio.

Im am not satisfied with the transliteration system (the phonetic romanization of the Thai alphabet) used in the book. It is really a great weakness with all teaching-systems I have encountered, digital, analogue, on-line or not. They all use different phonetic systems. I think you should use and get used the the ISO 11940 system, ONE system where you would more easily learn the representing and represented sounds including the few peculiarities of the system (e.g. the consonant จ (jå-jaan) is represented with a 'c' and not with a 'j') .

Being familiar with Scandinavian umlaut-sounds the used system in the book are not satisfying in this area and in general with the vowels. The Poomsan Becker method aims at teaching the written Thai alongside the spoken Thai. Wich is good but something of a task at least for me with the beautiful but difficult alphabet with many redundancies and some almost obsolete letters (44 consonants, 15 vowel symbols that combines at least into 28 vowel/diphthong forms …)[Akson Thai apciunp is a great help. This app allows you to choose between 9 different prononciation systems. But not ISO. Paiboon++ is my favourite].
Some of the Thai diacritics are really hard to read in the book because they are so small in the text.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 August 2013
I PURCHASED THIS BOOK SOME YEARS AGO ON MY SECOND TRIP TO THAILAND AFTER FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE PLACE AND PEOPLE, AND DECIDED TO LEARN MORE OF THE LANGUAGE. ON MY RETURN HOME I MANAGED TO LEARN THE THAI ALPHABET AND ALSO LEARNT TO READ THAI WITH THE AID OF THIS BOOK, PLUS MY VOCABULARY GREATLY INCREASED AND FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS I DONT KNOW WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT IT, IT CERTAINLY HELPED WHEN MIXING WITH THE THAI PEOPLE AND MY CURRENT THAI WIFE AND HER FAMILY WHO SPEAK NO ENGLISH WHATSOEVER, ALTHOUGH THE BOOK EXPLAINS THE DIFFERENT TONES I HAVE STILL TO MASTER THEM BUT NEVER HAVE MUCH PROBLEM BEING UNDERSTOOD BY MY THAI FREINDS, ALONG WITH THE OTHER TWO BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR (INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED) I WOULD RECCOMEND THEM 100% TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN LEARNING THE THAI LANGUAGE............. GUARANTEED TO IMPRESS ANY THAI.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 May 2014
I've worked through this book twice and found it very helpful. I find Thai extremely difficult to learn, and there are lots of books out there that don't drive you hard enough to make the lessons stick. This book doesn't cut corners. There is lots of repetition, which is essential for learning, and there are plenty of exercises.

There are a few errors that mean this book could do with a good copyeditor (a Thai one, not me), but they are not serious enough to detract from your education. Another problem is that each Thai sentence in the exercises is immediately followed by its Romanised version, so it is difficult to study the Thai text without accidentally seeing the Romanised text.

Minor issues aside, I will look out for more books by this author.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse