Thai language - is it worth learning?
If you're too young to get a retirement visa then the easiest way to live in Thailand is to study the Thai language and get an ED visa that's valid for a year.
But is it actually worth going to the classes?
You'll find that if you live in somewhere like Bangkok or Pattaya, then most of the people you'll need to interact with on a day-to-day basis speak English. I've lived here for two months and haven't needed to use a word of Thai. Which is just as well as I don't know more than a dozen words
I've managed to find an apartment, get a mobile phone SIM card, go shopping and even visit the hospital, all without knowing a word of Thai.
Unfortunately I've only been to two out of six Thai classes so far. I'm busy which makes it difficult to attend them, but also I'm not sure it's worth learning Thai.
Even if I became fluent, people would automatically speak English to me anyway, because I look like a foreigner, not Thai people.
For me, learning Chinese was a lot more worthwhile since it's so widely spoken. And also when I lived in China so few people spoke English that it was kind of an emergency to learn some basic Mandarin as quickly as possible.
There are also a few problems with learning Thai. I really liked Rosetta Stone for learning Chinese - it was awesome at helping to commit vocabulary to long term memory. But strangely you can't get Rosetta Stone for Thai, despite Thailand being one of the World's most visited countries.
My biggest bone of contention however is that there's no official standard of writing the Thai language in English. This means that even on official signs and publications you'll see places spelt like "Asok" or "Asoke", or "Ekamai" or "Ekkamai". And when I'm trying to arrange dates, I have to figure out if the place the Thai girl has told me she lived in (Ramkamhang) is actually Ramkhamhaeng
Anyway, if you do want to learn Thai, then:
- Find a native speaker who is also a teacher.
- Study for at least an hour a day.
- This book looks good for learning the written alphabet.
- If you want to learn how to pronounce Thai, get a Thai girlfriend and listen to how she speaks !