Learning any new language, least of all Thai, can seem pretty daunting.
If you are starting from scratch or just want to learn a few simple words, being able to speak even a little bit of Thai can go a long way.
Whether you are a long time expat or foreign tourist just visiting on holiday, there’s likely an Android or iOS app that you can work through at your own pace and at the very least, will help you pick up a few all important phrases.
Below you’ll find a selection of translation and language learning apps that will help you learn some Thai.
Learn Thai Phrasebook
Learn Thai Phrasebook was one of the first Thai language learning apps and perhaps looks a little dated alongside some of the newer and more interactive language apps.
With that being said, it is still fairly simple and easy to use and provides you with 200+ common words that are used in everyday life, including things like greetings and numbers, to emergencies and eating out.
The app has audio recordings, provided by the native speakers so that can you learn some proper pronunciation. You can amend the audio speed, change to a male or female voice and can use the app without an internet connection. If you prefer to have more categories to learn from, then there is a paid for version which offers 900+ more phrases.
Walen School – Learn Thai
Another app that has been around for a few years now is the Walen Thai app.
Developed by the Thai language schools of the same name, Walen Thai helps you learn the essentials of the Thai language by helping you through the important process of learning the Thai alphabet and numerical system.
The app uses interaction and visualization to help you pick up the basics and there are also real voice audio outputs to guide you through the tricky task of pronunciation.
Walen Thai also allows you to learn every character of the Thai alphabet, including the tones, vowels and consonants, by using a very individual method of learning. In addition, you will also straightforwardly learn the numerical system and phrases.
Tap & Say
Fun, really useful and offers enough to learn the basics of Thai language.
Tap & Say offers over 600 Thai phrases which are separated into different categories. Just tap on one of the categories, say Eat & Drink and you’re presented with a variety of options, with each option accompanied by audio pronunciation.
Tap & Say is free to download on iOS and Android but some in app purchases are required to unlock more categories.
The Speak Thai app was made in conjunction with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and offers more Thai words and phrases than any of the other apps listed here.
This app covers nearly every typical scenario a foreign tourist might require or encounter.
As there is a favourite category too, this means that you can quickly click on the phrases that you want in a matter of seconds.
Tandem is a little different to the other language learning apps.
It work by connecting users to native speakers in order to learn and practice conversation in the language of choice.
The idea is that you can learn Thai by exchanging text message, audio and video chat. The app vets you after you sign up and assigns you a language partner. You then pick a specific set of topics to talk about.
There’s also an option to pay for extra lessons from a qualified tutor. A moderator is also on hand to check that you are serious about learning.
If you can already speak a bit of Thai but want to take your learning to the next level, Tandem could be for you.
Earlier this year the hostel booking app Hostelworld added an interesting new feature that lets you translate 43 different languages, including Thai.
Hostelworld says the new language feature helps you overcome language barriers in real time.
Available on iOS and Android all you have to do is open the Hostelworld app and speak into your phone, the app then gives you a translation of what you said.
It has to be said that we tried this out with very mixed results. It’s definitely better at translating individual words and short phrases but there could still a few situations where the app could useful, particularly if are off the beaten track and away from the typical tourist trail.
Nemo Thai – Free Language Learning
Nemo Thai gives you the most essential phrases and words in the Thai vocabulary, and each of them have a native speaker audio. With the Speech Studio, you can master your accent by recording your yourself by saying a phrase and then hear your voice compared to the teachers.
As Nemo is not built around lessons, you can pick it up and put it down anytime of the day, whenever you have time to spare.
This app builds up foundations of Thai which will then give you more confidence when speaking everyday conversations. Furthermore, there is no need to have prior knowledge of Thai to be able to learn this.
Nemo has been personalised for you as it tracks your progress through every single word and phrase you learn. You can practice Thai any way you want to fit the way you’ll use it as Nemo can be easily customised to meet your own needs and requirements.
Nemo helps you get involved more in the sounds of Thai so that you will be able to speak naturally and at ease.
You can control which words you want to focus on and skip any words that you don’t want to learn or you already know.
Review mode allows you to recap what you practised earlier in the day which will boost your memory. Nemo will introduce you to words frequently to help you develop familiarity and review them and the correct time so that they will stay in your long term memory.
แปลเสียงไทย (Plea Siieng Thai) by Bitwise Education
Plea Siieng Thai or ‘Translate spoken Thai’ is a recommendation from a member in the Thai language forum on Thaivisa.
The Android app translates spoken to English and English to Thai.
Thaivisa member Connda says:
Your phone will need to be fairly powerful to run the app. It translates common words, phrases, and even sentences pretty well. Not so well for complicated words, phrases, or sentences or slang. If you have an older phone, forget it.
It’s a good ‘bridge’ app as you are both learning each other’s language.
Go to Google Play and have your GF type in แปลเสียงไทย. There is not an English title, only Thai.