There’s never been a better time to learn a new language. There are more resources available for learners than ever before, and the world is becoming more connected every day. When choosing which language to learn, Thai may not be the most obvious option, but maybe it should be. It’s a beautiful language that offers learners plenty of unique benefits.
Let’s take a look at some of the many reasons you should make learning Thai your next language goal. Read on to discover what makes the Thai language special.
So, Why Should I Learn Thai, Really?
1. Visit Thailand
Thailand is an incredible country, and it’s one of the reasons this is at the top of the list. Visiting Thailand is a great experience for anyone, but it’s even more special for someone with some Thai skills.
If you don’t already want to visit Thailand, there are plenty of reasons to consider planning a trip to this incredible country. When you think vacation, do you think beach? If so, Thailand has what you seek. Thai beaches are famous around the world for soft yellow sand and crystal clear blue waters. There are also fantastic opportunities for diving among the diverse sea life and coral that surround Thai islands.
There are more natural wonders in Thailand than its beaches. The northern part of the country is covered in dense jungle and mountains that connect to the Himalayas. There are few thrills greater than traveling through this landscape on a motorbike or on a guided tour and witnessing the astonishing variety of plants and wildlife with your own eyes.
Of course, Thailand is also dotted with thousands of beautiful temples, and Thai food is among the most-loved world cuisines. Any visit to Thailand is likely to be an unforgettable experience.
The tourism industry in Thailand is strong, meaning it’s entirely possible to get along on a trip in the country speaking only English. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t major advantages afforded to those who speak Thai. If anything, the fact that most tourists visiting Thailand don’t speak the language means that those with some Thai skills have an even greater advantage.
Speaking Thai in Thailand will open up doors to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t, will make it much easier to navigate the country, and could even get you better deals on things like accommodation and taxi rides. Have a question about the food at a local restaurant? Speaking Thai is your best at getting a good answer. Want to explore Bangkok by subway? Thai proficiency will make it much easier.
Thailand is an amazing place to spend some time whether or not you speak the language, but those with some Thai proficiency have the chance to have a deeper experience.
2. Create Opportunities
Learning any new language is a great way to create new opportunities for yourself, both professional and personal. Learning Thai in particular comes with its own unique opportunity potential.
Thai isn’t the most common foreign language to study. In fact, the language isn’t spoken by many people that aren’t Thai. One of the reasons this is true is that the language isn’t spoken much outside of Thailand, whose population makes up less than 1% of the world’s people. It’s also true that not many people learn Thai as a foreign language because it’s perceived as being a difficult one to learn. There is some truth to the Thai being difficult to pick up, but it’s far from impossible, which is something we’ll touch on later in this post.
Since there aren’t a huge number of people learning Thai as a foreign language, anyone who does is more likely to stand out. This is true for job applications as well as for getting into academic institutions or entering the Thai business sector.
Interacting with Thailand’s massive tourism industry, where English and Thai skills are both very useful, could offer great business opportunities. Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, is also a major modern city with opportunities in just about every imaginable business sector. Speaking Thai is the best way to get involved in the business scene in this country.
3. Make New Friends
This is maybe one of the most enjoyable parts of learning a new language — meeting new people! Learning any new skill has the potential to help you make new friends that share an interest in that skill, but learning a new language is a little bit different. By learning Thai, you’ll open yourself up to people that come from an entirely different world than you do. Developing a friendship in a foreign language is also an amazing way to deepen your relationship with the language.
The greatest number of Thai speakers are in Thailand, and this is where you’ll most easily be able to make friends with your Thai skills. This is especially true because most visitors to the country don’t make an effort to learn Thai. You’ll stand out from other foreigners by speaking the language, and it shows a certain level of cultural awareness if you’ve at least made an attempt to learn the language.
Even outside of Thailand, you should have some chances to make new connections because of your Thai abilities. Since it isn’t the most popular language to study, you’ll immediately have something to bond over when meeting other students of the language. There are also communities of Thai speakers outside of Thailand. The biggest population of Thais outside of Thailand is thought to live in Southern California.
4. Interact With Thai Culture
Thailand has a rich and interesting culture, which is best experienced with some knowledge of the Thai language. There are even aspects of Thai culture that are probably only accessible through the language.
An understanding of common phrases and idioms, for example, can provide invaluable insights into the way of life and Thailand and how Thai people see the world. Knowing how to correctly address other people based on status is a big part of learning Thai, and this is an essential part of learning about Thai culture.
By learning to speak and understand Thai, you’ll also be able to learn about Thai festivals, the role Buddhism plays in the country and enjoy Thai cinema and literature. If TV shows are more your speed, there are also some great Thai series you can enjoy. For music lovers, Thailand offers everything from traditional music to an exciting, modern music scene in bustling Bangkok.
5. The Grammar Isn’t Difficult
Thai may not be the easiest language to learn, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to learn. Many people make successful attempts at learning the language all the time, and any dedicated student can make progress with the right mindset.
Thai is considered difficult mainly because of its pronunciation and alphabet. Thai is a tonal language, which means that the inflection used for each word changes the meaning of that word, a concept that is totally foreign to English speakers. There are also some sounds in Thai that just don’t exist in other languages. Learning to create these sounds can be difficult for many learners.
The alphabet is another reason people are often scared away from learning Thai. There are 72 characters in the Thai alphabet — almost three times as many as there are in the English language! Add to this the fact that there are multiple ways to write various consonants, and you’ve got a potential headache for the aspiring Thai speaker.
There is good news for anyone interested in learning Thai, however, and that’s that Thai grammar is relatively easy to learn. You won’t have to deal with conjugating verbs or declining nouns and adjectives based on case. In many other languages, these things are the biggest roadblocks for learners pursuing fluency, and not having to worry about them can be a major relief.
6. Learn Other Languages More Easily
This is another point that is true for learning any foreign language. No language is completely separate from all others, there are relationships between languages that make understanding one language helpful in understanding others. Thai is no different, providing a link to other Asian languages.
More than half of the Thai vocabulary is shared with other languages like Sanskrit, Old Khmer, Pali, and Mon. Even if you don’t have an interest in studying any of these languages, there are others like Nepali, Lao, and many Indian languages that have also borrowed vocabulary from similar places.
Learning a tonal language like Thai will also make learning another tonal language much easier. It takes some practice to get accustomed to listening for and pronouncing different tones, but once you’ve mastered one language with this characteristic, you’ll be much better prepared to take on another.
You are also bound to pick up some general tips and tricks related to learning a language that you’ll be able to apply to any language-learning endeavor. Different people have different learning styles, and knowing what methods work best for you will streamline any future efforts you make in learning a language.
7. Do Something Good for Your Brain
Learning new languages is undeniably good for brain health. By learning a new language, you build new neural pathways and open new language centers in the brain. These language centers are especially flexible, which makes them a great way to positively impact the brain’s abilities.
It’s been proven that learning a foreign language boosts cognitive skills and memory. It’s also true that bilingual people are better able to focus and block out distractions. These skills are major benefits in a world full of smartphones and endless media content.
Since Thai is a tonal language and doesn’t have much at all in common with English, learning it requires the use of more areas of the brain, increasing the benefit you’ll experience. Learning Thai is simply good for your health.