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Is Thai harder to learn than English?

Is learning Thai really that difficult?

It probably is if you compare it with your native language.

It certainly will be if you translate sentences word by word.

Why do kids pick up languages faster than adults?  First of all, they hardly think about grammar or speaking in proper sentences.  Most aren’t “handicapped” by their native language or afraid to make mistakes.

Making mistakes (lots and lots of mistakes!) is one of the key drivers to acquiring a new language.

Learning English for instance, isn’t any easier than learning Thai.  But most native speakers would say that it’s more straightforward and not a ‘tonal’ language like Thai.

But did you know that ‘ough’ for instance, can be pronounced in many ways?

Hiccough (pronounced as ‘up’)

Cough (pronounced as ‘off’)

Rough (pronounced as ‘uff’)

Dough (pronounced as ‘oe’)

Plough (pronounced as ‘ow’)

Through (pronounced as ‘oo’)

Did you know that the 5 tones in Thai are actually used in everyday English?  The tones are each marked with a symbol which helps to determine how a word sounds.

In English however, there are no symbols or markings as the tone of a word is determined according to the context.

‘Why’ for example, can be be pronounced with all 5 tones used in Thai.

Mid Tone – “Why oh whhyyyyy…” (nagging)

Low Tone – “Why…that’s not very nice, is it” (disapproval)

Falling Tone – “WHY!!! Tell me why you did that” (anger)

High Tone – “Whhhyyy(??!!) are you hiding this from me” (accusation)

Rising Tone – “Whyyy? It’s not like I did anything wrong” (guilt)

Learning Thai is NOT as difficult as it seems.  Not when you don’t associate it with your native language and start questioning why it is spoken this way.

Every language has its quirks and exceptions.  That is why, here at Duke Language School, we teach speaking before reading and writing.  We teach Thai the fun and natural way, just like how children learn how to speak before figuring out how to read and write.  The first 3 levels at our school focuses teaching our students how to speak properly before introducing the alphabets from the fourth level onwards.

Our school has just been reviewed by Tod Daniels from womenlearnthai.com who understands how important our teaching method is:


Tod is a Thai language school critique who reviews schools in Bangkok by posing undercover as a student.  Tod is not affiliated to our school and neither did we (or any other school) pay him to write a review about us.

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