Thai Language Lessons

We’ve finally started learning the language! We have a tutor who comes to our house three times a week. Every Monday, Thursday, and Friday she spends an hour with the three girls, then two hours with Tim and me. I taught her the idiom “like drinking from a fire hose”– that’s exactly what these lessons are.

I am SO glad Tim and I learned the Thai alphabet on our own before starting lessons. We used two different resources for that: Manee and Friends and this Android app. Both have been incredibly helpful. Manee and Friends is like a Thai Dick and Jane, a beginning reader that used to be commonly used in Thai schools. Apparently it’s been out of print for many years, but someone has used it to make a 22-lesson website complete with audio. The app, called “Thai Script,” is fantastic. I have no idea if it’s available for iWhatever.

The girls are enjoying their classes so far. They are learning basic conversational Thai and beginning to learn writing the Thai letters. The Thai alphabet is kind of complicated. There are 44 consonants, though a few of them aren’t used anymore. Vowels… it depends on how you count them. There are 15 different symbols, but they can be combined to make over 28 different sounds. But again, I think some aren’t used. Vowels can be placed before, after, above, or below a consonant–or a combination of before, after, and/or above. Oh, and then there are four tone marks. And just to make it extra interesting, there are no spaces between words.

Every consonant has a “thing” that goes with it. So for example, ? is the first letter of the alphabet. When used in a word it’s pronounced roughly “Gaw.” Its name,  ? ???, is pronounced “gaw-gai” (more or less, it’s hard to equate it to English sounds). “Gai” means chicken, so it would be like saying A-apple for the first letter of the English alphabet. 

Today the girls were learning to write the letter ?, the object for which is water buffalo (khaw-kwai). So this is what we came up with: 


I’ve pared down some of our other homeschool subjects so I can spend more time on Thai with the girls (and on my own). It’s a constant balancing act! We’ve scaled back to doing copywork in place of most of our language arts subjects. It’s a great way to teach and reinforce proper grammar, spelling, mechanics, and syntax. For right now I’m using George Washington’s “Rules of Civility.” It fits right in with our American history studies, and they’re great little sayings to live by! Today’s sentence: 

When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body, not usually discovered.

Good advice, no? 😉