Is Thai Hard To Learn? (13 Things You Can Expect)

If you are going to learn Thai, you are probably wondering what it will be like to learn a language as complex as this one. The written form of the language can be pretty complicated, but the spoken version is relatively easy to pick up.

The Thai language has characteristics that make it unique from other languages. But before you get too excited about all these things, here are some things to know about learning Thai!

Is Thai Hard to Learn?

The Thai language is one of the hardest in the world to learn because of its complex grammar and tones. Furthermore, it takes a long time to learn the language. That said, understanding some basic phrases would help in the begging. It also has a rich history and diverse culture, so knowing this beautiful language is worthwhile.

Let’s discover the Thai language, so tune in!

1. Brief History of the Thai Language

Thailand’s official language is Thai. However, more than 60 languages are spoken in the country, and Thai has the most significant number of native and total speakers.

Pali, Sanskrit, Mon, and Old Khmer are the sources of more than half of its vocabulary. Similar to Chinese and Vietnamese, it is a tonal, analytical language.

Currently, the Thai language is spoken in nearby nations, including China, Vietnam, Burma, Malaysia, and most notably, Laos!

Southeast Asian language Siamese, often known as Thai, is a member of the Tai family. Ramkamhaeng, the third monarch of the Sukhothai era, developed the written Thai language in 1283. 

2. Learning Thai is Challenging 

Thai is not an easy language to comprehend. Learning could take some time, but it’s not the most difficult language.

Although learning Thai is a lifelong endeavor, the fundamentals are simple enough that you can rapidly gain a working understanding of the language and begin communicating in it.

Each syllable is spoken with one of the five tones, which can be pretty challenging, especially for individuals who have never studied a tonal language.

Additionally, Thai has its own script and will be a significant obstacle to overcome in reading and writing!

3. Thai is Ranked as a Category III Difficulty Language

Thai is Ranked as a Level IV Difficulty Language

According to the Foreign Service Institute, learning Thai requires an average of 44 study weeks. It is ranked as a category III difficulty language. 

Writing Thai has proven difficult due to the large number of consonants and Sanskrit influences in its written form, which correspond to Sanskrit sound patterns.

Diacritical markings such as (สวัสดี), the marks placed above or below a letter, which stand in for vowel sounds, are frequently incorporated into Thai script and characters representing consonants.

Despite that, Thai is one of the world’s most lovable languages because there are so many captivating Thai expressions!

4. Start Learning with Basic Thai Phrases

For the majority of individuals, learning some actual Thai words is the best place to start.

Among all the necessities, being able to say hello, how are you, and thank you tops my list of unavoidable. If you master these three phrases, you’ll probably wow a local or gain a friend.

Once you have a couple of these popular expressions committed to memory, you should probably start reading up on the grammar.

Then, as your comprehension grows, you’ll be able to read and speak Thai!

5. Thai Language Grammar

Thai nouns typically contain one syllable, and tones are used to differentiate between words that would otherwise be equivalent in the language.

In Thai, there are five tonal categories: rising, falling, mid, low, and low. In addition, there are nine unique vowel features and 21 different consonant sounds!

In Thai, the consonant sounds first when the word is pronounced. Therefore, vowels can be written above, below, before, or after the consonant and frequently modified.

6. Rigorous Practice in Learning Thai

When learning a new language, spend a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes each day on it. If you have the time, an hour should be ideal for studying daily.

Start by memorizing key terminology and participate in everyday casual conversations. Learning a Level IV language could take up to 1100 combined hours of rigorous practice in reading, listening, writing, and speaking.

If you have some spare time, watching Thai TV episodes and films is an excellent way to practice listening and better understand how Thai people communicate.

7. Thai Pronunciation is Complex

Pronunciation is Complex

Due to close vowel and consonant sounds, as well as word tones, Thai pronunciation is difficult.

You may notice that Thai consonants that sound similar look identical when written because their consonant sounds are at a lower tone.

On the other hand, Thai has lengthier vowels than other languages do. This shows that a word’s meaning might vary depending on the vowel length. 

For English speakers, the combinations of sounds that form up words can occasionally sound highly bizarre!

8. Thai is a Tonal Language

Because Thai is a tonal language, it sounds very different to our ears.

It is a language in which the same succession of sounds can express multiple meanings, varying on how intense or soft they sound.

Therefore, speakers must use the tone appropriately to convey a word’s intended meaning. 

When learning Thai for the first time, the only way to remember the tone of each word is with a little line, also known as a tone marker!

9. Useful Free Educational Tools in Learning Thai

When studying Thai, you can make flashcards with pronouns, particles, word lists, and other helpful Thai grammatical notes.

You can practice with Thai speakers. Look for people who you can talk to and who can provide you with advice. Alternatively, consider enrolling in a language school or institute to learn Thai with others. 

If you enjoy listening to audio files and podcasts, you can subscribe for free to You Too Can Learn Thai.  

Finally, Learn Thai with Mod’s YouTube channel, and Kruu Wee Teach Thai are great places to turn if you’re searching for a simple-to-follow video. Good news? Free of charge! 

10. Helpful Paid Educational Tools in Learning Thai

In the beginning, it might help to use free resources. However, if you wish to take this more seriously, consider taking more structured paid online courses. 

There are numerous options for taking Thai classes online, and there is undoubtedly a web course that will appeal to the interests of everyone.

Lingopolo is an excellent choice if you want a more structured course that’s free and gives you access to introductory video sessions.

Additionally, you can learn Thai with applications like Pimsleur with a monthly subscription fee, or Mondly, which is slightly less expensive per month.

Find the 7 Ways to learn the Thai language fast.

11. Benefits of Learning Thai

Benefits of Learning Thai

Thai may be considered a unique language not widely spoken in English-speaking countries. However, there are many benefits to learning Thai. 

Speaking in Thai may give you an advantage when working in various roles requiring bilingual or multilingual speakers. It can also make it easier to get a job in a similar instance and makes it easier for you to succeed in that position!

Additionally, you can build stronger, more meaningful connections with Thai people, and they will undoubtedly appreciate your language skills.

As a result, your language skills in Thai will make you stand out from the crowd.

12. Career Opportunities

There are multiple job opportunities for bilingual English and Thai speakers. In the U.S., salaries range between $42,000 to $91,000 depending on skills and experience.

Additionally, working as an interpreter or translator is an exciting option to make additional income.

In Thailand, there are always openings for people in fields like travel and tourism, teaching, marketing, customer service, and information technology.

13. Learning Thai from Dictionaries and Textbooks

A Thai dictionary is undoubtedly an essential tool for anyone learning Thai script.

Additionally, you can check this book on amazon, “Read Thai in 10 Days”, a simple way to learn how to read Thai and the Thai characters. 

At the same time, textbooks like Easy Thai: Learn to Speak Thai Quickly ($20.12) and Master the Thai Alphabet ($5.99) are among the reliable materials you can purchase online!

To learn more, you can also see our posts on Vietnamese, Japanese, Mandarin, Bengali, Tagalog, and Urdu.


Indeed, before you start learning Thai and vow to spend inordinate amounts of time studying, take a step back and consider what you hope to achieve.

Learning the Thai language opens up many new career opportunities for foreign language learners. Ultimately, if you’re fluent, you won’t need a translator when you travel to Thailand to take in its stunning scenery and rich culture!