Learn Thai-Let’s Go to the Movies

If you are just learning about the country Thailand, you may be surprised that Thailand is big into making films, and they have a very storied and successful past in the industry. It is said that the first films were brought from Switzerland at the request of King Chulalongkom in the year of 1897. The royal family has a long history of supporting the field of film.

Many Thai films are made in the country, but also many foreign film companies come to the country to film due to the scenic sights. Foreign films made in Thailand include the American produced movies “The Deer Hunter” and “The Beach. “  And while the history of Thai film is interesting, what you should focus on is how to use film to learn.  Do not worry if you are not in the country, you can still access the films.

The films can be broken down into two categories. You will want to look at educational and entertainment types of movies. Mix the two of them because you will want the structure of the educational, but will need the interaction, emotions, gestures, and movements that can only be found in a recreational movie.


Educational Films

The down side on the educational film viewing is that they will probably cost you some money.  You should do an online search and consider the reviews, the references, the cost, and the creators of whatever film package you decide to use as a learning tool. There are five-six premier companies that advertise heavily and are quite effective at what they do. You should need to only use one of the packages. You can re-watch it as needed.


Fun Films

The best way to not get bored with the educational films is to alternate them with your fun films. You can use any online delivery system for these films. Pick your favorite genre such as mystery or romance and simply hit play. You can do this without spending a single penny. You can stream them to your phone, tablet, laptop, or computer and watch them. The beauty is that as you watch them, you are learning.

Additionally, you can join a foreign film club and have the movies delivered to your home. The cost is minimal and you can enjoy the movies in the comfort of your home.

You are learning about all the Thai language nuances, but also about the locations, history, culture, dress, and traditions of the land. You are immersing yourself fully into the culture. Of all the methods of studying a new language, this is one of my favorite ones to use.

As you mix the educational and the entertainment films, you will learn. You can determine the pace at which you go in the process. As you move along in the process, you will have fun and become versed in the Thai language before you know it. Have fun with Thai films and learn to speak the language.


Reasons for Visiting Thailand

Thailand receives tens of thousands of foreign tourists every year and although most of them may go for Thailand’s exotic beaches, others go for other reasons and here are some of those reasons.
Although far less popular for sex tourism than it was, some people still go to the country’s capital Bangkok as it was once known as the sex tourism capital of the world. This was a name it acquired during the Vietnam War when American soldiers would go to Bangkok on their R & R (Rest and Recuperation).

To cater to the needs of the soldiers, the Thai government reviewed and relaxed its laws regarding prostitution and as these relaxed laws were still in place after the war, it became the center for sex tourism.

Another reason people choose to visit Thailand is because of its rich wild life, being home to 10% of the world’s animals. This figure includes 10% of the world’s bird species and so is an ideal place for bird watchers but other animals of interest are Elephants of which there is thought to be over 2,000 still living in the wild.

The other estimated 3,000 have been tamed and most of which work for villagers throughout the country but some of course, are especially trained to provide entertainment for the foreign visitors.
Although no visitor would want to come face to face with one of Thailand’s King Cobras, the largest poisonous snake in the world, they do like to see the displays put on by Thailand’s snake charmers where they set a mongoose and a King Cobra to do battle in a pen.

Botanists also have much to see in Thailand as it is the world’s largest exporter of Orchids and is thought to have at least 1,500 different species growing throughout the country.
Some visitors also like to visit Thailand because of its rich history. Thailand has always been thought of as an exotic location, even in its former days when it was known to the world as Siam and there is probably nothing more exotic than the stunning Buddhist Temples that can be found throughout the country.

Although most tourists will get to see the main ones located in Bangkok, many of the others are also quite memorable.
If you are visiting Thailand to just go to one of the popular beaches, as the Thais in the tourism business speak English, you will have no real need to learn Thai before going but if you visiting Thailand for one of the other reasons, it is probably best to at least learn some Thai before you go.

As the Thai people are friendly and very appreciative of any foreigners that take trouble to learn their language, even if you do not really have a need to learn their language as you are sticking to the tourist areas, you will find it far easier to make friends among the Thai people if you know at least a couple of popular phrases.

Learning Thai

There are tens of thousands of people from around the world that choose to go to Thailand for their holidays and although there may not be many that learn to speak Thai before they go, those that do may find it harder than they expected. One of the reasons why it may be hard for them to learn to speak Thai is because it is what is known as a tonal language.

Other tonal languages include Lao, Vietnamese and Chinese and these are all languages where the same word can have a different meaning if spoken in a different tone and with the Thai language there are 5 different tones that can be used.

Because the tone in which a word has to be spoken must also be apparent on the written Thai, the written Thai can have 4 different tone notifications above the word, making written Thai perhaps even more difficult to understand than the spoken Thai.

None the less, those people that take the trouble to learn Thai before leaving on their trip, will have a far fuller experience than those that didn’t.
The Thai people are very proud of their unique language and have great respect for any foreigners that take the time to learn any of it. This respect goes as far as some of the merchants having special, lower prices for people that speak Thai and is so common an occurrence that it even has a name, ‘the Thai speaker price’.

All the people of Thailand are friendly though and so if you have difficulties getting some of the Thai words correct or say them in the wrong tone, they will be very forgiving and still respect the fact that you tried.

Obviously as Thailand is a very popular destination for international tourists, most Thais in the tourist areas speak English but that will not be the case if you intend to travel far from the beaten track.

Although most of the tourists visiting Thailand will spend most of their time on the wonderful beaches that Thailand’s two coasts have to offer, plus perhaps a couple of days in the country’s capital Bangkok, there is a lot to see throughout the rest of the country.

Although Thailand is listed as the world’s 51st largest country, it is believed that as much as 10% of the world’s animal life can be seen in it. It is known to have as much as 10% of the world’s birds, which is more than the whole of North America or Europe has.

The Mekong River which marks Thailand’s eastern border is known to have 1,300 species of fish in it including one of the world’s largest, the Giant Catfish which reach sizes of 10 feet and weigh as much as 660lbs.

Thailand is of course known for its orchids and is the world’s leading exporter of them having 1.500 different types. It is home to the world’s largest lizard, the Monitor Lizard and the world’s largest poisonous snake, the King Cobra.

Thailand, a Tourist’s Dream

Many international tourists dream of being able to relax on beautiful sandy beaches and being waited on hand and foot. It is those tourists that, in the millions, visit Thailand every year to make those dreams come true.
As more and more tourists arrive to crowd the beaches, more beaches open up for them and recently some of Thailand’s 1430 islands have also become havens for foreign tourists. Although the beaches never seem to get overcrowded, Thailand’s capital is a different matter.

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital has been recognized by the World Meteorological Organization as the world’s hottest city as throughout the year it can maintain an average of 28 degrees centigrade.
As the temperatures can reach 34 degrees in certain months, most tourists opt to visit the city in the cooler months between November and February but in those few short months, the city becomes overcrowded. Regardless of what time of year tourists visit the beaches though, most will spend at least a couple of days in Bangkok admiring the capital’s impressive Buddhist Temples and the giant Buddha statues, some of which are made of pure gold.
Thailand shares its borders with four other countries, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia but still has plenty of coastline shared with the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand to support as many as 16 million foreign visitors each year.

Prior to be called Thailand, the country was known throughout the world as Siam which was perhaps made famous by the movie “The King and I” but ironically the movie is banned in Thailand because it gives the wrong portrayal of Thailand’s King, Rama 1X who is highly revered throughout the country.
King Rama 1X is hugely liked by all Thai and as he came to the throne in 1946, is the world’s longest reigning monarch. It is illegal to talk bad about the king or insult him and so as his image is on all Thai money, it is illegal to step on Thai money as it would be a sign of disrespect to the monarch.

Thailand has its own language which although is similar to Laos, Vietnamese and Chinese, as it is tonal, the Thai language has its own script which the west finds hard to transcribe. An example of this difficulty can be seen by looking at the name of Thailand’s International Airport in different tourist guide books.
In one it may be written as Suvarnabhumi, another Suwannaphum and yet another as Suwunnapoom and one of the reasons for this difficulty is the 4 tonal markings which are used to emphasis the 5 tonal sounds of the language.

A tonal language allows the same word, spoken in a different tone, to have more than one meaning and perhaps an example of this is the word glai which when spoken in a mid-tone, means “far away” whilst the word glâi (notice the tone sign above the ‘a’), means “near”.

One particularly useful resource on how to learn thai is this one.

Even with its difficulties, it is still worth a tourist to learn at least some Thai before entering the country as the people will really appreciate the effort and as many places have special “Thai speaker” prices, it may also be financial beneficial.

Culturally Rich Thailand

Although many visitors to Thailand go there for the beautiful beaches and idyllic islands that offer a unique escape from the fast paced modern world, Thailand is rich in culture with many other aspects to enjoy.

As Thailand was once known as the Kingdom of Siam, obviously a lot of its culture comes from the old Siamese traditions. Thailand however, is bordered by Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia and so also shares some of the cultures from those countries. Although the large majority of Thailand’s population is indigenous, many of the remaining Thais have Chinese origins and so it also has some elements of Chinese culture too.

95% of the population is Buddhist and so much of the culture is Buddhist orientated however, there is a sizeable Islamic population in the south of the country and Christians and Confucianism is also present throughout parts of the country.

Perhaps the most diverse thing about Thailand though is its language as, although the country has a population of over 67 million, only 20 million speak the official Thai dialect on a regular basis. The Thai language of course, originated from the older Siamese but where Siamese only had 3 tonal influences, the official Thai, from central Thailand, has 5. Perhaps more closely related to the old Siamese is the Thai dialect Isan which is spoken by about 20 million Thais in the Northeast of the country.

Other dialects are used throughout the country and some are even shared with peoples from neighboring countries. Although the spoken Thai is very similar to the language of Laos, both the languages are written differently.

As you would expect with a country whose main religion is Buddhism, there are some spectacular Buddhist temples to visit in Thailand and perhaps some of the best of them are located in Bangkok, the nation’s capital. Before or after spending a few days on one of Thailand’s many beaches or islands, many tourists opt to spend at least a couple of days in Bangkok in order to visit these spectacular temples and few are disappointed in doing so.

As with most countries that enjoy large numbers of foreign tourists, many of the Thais in the popular tourist areas, have learned to speak English but elsewhere in the country it is not so well known. To make the most of a visit to Thailand, it is therefore recommended to try and learn their language before you go or, at least learn what should be some well used phrases. Not only will it make any trips you may make into lesser known places within the country easier, it will also make you friends even in the popular areas.

The Thai people are genuinely friendly and appreciate that as their language is tonal, westerners have problems with it and so they greatly appreciate any westerner that takes the trouble to try and learn even a little Thai.

It could also have financial benefits as well as, haggling over prices is acceptable in Thailand and haggling in their language always produces better results.