I often get frustrated in trying to learn the Thai Language and am always trying to find new ways in which I can learn.  I am often too shy to talk to random a stranger which is something I really need to remedy but for now I am trying to focus on ways to hear and speak more like a Thai Person.  When you learn from the many schools in Thailand that focus on Foreign students you really do not get the best foundation to speak like a Thai as I like to say.  Sure you learn things like how to say “How do I get to the airport?” and “This food is delicious!” but you will soon realize that a lot of the things you are learning either are quite formal or the Thai people shorten the sentence quite a lot using a lot of their speech shortcuts and slang.

I decided to push myself to start finding new ways to learn Thai and one of them I thought would be using movies, television shows or radio programs.  In this post I will talk about using Thai Movies to help you learn Thai using my preferred method and sharing my failures.

MY FAILURES

At first I thought I would take an English Movie that had Thai Subtitles and this would help me learn more.  There are two things that make this not a great idea in my personal opinion:

  1. Translating from English to Thai does not really go that smoothly.  Sure when a Thai person watches an English movie with Thai Subtitles they will understand the film and get the meaning of most of it but as for talking like a Thai person that really does not happen and much of the translation will end up being formal and will not have the everyday words and slang that the Thai people often use.
  2. The second problem with this is since the movie is in English (or your home language) you will probably get highly distracted and actually just start watching the movie instead, something I have done to many times.

The next idea is to watch a Thai Movie in Thai and then read the English Subtitles and try to learn from there as a method of strengthening your Thai. I do not believe that this is a great option and the reasons are as follows:

  1. Once again the Translation from one language to the other will give you the basic meaning of what is going on but it will no doubt be lacking the full meaning and understanding of what is being said.
  2. Second is the Thai language has 5 tones and the Thai people can talk rather fast at least to the untrained ear…  Trying to understand what they are saying will be difficult and you will not always know if you are translating the correct sentence from Thai language to English Subtitle.
  3. Now this is not a hopeless way to help you learn.  Just listening to a Thai person speaks on film you will pick up things as you go along.  Just like when you were a young child and you learned from seeing and hearing there is no difference here, except perhaps you probably have the desire to learn a lot faster. I just believe the next approach is even a stronger method.

learn speak like a thai

MY SUCCESS:

My preferred method of using a movie to help strengthen your Thai is listening to the movie in the Thai Language and also reading the Thai Subtitles, so everything is in the Thai Language.  Now this method really benefits the person that already has some reading Thai Script knowledge.  If you can’t read at all then you will have to translate every single word and probably should use a dictionary application that actually speaks the word as well. If you do have at least some Basic Thai Script reading skills then you can just focus on the words or phrases you don’t know.

  • I started with the Thai movie called ATM which is a popular romantic and funny movie, nothing too advanced and really gives you the idea of everyday Thai Speaking.
  • Though you can watch the movie on your Television set I would recommend instead watching it on your Computer or laptop and I will make it clearer on why as you flow through the steps.
  • Download a video player to watch the videos.  I use VLC Player because it has all the options that I wanted to use. It is a free program that has been around for years, just follow the link and install. It has both Windows and MAC versions.
  • 4. I used this Player because it has the options I wanted.  You can set HOT Keys on your keyboard to do the following.  Pause The Movie and you can also set a Hot Key to rewind a few seconds back.  I have mine set to rewind 3 seconds back each time I hit a certain key on my keyboard. I find this really helps and I stick to this process below.

The Video Watching And Learning Process I Personally Do:

  1. A Thai Person says something in the movie and I see the subtitles below.
  2. I hit pause and I write the phrase out by pen in my notebook.
  3. I can then use the reverse hot key to go back 3 seconds and keep on hearing the phrase over and over again.
  4. I then obviously go and translate the words.  If the phrase does not translate that well or you have troubles understanding it then hopefully you have other resources such as a Thai Friend, Teacher or Online Program you can research the meaning.

I do this for a few minutes, pausing each line, translating, listening to it a few times and doing the process over and over again.  When I need a break I start the whole movie over again and just listen to it up the the point where I stopped.  Since I have translated it and have watched sentences over and over again things start to become clearer and make more sense.  I will be honest this is a long process.  The ATM movie for instance, the first 10 minutes took me over 2 hours to go through but as I get better at learning what they are saying the faster it is progressing.

learn speak like a thai Using Thai Movies

When I first watched those 10 minutes I could barely understand a word, now when I watch those 10 minutes I can understand so much more.  Not only have my understanding of what they are saying has increased but also my hearing has strengthen as well.  In reality both understanding what the words mean and also the ability to actually hear what is being set is key.  Since the movie is completely in the Thai Language and also the subtitles are just mimicking the Thai language being said you get to learn all the little short cuts, the ending sentence characters that the Thai People often use and many of the fun Thai sayings you are probably not familiar with.

As I said before if you do not have a teacher, Thai friend, online resource where you can get help in translating the subtitles correctly it will certainly slow you down.  At this time in my studies my process is I watch a few minutes of the movie, translate it the way I think it should be and then when I see my teacher next I get him to help me translate it the way a Thai person would.  I also sometimes use Learn Thai Podcast or Thai Pod 101 that are online courses as well.  Both of those courses have support forums where you can ask their Thai support staff pretty much anything you like, though answers are not instance, but usually you get a response within a day or two.

As I have said many times the best way in my opinion to actually learn this language is to go and speak to the Thai people until your blue in the face but steps like watching movies, radios, television and reading books all help.  I think the more you surround yourself with the language the better.  If you just read the Thai books that are given to you in a class for foreigners to learn Thai I believe you are really limiting yourself.

The really cool thing about my movie method is once you start to really learn what is going on and what the Thai people are saying the movie actually becomes pretty funny at least in the movie I am watching now.  ATM for instance the first 10 minutes of that film is actually quite enjoyable, my favorite part is when two employees are trying to explain to their boss about questionable photos that she found, the explanations the two employees give to try to get out of a sticky situation was quite funny

If you have any questions about my method I love to hear them, just comment or send me an email using the contact page. I hope you enjoyed this post and gives you some new insights on how you might learn to take your Thai to the next level.

7 comments on “Learn To Speak Like A Thai With Thai Movies

  1. Matthew on said:

    I liked this technique too. Thanks for all your detailed info.

  2. I searched everywhere to get thai movies with thai subtitle but really look like impossible to find them, could you please tell me how you found them? Thanks.

    • LearningThai on said:

      Well I am in Thailand so any movie I buy I can set the settings on the film for English, Thai, Etc
      Are you in Thailand?

  3. Hey, good info. Could you tell me where I can find Thai movies with Thai subs? Can’t find them anywhere.

  4. i prefer if i can find a thai movie with romanized letters as i cant read thai yet ..anybody has an idea

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