So you've decided to begin the glorious adventure of learning Thai as a foreign language. No doubt you're excited to start the process. But as someone new to language learning, you're probably not sure where to start.
Naturally you start by looking for one of the most popular language learning courses in the world: Rosetta Stone. You've heard the name, you've seen the ads, and you probably know someone who has used the course (probably to learn Spanish or French).
There's just one problem...
Rosetta Stone does not have a current course for learning Thai.
You may be able to find a used copy of the old course
For sometime now Rosetta Stone has revamped their language courses and now offers their content online via a monthly subscription. Their original Thai course isn't offered on the new platform, but sometimes it's possible to find a Rosetta Thai course in the old format of take home CD rom based software.
There's no guarantee but you may be able to find one on Ebay or Amazon.
Because the course is no longer sold by Rosetta Stone, old courses can be quite expensive (at the time this article was written there one is listed on Amazon for $500)
Thai isn't offered on Rosetta Stone's new format
Some shortcomings of Rosetta Stone Thai
If you are able to find an old copy of Rosetta Stone Thai, there are somethings you should keep in mind.
There was only ever one level of Thai offered
Rosetta Stone only ever made one level for their Thai course. This means you won't get much out of it except the most basic vocabulary and sentences.
The course never actually taught users how to read Thai
Thai uses an entirely different script than the English language. For some reason Rosetta Stone never included a reading component in their Thai course.
The course assumes that you know the alphabet and how to read Thai. If you can't read Thai you will have some trouble using the course, as Thai words and letters are used throughout.
Why doesn't Rosetta stone offer a current Thai course?
Lack of demand
I suspect that a big reason Rosetta Stone doesn't offer an up to date Thai program, is because the Thai language isn't as popular as the more typical foreign languages in the USA, such as Spanish, French, etc.
There is a demand for good Thai courses (otherwise why would you be on this page?), but the folks behind Rosetta Stone don't think that it's worth it to make an updated Thai course.
Thai isn't the easiest language to teach
This probably doesn't come as a surprise to you but Thai is not the easiest language for native English speakers to pick up, nor is it the easiest to teach.
One of the biggest challenges of learning Thai is the language's tonal system
There's a slew of linguistical differences between Thai and English. The most significant of which are Thai's tonal system and non-Latin based writing script. Given the unique challenges faced by Thai learners it's not a huge surprise Rosetta Stone hasn't jumped at the chance to create a new course.
Three alternatives to Rosetta Stone Thai
Perhaps Rosetta Stone will release a Thai course one day. Until that day comes, here are some alternatives worth checking out.
From $4+ per month
15+ minutes a day
Thaipod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a Thai conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
Thaipod101 is a substantial Thai learning tool, and as far as language courses and apps go it's pretty cheap too. The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
2) Pimsleur Thai
$21.95 for 5 lessons
30 minutes a day
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is an entirely audio based and is specifically designed to develop your conversational skills.
They use a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to help you practice thinking in a foreign language.. The course also does a great job of breaking down Thai pronunciation and helping you learn the tones.
Unfortunately there is only one level available for Pimsleur's Thai course.
$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)
30 minute or 1 hour lessons
An intro video from one of Italki's Thai teachers.
Italki is an online market place that connects language learners with language teachers for one-on-one language classes via video or audio chat.
You can connect with language speakers from around the world and practice your speaking skills. There are over 40 Thai language teachers on Italki.
*with a purchase of $20 or more. After your first purchased lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account