Rosetta Stone Thai Review (Pros & Cons)

  • December 12, 2019

Updated January 2nd, 2024

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.

1) Thaipod101

Price

From $4+ per month

Time commitment

15+ minutes a day 

Summary:

Thaipod101 uses podcast-style audio and video lessons on a wide range of different topics to help you learn Thai. You can follow a set curriculum plan to map your way through the lessons, or simply pick and choose lessons on subjects that seem interesting to you.

One great thing about the audio and video lessons is that you can select an option for a line-by-line breakdown, to get subtitle translations on screen as you go. You can even record yourself and compare your recording to the in-app recording, to test your pronunciation.

The brief lessons come with interactive activities to help you review new vocabulary and grammar concepts. These include flashcards and word lists within the app. 

One of the remarkable things about this course is that it offers over 1600 brief lessons to choose from. You can search for lessons on a topic you want, or browse thematic groupings of lessons on topics like family, numbers, and much more.

If you subscribe to the app as a Premium Plus member, you can even sign up for lessons with a live tutor. This can help give you real time feedback on your current work, or give you a chance to practice conversation.

2) Pimsleur Thai

Price

$21.95 for 5 lessons

Time commitment

30 minutes a day 

Summary:

Pimsleur features a remarkable 51 languages to date, including a full beginner-level course on Thai. Two things set Pimsleur’s Thai course apart from many other programs.

First, every lesson starts with a solid 30-minute audio lesson presented by a narrator and native Thai speakers. The narrator encourages you to use active listening skills and stay involved in the ongoing conversation. This helps build your listening comprehension and pronunciation skills, besides keeping your mind actively involved in the lesson.

Second, all Pimsleur courses use a principle called Spaced Repetition Theory. This means that the program will cycle back through content to help you experience it enough times to remember it permanently.

Besides the audio lessons, the Pimsleur app does use speech recognition software and also offers some more visual activities within each lesson as well.

But the main focus is to help you build a library of core Thai vocabulary, learn a little bit about reading Thai script, and develop your conversational skills.

The program does not focus much on grammar, though the narrator will offer some helpful explanations within the audio lessons. Going through the full Pimsleur Thai course also takes a real time commitment, unlike a gamified program like Duolingo that offers to teach you a language in five minutes a day That said, it is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for real-life conversations in Thai.

Price

Starting at $6.67 per month

Time commitment

10 minutes

Summary:

If you love the fun, gamified style of Duolingo, you will enjoy the Ling app’s lighthearted approach to learning Thai. Ling, with its cute monkey mascot, has done a great job providing beginner-level courses for the “less popular” languages around the world. To date, the app offers courses in over 60 different languages!

Ling has several features that make it a perfect introduction to Thai. First, it features native Thai speakers in dialogues, with the option for you to slow down the audio and hear each word clearly. 

Second, at the end of every lesson you test yourself with a speaking activity, and rate your pronunciation compared to the native speaker's audio. This is great, as it helps you master the tonal aspect of Thai.

Third, you get to use an interactive tracing program to learn how to form Thai characters on the screen of your phone or tablet. This will help you remember a lot better than just watching a video or reading a text about the Thai alphabet!

Ling also uses fun animations, easy ways to track your progress, and brief lessons and activities to make learning more fun. Despite this, the program offers a lot of material. It could easily take you six months to a year to work through the full Thai course.

Price

Starting at $10 per month

Time commitment

10 minutes

Summary:

Mondly has a sleek interface and offers an additional VR app to help you feel fully immersed in learning the Thai language. A few years back the learning company Pearson bought Mondly and it has grown even more since then, with over a million users across 41 different language programs.

Like many language apps, Mondly gives you a variety of learning opportunities like short video lessons and many different kinds of activities, such as matching, spelling, or speaking. Its primary focus is on helping you learn through conversation and experience, rather than learning a grammar rule and then trying to form a conversation based on that.

In many ways, Mondly is like a better version of Rosetta Stone. It does use image and word pairing to help you intuitively understand and remember the word, but it also uses lessons and explanations in English to keep you grounded and help you understand a language that is very different from English.

You can also choose to embark on a linear program through the Mondly Thai course by using the “Daily Lessons” feature, or you can explore at your own pace by using the map-like dashboard featuring many different lesson themes, like Around The House or Core Vocabulary. 

Price

$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)

Time commitment

30 minute or 1 hour lessons 

An intro video from one of Italki's Thai teachers. 

Summary:

Unlike the other alternatives to Rosetta Stone listed here, Italki is not a language learning course, Instead, it is an online and app-based forum to connect you with a personal Thai tutor.

Italki hosts over 8,000 tutors. Each has a unique background and level of experience, and most promote themselves as native speakers of the language they teach.

Besides narrowing down your search to just tutors teaching Thai, you can also search for teachers based on their level of experience, their schedule availability, or their price point.

Italki teachers set their own rates, which means you will find varying levels of cost for thirty-minute or one-hour lessons. Higher cost does not necessarily mean a better tutor--you should check the teacher reviews to find out what other students thought of a tutor before committing!

While your might sync better with some tutors than others, a personal tutoring experience is one of the most valuable options available to learn Thai if you can afford it. The tutor can tailor content to your specific interests and learning level. Plus, you can practice real-time conversation in Thai in a safe and educational environment.

*with a purchase of $20 or more. After your first purchased lesson a credit of $10 will be added to your account

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