What’s the Deal With Duolingo Thai?

  • December 3, 2019

Duolingo doesn't offer a course for native English speakers learning Thai.

In fact a Thai foreign language course isn't even in their incubator yet (the incubator is where new courses are under development)... 

Duolingo offers over 90 different language courses in 22 different languages, but somehow Thai didn't make the cut. 

Why is there no Thai course yet?

Usually if a language learning app or company hasn't put out a course for a particular language, I attribute it to a lack of demand and or the difficulty of teaching said language to native English speakers.

Lack of people who want to learn Thai?

But Duolingo's lack of a Thai course puzzles me. They've produced language courses for fictional languages such as Klingon and High Valyrian, and even a dead language: Latin. There are over 50 million Thai speakers in the world, so i feel like there's ample demand for a Thai course.  

Is Thai too difficult to teach?

Thai is a difficult language to teach to native English speakers due to the fact that its written script isn't Latin based and the language uses a tonal system. But there's been a Mandarin and Japanese course out on the app for sometime, so I don't think Duolingo thinks Thai is too hard to teach. 

When can we except a Thai course?

Hard to say. At the time of writing this article there is a course under development for native speakers of Thai to learn English, but no plans have been announced to create a course for native English speakers to learn Thai. 

I suspect Thai is somewhere on Duolingo's to do list. For now though, we'll just have to wait.  

Alternatives for learning Thai

In the meantime, here's a list of notable apps and programs for learning Thai that you can start using today. 

1) Thaipod101


From $4+ per month

Time commitment

15+ minutes a day 


Thaipod101 teaches Thai through audio lessons in a podcast format. Each episode (lesson) focuses on a few key grammar points, as well as new vocabulary words.

Every episode includes a conversation between two native speakers, and the podcast hosts do a great job of breaking everything down in English.

In the beginning everything is explained in English, but as your level in the language increase so does the amount of Thai used in the lessons.

 Thaipod101 is a great learning tool, it also features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful tools and resources to help you imporve your Thai.

2) Italki


$6+ per hour (varies between teachers)

Time commitment

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. Currently there are over 40 Thai teachers available on the site.

You can also connect with language speakers from around the world for free and develop your language skills through a language learning blog, member forum, and language partner features.

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

3) Pimsleur Thai


$21.95 for 5 lessons

Time commitment

30 minutes a day 


Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is entirely audio based and is specifically designed to develop your conversational skills.

They use a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to get you on your feet in your new foreign language. With Pimsleur You'll learn a limited but functional vocabulary.

The course also breaks down Thai pronunciation syllable by syllable, which is great for learning the tones. The biggest down side for Pimsleur Thai is that only one level is offered in the course.

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