Understand spoken Thai

Learn to read the Thai alphabet

So, you want to learn to read Thai?  Great!  Learning to read Thai is basically about learning to read the Thai alphabet.  The Thai alphabet can be a little daunting at first.  All the letters initially look like a mass of squiggles, and to begin with it's almost like a game of spot-the-difference, as many of the letters do look a bit like each other.  But with the help of Lingopolo, a bit of patience and a bit of perseverance there is no reason why you can't learn to read Thai.  Lingopolo has a number of lessons expressly designed to help you learn to read Thai.

Learn the Thai consonants

The first thing to learn is the Thai consonants.

There are 44 Thai consonants.  Each one has an object associated with it, so for example, the 1st Thai consonant is associated with a chicken, the 2nd Thai consonant is associated with an egg and so forth. 

These objects are used both to help remember the consonant, and to more easily distinguish one consonant from another (there are often several letters for one sound).

Therefore, the first thing, unfortunately, you need to do before learning the consonants and their full names is to learn these 44 objects! This is something which a native Thai speaker does not really need to do (since they would already know what the Thai word for water buffalo, elephant, a kite etc. is).  Unfortunately, unless you are already pretty advanced with your Thai then you will not likely know these objects already.  Of course at Lingopolo.com we have prepared a lesson specially for this purpose:

The great thing about this is that in learning these 44 objects, not only are you forming the required foundation for learning the consonants, you are also getting to learn 44 new Thai nouns for free!

The next thing to do is to learn one by one the Thai consonants!  One important thing to note, is that in order to practise the Thai alphabet, you should be careful to select the quiz types "Thai Reading" or "Thai Writing" as shown in the picture below.  The Thai Reading quiz type will display just the symbol to you, and you will then need to decide how it is pronounced.  This will give you the real letter by letter experience of learning to read.  Once you have mastered the Thai Reading of a set of letters, for full mastery, you should then repeat the lesson using the "Thai Writing" quiz type.  This will be the ultimate test of your knowledge of the letters: being able to hear a sound and write how it should be written. We recommend that during the Thai Writing quiz you have a piece of paper at hand to try and draw the letter before you reveal the letter each time.

Quiz types Thai Reading and Thai Writing

Lingopolo.com of course provides a lesson for learning the Thai consonants:

Learn the Thai vowels

Once the Thai consonants are mastered, you can move onto the Thai vowels.  We have divided the vowels into groups according to their difficulty, starting with the very simplest and gradually moving into the more complicated:

Since each of the more advanced vowels is often a composite of the symbols used in the simpler vowels, you should make sure you have a good grasp of each level of vowel before attempting the next set.

Finally we have a bundle of miscellaneous vowels:

When you have a pretty good mastery of the above Thai vowel lessons, then you can try all the Thai vowels in a single bundle.  We don't recommend you try this until you have really got a good mastery of the vowels grouped as above, but when you're ready it's the ultimate test of your mastery:

The full alphabet

When you have pretty much mastered all the consonants and the vowels, have a go at our unabridged Thai alphabet lesson which has the complete mix of all the consonants and vowels:

Some miscellaneous Thai symbols

There are a few other miscellaneous Thai symbols which you will also need to learn. You can find these in the Thai symbols lesson.

Thai digits

In order to fully read Thai, you will also need to learn the Thai digits (i.e.  etc.). Thai often writes digits using the Roman alphabet (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), but often they use their own symbols.  This is particularly valuable to know when paying for entrance to things.  The Thai price is often lower than the tourist price!  If you live in Thailand and can claim to be a resident (e.g. by showing a Thai motorbike licence), then you will usually be able to get the lower Thai price.  You can learn these special Thai symbols for digits in the Thai digits lesson.


This guide shows you how to learn to read Thai.  It shows how to learn the Thai alphabet.  First, you need to learn the objects behind the Thai consonants.  Then, you need to learn the Thai consonants themselves.  Finally you need to learn the Thai vowels, which can best be done by learning first the basic Thai vowels, then the intermediate Thai vowels, then the advanced Thai vowels and finally the miscellaneous Thai vowels.  When you're ready for the ultimate challenge, try the unabridged Thai alphabet lesson.  Throw in some Thai symbols, and add the Thai digits and you're about done.