I like to travel and blog. One of my favorite destinations is Thailand for its beaches, food, culture and friendly people. Usually I love to chat with people from different backgrounds during my travels. I like learning from farmers, artists, monks and baristas, to name a few. But in Thailand the language barrier is real. It prevented me from having conversations with some of the most interesting people I met. This needed to change.
So, as a preparation for my 4th trip to Thailand, I decided to double down and learn a bit of Thai. Thai is not only the official language in Thailand, but also very similar to Lao. Learning the language also would help me get around in some parts of Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).
Learning any language is a challenging task, but luckily Tom, a friend of mine, suggested I try a Thai learning app called Lingo Ninja. It's free, so I gave it a try.
I started off learning the Thai alphabet. Their "letters" course consists of 11 simple lessons. As you'd expect, everything is spoken by native speakers, and their "online tutor" is quite a fun character. His comments and the funny sample sentences (eg "Grandma shoots the monkey") kept me motivated through the lessons. It took me about 3 weeks to finish (and repeat) the lessons, but that's mainly because I invested only 1-2 hours per week.
After I finished the Thai alphabet, I started learning beginner's conversations. This course introduces Thai polite words and how they are used. it transitions to more advanced topics like ordering food, shopping and asking for directions. Exactly what I need. Each lesson is divided into short segments, which makes it easy to learn on the go.
I'm currently halfway through the conversations course, and I already know that my next visit to Thailand will be very different. I'm looking forward to using what I learned in restaurants, markets, shops and on the street.
In summary, Lingo Ninja made it easy for me to learn Thai and to squeeze the short lessons into my hectic schedule. It's free, fun and easy to use. Maybe you should allocate a bit more time than I did, about 30 minutes to 1 hour every day. An easy choice to learn a beautiful language.