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There is a lot to uncover when studying the Thai language. Fun fact: a lot of its writing system hasn’t been changed since its introduction, so modern readers have a fair chance of understanding historic texts and inscriptions. Pretty cool, right?
If you want to learn Thai, getting a language app is usually the best way to start. But here’s the catch: popular platforms like Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone don’t have a Thai course at the moment!
In this case, you ought to find a Duolingo alternative. Lucky for you, we’ve got a few aces up our sleeve—or, in other words, a couple of good recommendations:
Why is there no Thai on Duolingo?
Is Thai on Duolingo? At this time of writing, the Duolingo Incubator isn’t showing us any signs of progress.
Despite the continued calls for it, the company also hasn’t provided users with much of a response, so we’ve taken up the challenge of answering this ourselves:
The demand is low
One possible reason why Thai isn’t on Duolingo is that there isn’t a large enough demand for it—or at least, not among native English speakers. Since they’re the target market, the company tends to put these users’ interests first.
On the contrary, statistics show that there are 50 million people in the world who speak Thai, thus we can’t really say that it’s unpopular. I’d say Thailand is a well-known tourist destination, to begin with, so publishing a Duolingo Thai course would nevertheless be beneficial!
Thai could be difficult for Duolingo to teach
Thai uses a unique alphabet system, which could be difficult for Duolingo to teach. After all, the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI) considers this as a Category III or “hard” language due to its significant differences from English!
However, Duolingo has also covered languages that use other writing systems (such as Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Hebrew), so this shouldn’t be an excuse.
Duolingo stopped working with volunteer contributors
Duolingo ended its volunteer contributor program last 2021 since they intend to take full internal responsibility in the coming years.
That being said, they probably don’t have a Thai course yet because they currently lack native speakers and/or in-house professionals on their development team.
Given the language’s complexity, it’s only expected that they get the right people involved.
Apps to learn Thai other than Duolingo
Sad to say, but you can’t learn Thai on Duolingo right now.
But that’s nothing to worry about because there are plenty of other Thai learning apps which you could use, just like these three:
For light and interactive learning, Mondly is your best bet! Bite-sized and user-friendly, the app gamifies its Thai lessons in order to make your studies interesting.
Complete with audio recordings and a hands-free integration, this platform surely has a lot to offer. Its course covers a broad range of topics—such as basic conversation, travel phrases, and the like—which could help you out during practical situations.
Furthermore, the app has content for beginners, intermediates, and advanced-level learners alike, so that everybody has a chance to study the language!
- Teaches vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation
- Short yet engaging lessons
- Designed for all fluency levels
If you want an immersive learning experience, try Pimsleur’s 30-minute core lessons! By routinely listening to its content, you’ll soon be able to speak and understand the language.
Unlike other apps, this is an audio-based course that focuses on building your conversation skills by exposing you to realistic, day-to-day scenarios, while teaching correct Thai pronunciation and accents. It also includes digital flashcards and speed round games for good measure.
All in all, it’s an awesome place for new students to get an authentic glimpse of the Thai language.
- Features 30-minute core audio lessons
- Based on the scientifically recognized Pimsleur Method
- Mainly builds your conversation skills
Simply Learn Thai is a free language app that’s absolutely great for building your vocabulary. With 300+ Thai words and expressions in store, this phrasebook comes with dynamic flashcards, high-quality audio, and a neat review quiz to keep you in shape.
This app will certainly come in handy on a trip or as a learning supplement. Using a spaced repetition system, it’ll teach you the most essential phrases—ranging from common greetings to small talk—in a simple yet effective manner.
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this is easily a must-have for quick reference!
- Wide coverage of words and phrases
- Presented in both phonetic and original Thai writing
- Includes audio, a review quiz, and a quick-search function
Other great resources to learn Thai
Drops: Drops is a wonderful vocabulary learning app. Through stunning visuals and playful activities, it’ll drill in the most important Thai words and phrases.
ThaiPod101: This is a good place to find academic podcasts. You may access its wide library of video and audio lessons online or download content for offline use!
Thai with Mod: This lovely YouTube channel teaches Thai vocabulary and grammar through simple, beginner-friendly videos. From popular expressions to common mistakes made by students, Mod’s playlists will easily get you through the basics.
Thai for Beginners: Thai for Beginners is just the right thing to get started with! Containing step-by-step instructions, extensive exercises, and a complimentary CD, this textbook is more than enough for new learners.
Ling: This well-rounded app teaches the Thai alphabet, vocabulary, and grammar through fun games and chatbot conversations. It’s worth nothing that the developer is based in Thailand so you can count on the quality and depth of the lessons.
Thai: An Essential Grammar: As the name suggests, this book is centered on Thai grammar concepts. Technical, clear, and informative, it’s a top-notch reference for beginners and intermediates alike.
Forvo: This online pronunciation dictionary can be used to play-out audio when you’re having trouble pronouncing certain Thai words and phrases.
italki: This platform will help you find a Thai tutor of your own. Take informal conversation lessons with native speakers, or hire a certified tutor who can craft a structured learning program for you. As a bonus, there are many affordable Thai tutors available. You can also check out Preply.
Clozemaster: This app mainly uses Cloze Tests to level up your studies. Best for intermediate and advanced students.
Expecting a Duolingo Thai course might be a long shot. But fortunately, other apps have gone the mile and more, since they have Thai lessons right this very moment. No doubt, you’ll have a fun time.