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Reviews of Books for Learning Thai

Thai for Advanced Readers, Benjawan Poomsan Becker, 2000, ISBN 1-887521-03-8
This is a very simple book, each lesson is a short essay followed by a list of new vocabulary with pronunciation guide, translation and summary. The essays are about Thai culture and Thailand so you get more than a lesson on language. It would be nice if there was more variety but it's easy to pick up and read a bit without feeling lost.

Teach Yourself Thai, David Smyth, Hodder and Stoughton, 1995, ISBN 0340590424
A great book for beginners. This book places a lot of emphasis on learning reading and writing in Thai as soon as possible. It seems to cover the most important aspects and is a good beginner's introductory text. The second edition has revised versions of the last 5 lessons.

Thai: An Essential Grammar, David Smyth, 2002, ISBN 0-415-22614-7
A more advanced book, combining Thai, English and romanised Thai. It leans towards the romanised Thai a little too much for my tastes but it's reasonably clear. It's a very detailed book and a very good reference.

Berlitz Thai, (book and cassette pack)
This course progresses very fast and may be best for someone who has a photographic memory! The speed of presentation felt a little rushed, but maybe that's what their kind of readers are looking for. The difference between slow and fast examples was very slight and polite particles like Ѻ and were left to the reader to insert.

The New What-You-See-Is-What-You-Say Thai Phrasebook, Eric Allyn (main author), Bua Luang Publishing Company, Revised Edition 1993, ISBN 0-942777-04-2
Lots of tips and information on everything. The easy to use transliteration system means that you can read things very quickly but the Thai writing is printed very small. Some misunderstanding about a few things when comparing to western culture and a little stilted in some of the attitudes, but otherwise very good.

The Fundamentals of the Thai Language, Stuart Campbell and Chuan Shaweevongs, Fifth Edition
Very good, a little old and possibly reflecting old style language. Some original test passages from official tests. Plenty of minor points and details. There are a couple of typos but not too many. Well worth buying if you can get hold of it. An online version is available.

Reading and Writing Thai, Marie-Helene Brown, Edition Duangkamol, 1993, ISBN 974 210 4506
Aimed at "... all people wishing to learn the Thai system of writing and reading", you need to be a linguist to get on with this book, unless you already know about things like dipthongs and tripthongs. The book seems very short but true linguists may appreciate the brevity.


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