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The Best (And Worst) Online Thai Courses For 2020

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Learning Thai can be complicated without the right tools. The good news is that there are tons of language courses that can help you become fluent.

Here, we’ll explain which resources are best for learning Thai, those that are just okay courses, and which you should pass on.

We’ll cover the top tier options for learning Thai, the merely passable courses in the second tier, and a selection of courses we suggest you steer clear of (third tier).

Let’s get started with the top courses for learning Thai.

Tier 1 – the Best Online Courses for Learning Thai

Here are our top selections for learning Thai.

italki

Accessible tutoring help for all skill levels

Price: Starts at $4/hour with an average of around $10/hour (ranges up to $50/hour)

Working one-on-one with a tutor is often the best way to practice a language. We recommend italki for anyone learning Thai because you can schedule convenient lessons with an instructor you select. There are a range of price points, too, which can keep your costs low.

Both tutors and professional teachers are available, so you can have casual or very traditional instruction. Just schedule your lessons and you’ll soon connect with an expert in Thai.

Pros:

  • You can swap translation help and practice Thai on the language board.
  • Scheduling is convenient and quick.
  • Most instructors offer trial lessons for cheap, so you can have a test run of their teaching style first.

Cons:

  • It’s not a dollar-for-dollar system; there are italki credits instead.
  • Some popular teachers book up quickly, so last-minute sessions can be tough to come by.

See our full, in-depth review of italki here.

Visit Italki

ThaiPod101

Podcast-style instruction that works

Price: Some content is free; subscriptions range from $8 to $47/month

ThaiPod101 uses a podcast format to start teaching you Thai immediately. With hundreds of audio lessons—plus videos—you’ll start listening and speaking right away. Downloadable extras like flashcards and lesson notes help round out your learning.

You can start out with free lessons to see if ThaiPod101 is a good fit for you. Then, you can decide on whether or not a subscription is right for you.

Pros:

  • A podcast format makes learning intuitive and casual.
  • The free content is a nice perk, even if you use another course primarily.
  • Accessible to beginners as well as more advanced students.

Cons:

  • It’s not a course in the traditional sense where lessons build upon the ones that came before. Instead, most lessons teach a concept in isolation of other lessons.
  • They go overboard with the marketing emails.

See our full, in-depth review of ThaiPod101 here.

Visit ThaiPod101

Lingopolo

An in-depth Thai course that’s totally free

Price: Free

Lingopolo is a free course that’s surprisingly in-depth. It has a balance of audio and written material, and you can study by theme or parts of speech. You’ll learn Thai script from your first lesson, but you can expect a lot of the audio to be challenging.

Pros:

  • Completely free resource.
  • A variety of content and themed lessons keep things interesting.
  • There’s no transliteration so you start with learning Thai script.

Cons:

  • Some lessons require you to work in order; no skipping around.
  • There are limits to the course since it’s a blog-style setup.

Visit Lingopolo

Pimsleur

One of the best ways to learn Thai

Price: Subscriptions range from $14.95 to $19.95, but no subscription option covers Thai yet. Hopefully, it will be added soon. Purchasing the Level 1 Course costs $119.95.

Pimsleur is a reliable course for learning a ton of languages, and we like it for Thai, too. The one drawback is that it doesn’t cover a lot of written material. So you won’t want to depend solely on it—consider adding a reading and writing supplement if you go with Pimsleur.

Pros:

  • Uses audio-based practice, which is great for improving communication skills.
  • You’ll begin speaking right away.
  • The cultural background enhances your learning.

Cons:

  • Reading isn’t covered much, so you’ll need another resource.
  • The lessons can often feel repetitive.

See our full, in-depth review of Pimsleur here.

Visit Pimsleur

Learn Thai Podcast

Strong foundation with few updates

Price: $197 for the entire course

The Learn Thai Podcast is a strong course that has good content—albeit a bit dated. You’ll have access to video, audio, and PDF files for each lesson. There are five modules and you work at your own pace through the podcast-style lessons.

The highlights with Learn Thai Podcast are the pronunciation guides and the focus on learning the alphabet. With those basic skills, you can achieve a lot more as you progress through the lessons.

Pros:

  • Teaches the Thai alphabet and focuses on pronunciation in-depth.
  • Starts out with the basics for beginners with essential phrases, etc.
  • Covers written and audio lessons.

Cons:

  • A bit clunky to navigate and hasn’t had any updates in a while.
  • The materials for each lesson must be downloaded.

Visit Learn Thai Podcast

Tier 2 – Second-Best Options for Learning Thai

The second-tier courses are passable options, but with more negatives.

Pickup Thai

A Thai course with a sense of humor

Price: $249 for everything

Pickup Thai is a language course with a sense of humor. The site offers up beginner through advanced courses with over 30 lessons in each, and from what we can tell, it’s all entertaining. Expect plenty of jokes to keep the lessons interesting.

You can check out the free content on their website, but the course includes MP3 and PDF files for all the lessons. The price seems high, but a lot of work has gone into putting the course—and its artwork—together.

Pros:

  • There are tons of cheeky phrases and funny translations in the lessons.
  • Liberal use of cartoon illustrations helps make the lessons engaging.
  • You can access free content from Pickup Thai on YouTube and their blog.

Cons:

  • Pretty pricey compared to other course options.
  • If you want to learn “serious” or professional Thai, this won’t fit your needs.

Visit Pickup Thai

FSI

A basic and free intro to Thai

Price: Free

FSI is a reliable way to learn basic skills in Thai (and other languages, too). It’s completely free, which is great since you wouldn’t want to pay for the outdated materials. But for a free course, it ranks highly on our list.

Lots of time is spent on Thai phonology (five sections), and there are 38 lessons that include audio and written components. You can download the PDF student manual, too.

Pros:

  • Completely free beginner’s course.
  • You get both audio and text components.
  • Can download and go with all the materials.

Cons:

  • Might be tough to manage if you get bored easily.
  • The materials are really old—like decades old.
  • There’s nothing fun or intuitive about the format.

Visit FSI

Udemy

Thai courses for every need

Price: Price points range widely, but if you wait for a sale, courses average $10 each

Udemy is a platform where instructors share their knowledge of Thai (and just about everything else) online. Courses are available in Thai on a range of topics, and courses can last anywhere from an hour to over ten hours.

You can pick and choose your instructors or the area of Thai you’re studying. It’s video-based instruction, but most teachers provide downloadable materials, too.

Pros:

  • You can choose a specific course of study for a set topic.
  • Udemy provides lifetime access to all your purchased courses.
  • Udemy has a money-back guarantee if you’re unhappy with a course or instructor.

Cons:

  • Courses can get expensive (but there are often deals—so wait for a sale).
  • Instructors are all different, so it can be a gamble.
  • You probably need supplements no matter what course you choose.

Visit Udemy

Glossika

Good instruction, but for a price

Price: $30/month, $299.88/year

Glossika offers access to Thai and every other language for one set price. Its focus is on audio drills for practicing speaking and listening comprehension. As such, it can feel like you’re simply parroting sentences and not getting any real instruction. But, for people learning multiple languages, Glossika might be a good fit.

It is pretty pricey, however, which can stop some folks from trying it out. If it’s in your budget, we think it’s a passable choice.

Pros:

  • You get all the languages on Glossika with your subscription.
  • Lessons are repetitive—in a good way—and help you master Thai.
  • The audio resources are strong across all language options.

Cons:

  • The price is steep—we can’t make excuses for it.
  • Not a good option for complete beginners.
  • Some courses have errors in them.

See our full, in-depth review of Glossika here.

Visit Glossika

Mango Languages

Passable instruction for Thai

Price: $7.99/month for one language or $17.99/month for all languages

Mango Languages is a decent course but it doesn’t really stand out from competitors. There’s some fun game-like instruction, and you might be able to get it for free at your local library.

And while one subscription grants you access to all the languages, they each use the same repetitive format, so it can feel boring.

Pros:

  • You may be able to get it for free at the library.
  • One subscription can give you access to 70+ languages.

Cons:

  • Instruction can feel almost robotic since it’s the same layout for each language.
  • We’d recommend a supplement for learning pronunciation with Thai.

See our full, in-depth review of Mango Languages here.

Visit Mango Languages

Mondly

Doesn’t stand out

Price: $9.99/month to $47.99/year for one language

Mondly might be okay for beginners, since it does cover Thai basics. However, there are better resources to spend your time (and money) on. A combination of courses—like italki tutoring and a Thai podcast—would probably net better results.

It seems like a common downfall of multi-language programs that they use the same format for each one. With Thai, we’d like to see more cultural information and in-depth explanations.

Pros:

  • A lot of vocabulary is covered.
  • There are some fun elements like challenges and quizzes.

Cons:

  • The format is very repetitive.
  • Lessons don’t extend very deep, and they’re not connected very well.
  • You might hit a wall with the higher-level content and need some additional resources.

See our full, in-depth review of Mondly here.

Visit Mondly

Tier 3 – Steer Clear of These Thai Courses

These courses are the ones we recommend skipping.

High Speed Thai

High cost with low payoff

Price: $239.95

While we haven’t tried High Speed Thai, just visiting their website has us steering clear. It feels dated and old, and there are forum comments from way back in 2014 asking for an update. That said, some of the materials might be handy for a beginner. The course seems to cover much more than standard textbooks.

That said, at this price point, we would expect more than a clunky interface and a limited focus on the spoken language.

Pros:

  • Accessible to beginners.
  • Uses both PDFs and audio files for instruction.

Cons:

  • Very outdated and difficult to navigate website.
  • Focuses more on reading and writing than spoken Thai.
  • Higher-level material may leave you needing in-person instruction (pairing this with italki might work).

Visit High Speed Thai

Transparent Language

Basic Thai instruction with a high price

Price: $24.95/month or $149.95/year for one language, $49.99/month or $249.95/year for all languages.

Transparent Language offers a lot of language options, but the quality just isn’t there. We’re not big fans of their teaching methods—for Thai or any other language—and the focus on memorization misses the mark.

There’s a neat recording tool that we like for pronunciation, which is available with any language, but that’s not enough reason to pay up for this course.

Pros:

  • The built-in pronunciation recorder is a neat feature.
  • There are many languages available.

Cons:

  • Instruction is mostly repetitive with memorization.
  • The price feels outrageous for what is offered.
  • There are instructional gaps to where you’ll need additional resources anyway.

See our full, in-depth review of Transparent Language here.

Visit Transparent Language

Final Thoughts on Thai Language Courses

Learning Thai can be a challenge regardless of whether you’re a beginner or looking to hone your intermediate-level skills. Our top picks can help you get there faster, and you’d do well to avoid the lower-level items on our list. Have any recommendations to share? Drop them in the comments

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