Thai language is spoken by approximately 50 million people, primarily in Thailand, its borders, and Thai communities around the world. Due to its nature as a tonal language, Thai may be difficult for non-speakers to learn, but being exposed to the language regularly during a study abroad program in Thailand allows students to develop a collection of Thai phrases that will surely progress cultural immersion into the Thai community. The fluctuating yet soft intonation of Thai language certainly reflects the essence of Thailand’s friendly and warm cultural attitude that attracts students, professionals, and travelers alike.
In Thailand, you can't always rely on English as a back up to communicate. You will use and practice Thai daily and interact with native speakers at every turn. Even a simple task like ordering food becomes a learning experience. You pick-up subtleties, authentic accents and pronunciation, jokes, stories, and local phrases you never would have learned from simply being in a classroom. Most of the time, you find you are learning new things without even trying; simply being surrounded by Thai day and night helps you absorb more than you think.
Among the many benefits of acquiring fluency in the Thai language, students become immersed not only in Thai language, but also in Thai culture. Initial language learning opens up more opportunities to explore the literature, music, art, dance, sports, etc. of Thailand. Communicating in Thai is essential when traveling to regions outside of the nation’s capital, as English may or may not be known by residents of smaller communities throughout Thailand. You will earn a great deal of respect by native speakers if you take the time to learn and efficiently utilize your Thai language skills, and the opportunities stemmed from cultural immersion by speaking Thai while in Thailand are endless.
The ability to speak Thai and gain a deeper insight into Thai culture by studying abroad in Thailand will enhance a student’s resume for future academic and professional endeavors. Total immersion also makes you more marketable in the job world, even on an international level. After learning Thai, you have an advantage—an edge—above other job candidates, since you have broadened your communication skills beyond just the English-speaking world. Learning to read Thai language can be very beneficial as well if you are interested in a career in the fields of academia or government. A number of Thai literature, documents, and texts are constantly needing the assistance of English-speakers to translate for international use.
Aside from the job world, you may also use the Thai class credits you earned while abroad to add a major or minor back at your home campus. Each program has its own specific language level requirements. Requirements range from no prior language instruction in Thai, to the highest language level, which is nearly bilingual. Check to see what prior level of Thai your program requires so that you can start or continue learning Thai in the U.S.