When you decide to take up learning a language, you oftentimes are faced with the decision of taking a class at a local college or school or paying for expensive language-learning software. What happens, though, when the language you want to speak is not offered in your hometown? Or you have a limited schedule or budget? This is the problem many learners of the Thai language often run into.
Fortunately, you don’t have to pick up a textbook or enroll in a language school to become fluent in Thai—not when there are programs and podcasts like ThaiPod101 available. Not only is ThaiPod101 affordable, it is comprehensive and contains dozens of features that give you almost everything you need to master Thai once and for all.
Here is everything you need to know about ThaiPod101 to help you decide if it’s the right program for you.
ThaiPod101 Review: Overview
ThaiPod101 calls itself the “the fastest, easiest and most fun way” to learn Thai. While the podcasts and audio lessons are geared more towards beginners, there is plenty of content that will help both intermediate and advanced learners improve their Thai language skills. Thousands of audio and video lessons are enhanced with a built-in flashcard system, downloadable notes, and even a smartphone and tablet app that provides access to studying options no matter where you are or how much time you have.
You sign up for free, which gets you the following features:
- Comprehensive and intuitive language lessons
- Informal conversation lessons
- Community forum discussions
- Language and culture connections to learn more about Thailand and Thai people
- Access to the free public podcast
However, if you are truly serious about studying Thai, you had best invest a little money into ThaiPod101 to unlock hundreds of additional features. The Basic subscription is ideal for those on a shoestring budget, while those who want to accelerate their studies would enjoy Premium or Premium+ subscriptions.
For example, the Basic subscription ($8 per month or $60 for a year) gives you access to free printer-friendly lesson notes for each audio lesson and one-click lesson downloads. Meanwhile, Premium ($25 per month or $180 per year) unlocks lesson specific tools like voice recording, flashcards, quizzes, downloads, and a dictionary. Premium+ ($47 per month/$316 per year) has all the features of Premium but also includes 1-on-1 instruction.
What We Liked About ThaiPod101
Great For Novice and Intermediate Learners
Resources for Thai are hard to come by, even as Thailand becomes an ever more popular place for expats and travelers. The bulk of the audio and video lessons are meant to give people from all walks of life an excellent foundation from which to build their language studies up from. Getting the chance to listen to native Thai speakers is perfect for those who need to train their ears to pronunciation and intonation.
Hundreds of Features
Even if you are just using the free function, you get access to quality content that cannot be easily matched with other apps and programs. Once you get a membership, you unlock a whole new treasure chest of items, including in-depth and varied podcasts, a dictionary, grammar charts, downloadable notes, flashcards, lesson transcripts, playbacks, one-on-one lessons, community interaction, and so much more.
Lifelike and Interesting Scenarios
Nothing is worse than droll and boring lessons. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that with ThaiPod101. The Thai conversations featured in the audio and video lessons focus on daily scenarios that you are likely to run into when in Thailand. This ensures that the vocabulary will be relevant and useful. This keeps you interested and motivated, so you learn more words faster.
What We Didn’t Like About ThaiPod101
Lack of Speaking Practice
There are not many downsides to ThaiPod101, but the one that sticks out the most would be the overall lack of speaking practice within every single membership level (excluding Premium+). ThaiPod101 will improve your vocabulary and listening skills, but you will hard pressed to find a way to practice speaking. You will eventually need to find someone to practice with so you don’t lose your Thai skills.
In a similar vein to lack of speaking of practice is the tiny community of Thai language learners. If you are searching for someone to practice speaking with, you may have to venture beyond the ThaiPod101 community. Besides, some of the community functions are limited in Free and Basic subscriptions.
What Are The Lessons Like?
Depending on the membership that you choose, the lesson plans will be different. Lessons are divided into five categories: Introduction courses, Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. The lessons are then divided up into sub-sections beneath these levels. For example, if you are looking at the dashboard for beginner content, you might see “Beginner Season 1,” which contains 25 lessons, picture and video lessons, must-know beginner-friendly slang words, review notes, beginner-level listening comprehension, and more. The app is set up very much the same, but the functionality differs depending on your membership.
At the end of every lesson you complete, you are presented with an oral quiz that aims to improve upon your speaking and listening abilities. This helps you understand what your weaknesses are and gauge how well you are progressing through the content.
The podcasts are set up to teach you how to work through everyday scenarios. Animations are bright and cute, and the dialogue is written out for you to follow. If you have a subscription, you can access transcripts pertaining to the lesson, play back the content to take notes, or you can move onto flashcards to study grammar points and words on your own time.
You also get lists, like the Thai Care 100 Word List, which has foundational content, sample sentences, and audio files attached for you to listen to and then repeat. As you level up, the word lists get longer. Some of them are up to 2000 words long. Using these lists alone, you can pick up thousands of unique phrases.
Who Is ThaiPod101 For?
ThaiPod101 is an ideal program for people who:
- Consider themselves beginners in Thai language
- Like listening to audio and podcasts rather than reading textbooks
- Like studying on their own time
- Are starting from the beginning and need to build a sound foundation
- Are intermediate and advanced speakers looking to review previously learned content
Who Is ThaiPod101 NOT For?
Even the best programs have some disadvantages and negatives that make it less useful for some people. ThaiPod101 is not for the following people:
- Those who prefer rote learning and classroom settings
- Those who are a higher level and need more challenging content
- Those who are on a shoestring budget
- Those who need practicing speaking with Thai natives
ThaiPod101 vs. Competitors
Since Thai is not as popular as Japanese or Spanish or Chinese, you won’t find that many programs available. The ones that are out there are not as fleshed out as ThaiPod101. Here are some competitors and alternatives:
Pimsleur Software vs. ThaiPod101
Pimsleur is one of the few CD-ROM-based courses like Rosetta Stone that offers Thai. Each CD has 30+ lessons that take you through beginner to intermediate then from intermediate to advanced. However, the cost of Pimsleur and like software is a disadvantage. You also do not get printer-friendly content and have to make due without a smartphone or tablet app to make the content more portable.
Italki vs. ThaiPod101
Unlike ThaiPod101, Italki is excellent for connecting you with real people to help you learn a new language. You meet up for lessons over Skype whenever you can. Sometimes you can find language exchange partners for free tutoring, or you can pay a professional for one-on-one lessons. The downside is that you are focusing solely on conversation and may not get the same quality as you would through audio, video, and downloadable lessons.
Walen Thai vs. ThaiPod101
Walen Thai is a free app that can be downloaded onto your Apple or Android phone. It is not as immersive as ThaiPod101, but it does help you with learning the essentials of the language through visual recognition tasks, audio, and video. You can also choose which characters of the Thai alphabet you want to learn.
SpeakThai vs. ThaiPod101
The Tourism Authority of Thailand took language learning into their own hands to develop the SpeakThai app. Rather than being language learning software, SpeakThai functions more like a portable translator that has over 2,500 words and phrases. You can use the translation option or study by listening to well-known phrases. The app is great for travelers who want to learn a few essential phrases for their trip.
You could also opt for a student visa then enroll into a language school in Thailand, but a lot of students find that they are unable to have conversations with the locals. Most language schools, regardless of the language they are teaching, focus on outdated rote memorization. You are lucky if you get to interact with native speakers. That’s why ThaiPod101 is such an excellent option, because you learn from Thai teachers anywhere in the world.
Is It Worth The Money?
In our opinion: Yes, ThaiPod101 is worth the money. You can get free content or sign up for a paid membership. With the minimum cost of $8 a month, you can certainly start breaking into Thai language and picking up useful phrases. Even the most motivated of students who choose more expensive packages, like Premium, for $180 a year, are getting excellent value.
Compare that to the cost of other competitors, like Pimsleur language learning software, which contains less than 40 lessons. If you decide to go to a language school, you might end up paying thousands of dollars a year. A ThaiPod101 subscription costs a fraction of that for two years.
Best of all? If you don’t enjoy ThaiPod101 or are not learning what you want, there is a money back guarantee with every purchase. You can also cancel your subscription any time you want.
If it sounds like I’m really selling it, it’s because I really like the programs put out by this company. I’ve been using their Japanese program, JapanesePod 101, for years, and have been super happy with the results!
Our Exclusive 30% Off ThaiPod101 Coupon Code
We’ve approached the makers of ThaiPod101 and managed to get our hands on an exclusive 30% off coupon code.
If you use our link to sign up, you get 30% off the regular prices that we mentioned above (excluding the Premium+ tier with 1-on-1 lessons).
Here’s the link:
I don’t know how long this code will be available, but I think at this price the program is a no-brainer to recommend.
The Secret Lifetime Membership Option (Not too many people know about this!)
Some people don’t like monthly payments, and I don’t blame you. Usually when I have a choice between a one time payment and smaller monthly payments, I choose the one-time.
This deal isn’t really advertised, but you can get lifetime access to ThaiPod101 for $599.
There are other lifetime deals where you can get the entire course catalogue of 34 languages (this deal is a little expensive, but if you’re a big language learner if might be worth it!).
You can get the lifetime membership to ThaiPod101 here.
ThaiPod101 Review Conclusion
An Excellent Resource That’s Worth Every Cent (With Only A Few Downsides)
Because Thai is not a popular language, resources for learning the language are few and far between. Fortunately, with resources like ThaiPod101, you don’t need hundreds of apps and programs to get fluent. This is the best app to learn Thai out there in our opinion. ThaiPod101 is a solid language learning program that provides hundreds of lessons ranging from absolute beginner through advanced. You can learn pronunciation, grammar, and enhance your vocabulary rapidly—especially if you invest a little money into a subscription plan.
Overall, ThaiPod101 is an excellent investment that can accelerate your understanding of Thai and even lead you towards fluency.