I first learned the Thai language in Paris some 20 years ago at the Institut National des Langues Orientales(INALCO). I shortly after came to Thailand and it is where I improved my language skills mostly in listening to people. It is amazing how much you can learn sitting at a table in a street restaurant, a walk in the market, or with your Thai colleagues in a company.
Most foreigners living here learn the language from scratch and it is quite difficult to progress if you haven’t gone through the process to learn how to write and read the Thai language. And it is not that difficult, as daily exercises over a period of 3 weeks can enable you to read quite fluently. You may not understand what you read immediately, but with more practice you can get a grasp of the language fairly rapidly.
A few words and phrases:
สวัสดี (sà-wàt-dee) >> Hello ยินดีต้อนรับ (yin dee dtôn ráp) >> Welcome เป็นอย่างไรบ้าง? (bpen yàang rai bâang?) >> How are you? สบายดีหรื (sà-baai dee rĕu?) >> How are you? สบายดีคร้บ (sà-baai dee króp) – male >> I am fine, thanks. สบายดีค่ะ (sà-baai dee kâ) – female >> I am fine, thanks.