Thailand is a country that has long fascinated travelers with its unique blend of culture, cuisine, and natural beauty. From bustling cities like Bangkok to beautiful beaches like Phuket, there's something for everyone in this vibrant and diverse nation.
But if you're looking to truly immerse yourself in Thai culture and make the most of your travels, then learning the Thai language is an absolute must.
Knowing a bit of a native language before traveling opens up a world of experiences for tourists and expats. But let's get one thing straight: learning a new language is no easy feat. It takes dedication, practice, and a good learning system to really make progress.
And that's where ThaiPod101 comes in.
I’m gearing up to visit Bangkok in a few months and had heard that ThaiPod101 was an online language course that teaches Thai in a fun and effective way. So I decided to give it a shot. But does it live up to the hype? Read on and I’ll tell you my thoughts.
In this ThaiPod101 review, I'll detail its unique features, discuss the pros and cons of the platform, and compare various pricing plans. I'll also compare ThaiPod101 to other popular online learning sites and share what past students have said about their experience with the platform.
- 600+ lessons and assessments
- Free to join
- Tons of resources including: core vocabulary lists, spaced-repetition flashcards, personal word bank, grammar worksheets, and drills for perfecting your writing script
- Multiple curated learning pathways focused on developing specific Thai language skills
- Lesson notes, key vocabulary, and transcripts for each lesson
- Downloadable audio lessons for offline use and an app that syncs your progress
- Voice recorder tool to work on pronunciation
- Learning community to ask questions and get answers from fellow students and teachers
- 7-day risk-free trial with generous refund policy
- Diverse resources ensure your learning stays fresh and engaging
- Simple platform interface, easy to navigate and curate your learning journey
- Emphasis on listening comprehension quickly gets your ear accustomed to the language
- Lots of learning flexibility — the bite-sized lessons are perfect for on-the-go learning
- Active community of Thai learners to ask questions and get help on difficult aspects of the language
- The ability to record yourself saying Thai words and compare them to a native speaker help build confidence and fine-tune speaking skills
- Not ideal for students that want a more structured learning environment
- With an emphasis on audio lessons, the limited visual materials may not satisfy visual learners
- Feedback from teachers requires a PremiumPlus subscription
Best for: Learners of different levels, from Absolute Beginner to Advanced. There are tons of unique learning pathways, so it’s great for students looking to explore aspects of the language that are most relevant to their goals. Especially perfect for students on the go and auditory learners. For those already familiar with Thai, the platform can be an excellent tool to improve listening skills.
Cost: You can use ThaiPod101 for free by signing up for a free account. For access to more resources, you can choose from a wide range of subscriptions starting at $3.50 pm (Basic) up to $47pm for PremiumPlus.
Overall: ThaiPod101 is engaging, affordable, and provides a range of resources to ensure success for all levels of learners. The interesting and easy-to-follow lessons provide an effortless way to learn Thai that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Plus, the bite-sized lessons make it an especially ideal study aid for anyone serious about learning Thai. With the free membership account, free trial options, and generous refund policy, ThaiPod101 is also totally risk-free.
What is ThaiPod101?
ThaiPod101 is an online language course by Innovative Language Learning that has been making waves among Thai language learners of all levels for years.
Boasting more than a thousand audio and video lessons, its wealth of resources helps students master the language wherever they are, whatever they’re doing. From in-depth grammar lessons to practical vocabulary lists, ThaiPod101 promises to be the ultimate guide for anyone looking to become fluent in Thai.
ThaiPod101 offers a range of courses and resources, including lesson quizzes, interactive flashcards, cultural insights, and grammar worksheets that help students learn the language in a fun and engaging way. The platform is accessible from anywhere and is great for both independent learning and as a study aid complementing a classroom course.
How does ThaiPod101 work?
ThaiPod101 works by providing students with a comprehensive curriculum that includes audio and video lessons covering a huge number of topics for navigating everyday conversations in Thai.
Lessons are structured in a way that makes it easy for learners to follow along and track their progress.
The core lessons are categorized by the following five proficiency levels:
|Level||CEFR Level*||Lessons & Assessments||Length of Content|
|Absolute Beginner||A1 – A2||50 Lessons & 50 Assessments||12hrs 58min|
|Beginner||A2||50 Lessons & 37 Assessments||11hrs 14min|
|Intermediate||B1||50 Lessons & 40 Assessments||10hrs 1min|
|Upper Intermediate||B2||25 Lessons & 23 Assessments||5hrs 56min|
|Advanced||C1||50 Lessons & 74 Assessments||3hrs 24min|
*Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
There’s a range of other features such as spaced-repetition flashcards, quizzes, and a community forum, all of which help learners to practice and reinforce what they have learned.
Students can access the platform through their web browser or through the ThaiPod101 mobile app, Innovative Language Learning, which is available for both iOS and Android devices. The app allows students to access the platform's resources on the go and makes it easy to study Thai even when offline.
What a lesson is like on ThaiPod101
Absolute Beginner core lessons on the app (left) and “All About” learning pathway on the Innovative Language Learning mobile app (right)
The platform's lesson structure is meant to be flexible and adaptable, allowing students to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.
Outside of the core learning pathways for specific levels, there are hundreds of other learning pathways. Each has a focus on topics such as listening skills, topic-based vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, or the Thai writing system. Students can choose the type of learning pathway they want to focus on based on their individual needs and goals.
From my experience with the Absolute Beginner pathway, the lessons were a solid mix of visual- and audio-based and lasted anywhere from 3-20 minutes. The hosts and teachers introduce a native conversation and then break it up into the individual words and phrases. When introducing the vocabulary of the lesson, the hosts include pauses and encourage the listener to repeat the keywords.
After a few lessons, ThaiPod101 gives you a short quiz on content. I found these to be pretty easy if I did the quiz right after listening to the lesson, but they were much harder the day after!
What is the method behind ThaiPod101?
The method behind ThaiPod101 is based on the concept of “spaced repetition,” which is a learning technique that involves reviewing material at increasingly longer intervals to maximize retention. The platform uses this method to help students learn Thai more efficiently and effectively.
ThaiPod101 also incorporates a range of other learning techniques, including audio and visual aids, interactive exercises, and cultural insights. These techniques help students learn the language in a way that is engaging and enjoyable, and they provide students with a range of tools to help them succeed in their language-learning journey.
How I reviewed ThaiPod101
I’ve eaten enough Thai food to be familiar with a few important Thai words. But besides these I had zero prior knowledge, so I was really going in blind.
I started with the Absolute Beginner learning pathway. But I was halfway into the first lesson when I had to pause. It felt like they were assuming I already had some foundation in the basics of Thai.
So I went back to see if there were learning pathways at the Absolute Beginner level that gave a quick crash course in the language.
I found a short pathway of five lessons entitled “Introduction to Thai” that explained a number of important things. For example, that Thai is a tonal language.
Tonal languages are notoriously difficult for English speakers. Thankfully Thai is simpler in other aspects. There are no plural nouns, verb conjugations, articles or gendered nouns. And fewer propositions than many languages.
So my advice to complete beginners would be to start with the “Introduction to Thai” pathway. Then go through the following Absolute Beginner pathways (in order):
- Ultimate Thai Pronunciation Guide*
- Ultimate Video Getting Started
- Speaking Perfect Thai at a Restaurant
*The Ultimate Thai Pronunciation Guide was vital for figuring out Thai diphthongs, one of the most difficult aspects of the spoken language.
Once I had a more solid foundation, I was able to get more from the Absolute Beginner course.
As you’re going through a particular learning pathway, the next lesson will be available by hovering over the “Lessons” tab at the top. You just need to click “study now” and you're back to learning.
I tended to listen to audio lessons with the app during my commute and while doing chores around the house. I particularly enjoyed the “All About” series for these occasions.
What is it about ThaiPod101 that students love so much? Here are some of its most attractive qualities:
The platform is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, and students can learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. This makes it an ideal choice for students who have busy schedules or who want to work on Thai for a few minutes at a time throughout their days.
If you’re one of those people with five minutes between meetings or classes, explore the “3-Minute Thai” learning pathway!
I see ThaiPod101 being quite useful for any level. From my perspective as a veteran language-learner, I feel that it can be an excellent supporting tool to supercharge your listening skills, vocabulary knowledge, cultural understanding, and speaking skills (using the voice recording function).
I found the interface of the app very simple and easy to use. They limit the number of extra resources that you can use on the app, which I actually appreciated because it made the app easier to navigate.
You can even download lessons through the app if you want to work on your Thai even when you don't have internet access, like during a flight. (Coincidentally, they have a short learning pathway meant just for that occasion: “Lessons for Your Flight to Thailand.”)
I loved the app for its podcast-like lessons while I was on the move. My favorite was the “All About” Absolute Beginner series. I don’t know much about what life is like in Thailand, but All About gave me a much better sense of what day-to-day life is like there.
A huge advantage is the range of resources and tools beyond the audio lessons to help students learn Thai efficiently and effectively with a focus on:
- Vocabulary: Personal word bank, survival phrases, lists of most common words (see above)
- Thai writing: Help understanding the Thai alphabet and how to write the characters
- Grammar: Verb conjugation charts, overview of basic grammar structures
- eGuide to Beginner Thai: 16-page booklet to help you get started with Thai
eGuide to Beginner Thai practice worksheet for learning Thai alphabet
I had a lot of these resources opened in separate windows for reference while I was going through the Absolute Beginner core learning pathway. They were a godsend.
I only speak Romance languages fluently, so I don’t have much experience with the pronunciation of Eastern languages. Because of that, there were a few sounds that I had quite a tough time with. As I noted above, the diphthongs in Thai were a particular challenge.
This was a source of frustration for me, but I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the Absolute Beginner learning pathway called “Ultimate Thai Pronunciation Guide.”
This learning pathway was absolutely key to getting me on the right track with speaking reasonably accurate Thai words. The pronunciation guide gave me a very solid foundation in the various consonants and vowels in Thai. It turns out that English speakers already know most of them!
Once you figure out the syllables, then you just have to combine it with one of the five tones.
Diagram of how to pronounce Thai vowels and consonants
Lesson on the five most common mistakes made by Thai learners
Online Community of Learners
I loved being a part of a community of other Thai language learners. Every lesson has a comments section where ThaiPod101 students can ask questions, discuss topics, and offer advice. This was extremely helpful to me, as I was able to get help from other students who were further along in their studies than I was.
Even the ThaiPod101 teachers login and answer questions to help students grasp concepts. This made me feel like I was part of a supportive and encouraging community, which is essential for anyone to be successful in learning a language.
A question from a student, Michael, answered by Parisa, a ThaiPod101 teacher
I didn’t have much to complain about, though here are a few downsides to using ThaiPod101:
Unstructured learning environment
Probably the most relevant disadvantage of ThaiPod101 is that it may not be suitable for students who prefer a more structured learning environment. The platform's lesson structure is designed to be flexible, which may not be ideal for students who thrive in a more traditional classroom setting.
I was also never quite sure whether I was getting the most that I could out of ThaiPod101. There's just so much you can do that it was frankly a little overwhelming. I explored quite a bit with different learning pathways, the mobile app, and the voice recorder tool. But since I was so new to the language, I didn’t feel comfortable trying to decide which parts of Thai to work on first.
Plus, the level of Absolute Beginner learning pathways wasn’t always consistent. Some pathways are meant for completely new learners, whereas others seem to be for those already with a foundation. This makes sense, but because they’re not really marked it just made it a bit tough to improvise my learning journey with ThaiPod101 right from the start.
Eventually I figured out which learning pathways were best to start with through trial and error. Starting with the “Introduction to Thai,” “Ultimate Thai Pronunciation Guide,” and “Ultimate Video Getting Started” learning pathways was very important for me. Once I made my way through some of the lessons in these pathways, I felt much more capable of going through the core Absolute Beginner audio lessons.
Not a ton of visual materials
Another potential con of ThaiPod101 is that it may not be suitable for students who are more visual learners. I appreciated the “Ultimate Video Getting Started” pathway with 72 videos, but this was a bit of an outlier.
That said, all audio lessons are supported by written materials in the form of dialogue recap, key lesson vocab, lesson notes, and a lesson transcript. This helps provide some visual resources, though they’re not as helpful as some of the interactive visual learning aids available in other Thai language courses.
Listening comprehension is a hugely important part of learning any foreign language, so I don’t think the lack of visual materials is a huge problem. Instead, just be sure to supplement your Thai learning journey with other dedicated visual resources on top of ThaiPod101.
I found my time on ThaiPod101 to be a bit heavy on passive learning — most of the lessons are 5-10 minute audio clips. While the lessons are fun, the lack of dynamic learning is a blind spot for the ThaiPod101. Listening and repeating will only get you so far.
If you’ve read any of my reviews, you’ll know that I ~stan~ active learning techniques. In other words, you need to use your brain to create using a foreign language. That could mean you’re writing original thoughts or patching together your limited vocabulary to communicate during a spoken conversation on HelloTalk or italki.
But passive learning has its place in a learning journey. An opportunity to increase your time with a language is an opportunity you should take. The more Thai words you hear, the more Thai characters you see, the more words you repeat and repeat and repeat, the better off you’ll be.
Speed of words and phrases
This is maybe a bit nitpicky, but I wish the lessons were more intentional about saying words a bit more slowly and more clearly. I’m totally new to Thai, so take what I’m saying with a grain of salt, but I wasn’t satisfied with the listen-and-repeat portions of the audio lessons.
If you add words and phrases to your personal word bank, it lets you replay them at half speed. But the words are digitally slowed, so they almost end up even more garbled than at normal speed.
ThaiPod101 seems to acknowledge this issue by providing a voice recording function that lets you compare your pronunciation to a native’s. You can use this tool with lesson notes to make sure that you’ve got a handle on the vocabulary presented in each lesson.
I also found that going through the “Ultimate Thai Pronunciation Guide” was really useful for getting my ear accustomed to understanding Thai.
Who is ThaiPod101 for?
ThaiPod101 is best suited for:
- Completely new learners looking for the basics
- Beginners that want to build on their basic knowledge of Thai
- Any students looking for a study aid to bolster listening comprehension
- Intermediate and advanced learners looking to maintain proficiency through passive learning techniques (listening to podcast-like native conversations)
Let me explain this a bit.
Approaching a language as difficult for English speakers as Thai without interactive visual aid is a big ask. There are quite a few video lessons available at the Absolute Beginner level, though none are interactive.
ThaiPod101 uses visuals for several aspects of the Thai language (practice worksheets for writing Thai characters, diagrams for pronunciation, etc), but absolute beginners need a bit more visual engagement and hand-holding.
The content is probably most valuable for novice speakers and intermediate level students, but the listening comprehension lessons will be useful for keeping advanced students’ ears sharp.
I think this is a fantastic tool to work on your listening skills. The more you listen to a foreign language, the better your ability to distinguish individual words becomes. This is one of the most important skills to develop when learning a foreign language.
More generally, if you just want to learn Thai by using ThaiPod101 on your commute to develop your listening skills, I think this is a great tool for you. Just be sure to continue working on the other skills (reading, writing, and speaking) with other Thai language-learning resources.
How much does ThaiPod101 cost?
ThaiPod101 offers a range of pricing plans to suit different budgets and learning needs. The platform's pricing plans range from a free plan to PremiumPlus.
The pricing options are a bit complicated, so I put together this table to give you a better idea of the pricing. Apart from the 1 month membership, subscriptions are billed annually:
Prices accurate at the time of publishing. See section below for information on the free plan.
Here’s a breakdown of what you get with each plan:
- Basic: Access to all lessons and in-depth lesson notes (over 1,000 audio and video lessons and assessments)
- Premium: Tons of vocabulary resources and study tools, including spaced repetition flashcards, multiple choice assessments, Thai character study tools, and much more
- PremiumPlus: Everything in Premium, plus 1-to-1 access to a teacher, hand graded assessments, and guidance and personalized assessments.
*The prices for the 24-month subscription are based on a deal offered by ThaiPod101. I checked every day I was using the platform and the deal was always offered to me (even though it says it’s expiring in exactly nine hours every time I checked).
Is ThaiPod101 free?
It is free to join ThaiPod101 and a free membership can be a great way to try out the platform before paying any money for extra content.
Here's everything you get with a free account on ThaiPod101:
- First three lessons in every learning pathway
- New lessons every week
- Thai Word of the Day
- Top 100 Thai words list
- Thai vocabulary and phrase lists
- Survival phrases learning pathway
Heads up! When you register for a free membership with ThaiPod101, they'll give you a 7-day free trial for Premium. You don't have to provide any payment details, so this is a great risk-free way to try all the features of ThaiPod101.
ThaiPod101’s core 100 Word List
On top of the 7-day Premium trial, when you sign up for the free membership they'll offer you 30 days of Premium for just $1. You have to provide payment details for this, but you can simply go to your account and click “cancel auto-renewal” in the payment section to avoid renewing for $25/month.
ThaiPod101 offers frequent deals to its members. At the beginning of the month, you might be offered a bundle of “free gifts of the month” including:
- PDF cheat sheet for context-based conversations (this one relevant to mall shopping)
- Simple themed worksheet for practice writing Thai Hànzì characters
- Several vocabulary lists for everyday scenarios
- Phrases to practice speaking skills using the voice recorder
- Coupon code for 25% off Basic, 30% off Premium, and 35% off PremiumPlus subscriptions of all lengths
They also sometimes offer up to 40% discount for Premium and PremiumPlus. That brings Premium down to $6/month for a 24-month subscription. And if you want a personal teacher to help you through Thai, it’s only $13.73/month for a 24-month subscription of PremiumPlus.
That’s right around the price for a TV streaming subscription! But instead of lazing around and binging the latest popular series, you’re learning Thai with a teacher that will keep you on track with hand-graded assignments and invaluable feedback.
If you don't like your paid version of ThaiPod101, you are guaranteed a refund within 60 days of purchase.
Just email contactus@ThaiPod101.com that you want a refund, and they will get back to you quickly.
Features of ThaiPod101
ThaiPod101 offers a range of features that make it an ideal choice for students who want to learn Thai. These features include:
- Engaging lessons: ThaiPod101 provides a curriculum that includes fun audio and video lessons, interactive quizzes, and informative worksheets
- Cultural insights: Almost every ThaiPod101 lesson includes fun facts on Thai culture to avoid making rookie mistakes when interacting with a native speaker
- Lesson material: Each audio lesson comes with a transcript, notes, key vocab, and a dialogue recap
- Flexible learning: The platform is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, and students can learn at their own pace and on their own schedule
- Mobile app: ThaiPod101 offers a mobile app that allows students to access the platform's resources on the go, even when they are offline
- Learning community: All the lessons contain a comment section for students using ThaiPod101 to ask and answer questions on lesson content
- Personalized learning: The PremiumPlus plan provides access to one-on-one tutoring and personalized learning plans
What languages can you learn with ThaiPod101?
As the name suggests, Thai is the only language you can learn with ThaiPod101. But if you like the way ThaiPod101 works and want to learn another language, the creator of this platform (Innovative Language Learning) offers 33 other languages on similar platforms.
All you have to do is search Innovative Language Learning with your target language and chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to create a separate account on each new -Class101 or -Pod101 website.
Alternatives to ThaiPod101
There are a number of online Thai learning websites available, and it can be difficult to know which one is the best fit for your needs. Here is a comparison of ThaiPod101 to other popular online Thai learning websites:
Rosetta Stone vs ThaiPod101
Rosetta Stone provides a more structured and interactive environment than ThaiPod101, but ThaiPod101 offers more creative lesson topics and a more flexible learning environment.
There is also a Dynamic Immersion feature on Rosetta Stone which has made it so successful. With ThaiPod101 it’s easier to fall back on a more passive learning experience.
ThaiPod101’s biggest advantage is that it is cheaper than Rosetta Stone. Beyond offering a free account (which Rosetta Stone does not), its Basic and Premium accounts are cheaper than Rosetta Stone.
Duolingo vs ThaiPod101
Duolingo is mostly focused on reading and writing, and it encourages learning through translations. It also gamifies your learning journey to “hook you” on foreign language learning.
ThaiPod101 focuses on learning through listening and repeating. It doesn’t gamify learning, instead focusing on making its lessons fun, funny, and interesting. ThaiPod101 also offers lessons at a more advanced level than Duolingo.
Using Duolingo is a great way to learn how to write in Thai, and ThaiPod101 is excellent for training your Thai ear.
If you’re deciding between the two, you should determine which skills you want to focus on and decide based on that. But why not use them side-by-side?
Babbel vs ThaiPod101
Like Rosetta Stone, Babbel's Thai course is a more structured and interactive course compared to ThaiPod101. Babbel's courses offer more active learning opportunities such as grammar exercises and writing activities, while ThaiPod101 mainly offers passive listening activities. Babbel's lessons are also longer, which can be more beneficial for learning the language.
However, ThaiPod101 offers more creative lesson topics and a more flexible learning environment. Additionally, ThaiPod101 is cheaper than Babbel, with a free account option and a more affordable Premium account than Babbel’s.
What others have said
I want to make this the best ThaiPod101 review possible, so I felt that it would be good to include some feedback from past students, as well.
“ThaiPod101 is…what I used to learn the alphabet coupled with a deck of flash cards. It has a good basic conversational Thai set of courses but I found that the content got kind of dull once you get that down. It's (IMO) also not particularly well organized with its pick-and-choose lesson model.” Comment from Reddit user
At first I also found ThaiPod101 to be a little unorganized. But after lots of exploration and a little trial and error, I got into a groove and figured out how to best tailor my learning experience.
Crucially, this commenter used ThaiPod101 to learn the alphabet and basic vocabulary. The Thai alphabet is not the easiest to learn, so that alone makes ThaiPod101 a valuable resource in my opinion.
“I've been using Thaipod for about a year and a half…I find listening to the dialogue useful, as understanding natural spoken thai is what has come the hardest for me personally, and the writing out of the conversations helps my Thai writing skills, and helps the content stick in my memory.” – Comment from Reddit user
Understanding native Thai dialogue is a crucial aspect of learning the Thai language. It's like unlocking a secret door that leads to a deeper understanding of the culture and people. By immersing ourselves in authentic conversations, we gain valuable insights into the nuances of Thai speech patterns, vocabulary, and expressions.
ThaiPod101, with its audio lessons featuring native dialogue, serves as an exceptional tool to develop this skillset.
The lively and engaging dialogues in ThaiPod101 allow you to hear real Thai speakers in action. By taking a more active role in writing out conversations, you can enhance your listening comprehension to better grasp the natural rhythm and intonation of the language.
Related articles: ChineseClass101 review, Japanesepod101 review, Korean101 review
Conclusion: Is ThaiPod101 worth it?
Embarking on the journey to learn Thai is exciting. It opens up a new world of possibilities, enabling you to connect with an entire group of people on a deeper level and experience Thai culture in its most authentic form.
It has some great things going for it. Like its huge library of audio and video lessons, interactive flashcards, and worksheets. These alone make the platform valuable for learners of all levels, making it easier to understand the language and gain confidence in speaking.
However, it's important to consider a few downsides of ThaiPod101. Sometimes, there's just so much stuff to go through that it can feel overwhelming, especially for beginners. Also, it doesn't have interactive exercises or real-time feedback, which could limit its ability to help you become fluent in conversations.
Despite these drawbacks, ThaiPod101 is still a valuable resource for learners at any level. The lessons are well-structured, and the native dialogue is a big plus. Plus, there are plenty of extra materials to help you practice and improve.
With ThaiPod101, even beginners can easily dive into the world of Thai language and culture.
As a veteran language learner, I feel that the beauty of ThaiPod101 is that students simply have increased time spent with the language. Despite what some say, there are no shortcuts to learning a foreign language. But the amount of time you spend getting to know a language will lead to a direct payout in your proficiency.
So why not give ThaiPod101 a try and see for yourself how it can transform your language-learning journey? With ThaiPod101, the beauty and complexity of the Thai language and culture is just a few clicks away.
There are different pricing options for ThaiPod101 based on access level (from Basic to PremiumPlus) and subscription duration. Prices range from $3.50/month for 24 months of Basic access to $47.00/month for month-to-month PremiumPlus access.
ThaiPod101 constantly offers deals for 24-month subscriptions, so if you are going to pay for a subscription I recommend going for that option
ThaiPod101 works mainly by listening and repeating. Its desktop version offers many extra resources, like voice recording to practice your pronunciation and worksheets to test your knowledge of Thai’s alphabet and writing system.
Yes, within 60 days of purchase.