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English in Thailand

Perth, Australia
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7 posts
23 reviews
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English in Thailand

I have been reading a lot of reviews on here as i travel extensively to thailand and it amazes me that people writing reviews actually find the hotel to be ok but the service is poor because of the staff not speaking good English Just a thought you are in Thailand a non English speaking country would it be of any value for you to learn a little of their language and not act so ignorant I have learned the language and even though its not perfect i can assure yyou it makes my life a lot easier when dealing with thai people they are genuinely happy you try to speak with them so they understand

Leeds, United...
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3,114 posts
38 reviews
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1. Re: English in Thailand

In touristy places and many hotels English is spoken. I have met many young people at universities in Thailand who are studying hotel management courses & speaking good English is imperative.

That said you are correct just speaking a few words in Thai will make Thai people appreciate you. I have learned the numbers off by heart which helps with bus travel round Bangkok (asking for fares) & buying things in fruit and veg markets where the locals speak Thai only.

Gold Coast
Destination Expert
for Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Samui, Thailand
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25,546 posts
65 reviews
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2. Re: English in Thailand

Agree that a few basic words and phrases goes a long way especially if you are off the beaten path a little.

Nuremberg, Germany
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7,989 posts
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3. Re: English in Thailand

I disagree as I didn't learn Mandarin, Shanghainese, Cantonese, Arabic, Hindu or Bengali while living at those places. Why would I learn Thai for just a couple of days holiday a year. ;)

Gold Coast
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for Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Samui, Thailand
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25,546 posts
65 reviews
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4. Re: English in Thailand

I like to interact with the locals, so to me it makes sense - if you don't want to interact then it's up to you.

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
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40,554 posts
97 reviews
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5. Re: English in Thailand

I agree that "that people writing reviews actually find the hotel to be OK but the service is poor because of the staff not speaking good English" but I do not agree that learning a little Thai is a solution to that problem. Yes, it is great for visitors to have a sprinkling of Thai, the rudimentary greetings, thank yous, ordering a beer go down very well but they will not solve the deficit of command of the English (as the most universal) language in the service sector.

If you speak to most young Thais they are more keen for you to teach them English than for them to teach you Thai as they appreciate that will help them to secure better jobs where English is a necessary language.

In Khao Lak where 80% of the English speaking population were lost in that tragic 1 hour on Boxing Day 2004, the emphasis on upskilling the local communities, both young and old is a priority for both Thai schools and their teachers and continuing volunteer programs. Engaging youngsters in conversational English but with the emphasis on you helping them is of great benefit to them and of mutual benefit to you as this way you pick up Thai too but as a secondary not primary objective.

Nuremberg, Germany
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7,989 posts
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6. Re: English in Thailand

@Cassnu

You can trust me that I have interacted for years with locals on a daily basis in all those places and I also interact with Thais on a very regular basis. ;)

Simply please accept that I have a different opinion about how appreciative locals are when tourists try to speak their language. E.g. I prefer if a foreigner talks to me in reasonable English and doesn’t try it in my mother tongue in such a lousy way that I don’t even recognize my own language.

Melbourne, Australia
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2,398 posts
52 reviews
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7. Re: English in Thailand

Why the hell woudn't you want to interact with the locals?? If you're not interested in that why would you travel at all? My wife learns new phrases and words every time we go to Thailand and it makes our trips so much more rewarding. (she teaches me everything she learns). I said in my first hotel review in 2007 that the hotel staff idn't speak a lot of English but that was to be expected.

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
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40,554 posts
97 reviews
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8. Re: English in Thailand

magpie59

It is clear you did not expect too much of the hotel staff in terms of their command of the English language but visitors learning a few conversational words or phrases will not help them for their future. I'm sure you would agree with that. If you or visitors choose to try and interact in Thai, fine but that should not be seen as eradicating reviews from less enlightened visitors who continue to give bad reviews not on the basis of service but on their inability to communicate. The happy medium is you helping them to help you IMO.

Melbourne, Australia
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2,398 posts
52 reviews
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9. Re: English in Thailand

Agreed Arandora, I just get frustrated with tourists expecting Thai hotel workers, often poorly educated themselves, that are expected to communicate with tourists in multiple languages, not just english. Especially when the tourists can sometimes barely communicate in their own language. (maybe that's a bit harsh , but have you read some of the reviews?)

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
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40,554 posts
97 reviews
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10. Re: English in Thailand

I think you, me and laOwei are on the same page but the OP seemed to think that tourists thinking they are helping Thais by trying to engage them in Thai would solve reviews criticising staff for being unable to speak English. The solution is better and more tuition of English which many of the major resorts do. But then they lose the staff because they are recruited by other hotels who don't - a vicious circle!