Thaipod 101 consists of a range of conversation lessons in varying difficulties, video lessons and a dictionary of the 100 most used Thai words (or many more depending on the package you purchase). The conversation lessons run for roughly 10 minutes in length, they will play a conversation first at normal speed, then slowed down and lastly alongside the english translation. After playing the conversation three times at the beginning, the two Thaipod 101 hosts then go on to talk about interesting facts about the culture and go into more detail about the content of the conversation. This breaks up the Thai lesson quite nicely and gives it a little more of an informal feel.
There are some other smart learning tools with Thaipod 101, for example tagging any words that you might be having difficulty with and then using them as flash cards. They also have PDFs you can download to supplement the lessons. The basic package costs around $8 for one month (N.B the longer you sign up for, the cheaper it gets) and you can sign up for a free 7 day trial to see if you like it first.
Thaipod 101 Review
I did find that the hosts on Thaipod101 spoke quite unnecessarily quickly – in the beginner lessons they spoke a little fast for someone new to the language but don’t even get me started on the intermediate lessons! Way too fast and mumbly… I always used to think they must just be warming us up because Thai people in real life must speak super fast. Well no, actually they don’t! A lot of Thai people speak really quite clearly, so it is completely unnecessary!
But while I’m on the subject of the Intermediate lessons… I really did not enjoy these lessons. They replaced one of the hosts, Ryan, with a new guy who just had absolutely no character, or life in him for that matter, whatsoever. I really don’t mean to be personal, but his voice was just so tired and mind-numbing… it sounded like he did not want to be there doing his job, he just sounded depressed. Not particularly stimulating when you’re trying to learn a language from this voice. Apart from the dreary tone of these intermediate lessons, I found them to be a little useless in content. Maybe not so much grammar wise, but as for the vocabulary – it was all a little too specific and useless for everyday conversation. It would have been much better to be learning more commonly used words instead.
Another problem I found with Thaipod 101 was that they tended to gloss over and neglect some of the grammatical abnormalities in conversations which sometimes left me a little confused. I think this is a common problem with most Thai learning resources though, Thai is a complex language, full of abnormalities. I guess they were just focusing on the main grammar points of that lesson though, and they did explain and break down those points quite lucidly. I used to be a member of Japanesepod 101 and found these lessons to be much more interesting. I think Thaipod 101 just needs some stronger characters to host it, some more enthusiastic acting and more interesting conversations like they had in Japanesepod 101.
I enjoyed the Absolute beginner and the Beginner lessons and found them to be particularly helpful for extra listening practice. They were all set in everyday settings applicable in most tourist and expat situations, so were full of useful phrases and vocabulary. It’s nice to have the lessons broken up by the chit chat of the hosts as well, it makes it all a little bit easier to take in, more enjoyable to listen to and not so daunting. The downloadable PDF also summarised some of the rules and points covered in lessons very concisely and straightforward, making them easy to look back on at a later date and review.
The learning tools such as the Flash cards are also quite useful, particularly for those who maybe aren’t so organised and co-ordinated with their studies. The dictionary is great for improving your vocabulary as it comes with pictures, thai script and recordings and example sentences to help you learn. I have heard a lot of people confused and wondering if Innovative Learning (aka pod 101 series) is some sort of scam because they have a tendency to send a lot of emails and the prices quoted on the front page can be misleading. In all fairness it does seem a little bit dodgy! But I have found them to be a very honest and trustworthy company, for example when I forgot to cancel my yearly membership they were very understanding and refunded my money for me.
Membership is so cheap for Thaipod 101 and for the price, it is very good listening practise to supplement any other studies, not to mention some of the useful phrases covered. Personally, I think listening practise is vital to improving in a language, it helps reinforce what you have learnt and train you ears to recognize the sounds and words. The downfall of learning from books, is that you aren’t associating words with the way they actually sound. Give it a try, for $8 you’ve got nothing to lose!