September 16, 2009

A new life for the FSI Thai language course

Catherine over at Women Learning Thai has written a post about the FSI Thai Wiki Project, a collaborative project that we helped start, with the goal of digitizing the entire U.S. Foreign Service Institute's Thai language course, and adding Thai script in the process. The original course uses only romanized Thai, something we think needs fixing.

We're working on this via wiki, which means that we want and need your help. If you'd like to help type out some of the Thai, proofread some of the English, or format some wiki pages, then please send me an email at rdockum [at] gmail [dot] com.

The two-volume FSI course has a lot of excellent material. Drawing heavily from Richard B. Noss' (also excellent) 1964 Thai Reference Grammar, it remains very useful nearly half a century later. Sure, parts of the FSI course are outdated, but as I've written before, you can't beat the price. Courtesy of the American taxpayer, you get a 40-lesson course complete with accompanying audio for each lesson, and an audio introduction to Thai phonology. (Get them in PDF and MP3 format here.)

Please see Catherine's post for more information, or the Google Group that I started for this (and future) collaborative Thai language projects.


  1. At the very beginning of FSI Basic Course you'll learn the Thai phonology. This is very important and should at any course at their beginning.

    The new has adopted the first part of FSI phonology for the internet.

    Rather than start and stop tape or MP3 and change to the text, here you have access to the parts by a click and can do the exercises on the same page.

    What do you think? Is it worth the work to prepare the other parts like that?

  2. The FSI Phonology course "tapes" are clearly referring to an additional text, not the phonology chapter in FSI Thai Basic Course Student Text. Is this additional Phonology text available anywhere on-line?

    @ thpitsch is right about these FSI Thai phonology recordings being golden. With an MA in Tesol and most of a Masters in Linguistics, I am impressed with the quality of these lessons. Somehow you can tell they are 40 year old recordings, but not by a low quality of theory or instruction. I went a day and night reviewing my Thai with these great recordings.

    If I were learning Thai from scratch, I would start here first. The site has helped me overcome the embarrassing situation of being able to speak without being able to read.

  3. I retract what I said about the Phonology "tapes" not matching the Phonology chapter in the Thai Basic Course Student Text. I thought it was too strange, so I dug into it carefully. It appears to be a minor version difference between the textbook and the tapes in only a few places. Including the spot where I decided to check the book!