How to Read Thai News - Learn Thai from a White Guy

How to Read Thai News

Do you read the news everyday?  At least the headlines that pop up on whatever sites you happen to frequent?  Well, why don’t you read them in Thai? It’s not that hard to start reading the news in Thai.

I scan headlines in Japanese and Thai nearly everyday and I read any articles that sound interesting.  You don’t need to be particularly skilled in a language to start reading the news.  You may be thinking I’m crazy, and while I can’t really argue with that, I’m actually quite serious.

What is a headline anyways?  Its a short, catchy, grammatically simple phrase or sentence thats meant to lure us into reading further.  Following the headline is the lead which tells us the who-what-where-why-when-how-izms of the story.  The language used is considerably more finite than that say of literature or even magazines so in a very short time we can begin flying through those handful of sentences.

Tips to Remember

  • We only want the main idea – if you can grasp it while not knowing every word and not having to look any up – you are golden!
  • Learn the words/abbreviations for places and be able to recognize which words are just names of people and places you’ve never heard of and ignore them.
  • Stick to the same type of news for a while (I prefer crime and disasters)
  • Do it everyday – Start easy – 2-5 minutes (it quickly becomes easier and more interesting as you can work out the story very quickly and then reread to get any extra details)
  • Don’t look everything up!  You aren’t likely to remember it all anyways so its just a waste of energy.  You will begin to see the same words again and again and you will remember them and how they are used because of the repetitiveness found in the news.

And if this still sounds too daunting then there is another equally effective way – read an article in English first, than look it up in the language(s) you are learning and read it there.  It isn’t always going to be a translation, but the story is the same so its often just a matter of writing style.  You can still greatly benefit from this method as well.  Do whatever works, or rather whatever seems less like work as in the end it comes down to you and what you do on your own time.  I don’t have time to teach you everything (nor do I know enough myself!) and you are a fool if you think any school or textbook can give you everything you need.

All I can do is save you some time by eliminating as many of the mistakes I made as possible from your journey into fluency.  Each language you learn makes it easier because you become aware of all the things you did wrong the last time.


  1. Just the pictures in Thai Rath make it worth looking at Thai news. None of the drama and gore in Bangkok Post photos!

  2. I’m just starting here in Bangkok.
    I’m an educator and have been impressed so far with the initial information.
    Looking forward to learning.
    I’m 84 years old!

  3. Andrew Pang says

    I hve been using the same logics forspeakand listening. I watch Thai lakrons, News, Interviews on TV. I watch some Korean and Chinese TV seris in Thai , which I have watched before and familiar withthe story.
    Howeer I still find reading and writing very difficult. My vocabary is not enough and vowels still causing me a lot of problems.

    • Hey Andrew,

      That sounds like you haven’t really mastered the script and sounds. Until you do that, everything else will seem harder. Go back to the beginning and master the hell out of those vowels. Make a list of any vowels you have trouble with and spend more time practicing those The payoff for this will be huge.

      Vocabulary shouldn’t ever be a big deal. Always just try to figure out what’s happening. Don’t try to understand every word. If a word comes up a few times over a short period of time and you still aren’t sure what it means, then write it down and look it up.

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