Middle and High Consonants Review - Learn Thai from a White Guy

Middle and High Consonants Review

*This is an old post that has some points that I still consider valid.  If you’d like to learn to read and speak Thai, check out my Learn Thai Inner Circle program.

I keep noticing lots of posts on other blogs about ways to learn the alphabet.  This has been going on for years.  Just learn the alphabet already.  It doesn’t matter how you memorize it, but you must realize that if you just memorize it and don’t actually try to read with someone who can correct your pronunciation (both to make sure you are reading the letters correctly and learning to work out which class rules apply to the syllable) then you are just wasting your time.  If you are in Chiang Mai for a week or so sometime and need some help learning the alphabet let me know.

On with the learnings…

While one may be intimidated by the rather large number of letters in the low class group, its not really that big of deal as you don’t actually need to memorize which letters are in this group.  If you’ve memorized the middle and high class consonants then the low class letters consist of the leftovers.

So if you have it down fairly well that the following consonants:

ข ฉ (ฐ) ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส and ห  are all high, then you are well on your way.

If you are also pretty solid that

ก จ (ฎ ฏ) ด ต บ ป and อ or middle class, then you are set.  Everything else is low class.  The ones in ()’s are less important and while you should note them – you don’t need to stress about them.

Thats 10 high class and 9 low letters whose class you NEED to know.  Years ago when I memorized these on my own, I memorized the following poem for Middle class.

ไก่ จิก เฎ็ก ฏาย เด็ก ตาย บน ปาก โอ่ง

let’s break it up even more –

  • ไก่ จิก  – chicken pecks
  • เฎ็ก ฏาย – kid dies (ฎ and ฏ are identical in sound to ด and ต this is just funky spelling of the words ‘kid’ and ‘die’ to help us remember the middle class group)
  • เด็ก ตาย – kid dies
  • บน ปาก โอ่ง on-mouth-basin

So imagine 2 kids standing by a big basin (its the big bucket-like thing that was/is used to bathe with when there is no running water) who are attacked and pecked to death by a rabid chicken.   Spend at least 15-20 seconds picturing that image and once you have the vocab down, you are set on the middle class.  Don’t just read my words, you need to actually create an image in your mind for it to stick.

ไก่ จิก เฎ็ก ฏาย เด็ก ตาย บน ปาก โอ่ง

Next up – High class.  While there is a poem for this one as well, I didn’t know about it when I was trying to figure out how to learn the different groups and a friend told me that he went with the circles on the letters.

ข ฉ (ฐ) ถ ผ ฝ ศ ษ ส and ห

Notice that except for the first and last letters, all the rest have circles that are ‘inside.’  You can argue about ฉ, but I consider the tail going up over the circle keeping it inside.  So let’s make those circles balloons.  Balloons float up.  Up = high.  Thats it.  Worked for him and it worked for me.

If you want poems for high class, here is one, but it’s more useful for a Thai kid who is comfortable with the vocab already.  I’d give the balloons a shot if I were you.

ฃวด ของ ฉัน ใส่ ถุง ผ้า ฝาก ให้ เศรษฐี

bottle-of-mine put (in) bag-cloth leave-with-rich person

  • ฃวด ของ ฉัน – my bottle
  • ใส่ ถุง ผ้า put in cloth bag
  • ฝาก ให้ เศรษฐี leave with rich person


  1. ‘except for the first and last letters, all the rest have circles that are ‘inside.’

    That’s a great tip! I learned the alphabet by using the below ebook.

    “60 Minutes to Learn the Thai Alphabet”

    In one swoop, you learn the shapes, the classes, and which letters start off with one sound and end in another.

    I’ve moved on since then, only remembering the tips when I’m tired and faltering.

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