Thai Graded Readers

Thai Reading Practice

Update 2018: I’ve created a few Thai reading exercises.  They are all quite easy and I’ve marked much of the vocabulary as well as broken down many of the sentences.

    • One of the most frustrating things (primarily because of how time consuming it is) I experience as both a teacher and a learner is finding bodies of text that are somewhat related and contain crossover words and phrases.  Back in my early days in Thailand when I was teaching private English lessons I would buy a bunch of those Penguin Readers and force my students to choose whichever one looked interesting to them and read it on the days between lessons.  Then they’d have to come back and tell me what it was about.  If their English was still on the low end I would tell them what it was about in different words over and over again while asking them questions to keep them involved and confirm that they were actually trying to read the book.  While the majority of these students faded out after a while,  a few of them actually put in some effort and improved dramatically in a short time.  It was just a matter of gradually letting them build up the vocabulary and arguably more importantly, the confidence to talk about something in the target language.  When they didn’t know a word, I’d just tell them to use one from their language and then I’d note down what words they didn’t know so I could pummel the learner with them over and over in future lessons if they were important for telling that particular story.  If they started to get bored or frustrated with a book we’d start a new one,  but we would always come back to the previous one as the review/repetition increases the chance of retention.  I’d spend a few minutes during each lesson asking them to tell me the story of The Murders in the Rue Morgue or whatever stories we had already read.This significantly reinforced the whole process because I didn’t give them the opportunity to completely forget anything.  Many people do not have the slightest amount of discipline for doing flashcards so I would just sit and do the cards with them.  This allows me to to have them read it or turn the screen away so I can turn a card into a production card (where the learner is producing something as opposed to just reading/understanding) on the spot to check if they truly know it or are just able to recognize it.  Admittedly this is a pricey way to do flashcards (as I’m being paid for my time), but people tend to work harder when people are watching them.  I can’t stress enough how well this stuff works.  This is of course affected by how much effort the student and the teacher put into it.It’s be pretty awesome if Penguin translated some of these books into other languages so more people could benefit.  Me for example.The other day I read 3 headlines in the Thai wiki that were perfect for this post.  Enjoy.
      เกิดเหตุมือปืนบุกยิงในห้างสรรพสินค้าแห่งหนึ่งในอัลเฟน อาน เดน ริจน์ประเทศเนเธอร์แลนด์ ทำให้มีผู้เสียชีวิตหกคน รวมทั้งผู้ก่อการ
      • เกิดเหตุ – [เกิด เห็ด] to happen; to occur
      • มือปืน – gunman; gunslinger (lit. hand+ gun)
      • ห้างสรรพสินค้า [ห้าง สัพ สิน ค้า]- mall; shopping center (usually just use ห้าง)
      • แห่ง – classifier for places
      • ทำให้ – to cause
      • มีผู้เสียชีวิต – there were deaths #  (lit – had people die)
      • เสียชีวิต – to die
      • รวมทั้ง – including
      • ผู้ก่อการ – perpetrator; instigator (lit. person build การ)

      มีผู้เสียชีวิตอย่างน้อย 11 คน และได้รับบาดเจ็บอีกอย่างน้อย 20 คน หลังมีผู้บุกยิงเด็กในโรงเรียนแห่งหนึ่งในรีโอเดจาเนโร บราซิล

      เกิดเหตุระเบิดรถไฟฟ้าใต้ดินในมินสก์ ประเทศเบลารุส ซึ่งทำให้มีผู้เสียชีวิตอย่างน้อย 12 คน และได้รับบาดเจ็บอีกอย่างน้อย 200 คน

      ระเบิด – bomb; explosion
      รถไฟฟ้า – train (lit. vehicle+electric)
      ใต้ดิน – underground
      รถไฟฟ้าใต้ดิน – sub
      ซึ่ง – which; that

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  1. Barry Elliott says

    Hi. I am a big fan of encouraging my students to read, and think it is a great way to acquire new language/lexis/vocabulary. As you say, readers (Penguin, Oxford, Cambridge etc) are perfect, due to the graded level and the fact that only a certain amount of headwords are used and recycled throughout the books. I try to practice what I preach by reading an learning lexis/vocabulary from what I read. I currently use children’s fairy-tales, but I would love something along the same lines of graded readers. Can you recommend any graded style readers in Thai?



    • Barry – There aren’t any decent Thai graded-readers that I know of. The best thing to do is to stick with a particular topic/genre for a while until you get pretty good at it. Hire someone to help you read. The Wimpy kid books are a decent place to start, but the most important thing is that you are already interested in the stuff you are reading about.

  2. Doree Huneven says

    Oh look, here it is NINE years later, and there’s STILL no graded reader. I’ve enjoyed the readings above, and I’m making do with a combination of finding short pieces, and writing my own and getting them expertly translated and recorded. Then I do a Big Study,sentence by sentence using techniques of the wonderful Italian polyglot language coach, Luca Lampariello: a)listening while reading; b) listen and repeat; c)read first, then check pronunciation with the recording; d) listen to each sentence at 30% speed (use a slow-down app like “Transcribe”) to hear the connections between the words, and how the tones sound in a flow; e)make a note of individual new words and expressions in context, and put them in Anki; f) do “bilateral translation,” i.e. look at the English and translate back into Thai; g) speak extemporaneously about the subject, first to myself, and then to a couple of teachers to get feedback re: pronunciation, presentation, etc.; h) use the recording to take dictation so I can practice spelling, typing, etc. Despite the unreasonable lack of good materials for studying Thai, I am managing to get ahead.

    • The problem is there isn’t any market for advanced readers. I spent a fair bit of time and money creating and recording lots of texts and they get very little action. To be honest, if you are already writing your own texts, you don’t need a graded reader anymore. Graded readers are for beginners who are just starting to read. Just go read native texts about things you are interested in. If a book is too scary, then start with Wikipedia articles about a topic. Just read the first paragraph from a number of wikis on a particular topic that you have some level of interest in (movies, dinosaurs, countries, etc). This will help you build up a lot of vocab that you won’t likely ever hear anyone say, but you still need to be familiar with in order to read native texts comfortably.

      I would advise against making an Anki card for every word that you encounter and don’t know. This is very inefficient as you have no way of knowing how valuable/frequent a particular word is. Wait until you see something a few times before you make a card for it. Also, delete troublesome cards with no mercy. If a card ever causes you even the slightest amount of stress, just delete it. If the word/phrase matters, you will encounter it again eventually.

  3. That is very good advice

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