How to Self Learn Thai from watching Thai Dramas on Netflix

Beginner Thai learners – be WARNED. This method to self learn Thai only applies to ADVANCED Thai Language learners😎 If you are new to the Thai Language, I suggest you learn conversational Thai from a native Thai, or someone who knows the Thai language well enough first 😍

Advanced Thai learners – be WARNED. Self learning Thai involves a lot of hard work and might take away the joy of watching Thai dramas purely for entertainment 🥹 You also need to know how to read the Thai script 😋 คุณจำเป็นต้องอ่านภาษาไทยให้ได้ If you can speak Thai fluently but are unable to read Thai yet, learn the Thai alphabet before trying out this method. A simple test is: are you able to read the Thai sentence I’ve highlighted in green above? If so, you’re ready to try this method 💪 If not, practice more Thai reading before trying this method out ✍️

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พร้อมแล้วหรือยัง? Let’s get started ka~

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Step 1: Find a Target / หาเป้าหมาย 😎

There are 2 (+1) criteria for your target.

(a) You need to find a Thai drama that is easily relatable to your everyday life. For me, this will surround university life and office working life. This means that genres such as horror movies, detective series etc. are out for me 💀

(b) You need to make sure this Thai drama is available on NETFLIX. To set the record straight, I am by no means paid by Netflix to promote watching Thai dramas on their platform. I also know that you can watch Thai dramas for free on many other platforms such as dramacool, myasiantv and many other streaming providers. However, for the purpose of learning Thai, Netflix is a must unless you can find another platform with similar features that I will utilize below.

(c) This is purely optional. I try to choose a Thai drama I am okay with, but will NOT LIKE THAT MUCH 😟 Reason for this is so that I can bring myself to watch the drama, but will not get sucked into the plot such that I will forget to self learn Thai (which was what happened when I watched both The Gifted and The Gifted Graduation OOPSSSS 😂😂).

In this example, I will settle for the 2020 BL Thai drama, 2gether. (I’m not a fan of BL dramas sorry! 😞😞)

2gether – เพราะเราคู่กัน – Trailer with English Subtitles

Step 2: Watch the Lakorn WITHOUT SUBTITLES on 0.75x speed / ดูละครโดยไม่มีซับ และใช้ความเร็ว 0.75x

Find out how much you can understand without subtitles on a slower speed. For myself, I use 0.75x. You can choose to set it to 0.5x speed if you cannot hear clearly. The reason to slow it down is that Thai people speak ridiculously fast in real life and it is hard to catch every word without a slower speed🥺 (This is one reason why the Thai drama has to be available on Netflix).

If you can understand at least 70%, excellent! สุดยอด😇 If you cannot, then you might want to find another target (back to step 1). Don’t give up here! อย่ายอมแพ้นะคะ ~~🙏

Step 3: Watch the Lakorn again with subtitles for the parts you cannot understand / สำหรับอะไรที่ไม่เข้าใจ ใช้ซับดูอีกรอบ

If you can understand 70% of the drama, it is likely that it is just individual Thai words you are unable to catch. Zoom into those sections and find out what they are saying with the help of English subtitles. In my case, I use traditional Chinese subs on purpose to remind myself I am not here to enjoy watching the drama, I am here to self learn Thai. 🤓

Step 4: Watch the Lakorn again with Thai subtitles for the parts you cannot understand / สำหรับอะไรที่ไม่เข้าใจ ใช้ซับไทยดูละครอีกรอบ

After finding out the rough meaning of whatever they’re saying, watch the lakorn again with Thai subtitles🤨 (This is another reason why the Thai drama has to be available on Netflix). Read the Thai script and zoom into the vocabulary that is unfamiliar to you. You can choose to type it out into Google Translate and make sure the meaning is whatever you think it is 😎

2gether - เพราะเราคู่กัน - Learning Thai from Thai Dramas with Thai subtitles
2gether – เพราะเราคู่กัน – Learning Thai from Thai Dramas with Thai subtitles

And that’s it! 🤩🥳 An optional step is to rewatch the lakorn again🤯 and without subs to make sure you’re able to understand 90-100% this time. So you might end up watching the same old scene 5x just to self learn Thai 😓😓😓

Is it a stupendous effort? OF COURSE 😞 You can’t self learn a language without putting in any effort. Is it worth the grueling effort? For me, the answer is a resounding YES!!! 💃💃 This method helps me familiarise myself with the “Thai way” of phrasing things and to pick up new Thai vocabulary. But I will admit that I don’t do this on a regular basis😏 because it is just too much effort 🤭 Instead, I learn Thai vocabulary from Thai songs which is a faster and more enjoyable (albeit less effective method)🤔

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About the author – see the About page for more information

Joanne Tan is an aspiring polyglot and has so far mastered English, Chinese and Thai languages. She first started learning Thai in 2015 before staying in Bangkok for 5 months, and then continued studying Thai up to Advanced Levels at the National University of Singapore. In 2017, Joanne was awarded ‘Advanced Thai Proficiency’ by the Sirindhorn Thai Language Institute of Chulalongkorn University. Today, Joanne continues to teach her friends basic Thai speaking and helps her Thai friends actively promote Thai culture.