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How widely spoken is English In say Chiang Mai


kanela

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Everyone is giving you different answers because some people refuse to do the baby talk with drawn out syllables which is the only English that Thais understand.

Just go to the Philippines instead.

Haha.. already considered that, but don't like the food.

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there isn't a day that goes by in my day to day life in Chiang Mai where the need to speak some basic Thai is imperative/mandatory. most people do not speak English here. yes the Doctors speak English, people who have traveled around the world, etc. but when you go to the Doctor, chances are not a single other person on the staff will speak a word of English. local shops near my house, even in Rimping not a word of English is spoken unless you ask for the manager. this is not Bangkok where many, many people speak very good English.

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I don't understand how a simple question can have such drastically different responses. Either they speak English or they don't?

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But how half the responses can be no they don't speak English and the other half yes they do confuses the heck out of me!!

No, like any complex skillset there is no "either they do or they don't", it's a greyscale subject to interpretation.

Also, foreigners here live in a wide range of contexts, from

upcountry villages where no one speaks any English other than "Hello how are you I'm fine what is your name my name is Lek".

Is that "speaking English" AFAYC?

to guys that only live in tourist ghettos where the only Thais they meet are those making a living dealing with foreigners, so their experience is that "most Thais speak (some) English".

And even in wealthy educated circles, very few Thais can discuss abstract political/economic/philosophical topics, or are even interested in doing so.

If that's what you mean by "speaking English" then the answer is "hardly any do".

But from a practical market-language POV, you'll be fine.

Hope this helps.

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I don't understand how a simple question can have such drastically different responses. Either they speak English or they don't?

------

But how half the responses can be no they don't speak English and the other half yes they do confuses the heck out of me!!

No, like any complex skillset there is no "either they do or they don't", it's a greyscale subject to interpretation.

Also, foreigners here live in a wide range of contexts, from

upcountry villages where no one speaks any English other than "Hello how are you I'm fine what is your name my name is Lek".

Is that "speaking English" AFAYC?

to guys that only live in tourist ghettos where the only Thais they meet are those making a living dealing with foreigners, so their experience is that "most Thais speak (some) English".

And even in wealthy educated circles, very few Thais can discuss abstract political/economic/philosophical topics, or are even interested in doing so.

If that's what you mean by "speaking English" then the answer is "hardly any do".

But from a practical market-language POV, you'll be fine.

Hope this helps.

Actually yes it does. I truly am not expecting to carry on indepth conversations. I just want to be able to conduct business. Buy groceries, clothes, sight see, the basic necessities of travel. Thank you

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Ok!!! This seems to be the most logical of all the posts and lines up more with what I have been seeing on youtube. It seems that a place like Chiang Mai with all its foreigners would have more English speaking people. I don't understand how a simple question can have such drastically different responses. Either they speak English or they don't? Maybe it depends on where in Chiang Mai one lives? But how half the responses can be no they don't speak English and the other half yes they do confuses the heck out of me!!

you get the thai pretenders who claim fluent thai, usually that consists of calling white people farang, adding mak mak to every english sentance and saying kap pom whenever they encounter a thai. pathetic really.

then you get the enclavists, dont mix with any thais at all, refuse to speak any thai.

hardly any value in speaking thai, i know only 3 foreigners that really speak thai, all been here 20 years, one learned in prison, others learned from women they lived with. none learned in thai class, teachers are awful in this country.

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hardly any value in speaking thai, i know only 3 foreigners that really speak thai

Now I think THAT's the most idiotic thing I've every read on TV.com, and that's saying a LOT.

Everything that's great about Thailand you can get much better quality at far lower price by speaking Thai.

To the point that anyone who's planning on spending more than three years of their life here should IMO give it their best shot, it's really not that hard if you just make an effort, and downright easy if you stop associating with English speakers.

Which also further improves your time here.

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Actually yes it does. I truly am not expecting to carry on indepth conversations. I just want to be able to conduct business. Buy groceries, clothes, sight see, the basic necessities of travel. Thank you

you already speak enough thai to do those things in cm.

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search for thai language torrents there is more than you will ever need or get around to listening to, but it really isnt necessary probably more of a hindrance . you are not going to be understood for a very long time. understanding will take even longer. but you will still like being here until the border runs get to you. put it this way, it is only the thai people who can understand english who will understand what you are trying to say in thai, so whats the point?

Edited by nickoffskiov
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It's the 90% of Thais that don't have ANY English at all that are the kindest and most interesting in the Kingdom.

The most difficult parts are the alphabet and pronunciation, focus on those from the outset and you're over the hump, just learning vocabulary, hardly any grammar to speak of.

You can hire a full-time tutor to suit your schedule for 10-15K per month.

Also get an SO from the central region who hasn't a word of English and you'll pick it up fast enough, just make sure you also have a uni-educated tutor as well to give you guidance as to formal vs lower-register slang usage so you know which sets of words to use when.

It really isn't that hard if you're motivated, your Thailand experience will be orders of magnitude more rewarding and cost-effective.

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I am not opposed to learning Thai, I have already started. The problem is I have memory issues and I feel like I have to start from scratch daily. I am not retaining the information hence just knowing that I can make it there using English takes away the pressure of the learning process. I had the whole alphabet memorized and actually started reading the maanii books. Stopped for 2 days and lost it all!! Have had to start from the beginning so many times I got frustrated! Grrr!!! From what I am gathering I should be able to handle my needs in English. My negotiating skills are really good so once I learn the proper pricing I am guessing I should be ok even in English. Would this be an accurate assessment?

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dont stress the alphabet many of the characters are infrequently used. learn how to count and you have already 30-40% of what everyday thai conversation consist of. learn "hello" and "where you go" and your now at 60%. add "how mudt" and you are at 75%. and just about fluent,

aside, learning to read is a real plus as many signs are in thai but many ppl find reading daunting. depends on your capacities

Edited by nickoffskiov
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Don't worry about the pricing issue, the amounts we're talking about for day-to-day living stuff isn't worth getting het up about.

You'll just find out over time where the Thais buy stuff as opposed to the places catering to foreigners.

Obviously speaking Thai just gets you further along, getting on a personal basis with the poorest locals.

Some people live here for decades and still pay over the odds AFAIC, but then again I bargain so hard I can't do it with any Thai friends or they get embarrassed, I often pay less than they do now because I don't care about face.

As an example in Bangkok for 90% of our food consumption I send the maid down to the wholesale freshmarket (Klong Teuy) every few days, all of our food is made in-house, almost nothing bought prepared outside, household of 7-9 we average under B200 ($7) per day for everything, tons of veg and all the exotic fruit, mostly pork and eggs for protein but also fish and shrimp couple times a week.

That doesn't count sweets and snacks, but that's not part of the "real food" budget, everyone has to pay for that out of their allowances, some of the girls spend most of their income that way, that and going to the internet shop, topping up the SIM cards. . .

That said, few people other than very poor Thais get that low, most non-wealthy people purchase a lot of food prepared outside the home and spend B200-500 per day per person. Note that purchasing western-style food in airconditioned shops to cook at home is only slightly cheaper than eating in aircon western restaurants, I can't get out for less than B2000 these days and that's without buying many "treats", so I just stopped doing it, make do with the fresh market and what I get in the little Thai places in the neighborhood.

Edited by wym
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dont stress the alphabet many of the characters are infrequently used. learn how to count and you have already 30-40% of what everyday thai conversation consist of. learn "hello" and "where you go" and your now at 60%.

Oh that's great!!!! I know how to count!!! I even know what the numbers look like!!! It is the one thing I have been able to retain!!!! You have just made my day!!!

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Don't worry about the pricing issue, the amounts we're talking about for day-to-day living stuff isn't worth getting het up about.

You'll just find out over time where the Thais buy stuff as opposed to the places catering to foreigners.

Obviously speaking Thai just gets you further along, getting on a personal basis with the poorest locals.

Some people live here for decades and still pay over the odds AFAIC, but then again I bargain so hard I can't do it with any Thai friends or they get embarrassed, I often pay less than they do now because I don't care about face.

As an example in Bangkok for 90% of our food consumption I send the maid down to the wholesale freshmarket (Klong Teuy) every few days, all of our food is made in-house, almost nothing bought prepared outside, household of 7-9 we average under B200 ($7) per day for everything, tons of veg and all the exotic fruit, mostly pork and eggs for protein but also fish and shrimp couple times a week.

That doesn't count sweets and snacks, but that's not part of the "real food" budget, everyone has to pay for that out of their allowances, some of the girls spend most of their income that way, that and going to the internet shop, topping up the SIM cards. . .

What a great idea to have the local maid do the grocery shopping! I am quite sure that saves you plenty. That is excellent for a grocery bill for that many people. I am quite impressed. Thank you for sharing!

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just by comparison i pay 200-300 baht a day for fully prepared food, fruits, snacks and non-alcohol drinks for me alone.

What?! That's eating out at the food booths for all 3 meals and fruit, snacks and drinks?! That's actually pretty darn good.

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I think a lot of old foreigners here expect every Thai person to understand their English and hardly ever try to speak Thai. I also hear them using three run on sentences when they could use a three or four word phrase. I find it unbelievable the amount of Thais that speak English here. Taxi drivers, small shop owners etc. I wish I was forced to speak more Thai! It seems almost everyone has some ability. I don't expect to get into conversations about physics but some people on TVF seem like that is what determines fluency but the poster is talking about day to day stuff. It's much much easier here than in Ecuador to speak English. Learn some basic Thai and then build on it month to month it's helpful and fun. Many old people have lived here 5. , 10 or more years and speak almost no Thai. That is absolutely unacceptable and completely lazy.

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just by comparison i pay 200-300 baht a day for fully prepared food, fruits, snacks and non-alcohol drinks for me alone.

What?! That's eating out at the food booths for all 3 meals and fruit, snacks and drinks?! That's actually pretty darn good.

sitdown at non-tourist places both on and off street and 40 baht is about where you will pay for most one plate dishes. more or less depends on what you order and how much food you want on your plate. i usually ask for 5-10 baht more than advertised to cover "leakage" then i know i will get enough to eat first time. yes you can afford to eat nice things here without second thought, but one still has a tendency to play the save a satang game to keep in line with the culture. it just doesnt pay to flash too much cash around or pay too much. pay what you are asked or walk away and find somewhere else is what i do. there is no shortage of choice. still buy a lot from fixed price convenience stores and the well stocked and big variety supermarkets Tops, Tesco just to name a couple. your money goes a long way here.

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I am thrilled at all of the wonderful responses I have gotten to my question. I am very much looking forward to coming. 3-6 months seems like such a long time away. Posting helps make the wait seem not so long. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

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