I think it’s fair to say that Paiboon Publishing is one of the leaders in Thai language resources. Starting with books and audio, then moving into the desktop PC world, it was only natural that they eventually expanded their product line to include mobile apps.
Their latest offering is the Talking Thai-English Phrasebook, and I have to say that Paiboon have hit it out of the park! If you are in need of an excellent practice tool, or you are looking for a helpful guide during your next trip to the Land of Smiles, you definitely want to get a copy.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Paiboon sent me a free copy of their app for review.)
Let’s get right to it!
A series of icons along the bottom of the screen allows you to choose from several features, including search and categories. The categories menu has several dozen sections to choose from, including Emergencies, Time/Date, Sightseeing, Small Talk, Hobbies, Sports, Nature, and many more.
The volume of included categories is amazing, and the breadth of topics virtually guarantees that you will find help for whatever you are trying to say. While I’ve only spend a limited time with the app, I’ve been hard-pressed to come up with a topic category that was overlooked.
Naturally, clicking on a category takes you to a list of phrases.
Each page lists dozens of helpful phrases. Once you find the phrase you are looking for in English, you will also see the Thai below. This helps you to practice reading the language, and also provides you the ability to show the person you are speaking to what you are trying to say. Of course, you also have the option of playing an audio file of the phrase by clicking on the speaker icon.
Most of the phrases also have a Favorites icon that allow you to save them to a special list, accessible from the Favorites menu. I have found this feature to be extremely helpful when trying to learn specific phrases, and I can absolutely see its benefit when travelling. For example, if you are going to a specific event or place you can preload phrases you think you may need so you can get to them in a single place; a very well thought out idea.
Depending on whether you have set the app to work in male or female (more on that later), phrases that contain I/me and other gender-specific words will be highlighted so you know where to make the appropriate changes.
You can also click on the Thai script and bring up a copy menu, allowing you to copy the phrase for pasting, or select a certain word/words from the phrase. I find this feature to be very helpful when using this app in tandem with the Talking Thai-English dictionary app. (And adding the “Google It” feature is very helpful as well.)
Once in the Favorites section, you also have the ability to create folders to organize your selections. What a great way to plan for every trip, dinner date, or tuk tuk ride
It almost seems crazy to say that the Settings menu of an app is the best feature, but I will be so bold as to do so. There are so many important ways to customize your experience I would be remiss if I didn’t point out some of the major ones:
- Adjust the size of text on the screen (Thai and English) – this feature alone is pretty much worth the price of the app.
- Gender for Translations – to ensure you don’t sound like a guy when you probably don’t want to.
- Pronunciation Guide Systems – this is where the rubber meets the road. This feature allows you to choose which romanization system you want displayed. Choices include Paiboon+, Easy Thai, TLC, IPA, and more.
There are a few others, so you’ll be able to get your app running exactly the way you like to learn.
The help menu is much more than just helping you find your way around the app. Sections such as “Speaking and Listening,” “Pronunciation Guide Systems,” and “Suggest a Word/Phrase” are included along with the ability to send bug reports and contact the authors. Very helpful.
As I stated at the beginning, Paiboon absolutely hit a home run with this app. If I had to come up with one suggestion, I would like the ability to change the Thai font, similar to the option available in their Talking Thai-English Dictionary. While a case can certainly be made for why this feature may not be as important as it is in their dictionary app, I still think there is value to be had with its inclusion.
Overall, I highly recommend you buy it right away. Congratulations to Paiboon for yet another fantastic resource!