Contributors: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation

Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

This article was originally posted on

  • Get your FREE Thailand Cheat Sheet ​by entering your email below. The ​Sheet, based on ​our experience with living and working in ​Thailand for 10+ years, shows you how to ​save time and money and ​gives you the tools the thrive in Thailand.

Contributors: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation…

To get 50 interviews for this series I begged, I pleaded, and I didn’t quite bribe those involved (or at least, I didn’t think I did). And because I owe, before we get to the guts of the Compilation Series I’d like to introduce those interviewed.

I’d also like to thank each one of those interviewed for taking the time to send in their contributions. I know you are all busy people (just look at your accomplishments) so my request wasn’t a small thing. Thank you.

Please note that some interviewed have quite the large public persona, while others are more private. My outlines reflect just that.

If you’d like to be interviewed as well, please contact me.

Contributors: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation…

Aaron Handel: Author

Aaron Handel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

To drill Thai into his head, armed with audio files, Aaron locked himself in a hotel room for 30 days. His persistence paid off and Aaron is now the author of Thai Phrase Book with Tones and Thai Language Course (Speaking and Listening).

Website: Thai Language Course
Twitter: @Thai_Language


Aaron Le Boutillier: Security Consultant

Aaron Le Boutillier: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Aaron Le Boutillier is the author of the sobering And Then One Morning, which details his experiences as a Tsunami survivor. A Security Consultant for the Le Boutillier Group, Aaron Specialises in Women’s Self Defense, Hijack Management, Disruptive Passenger Management and Law Enforcement Training. Aaron’s latest project is the ‘I Love Thailand’ show where he battled through 45 minutes of speaking Thai.

Website: Le Boutillier Group
Twitter: @securitybangkok

WLT: Remembering Tsunami 2004: And Then One Morning

Adam Bradshaw: Television presenter

Adam Bradshaw: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Adam is a television presenter, English Teacher, and entrepreneur. Due to his appearances on Wink Wink English and YouTube, Adam is popular with both Thais and expats. Personally, I’ve always been envious of natural language learners such as Adam. He doesn’t sweat the niggly bits, he just jumps in and starts speaking. Impressive.

YouTube: jadambrad, winkwinkenglish
Twitter: @AjarnAdam

Bangkok Podcast Adam Bradshaw
The Nation: Aj.Adam Bradshaw

Andrew Biggs: TV personality etcetera

Andrew Biggs: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Andrew is a humongous personality in Thailand. Writer, TV producer, Tv and radio emcee, school owner … and on and on. Andrew’s penned a zillion books for the Thai market (check his site for titles) which are great for students of Thai as well. And when I start moping around, I click over to his articles at the Bangkok post for some cheer.

Twitter: @andrewbiggs
wikipedia: Andrew Biggs
Bangkok Post Articles: Andrew Biggs

Celia Chessin-Yudin: Employed by an NGO

Celia Chessin-Yudin: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

After experiencing a bit of Thailand with friends, Celia went back to the US to study Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Washington. Then after graduation she hightailed it back to Thailand and now works at an NGO (non-governmental organization) in Mahachai, Samut Sakhon.

Chris Baker: Writer

Chris Baker: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

A highly regarded author, along with his wife (Pasuk Phongpaichit), Chris writes serious books such as The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, Thailand’s Crisis, A History of Thailand, Thaksin, and more.

wikipedia: Chris Baker

Chris Pirazzi: Software Engineer

Chris Pirazzi: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Hands down, Chris is a Software Engineer extraordinaire in the learning Thai industry. Working with Benjawan Becker (Paiboon Publishing), Chris developed the absolute best ever Thai-English English-Thai dictionary for smart phones and the PC. Seriously, the learning Thai industry is in their debt. And if you aim to learn Thai, Chris’ website, Slice of Thai, is a must-have resource.

Websites: Slice of Thai, Word in the Hand
Book: Thailand Fever

WLT: Chris Pirazzi: How Thai Language iPad Apps are Designed
WLT: Backstage View into the Process of Creating a Thai Dictionary

Christy Gibson: Lookthung performer

Christy Gibson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Christy is talented, graced with a natural beauty, and genuinely sweet as all get out to boot. As a top expat Lookthung performer in Thailand, she totally rocks. Along with contributing to the Successful Thai Language Learners series, Christy graciously took time out of her insanely busy life to send in bits for an Expat Interview too (below).

Website: Christy Gibson
Twitter: @ChristyGOnline

WLT: Expat Interview: Jonas Anderson and Christy Gibson

Colin Cotterill: Writer, cartoonist

Colin Cotterill: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

While well-known for his Dr. Siri mystery series, I first came across Colin’s clever cartoons years ago when neither of us lived in Thailand. Small world. And when I first started WLT, Colin’s lovely wife Jess helped out with advice and encouragement (both were sorely needed).

Website: Colin cotterill
Blog: International Crime Authors Reality Check
wikipedia: Colin Cotterill

Expat Interviews: Colin Cotterill

Daniel B Fraser: TV personality

Daniel B Fraser: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Daniel is a Thai TV Host and owner of the Smiling Albino (Travel Company). Another impressive Thai speaker, he hosts the popular Thai language TV Show LongKrung (หลงกรุง). To get a taste of his style watch Long Krung – Episode 1 – Have you eaten Yet? on YouTube.

Website: Smiling Albino
YouTube: Smiling Albino

Bangkok Podcast Thai Language Series: Daniel Fraser

David Long: School Administrator

David Long: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

David become highly proficient in Thai by studying at AUA in Bangkok using the controversial ALG method (Automatic Language Growth). These days he runs the AUA Language Centre in Bangkok. Not too shabby. Yes?

Website: AUA Language Centre
Youtube: David Long on the ALG Method
Blog: David Long in Asia

David Smyth: University professor

David Smyth: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

David lists his profession as university professor but his contributions to the learning Thai market have a wider reach. If I had to guess I’d say that thousands of students owe their proficiency in Thai to his materials. David’s Thai courses are easily at the top of the learning Thai market.

Products: Thai: An Essential Grammar (also on Kindle), Teach Yourself Thai, Linguaphone Thai Course (with Manas Chitakasem).

WLT: Complete Thai: David Smyth Updates Teach Yourself Thai

Don Sena: Translator

Don Sena: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Semi-retired translator (Thai – English) and editor (English), Don is an academically minded student of the Thai language. His reworking of the paper, The Codaphrase in Thai Syntax, will keep me busy for some time! Don’s insightful comments can be found on Glenn’s Thai forum at

Doug: Computational linguistics

Doug: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Doug is a highly respected professional interested in computational linguistics. A former student of the AUA Thai method, to improve his Thai skills Doug rewrote the classic Noss’s Grammar.

Gareth Marshall: Magazine editor

Gareth Marshall: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Gareth Marshall is a magazine editor with a talent for languages. As a former teacher, when it comes to the Thai language Gareth is pretty much self-taught. And after reading his interview I got the impression that he’d be the one to go to for advice on how decent Thai course materials should be structured.

Glenn Slayden: Author

Glenn Slayden: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Glenn is the author of one of the absolute best Thai language resources around: Again with this being a small world, when living in Seattle, Hugh Leong’s wife Pikun taught Glenn Thai. I met up with Glenn on a trip to Seattle last year and it was the first time I’d held a real honest to goodness copy of The Fundamentals of the Thai Language. I was shameful. I drooled.

Websites:, Glenn Sladen

Grace Robinson: TV presenter

Grace Robinson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

At the time of her interview Grace was a Postgrad student. She’s now a Deputy editor, writer, and TV presenter. Together with Adam Bradshaw (mentioned above), Grace appears on the Thai PBS show called Yes No Ok.

Hamish Chalmers: EAL Faculty Head

Hamish Chalmers: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Hamish came to Thailand to work as a tour leader. He stayed on. Hamish is now employed as an EAL Faculty Head. His Thai adventure began with the now ancient Colloquial Thai and moved on to David Smyth’s Teach Yourself Thai.

Blog: Tweet Yourself Thai

Hardie Karges: Writer

Hardie Karges: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Writer and businessman Hardie Karges takes traveling mighty serious. His new book, Hypertravel: 100 Countries in 2 Years walks you through his travels. Hardie does not live in Thailand at the moment but he absolutely has plans to return.

Blog: Thailand to Timbuktu to La Paz
Book: Hypertravel

Herb Purnell: Linguist

Herb Purnell: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

As a linguist and academic, Herb spent a good part of the past 20+ years in and out of Thailand. He’s now finishing the project of a lifetime, a Mien (Yao) – English dictionary (and as soon as it gets published I’ll add the link). I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Herb’s adventures in his interview and wonder if he can be enticed to share more (if he wrote a book on his life, I’d read it).

Hugh Leong: Writer

Hugh Leong: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

I always learn something new on Hugh’s wonderful posts at Thai Language, Thai Culture. Hugh’s also the author of the hardback series Professional English for Thailand (Hotel, Office, Hospital, Banking), former writer for A Retiring Attitude, (retirement column for Chiang Mai City Life magazine), and even takes on freelance writing. Going further back, Hugh’s been a Peace Corps volunteer, psychotherapist, computer consultant, English teacher, and director A.U.A Chiang Mai. Whew!

Website: Retire to Thailand
Product: eBooks in Thailand
Blog: Retire to Thailand’s blog

Ian Fereday: Semi-retired

Ian Fereday: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

As a semi-retired owner of Patong Language School, Ian has his hands full. And seriously, I couldn’t imagine a better motivation to learn Thai! Another feather in his cap, Ian’s school is one of the few Thai language schools offering Skype lessons.

Websites: ,

WLT: Guest Post: Study Thai Online via Skype

James (Jim) Higbie: Employed by an NGO

James (Jim) Higbie: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

It took me years to track Jim down for this series. And Jim swears he wasn’t hiding out, just out of touch. At the moment he’s living in faraway Sierra Leone working for an NGO (but I’m trying to tempt him back to Bangkok). IMHO, Jim’s Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar are the perfect combo for students of the Thai language.

Website: Thai Language / Lao Language
Books: Thai Reference Grammar, Essential Thai, Let’s Speak Thai, Let’s Speak Lao, Dictionary and Phrasebooks for Thai and Lao.

Joe Cummings: Writer, editor, musician

Joe Cummings: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Whooh. Joe. Joe’s bio says ‘editor/writer/musician’ but if I shared all his accomplishments in detail there wouldn’t be any room left over for the rest of those interviewed. Most know Joe from his Lonely Planet guides but he’s also the Deputy Editor at the Bangkok Post, a talented musician, as well as being quite clever with the Thai language.

Website: Joe Cummings

Just a few outside interviews: Vagabonding update with Joe Cummings and The Truth About Life as a Travel Writer: Interview with Lonely Planet Writer & Travel Guru, Joe Cummings

John Boegehold: Musician, songwriter

John Boegehold: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

In the early days I was quite sure of the connection between musicians so wasn’t surprised to see ‘songwriter-composer’ come through on John’s bio. John presently belongs to an American band called Brainforest Music, and when not out strumming, he plays around in property management.

Facebook: John Boegehold

Jonas Anderson: Lookthung performer

Jonas Anderson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Jonas is a talented Lookthung performer who often performs alongside Christy Gibson. Jonas moved to Thailand as a young boy and his experiences from back then as well as his insights in learning Thai are quite an interesting read.

Facebook: Jonas in Thailand

WLT: Expat Interview: Jonas Anderson and Christy Gibson

Jonathan Thames: MPA student

Jonathan Thames: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

When Third Culture Kid Jonathan Thames was interviewed in 2010 he was an MPA Student. He’s now a project manager at a translation company in Los Angeles, with hopes of returning to Thailand soon.

Justin Travis Mair: Student, father, receptionist

Justin Travis Mair: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

As a missionary Justin went through 2 months of Thai language training similar to FSI. Exciting for many of us at WLT was hearing about the language method Justin was taught, Speak Your Language. More Justin, please, we’d love some more.

Blog: Want 2 Speak Thai

WLT: Learn Thai by Speaking Your Language
WLT: More Learn Thai by Speaking Your Language

Larry Daks: Retired diplomat

Larry Daks: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Larry first arrived in Thailand to work as a Peace Corps volunteer, and then came back for another tour as the Director of AUA in Bangkok. Now retired from being in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps, Larry is a consultant focusing on education and cultural initiatives involving China.

Luke Cassady-Dorion: TV host, photographer, etcetera

Luke Cassady-Dorion: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

What can I say. Guest author Luke is one talented puppy. He’s a photographer, artist, Yoga teacher, host at Farang Pok Pok on Thai TV, and recent grad from Ramkamhaeng University (it’s not one of those fluffy English speaking schools, but an all Thai language school). Luke’s latest project is the award winning documentary, The Cheer Ambassadors. Congrats Luke!

Facebook: Luke Cassady-Dorion

WLT: Luke Cassady-Dorion: Photographer and Linguist, Grokking the Thai Writing System Part 1: Consonants, L-Lingo’s Burmese & Thai Language Learning Software, Luke Cassady-Dorion: Successful Thai Language Learner, Luke with Farang Pok Pok: Episode 1, Luke with Farang Pok Pok: Episode 2

Marc Spiegel: Manager

Marc Spiegel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Marc is one of those successful students who just gets on with the business of learning Thai. His aim was to integrate into Thai society and to do that, speaking Thai is a must. In Bangkok, Marc choose Baan Aksorn for his studies (check out Tod’s Thai Language School Review: Baan Aksorn).

Marcel Barang: Translator

Marcel Barang: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Marcel is an impressive translator of the Thai language. His work can be found at When reading Marcel’s interview, be sure to scroll down to the end for his word-by-word approach to translation.

Blog: Marcel Barang

Mark Hollow: Student

Mark Hollow: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Taking time off from his profession as an IT project manager, Mark moved to Thailand to study Thai. At the moment WLT has one post from Mark, an enlightening review of Thai grammar books. There will be more.

WLT: Review: A Guide to Thai Grammar Books

Martin Clutterbuck: In PR

Martin Clutterbuck: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Another serious student of the Thai language, Martin holds a degree in Thai Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University. Several years back Martin wrote a book I’m chuffed to have on my bookshelf (there are plans for a review): The Legend of Siamese Cats.

Website: Siamese Cats: Legends and Reality
Book: The Legend of Siamese Cats

Nils Bastedo: Martial arts instructor

Nils Bastedo: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Hailing from United States and Sweden, Nils has a handle on learning languages. As well as being a Taekwondo instructor, Nils is also the author of Tenses for Thais, a book written to help students of English.

Website: Lstk
Facebook: Tenses for Thais
Book: Tenses for Thais

WLT: How to Gain Insight into the Thai Language from How Thais Learn English

Paul Garrigan: Writer

Paul Garrigan: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

A former nurse, Paul’s clear writing can be found on Spirituality and Addiction Recovery in Thailand. He’s also embarked on the bone breaking adventure of Muay Thai. Heat in Thailand can be megga uncomfortable at times so he’s one rugged guy!

Blogs: Paul Garrigan, Middle Aged Muay Thai
Book: Last Escape

Peter Montalbano: Musician, writer

Peter Montalbano: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Musician slash writer Peter Montalbano arrived in Thailand with the Peace Corps at an interesting time in Thai history. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Peace Corps language training, it gives a solid education in Thai.

Rick Bradford: In Publishing

Rick Bradford: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Except for being in Publishing, it doesn’t say much on Rick’s bio. But, I can tell you this. When Rick leaves comments on Thai language forums and WLT, I pay attention. Why? Because I usually come away knowing something new.

Rikker Dockum: Academic

Rikker Dockum: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Guest writer Rikker is a linguist and Fulbright grantee researching the ancient Thai language. His knowledge of Thai, as you can imagine, is extensive. And when I’m around Rikker, I don’t dare say nadda in Thai. Nope. Not me.

Blog: Thai 101
Wiki: Thai Video Transcripts

WLT: Thai 101 Learners Series

Ryan Zander: Podcast host, app developer, teacher

Ryan Zander: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Ryan was halfway through an undergraduate program (Language and Cultures of Asia at the University of Wisconsin) when he was faced with learning an Asian language. Fast forward, he now has some of the best learning Thai apps on the market. His first app (and my favourite) is Reading Thai. When Ryan is not coding, he helps out at

Web: Nagaraja Rivers

Thai learning apps: Reading Thai, Reading Thai Alphabet, Reading Thai – Words & Sentences, Speak Thai Sanuk, Speak Shan.

Scott Earle: General Manager

Scott Earle: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

My buddy Scott knows his stuff. Getting a wild hair (as I often do) a couple of years back I asked him to explain Thai tones. Off the top of his head he filled email after email with information on the Thai alphabet, tone rules, the works. I swear there’s over ten pages sitting in my inbox and one day I’ll nudge him to create a series with the materials. It’s that good.

Blog: Scott Earle

Stephen Thomas: Actor

Stephen Thomas: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Stephen is deeply embedded in the Thai acting profession. He’s performed with Opera Siam in Thailand and London, and rubs shoulders with pop singers, jazz musicians, and classical Thai musicians. And I’ll bet he’s a night person.

Facebook: Stephen Thomas Stephen Thomas and People On Wheels

Stickman: Webmaster

Stickman: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Stickman doesn’t really need an introduction. I read Stick’s site extensively before I moved to Thailand and I still dip in ever so often. He’s interviewed the likes of Benjawan Becker (the Queen of Thai language resources at Paiboon publishing) and Christopher G Moore and many many more (see Chris, I did get you injected into this series after all).


Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Polyglot

Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

I met polyglot Stu Jay Raj within six months of moving to Thailand (or thereabouts). He was teaching an amazing course called Cracking Thai Fundamentals that took away my fear of the language. Truly, the energy of his course is electrifying and worth every baht. Also worthwhile is following his YouTube channel. Just this week Stu posted There is no such word as ‘Yes’ in Thai. Yes! Check out his FB page for the feisty conversation on the subject of his video.

Web: Stu Jay Raj
YouTube: stujaystujay
Twitter: @stu_jay

WLT: Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Interview Part One
WLT: Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Interview Part Two

Terry Fredrickson: Bangkok Post EDU Services Head

Terry Fredrickson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

When Thai politics start steaming up (as it does) I head for Terry’s tweets. It’s always Terry who tweets translations of Thai speeches, TV announcements, most anything Thai politics related really. And when you live in a country like Thailand you sort of need that edge. Terry’s real job (paid) is as the head of educational services for the Bangkok Post.

Twitter: @terryfrd

Thomas Lamosse: Teacher

Thomas Lamosse: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Thomas is an English teacher in the Bangkok area. In addition to speaking Thai, he can make his way around Portuguese, Bali Sanskrit, and Laotian. For Thai, he takes a minimalism approach.

Tod Daniels: Retired

Tod Daniels: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Guest author Tod Daniel’s interview first launched in the Getting by With Learning Thai series but he was moved to the Successful Thai Learners Series due to his Thai level being too high. Clearly, Tod works hard at learning Thai. For the past several years Tod has made it his mission to check out Bangkok Thai schools. And in a quirky style that makes me smile, that’s what Tod writes about on WLT: Thai Language Schools in Bangkok.

Tom Parker: MA graduate

Tom Parker: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Tom is another academically minded Thai student who went for a degree in Southeast Asian Studies and Language (Thai). Not ready to leave academia, Tom also bagged an MA in Southeast Asian Studies.

Vern Lovic: Internet marketer, writer, web developer

Vern Lovic: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

Vern has a more relaxed attitude to learning Thai than most in this series. He knows what he needs to know and that’s that. If you have a love for Thai critters then head over to his YouTube channel. Vern has them all. And if you are interested in meditation, download Vern’s 22 Day Meditation Course.

Website: Thailand eBooks
Blog: (no longer online)
YouTube: thaipulsedotcom

The series: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation…

And here you have it, the rest of the series:

8 thoughts on “Contributors: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation”

  1. “Spatalian” Sweet. And Thai and Italian would be Thalian? Italhai? Thank goodness Thai is nothing like Italian. I can only handle so many complicated verbs before my head explodes all over my keyboard.

  2. Yeah, that’s not good. And no, learning languages is not at all like the wacky world of design. I’m juggling Italian and Spanish over here. They’re very similar and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I find myself talking to people in half Italian and half Spanish. I could invent my own language! Spatalian.

  3. Thanks Neil! Learning languages is nothing like the design world, yes? I was waxing nostalgic for the design industry late last night while tweaking the site design… until Fetch backfired and muffed it all up. With barely two days left for voting and a broken site, I went straight into panic mode.

  4. Thanks for your vote Amy 🙂 The information in this series is gold so it did come to me to compile a book. Getting everyone to sign an agreement might be the most difficult part. But after the series is over, I’ll do my best. From now on there will be a contract sent out with the questions. That way, I’ll be covered.

  5. I happily voted for your site as it is well-deserved. Love this post, it is so interesting the wide variety of people, what they do for work, how they became interested in Thailand and the language and each way of approaching their learning.

    I think you mentioned on FB that you might do a book? That would be really cool!

  6. Vern, due to the tones it must be difficult to switch between Issan Thai (Lao), Central Thai, and Southern Thai. I’d do the same too – stick with what I need at the moment.

    Thanks for the plug! The contest is almost over. Oh dear. And Monday is the last day to vote.

  7. Just happy to be in this group – thanks for asking Catherine. My Thai knowledge has regressed over the last few years, due to lack of practice! That, and living in the south where they have completely forgotten about tones… I couldn’t go to Isaan and have anybody understand me anymore.

    I hope everyone reading this voted for your blog here:

    Vote! – it’s painless and helps Catherine!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.