WLT’s Thai Language Giveaway: Smyth’s Thai: An Essential Grammar, Higbies’ Thai Reference Grammar and Essential Thai

WLTs Thai Language Giveaway

This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.

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WLT’s Thai Language Giveaway…

Welcome to week two of WLT’s seven weeks of Thai language giveaways by top movers and shakers in the learning Thai industry.

If you are just hearing about the giveaway do read Please Vote THAI and WIN! 2015: Top 100 Language Lovers Competition to find out about the $4,500+ in prizes being given away.

Thai Reference Grammar, Essential Thai, Thai: An Essential Grammar, and Thai Without Tears…

This week Orchid Press, DCO Books, and WLT (that’s me) have banded together to sponsor some of my favourite books for learning Thai: James Higbies’ Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar (two each), David Smyth’s Essential Grammar, and the classic Segaller’s Thai Without Tears.

And to make it even more fun, James Higbie signed all four copies of Essential Thai and Thai Reference Grammar. Lucky winners. I’d love signed copies too!

WLTs Thai Language Giveaway


During the last Essential Thai giveaway James Higbie and I lounged around at the Churchill Bar at British Club in Bangkok, sipping beers while Jim selected winners out of an empty beer mug. But for this giveaway, as Jim is in Bangkok and I’m in Chiang mai, he’ll do the honours without me. There might still be beer though (we’ll see).

And here’s a bit about the sponsors…

Orchid Press has been around since 1981. The majority of the books are related to the Asian region, covering general interest, scholarly, fiction, and poetry. They previously sold books out of a bookstore on Silom but now do internet sales and sales to other bookstores.

DCO Books came online in 1995. Their specialty is English language books published in Thailand. DCO is my go-to bookstore for books on the Thai language, culture and history (out of print or not). Whenever I find a book I just have to have, I’d contact Danny, who sources it for me (he knows where boxes are stashed).

Higbie: Essential Thai…

Jim’s Essential Thai has a bit of lore attached to it. Years out of print, fans would cherish copies of copies until they fell to bits. Finally, in 2010, Orchid Press brought it back to life.

Essential ThaiEssential Thai
Author: James Higbie
Price: US$29.95 / 895 baht
Paperback + CD: 234 pages
Size: 190 x 250 mm
Published: 2011, Orchid Press

If you don’t win this time round, you can order Essential Thai online from Orchid Press.

Orchid Press: Essential Thai is a complete learning package for those who want to acquire basic working skills in the Thai language, quickly and efficiently. Freshly updated and back by popular demand, Essential Thai includes a CD ROM with MP-3 audio files to introduce the student to Thai pronunciation and beginning phrases.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Essential Thai. Jim’s writing is clear and concise, and with the layout being straightforward, the concepts are easy to understand and absorb. It’s so good, I even penned a post on Using the Assimil Method with Essential Thai. Essential Thai is also a prime candidate for using Luca Lampariello’s method outlined in An Easy Way to Learn Foreign Languages Part One and Part Two.

Higbie: Thai Reference Grammar…

Again, it’s Jim’s clear way of explaining concepts that draws me back to Thai Reference Grammar. It’s my go-to resource for those niggling grammar questions, or just for the pleasure of a good read.

Thai Reference GrammarThai Reference Grammar
Author: James Higbie
Price: US$29.95 / 895 baht
Paperback: 234 pages
Size: 190 x 250 mm
Published: 2003

As before, if you don’t win this time round, you can order Thai Reference Grammar online from Orchid Press.

DCO Books: There are many phrasebooks and course books for beginning-level Thai but until now there has been no book that explains higher-level Thai sentence structure and functional vocabulary.

Many students of the Thai language find that basic-level Thai is easy to pick up, but that the language becomes more difficult at higher levels. (For example, there are four ways to say ‘because’ and eleven ways to say ‘only’).

Thai Reference Grammar fills the need for a work that explains high-level Thai sentence structure and vocabulary. The book presents clear explanations of advanced Thai structure, illustrated with examples of typical Thai speech.

On a sidenote: Jim gifted me with the extra materials intended for the follow up of Thai Reference Grammar, so do stay tuned as I feed them through WLT bit by bit.

On a personal note: Jim’s latest project (not about Thai) is Sierra Leone: Inside the War. If it’s written anything like his other books it’ll be a fabulous read.

Smyth: Thai: An Essential Grammar…

Thai Reference Grammar and An Essential Grammar are the most popular grammar books for students of Thai. And if you are a fan of Mary Haas’s style (remember her Green Brick) and Benjawan’s Thai for Beginners, then you are already intune with David’s Essential Grammar. With the well-thought-out layout, it’s a quick jump through the contents to find just what you need.

From David Smyth: I hope you’ll find this book useful; and keep on checking out Cat’s fantastic website!

Thai: An Essential GrammarThai: An Essential Grammar
Author: David Smyth
Price: US$29.95 / 895 baht
Paperback: 234 pages
Size: 155 x 255 mm
Published: UK 2010 (1st) Edition

I have both editions but I’m forever grabbing this one (my second edition is still pristine). And I was in luck when taking this photo of the front cover because the coffee spills and chocolate prints wiped right off the beautiful matt finish!

DCO Books: Thai: An essential Grammar is a concise and user-friendly guide to the basic structures of the language. Grammatical forms are demonstrated through examples, given in both Thai script and romanised transliteration, with clear, jargon-free explanations. Its designed for use both by students taking a taught course in Thai and for independent learners, and includes guidance on pronunciation, speech conventions and the Thai writing system as well as grammar.

With numerous examples bringing grammar to life, this unique reference work will prove invaluable to all students looking to master the grammar of Thai.

Segaller: Thai Without Tears…

Segaller Thai Without TearsSegaller Thai Without Tears
Author: Denis Segaller
Price: $9.95
Paperback: 368 pages
Published: 1999

Segaller’s phrasebook, Thai Without Tears (a guide to simple Thai speaking), is an absolute classic and a joy to read. When Danny (DCO Books) mentioned adding it to the giveaway my response was “I LOVE that book!” Actually, I love pretty much everything by Dennis Segaller (RIP). He had a blast living in Thailand and it shines through everything he wrote.

DCO Books: An enjoyable introduction to basic Thai grammar and phrases, including those all-important tones! This handy little book should enable native English speakers to learn conversational Thai in a reasonably short time, and in an interesting and enjoyable way. Its phonetic system is simple and clear – a great help in learning those all-important Thai tones.

The examples have been chosen to be as useful as possible in everyday situations, and the two teaching sections are followed by collections of phrases concerned with telephoning, food, shopping, etc. Other sections deal with colours, times and dates, social norms, getting around, festivals and public holidays presented in a highly readable way and with some cultural background here and there. 1,300 word English-Thai and Thai-English glossaries and some emergency phrases (most of which we hope you’ll never need) round off the book.

Rules for WLTs Thai Language Giveaway…

The rules are dead simple:

  • To be included in the draw, leave comments below.
  • Comment(s) need to add to the conversation (it really does matter).
  • Each relevant comment gets counted, so please do leave as many as you like!
  • If you don’t collect your prize within a week of the announcement, it will be given away to the next person in line.
  • You don’t have to live in Thailand to enter the contest; the cost of shipping to anywhere in the world is covered.

I will not be responsible for choosing the winners so even if you’ve known me for yaks ages you too can win. Also, there is no limit to how many prizes you can win. So go ahead. If you see something you fancy, please do enter again and again and again.

Important: If you own any of these books do let us know in the comments and we’ll adjust the prizes.

The draw will run from this moment until the 10th of June, 6am Thai time. At that time I’ll announce the winners in the comments below as well as create a dedicated post.

Again, my thanks goes to Orchid Press and Danny from DCO Books for sponsoring these wonderful books. And of course, James Higbie for taking the time to sign copies and choose winners. Good luck everyone!

WLTs 2015 Thai Language Giveaway…

Pssst … if you haven’t voted in the Language Lovers Competition, please do. It’s the one time out of the year I get to strut my stuff. Cheers!

32 thoughts on “WLT’s Thai Language Giveaway: Smyth’s Thai: An Essential Grammar, Higbies’ Thai Reference Grammar and Essential Thai”

  1. Wow! Really awesome! So excited to have won the Thai Reference Grammar! I’ve looked for a book of this type for a long time, but never found it . . . and now to get it free . . . and signed! Thank you Catherine, James, Orchid Press, and DCO Books!

  2. David Smyth’s ‘Essential Grammar’ has interested me for a while. But I need to learn Thai basic first. Baby Steps. Lacking the motivation though. Had two different Thai language books with accompanying CD’s. Is there a medicinal tablet (illegal or legal, chemical or herbal) that increases motivation by 1000000000000000% anyone?

  3. I would love to win either the Higbie or Smyth Thai “Reference Grammar” as I have been learning grammar by osmosis. At this point, I am eager to have it all spelled out for me. These books contain the keys to many puzzles, I suspect. In fact, I will probably buy one of these books if I don’t win the contest.

  4. I found David Smyths essential guide to grammar very useful as a reference in regards to the order that sentences were constructed when I my thai language ability was at an earlier stage and I still reference David’s book often. I can’t comment on the others because I have not read them although I will be looking into them in the near future.

  5. Karla, if I didn’t already have them, these books would be on my gotta list!

    Stuart, Orchid doesn’t do a lot of marketing but that’s an excellent idea.

    Higbies’ Essential Thai and Smyth’s Thai: an Essential Grammar were both recently updated (and you were right on the mark with ‘pennies’ 😉

  6. I wonder if publishers have approached the idea of language learning bundles. Putting two or three books together as complimentary learning packages. It could be different authors or the same. Just a thought. Anyway all of these books seems to complement each other wonderfully and it’s always good to approach from different angles. I also wonder when the authors consider it worth there time to update their works or feel satisfied with their output. I’m sure they must also be a labour of love as well as a way to put a few pennies in the pocket.
    Here’s to labours of life. You help us all.

  7. I would love to have Essential Thai as a companion to Thai Reference Grammar, one of the best Thai language learning books ever!

  8. Tony, “Some Gotta Win, Some Gotta Lose” nothing truer was ever said about contests…

    I was just this morning wandering through “Thai Without Tears” and it’s sort of like waltzing through memory lane. Before all the snazzy modern Thai phrasebooks hit the market, Denis was just going along fine, giving practical advice and tips about learning Thai with a mix of Thai culture. In the copy I have the pages are soft (remember those?) so you get a feel-good flipping through the book.

    Years back I did a review series of Thai phrasebooks (six posts long). There you can find a popup of an inside page: Thai Language Phrase Books: A Mega Review

    But in the review I forgot to mention the feel-good of the soft pages. A few of the others have it as well (I believe Benjawan’s does).

  9. Catherine – I like FREE! But, as Elvis (and a whole lot of others) said, Some Gotta Win, Some Gotta Lose

  10. Michael, I can’t imagine learning a language without there being loads of tears at some point in the game. Either from me laughing too hard or someone else laughing at my failed attempts.

    Karen, it’s fabulous what’s online now for free. Warning. A lot of free stuff is out of date (like the FSI materials). Just one way to get free modern materials is to visit the YouTube channels of hardworking Thai teachers who put some of their work online. Kudos to them! Adam Bradshaw has a topnotch program on YouTube where he teaches English to Thais but it also works for English speakers learning Thai.

    For more free Thai resources, go to WLT’s Learn Thai for FREE! page. It’s been updated just recently (I added a broken links checker) but there’s a huge load of new resources being added bit by bit. There, you’ll also find free offers from companies – not their entire product but enough to (hopefully) entice you to try them out.

    I’m always finding new stuff (some free some not) so if you don’t want to wait for me to code them onto that page, then sign up for WLT’s Facebook page: WomenLearnThai. That’s where I share resources as I find them. I also tweet Thai resources and Thai news: @ThaiLanguageRes

    TonyC, depending on what currency calculator you use, that’s about $9. But wouldn’t you prefer free? 😉

  11. FYI. I had not heard of Thai Without Tears, so I did a quick check. Silkwormbooks.com has it for ฿295 with free delivery in Thailand.

  12. Oh wow! Had no idea Fundamentals was available online free! Language learning has so much easier–by leaps and bounds. Women Learning Thai is exhibit A!

  13. Thai Without Tears sounds very interesting. because sometimes I feel near tears when struggling with my learning of thai

  14. Gordon, David’s Essential Grammar is a good resource to have. Thanks for the kind words, and good luck!

    Josh, I believe you’d enjoy Thai Without Tears as it’s a fun read, harking back to more innocent days.

    Karen, I have a cherished copy of The Fundamentals of the Thai Language (fifth edition). Did you know it’s online for free?

    lyndonhill.com: The Fundamentals of the Thai Language (fifth edition)

    thai-language.com: The Fundamentals of the Thai Language, 5th ed.

  15. Wow! Particularly interested in the Thai Reference Grammar! I didn’t know about it before! I got my foundation in Thai from The Fundamentals of the Thai Language (fifth edition) be Campbell and Shaweevongs. So grateful for that book! Is it still in print?

  16. I have the two Higbee and the Smyth book. While I find all three very useful, I find Smyth’s approach to be the best for me. I think that Higbee’s are more complete, but for my current ability Smyth allows me to figure out the grammar in the shortest amount of time so I’m not bogged down in trying to understand what I’m translating.

    I don’t have the last book, so I will be on the lookout for that one to add to my resources.

  17. I can’t count the number of praises I have read regarding David’s Essential Grammar. But put off buying it althogh I am a Hass literate student, lol, because I have Jim’s go-to one alreafy. However, as Cat say’s sometimes a second explanation is useful so it would be great to add it to my collection if lucky enough to win it here.
    Congrats to last weeks winners and thanks to Cat & the donators for their generousity here and for the hard work put into creating all these greatThai language resources that help us on our seemingly never-ending quest to learn this (often frustrating), often fun language.

  18. “Anything in particular been a strong help in nailing down Thai grammar for anyone reading?”

    Dave, I don’t have anything amazing to impart. I just grab a grammar book when I need an answer to something specific.

    A seemingly painless way to go is to forget studying grammar and just practice your target language via sentence mining. So you absorb the grammar naturally. Glossika is set up that way.

    Tony, I have four grammar books for the English speaking market but I only use two consistently, the ones from David Smyth and James Higbie. I do reach for Jim’s more often but there are times when I want a different angle on the same subject so I’ll grab David’s. So for me, I guess I need at least two.

  19. I have two grammar books, Smyth’s and Higbie’s. I’m not sure that having two books is all that wise. On the surface, Thai seems much simpler grammar-wise than English. No verb conjugations, no articles… Just pick up one of these books to see how complex Thai grammar can be.

  20. Was actually just looking through a few of these same books at Asia Books in Khon Kaen yesterday. Not sure why, but grammar itself has probably been the hardest piece about learning Thai for me. Looking into different ways of remedying that problem often. Anything in particular been a strong help in nailing down Thai grammar for anyone reading?


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