Understanding Thai women & English language issues

Understanding Thai women & English language issues is very important.

In dealing with many of my Western clients who are in relationships with Thai women and want to know more about understanding Thai women I have learned that Language differences will always be an issue in relationships between Western men and Thai women. The fact is there are very few Thai women who can speak English really well. Most have barely passable English and many can speak a little English but cannot write it.

Understanding Thai women with Thai Girlfriend Advisor Angella and DeanUnlike some other Asian countries Thailand has only recently started to promote learning English as a second language. They do now teach English in schools but there is still a long way to go before we will see Thai people using English easily and fluently whether in Thailand or overseas. If you have ever been to Thailand for any length of time you would have noticed that apart from the tourist areas Thai people do not know very much English at all and even the tourist areas it is spoken only to engage the basics with tourists.

Careful with some Thai Girls who speak good English!

One thing I am careful with when I deal with my clients is that if they meet a Thai woman who speaks good English this can mean she has spent time in the tourist areas like Phuket or Pattaya and this can mean she has been working as a bar girl. The same can apply for girls in Bangkok but being such a large City there can be many more reasons for a Thai woman being able to speak some English if she lives in Bangkok. I always advise to use your good judgement here and notice where you met her, her look and behavior.

Even if your Thai girlfriend can speak some English you will find that communication between you will be difficult and misunderstandings are easy to arise. This is one area I have found to be very sensitive even in my own relationship and being able to speak reasonable English. There are so many words in the English language and so many words can mean basically the same thing but with a small difference. Some words are very similar but can mean good or bad depending how and when you use them and trying to understand all the tenses in English is complicated.

So what this means for you if you are in a relationship with a Thai woman is that you will need to be mindful about your language and give the benefit of the doubt if she says something that might seem offensive. I always feel it is sometimes so frustrating when I want to explain something deeper or complicated in English but cannot find the right words to use, if I could say it in Thai there would be no problem and you would understand straight away but in English I must be careful that it does not come out all wrong.

I have said before it takes time, effort and patience in these relationships and it really does because you will both want to be able to speak openly and honestly to each other but the language difference will always make it difficult to truly understand each other with just words. You will also need to trust your intuition and your feelings as well as each other.

Understanding Thai women is not just about understanding her culture but also understanding your own language and how she will need to interact with it.

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Thai Culture – Why we “Wai” a lot…

Thai Culture and the practice of “Wai”.

Thai girl waiOne of the things about our Thai culture that I know can seem confusing to many Westerners (Farang) when they spend some time in Thailand is our practice of “Wai”. Just in case you are not sure what this is it is when we put our hands together in what you would call a prayer position and seem to pray to any Temple, Buddha statue or even buildings. It is also what we use to say “Sawasdee” or Hello. I hear many Farang ask “Why does my Thai Girlfriend” do this all the time so I will try to explain “Why we Wai” all the time. First though I would ask that you try not to compare our various cultures to your Western concepts of religion. To us although this may seem like a religious practice it really has nothing to do with religion or God. Also please understand I don’y say that our culture is any better or there is any right or wrong, I just want to give you a Thai perspective that you will hopefully understand better our culture.

Thai Culture SawasdeeReally I think we could say that the practice of “Wai” in our culture is a mixture of Cultural habit or tradition, Social conditioning and some Thai National doctrines as well as Buddhism, which of course is not so much of a religion as more of a philosophy or a way of living and being. You may well have noticed that Thai people from all walks of life will stop and ‘wai’ at various places such as any statues or figures of Buddha, Temples with Buddha, other types of shrines, pictures and anything to do with the Thai King and also previous Thai Kings and a few other places as well. Sometimes we may stop and kneel and seem to say a small prayer and other times we will simply “wai” in passing. When we are more serious about ‘wai’ I am sure you have all seen us burning incense sticks and presenting all types of gifts and flowers at various shrines and Temples and other Holy Places as well as the simple small shrines you can see almost everywhere on the streets of Thailand.

So let me try to explain a few things for you here about this Thai Culture

The practice of “wai” is more often to do with showing respect than it is praying to anything in particular and it is also done through more concern of what will happen if we don’t. This is not to be confused with the traditional Western view of a “God” or some other Holy being that will punish you if you do not pray or do good things. In Thai culture we believe that by showing respect to such things that we cannot see but believe to be there, such as spirits, then we can avoid any bad thing happening to us like an accident or some sort of misfortune.Thai women and Thai girl wai Thai kings

The truth is that much of this is almost socially and culturally habitual and works almost like the 100 monkey effect rather than a strict doctrine or rule of being Thai. If you ask many Thai people how they know to do this they will simply say “I don’t know, we just do”. Although some of this is taught in Thai schools it really is just something we do as Thai people.

Thai women believe and wai

This is why I say there is a mixture of reasons behind it all..

“Faith and Belief  are sometimes  taken automatically  from our culture  without question”

Let me show you something….an example that might make it clear for you….

Imagine there is a very old tree, let’s say well over 100 years old in a park. ..I could go and buy 3 silk colored scarves pink, yellow and green to respect the tree with and  carefully tie them around the tree trunk. Then I could ‘wai’ with 9 incense sticks placed into the ground under the tree and also some ” pung ma lai ”  ( Garland) because these are symbols that have meaning in Thai culture.  That’s it… finished and I just leave everything there with the tree. ……..Do you know what would happen?…….. Thai people passing who see this will begin to ‘wai’ as they pass and some will also kneel and ‘wai’ to the tree , even though they don’t know the story of that tree it’s because they see and know the meaning of symbols. Eventually this tree will become a regular place to ‘wai’ and bare gifts to because the belief will grow that there is something Holy about this tree as more symbols are placed there and so rather than pass it without any concern Thai people will ‘wai’ as a sign of respect”………  Even I would do the same.

I know it may seem a little strange to Farang but that is the belief system we have in our Thai culture. This is why you may see some shrines at the front of houses or in the corners of buildings. they may just be to honor deceased people and so everyone passing will ‘wai’ even if only for a quick second. You can see that it is almost automatic.

To put it into a Western perspective you could say that Thai Culture is quite Superstitious.

Now something to consider here is that it doesn’t take only good Thai people to do this. It is not exclusive to good people, Buddhists or anything like that. A criminal who has just killed someone is just as likely to stop and ‘wai’ at some shrine as is a person of good. Thai TV and film also have humor about this when sometimes they show criminals trying to escape from police running down backstreets but stopping to ‘wai’ when they pass a statue of Buddha.

Thai women  and Thai Respect and Thai culture

It is for this reason that I know some Farang men get confused if they have become embroiled with  Thai bar girls or Thai girls who have cheated them because they can’t separate the western view of people who practice religion as only being good from the Thai culture of ‘wai’. So they think if their Thai girlfriend ‘wai’ all the time then surely she must be a good person and would not cheat them. But as you can see this is not the case and some can ‘wai’ and then quite easily cheat you for money the next moment.

Thai Culture, Wai, The Buddhist way and Monks

Something I have not really mentioned here is “Thai Monks”. There are 2 very real doctrines that Thai Culture does impose and one is that we must always show respect to Thai Kings and the other is the respect we show to Monks.

Of course the practice of being a monk comes from Buddhism and Buddha and being a Thai monk is more of a religious practice because they must follow quite strict way of life as laid down by the doctrines of Buddism. Because of this Thai people will always show respect in many ways to Monks similar in the way that Western people might show respect to a priest.




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The Master Key to a Successful relationship

Angella Thai Girlfriend Advisor with husband Dean in vietnamI know that relationships are the most important thing in our lives and so we can never stop learning about ways to improve them or some times even just manage them better. There are many keys to a successful relationship but some are more powerful than others and so I would like to share a post with you that was written by myself and Dean on our other site East West Romance Online

Even though this article is not exactly about relationships between Thai women and Western men it most certainly applies to them as well as all relationships. We both heard this statement by someone else but it struck such a chord with us because it is what we both believe to be true and very very powerful and so we gave it the status of being a Master Key to a Successful Relationship and decided to write about it.

I hope you really enjoy the article which you can read here at this link:

Please leave a comment about what you think either here or at the site…

Sawasdee ka for now!




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learn how to speak Thai – Express Feeling

Learn how to speak Thai with this short video on how to express feeling in Thai language

Learn more on how to speak Thai with this video


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