All language learners have experienced the following: Trying to speak your target language (in this case, Thai) and having the person speak English back to you.
It’s important to note that due to Thailand being a tourist country, in some sectors it’s important for Thais to know enough English to accommodate Non-Thai. Therefore it’s very common that even when you try to speak Thai, the worker will keep switching back to English. But don’t give in! You can insist until he/she falls for it.
Whether they do it because your Thai isn’t great yet, the Thai person wants to practice English, or some people might just feel uncomfortable speaking Thai to a foreigner, the following phrases will help you to prevent them from switching to English.
Phrases to help avoid speaking English:
- Sorry, I am not American.
kŏr tôht kráp pŏm mâi châi kon à-may-rí-gaa
- Sorry, I am not English.
kŏr tôht kráp pŏm mâi châi kon ang-grìt
- I don’t know how to speak English.
pôot paa-săa ang-grìt mâi bpen
- I don’t understand English.
fang paa-săa ang-grìt mâi kâo jai
- Can you speak Thai, please?
chûay pôot bpen paa-săa tai dâai măi
- I understand Thai easier.
paa-săa tai kâo jai ngâai gwàa
- If you speak slowly in Thai, I will understand.
ถ้าคุณพูดช้าๆเป็นภาษาไทย ผม/ฉัน จะเข้าใจ
tâa kun pôot cháa cháa bpen paa-săa tai pŏm/chăn jà kâo jai
- I understand Thai.
pŏm/chăn kâo jai paa-săa tai
- I can speak Thai
pŏm/chăn pôot paa-săa tai dâai
I hope these phrases are useful to you. Try to avoid switching to English if you can, it will force you to focus and practice your Thai.
The more you can speak and practice listening to Thai, the better!