Southeast Asia language texts

For more serious study

More formal language texts are appropriate for those looking to get beyond "Where is the bus station?" However, before you go and buy a whole collection of learning texts, consider how much time you have to put into serious language self-study.

Pimsleur Direct has an excellent reference dealing with the question "How long do I need to learn a language?" They use the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) Rating Scale and suggest that to gain a minimum professional level of proficiency in Khmer, Lao, Thai or Vietnamese, you're looking at around 44 weeks, or 1,320 hours of study -- that's study via the FSI intensive course where one "studies a language for six hours a day, five days a week, in a class of no more than 10 students, led by an experienced linguist and a well-trained native drillmaster".

What that means is it could take you a good deal longer if you're doing an hour a day during your lunch break.

But don't be put off -- the more you study, the more you'll get out of your trip, so even if you're fitting in just 45 minutes a day, you'll have a firm basis in the language before you arrive. After all, once you're in-country, unlike FSI students, you'll be experiencing the language 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Here are some introductory language texts that come recommended -- they're a stepping stone between a phrasebook and 1,320 hours of study with a Goverment Foreign Service agent. Those marked with Our choice! indicate we've used the book ourselves and think it's pretty good.

Cambodia

Laos

Thailand

Vietnam



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