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Living in a foreign country can be difficult at the best of times, but if you don’t understand any of the language you are not only putting yourself in a vulnerable position but missing out on lots of fun too. The sheer amount of respect you will gain from Thai people by making an effort to learn their language and integrate into their culture makes the hard work more than worth the effort.
If you can’t speak any Thai at all, I highly recommend this website for learning basic conversation
http://www.its4thai.com/ and this website for learning the tones
Every month I will attempt teach you a different phrase which you can use in three or four different ways to make your life here in Thailand easier and more enjoyable.
This month we will look at the phase ‘Phop Gan’ - meet together.
Phop Gan - พบกัน - This literally means meet together.
You can use this phrase for several different meanings: The first meaning is ‘see you again’
Phop Gan Mai -  - พบกันใหม่
Phop has a high tone - Gan has a mid tone and Mai has a low tone.
Try practicing by saying 1,2,3 with 1 in a high tone, 2 in a mid tone and 3 in a low tone.
Phop Gan Eek Krang - พบกันอีกครั้ง - ‘see you another time’
Phop has a high tone, Gan and Eek have mid tones and Krang also has a high tone.
A useful phrase to know is: Where will I meet you? This is much simpler than you first think,
Phop Gan Tee Nai - พบกันทีใหน - This basically means "where meet?"
Phop has a high tone and Gan has a mid tone.Tongue Tied
Tee has a falling tone and Nai has a rising tone.
Although it is important to try to pronounce both tee and nai correctly the falling tone often proves difficult for westerners.
If you exaggerate the rising tone of the 'Nai' you should be understood by most Thai people.
The easiest way to try to pronounce the falling tone of 'Tee' is to drop your jaw towards your chin as soon as you start to say the word, this will automatically reduce the pitch of your voice.
The last tip on how to use Phop Gan - พบก้น is to say 'when will we meet' or 'meet when'
The first part of the phrase is: Phop Gan - พบกัน
The second part is: Meua rai - เมือไหร
Meua has a falling tone and can be quite awkward to pronounce, try saying ‘m’ for mother followed by a deep errrrr sound.
If you want to arrange a meeting with someone instead of a long drawn out sentence such as we have in English, for example: Shall we meet at the restaurant, what do you think?
In Thai, simply state your intention and add the phrase ‘Dee Mei’ at the end - ‘Pohp Gan Tee Rahnahan Dee Mei’  พบกันทีร้านอาหารดีไม่
Dee Mei, simply means ‘is it/that good/ok?’ so put simply the phrase translates as: Meet at the restaurant, is that ok?’
Next month we’ll learn more about the use of the word ‘Dee’ and the ways in which you can use it to convey many different meanings.
By Gemma Purnell