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The rapid rise of Southeast Asian economies means Thai speakers are well-placed to seize growing opportunities in trade, diplomacy, research and cross-cultural collaboration. Thai is a member of the Tai-Kadai family of tonal languages and the national language of Thailand, a country of ancient traditions, tropical beaches and spectacular cuisine. It is spoken by the majority of Thailand’s 70 million people, nearly three times the population of Australia. With its own unique writing system and script, Thai language and culture encapsulate the linguistic diversity and rich history of the South and Southeast Asian region. A part of Thai vocabulary and traditional cultural concepts are derived from Pali, Sanskrit, Mon and Khmer. Being the only country in the region that was not directly colonized, Thai history and political dynamics have been a subject of academic and international-relations studies. Currently, the inclusive youth movement and socio-political dynamism bring international attention to Thailand. Understanding Thai language paves the way to both traditional and contemporary Thai worldviews including Buddhism, art, literature, popular cultures and sub-cultures.


The ANU Thai program is designed to develop students’ receptive, interactive and productive skills in a supportive learning environment. Both spoken and written Thai are emphasized alongside cultural knowledge and exploration. In the first year, students learn the tones, consonants, vowels, essential grammar, polite particles, writing system, and a range of simple sentence patterns, which enables them to use the language in day-to-day situations. Students complete translation exercises and increase their exposure to the language through audio-visual media and converse on selected topics in class. In the advanced courses, students learn how to talk about and analyse current affairs and complex socio-cultural, economic and political issues in Thailand. Advanced students can pursue specialised areas of interest. ANU Thai-major students also have an option to engage with Thailand through an in-country study program. 

Study options

The ANU Thai program is an entirely online course where students can take full advantage of a supportive and interactive learning environment as well as recorded classes. Students have a chance to communicate and practise with the teachers and their peers. A wide range of written and multimedia materials support students’ learning activities. Thai can be included in studies at ANU in a variety of ways: as a major or a minor in a variety of degrees; as the language in a Diploma in Languages qualification or as electives within a degree or studied as individual courses on their own. Thai is available to any ANU student, or cross-institutional to external students and interested members of the public through Open Universities Australia. 

Undergraduate courses Thai 1Thai 2Thai 3Thai 4Thai 5 and Thai 6. See ANU Programs and Courses for study options. See Open Universities Australia for studying Thai 1-6 as subject.

The School of Culture, History and Language places a unique emphasis on in-country experience. For more information on exchange programs and in-country language opportunities, visit the ANU global programs or enquire