My Mother in Law knows the secret to farangs understanding Thai language.
She has not bothered to learn any English and she makes no attempt to slow her speech down, speak clearly or use a simplified vocabulary. She just rambles on to me in her normal way. Normally she chooses a time when I am busy trying to do something else.
She will come over and talk at me, perhaps making some joke that she herself laughs at. This will last about 5 minutes and at the end I will have a confused look or maybe even explain “Mai Khao Jai” / I don’t understand.
Take note, these next couple of steps are vital in her secret plan to help me understand Thai language.
After I haven’t understood the first time, she simply repeats herself again. Again at full speed and again going for about 5 minutes.
Again I have a puzzled look and try to explain to her that I cannot understand.
Next she says the same stuff again, but this time louder (presumably just in case I am deaf) and she emphasizes things with the use of her finger.
By about now I am getting ready to understand Thai. Perhaps she will need to repeat herself again even louder and then by that time I “understand” or agree to whatever she is saying. I make understanding looks and nods and say “OK” in the hope that she stops talking at me.
She usually adds a few more sentences just for good measure and then having my agreement and “understanding” she wanders off to annoy someone else.
So there you have it. How to “understand” Thai with ever having to study.