Editors Choice – Best Lao Language Books

Lao Basics teaches conversational Lao from the very beginning with an emphasis on reading and writing an is the easiest way to learn Lao. Students of Thai will find Lao quite simple, as much of these two languages are the same or very similar. These languages derive from Sanskrit and share many of the same consonants, vowels, vocabulary and grammar. Lao Basics is organized so that you first learn to read Lao, write Lao, speak Lao and comprehend the 26 consonants in their tonal classes. Once you have mastered these, you will study the 28 vowels in subsets. Within each vowel grouping, you will learn vocabulary, conversational phrases, alphabetical order and sentence structure through exercises that grow more challenging as your vocabulary increases.

As you progress through Lao Basics, vocabulary from previous lessons will regularly be repeated, and your command of the written and spoken language will steadily improve. And you can do all this on your own. Each chapter’s Lao words and exercises have been recorded on the accompanying MP3 audio–CD, and all of the exercises answers are in the back of the book.

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Why is Lao an important language to learn?

Lao is also known as Laotian and it is part of the Kra-Dai language family. This is the official language of Laos, but it is also spoken in nearby northeast Thailand. Only approximately three million people can speak Lao and that is not only on Laos but also around the world. The reason that not too many people speak this language is that there are now many other languages spoken in these countries. However, imagine arriving in Laos and finding that you can easily communicate with those people that you first see, simply because you have taken the time to learn this language. You won’t get lost as easily either, because you will be capable of reading the signs that direct you to where you want to be. Once you learn how to speak Lao, you can easily learn how to speak other languages, including Thai and Isaan.

Learn to speak Lao

Mastering a language as different to English as Lao may at first seem to be impossible, with its strange looking script and its multitude of tones and vowels, the task can be decidedly intimidating. Compounding the problems, many native Lao language teachers don’t fully understand how to effectively explain these aspects of their language to the expatriate.

Lao for Beginners is for the person who is beginning to learn Lao. It is an incredibly useful introduction to spoken Lao for tourists, businesspeople or students. Lao for Beginners is primarily a workbook full of exercises to help beginners practice and acquire the ability to communicate with Lao people in spoken Lao. It is not a phrase book to scratch the surface of the Lao language.


This is the second edition of Lao for Beginners which is much improved from the first one. Lao for Beginners is designed for either self-study or classroom use. It teaches all four language skills – speaking, listening (when used in conjunction with the audio), reading and writing ; and offers clear, easy, step-by-step instruction building on what has been previously learned.

With Lonely Planet’s Lao Phrasebook, let no barriers – language or culture – get in your way. Grab this phrasebook and take in the temples of the timeless city of Luang Prabang, ride a riverboat plying the waters of the Mekong River, or flop on a hammock at Si Phan Don. Our phrasebooks give you a comprehensive mix of practical and social words and phrases in more than 120 languages. Chat with the locals and discover their culture – a guaranteed way to enrich your travel experience.