I watch unsubtitled lakorn as a way of getting Thai input. In keeping with my overall approach to learning Thai, I watch lakorn in pretty much the same way I’d watch English language television – that is to say, I don’t take notes or use a dictionary, and I don’t watch the same scenes over and over in an attempt to catch individual words. In short, I don’t do anything studious: I don’t expect to understand everything, I just wanna be entertained.
Overall, I have found lakorn easier to understand and more enjoyable to watch than movies or other forms of Thai television; I have a post speculating about why this is so here.
About lakorn: lakorn is a type of Thai television show that is serialized over a period of weeks or months before reaching a conclusion, similar to Spanish telenovelas. Romance is always one of the main plot elements, with the two main characters falling in love during the course of the lakorn and becoming a couple by the end. Usually there are at least some funny scenes as comic relief. Some lakorns also bring in other elements, so that they fall into different genres – comedy, drama, mystery, horror/supernatural, fantasy/mythical, etc. – or any kind of mixture. The lakorns that I’ve seen so far have run from 12 to 20 episodes of about 80 to 95 minutes each (with the commercials cut out).
Watching lakorn: Many lakorns are posted as a series of videos on YouTube; you can search for them using either the Thai name or a transliteration (ie, แรงเงา or Raeng Ngao). You should be able to find an unsubtitled version, especially if you use the Thai name. Sometimes there are multiple versions posted, so you may have alternatives if you find yourself watching something with poor-quality audio or video.
You can often find the very beginning of the lakorn by searching for the title plus the number “1” (ie, Raeng Ngao 1 or แรงเงา 1). You can also try cutting and pasting the word ตอนแรก, which means “first episode” (ie, แรงเงา ตอนแรก), or simply “ตอน 1” (ตอน means “episode”). Often lakorns are posted by the episode, with each episode being broken up into 9 or 10 different video clips; so the first part of the first episode of Raeng Ngao is available on YouTube under the title “แรงเงา Ep.1 ตอนแรก 1/9 Rang Ngao 1 Oct 2012” where the 1/9 indicates that it is the first in a series of 9 video clips.
Aside from YouTube there are other sites where you can find lakorn, such as lakornhdtv and doolakorntv and ohozaa — this last proved valuable on one occasion when the lakorn that I had gotten midway through was pulled from YouTube, but the episodes were still on ohozaa.
Resources: So how do you go about finding a lakorn to watch? A great resource is asianfuse with information about hundreds of lakorns; individual articles usually contain theThai name, as well. Then there’s Wikipedia. Also I’ve gotten good lakorn suggestions just by doing searches on things like “favorite lakorn”, “best lakorn ever”, “2012 lakorn” etc.
Also, here’s a list of lakorn that I’ve watched so far.