Language in Thai is phasaa, in Malay is bahasa – these, as I’ve come to learn, reflect the shared Sanskrit roots. Surprisingly there isn’t much opportunity for a would-be student to learn this language in Malaysia, certainly if you’re not living close to the border or have family ties – more likely to be true for those living in the north of the peninsula. Tough luck for others in the central/southern peninsula or Malaysian Borneo.This should be remedied.
The very first Thai language book I bought was David Smyth’s Essential Thai Grammar and Teach Yourself Thai. These were a great introduction to the language. Anyone with a working knowledge of Malay will see that there are similarities. I’ve used Khun Benjawan’s Thai for Beginners to learn the Thai script. Phew. Skype lessons with Thai language teachers are also helpful.