Free Khmer Language Learning Materials

If you’re learning Khmer and looking for resources to help you pick up the Cambodian language, you must check out the site

This site contains a large and growing collection of resources for picking up Khmer and other languages, namely Thai and Isaan, through listening to and understanding content in the language.

For Khmer learners, the site features a collection of nearly 30 hours of audio by two Khmer speakers giving detailed descriptions of illustrations about everyday life in Southeast Asia.

If you’re at an intermediate level or even are a beginner who knows some vocabulary, you should be able to follow the recordings while looking at the corresponding pictures and pick up language from them.

The speakers talk about the pictures in great detail and also give additional commentary on life and customs in Cambodia relating to the illustrations.

The site also has a collection audio recordings of Khmer speakers talking about different topics and telling stories about their lives.

Even more advanced learners will probably be able to pick up a lot of new vocabulary from the recordings on this site.

There are also transcripts of many of the recordings, and even a growing dictionary and corpus.

For complete beginners who want to pick up Khmer through comprehensible input without other study, the audio materials are likely to be too advanced to pick up language from efficiently at their level.

They might instead have a tutor describe pictures they like and record these descriptions. They can have their Khmer tutor point to what they are talking about in the picture so they know what they are talking about.

Besides the illustrations there are collections of images of everyday vocabulary and communication situations. So far these don’t have accompanying recordings, but they could also be used with a tutor or any Khmer speaker who can provide descriptions.

The site was inspired in part by the Automatic Language Growth (ALG) approach, which was used by LINK (Language Institute of Natural Khmer) to teach Khmer in Phnom Penh until it closed down in 2016, and the AUA Thai Program, which has been teaching Thai in Bangkok with the method since the mid-1980s.

Pick up Khmer with Free Khmer Language Lesson Videos

Free Khmer Lessons - Natural Khmer YouTube channelThe Khmer language school LINK, or Language Institute of Natural Khmer, closed down in 2016, but its YouTube channel remains online with more than 60 videos that you can use to help you pick up Khmer.

What makes these different from almost all other language teaching videos is that they’re designed for everyone, regardless of first language, to pick up the language from without translation.

The Khmer teachers do this by using a lot of non-verbal communication like pictures, drawings, props, and gestures to make the meaning of what they are saying understandable.

With this kind of understandable experience with language, known as comprehensible input, we can learn languages without conscious study.

This is the basis of the Automatic Language Growth approach used by LINK, which suggests adults can learn languages as well and as easily as children routinely do with the right experience and approach.

If you’re unfamiliar with this approach, the best way to understand it better is to just watch some of the videos, starting with their sample beginner classes, or their set of 60 lessons:

These lessons cover many topics from Khmer family words to Khmer numbers to cultural differences like Cambodian and Western breakfasts.

Some of the videos have conversations where a Cambodian person speaks Khmer and a foreigner speaks English or French:

In the ALG approach used by LINK, conversations like this where each person speaks their own language are known as Crosstalk.

With Crosstalk, each speaker uses non-verbal communication as needed to make themselves understood, and as participants understand more and more of each other’s language the need for non-verbal communication decreases.

(This playlist has just the videos with Crosstalk, while this one has the other videos that use Khmer only:)

In all these video lessons total around two to three hours. While this isn’t enough content to learn a great deal of Khmer from, this content is still a way for beginners and even more advanced learners to pick up vocabulary and hear how it is used in context.

In the near future, we may see much more highly understandable content like this, perhaps even enough that one can learn a lot of the language just by watching it without any other study and practice.