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Thailand’s English proficiency plummets: Survey


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8 hours ago, Blumpie said:

English is an extremely difficult language to master.  It takes great effort to learn it.  It also takes great courage to speak another language and attempt it.

When the pandemic started and foreigners were banned, I wrote that english proficiency would certainly go down.  If you don't practice it you lose it.  

Instead of teasing Thais about their lack of english, wouldn't it be nicer to compliment them on their english, even if it isn't that great?  Do it today and make someone feel good.  

Humility and niceness isn't the strongest trait among the AN tribes. 

Reasoned comment, though.

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8 hours ago, overherebc said:

Some learn Thai but most don't. 

A lot can depend on whether you're here for retirement or work and the work you are involved in. In the case of O&G work and working in engineering and related fabrication the specifications are always in english. The contracts are in english and the reasons are obvious. If written in Thai too many interpretations can be made from the printed word, that doesn't happen if it's in english. One example is the difference between should and shall, that is not so clear in Thai and it can make a big difference.

Back to the point of learning Thai, if you spend all your working day using english and the Thais you are working with have to converse in english with you it doesn't help your Thai skills.

If you are early retired then yes you have a better chance to learn Thai, but, many of those who do learn Thai from a bar and believe me if you use that Thai in 'polite' circles you don't want to know what educated Thais think of you.

 

"In the case of O&G work and working in engineering and related fabrication the specifications are always in english. The contracts are in english and the reasons are obvious."

 

I know from my own experience of the Engineering and Construction business in Thailand that contracts are not always in English. The language of contracts depends on the contracting parties, no more no less, worldwide.

 

Specifically re "should" and and "shall", (and "must" and "forbidden" for that matter) Thai has very specific equivalents for the English. In fact, in this area of modality there is strong correlation between Thai and English.

 

The problem with English grammar in general (and vocabulary) is that it's a hodge podge of 5 or 10 other languages, often with conflicting grammar "rules". This is why advanced mastery of English is so difficult, even for "native speakers".

 

Re "Back to the point of learning Thai", the real point here is the English Proficiency Index, which is notorious for its methodological flaws. It even publishes a disclaimer on its own web page.

 

The point of my comparison with westerners' generally very low level of spoken Thai, and zero written Thai, is really to illustrate the adage "people who live in glass houses....".

 

Most Thais in Thailand, the vast majority, have zero need for English (probably more need for Chinese these days). But every westerner in Thailand would benefit from Thai.

 

 

 

Edited by blackprince
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4 minutes ago, blackprince said:

"In the case of O&G work and working in engineering and related fabrication the specifications are always in english. The contracts are in english and the reasons are obvious."

 

People tend to generalise from their own experience, even professional people.

 

 

 

I know from my own experience of the Engineering and Construction business in Thailand that contracts are not always in English. The language of contracts depends on the contracting parties, no more no less, worldwide.

 

 

 

Specifically re "should" and and "shall", (and "must" and "forbidden" for that matter) Thai has very specific equivalents for the English. In fact, in this area of modality there is strong correlation between Thai and English.

 

 

 

The problem with English grammar in general (and vocabulary) is that it's a hodge podge of 5 or 10 other languages, often with conflicting grammar "rules". This is why advanced mastery of English is so difficult, even for "native speakers".

 

 

 

Re "Back to the point of learning Thai", the real point here is the English Proficiency Index, which is notorious for its methodological flaws. It even publishes a disclaimer on its own web page.

 

 

 

The point of my comparison with westerners' generally very low level of spoken Thai, and zero written Thai, is really to illustrate the adage "people who live in glass houses....".

 

 

 

Most Thais in Thailand, the vast majority, have zero need for English (probably more need for Chinese these days). But every westerner in Thailand would benefit from Thai.

 

 

Bingo.

Well presented.

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6 minutes ago, blackprince said:

"In the case of O&G work and working in engineering and related fabrication the specifications are always in english. The contracts are in english and the reasons are obvious."

 

I know from my own experience of the Engineering and Construction business in Thailand that contracts are not always in English. The language of contracts depends on the contracting parties, no more no less, worldwide.

 

 

 

Specifically re "should" and and "shall", (and "must" and "forbidden" for that matter) Thai has very specific equivalents for the English. In fact, in this area of modality there is strong correlation between Thai and English.

 

 

 

The problem with English grammar in general (and vocabulary) is that it's a hodge podge of 5 or 10 other languages, often with conflicting grammar "rules". This is why advanced mastery of English is so difficult, even for "native speakers".

 

 

 

Re "Back to the point of learning Thai", the real point here is the English Proficiency Index, which is notorious for its methodological flaws. It even publishes a disclaimer on its own web page.

 

 

 

The point of my comparison with westerners' generally very low level of spoken Thai, and zero written Thai, is really to illustrate the adage "people who live in glass houses....".

 

 

 

Most Thais in Thailand, the vast majority, have zero need for English (probably more need for Chinese these days). But every westerner in Thailand would benefit from Thai.

 

 

 

 

I always thought the need for English in O&G was for safety and convenience, English as the lingo franca, where signs and paperwork didn't need to be translated into multiple languages. It's not so much contracts, paperwork and reports that came from overseas are written in English and need to be understood.

Apart from written communication, English isn't so relevant (to technicians and operators) in O&G these days, my neighbor told me in the past there used to be a lot of fillipino and Indians working alongside Thais on the rigs. I used to see a lot of the native speaking management, since the bottom fell out of the oil industry it's mostly the very top management that are native speakers and Thai middle management who already have good English skills coming from good universities.

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17 hours ago, overherebc said:

Not many of the expats here speak latin either.

English, whether you like it or not, is useful all over the world. Thai is useful in one country only, 

Dic tibi. Disertus sum amicus meus latine.

 

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15 minutes ago, recom273 said:

I always thought the need for English in O&G was for safety and convenience, English as the lingo franca, where signs and paperwork didn't need to be translated into multiple languages. It's not so much contracts, paperwork and reports that came from overseas are written in English and need to be understood.

Apart from written communication, English isn't so relevant (to technicians and operators) in O&G these days, my neighbor told me in the past there used to be a lot of fillipino and Indians working alongside Thais on the rigs. I used to see a lot of the native speaking management, since the bottom fell out of the oil industry it's mostly the very top management that are native speakers and Thai middle management who already have good English skills coming from good universities.

My comments were specifically about Engineering & Construction contracts, not what the lingua franca may be on rigs in Thailand.

 

I usually confine my comments to areas of personal expertise or experience. But yes I'd guess that the lingua franca on rigs in Thailand would be English, though I have no experience of rigs. In other parts of the world it might be Russian or Chinese or Farsi/Iranian/Persian I guess.

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My experience is that the standard of English, at least amongst graduates, has improved over the longer term and there are ever increasing numbers of international/English degree programs.

 

I can’t say I have observed any obvious increase in the prevalence of Mandarin skills when reviewing graduate CVs but then I do work for a western company.

 

Of course, those going through university are somewhat privileged in the scheme of things and this report is more likely a reflection of the continued poor delivery and standard of English in the state education system. 

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1 minute ago, blackprince said:

My comments were specifically about Engineering & Construction contracts, not what the lingua franca may be on rigs in Thailand.

 

I usually confine my comments to areas of personal expertise or experience. But yes I'd guess that the lingua franca on rigs in Thailand would be English, though I have no experience of rigs. In other parts of the world it might be Russian or Chinese or Farsi/Iranian/Persian I guess.

Talking about the building and fabrication of rigs, platforms and pressure vessels in the O&G industry the only specifications are in english, eg ASME, ANSI. There is no Thai version.

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1 minute ago, overherebc said:

Talking about the building and fabrication of rigs, platforms and pressure vessels in the O&G industry the only specifications are in english, eg ASME, ANSI. There is no Thai version.

As a professional in that industry, I'm sure you'd agree that O&G construction contracts are not the main thrust of the thread.

 

My experience of construction contracts in Thailand is in the civil engineering field. They tend to be in Thai.

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5 minutes ago, realfunster said:

My experience is that the standard of English, at least amongst graduates, has improved over the longer term and there are ever increasing numbers of international/English degree programs.

 

I can’t say I have observed any obvious increase in the prevalence of Mandarin skills when reviewing graduate CVs but then I do work for a western company.

 

Of course, those going through university are somewhat privileged in the scheme of things and this report is more likely a reflection of the continued poor delivery and standard of English in the state education system. 

Most of the Thai engineers I've met had studied overseas as well. Overseas study obviously means a good financial background. Maybe sponsorship for overseas study does exist but I am not aware of it.

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8 minutes ago, overherebc said:

Most of the Thai engineers I've met had studied overseas as well. Overseas study obviously means a good financial background. Maybe sponsorship for overseas study does exist but I am not aware of it.

There are universities in Thailand full of engineering students who will never study or work abroad. There's plenty of opportunity for them here.

 

It's hard for many foreigners in Thailand to understand, but the Thai world does not revolve around foreigners.

 

On the other hand, all foreigners in Thailand are dependent to a greater or lesser extent on Thais, yet few westerners speak anything more than beginner level Thai, and even fewer read  Thai at all.

 

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9 minutes ago, blackprince said:

As a professional in that industry, I'm sure you'd agree that O&G construction contracts are not the main thrust of the thread.

 

My experience of construction contracts in Thailand is in the civil engineering field. They tend to be in Thai.

O&G work (fabrication) has always been done using USA, EU and in some cases UK standards, eg ASME DIN and BS. I've even worked using an Indian spec' IBR and that was in english, not a translation.

Original point of the thread I suppose is that the english learned in general schooling is of a standard that is ok for say service industries but not much else.

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2 minutes ago, overherebc said:

O&G work (fabrication) has always been done using USA, EU and in some cases UK standards, eg ASME DIN and BS. I've even worked using an Indian spec' IBR and that was in english, not a translation.

Original point of the thread I suppose is that the english learned in general schooling is of a standard that is ok for say service industries but not much else.

I understand your focus on Oil & Gas - after all that's your job. But you'll find that O&G business is also done in Russian, Chinese, Persian/Farsi/Iranian, and other languages.

 

Many of the world's standards were set by the British Empire, including for example time zones and the common law, but that's not the issue of this thread.

 

The issue isn't about general schooling either, as that's not the focus of the English Profile. General schooling is measured by the OECD's PISA test, which is usually published every 3 years, and regularly posted here. The PISA test is also renowned among professional linguists as methodologically flawed, but far better than the English Profile.

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3 minutes ago, mikebell said:

Most Westerners immersed in Thai language come here AFTER retirement.  Learning becomes more difficult as we age.  I still remember my schoolboy French/German/Latin but struggled with Thai mainly because of their alphabet.  Before I go shopping I learn the Thai for my items.  It is a useless exercise; the lazy assistant's response is invariably, 'My mee.'

Yes, one wonders why so many monolingual retirees do come to this country to put up with its lazy people. But sadly your views are quite common among western retirees.

 

My guess is that the retirees were perhaps too "lazy" to read about Thailand before they came here. Or perhaps their English literacy wasn't up to it.

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2 minutes ago, blackprince said:

I understand your focus on Oil & Gas - after all that's your job. But you'll find that O&G business is also done in Russian, Chinese, Persian/Farsi/Iranian, and other languages.

 

Many of the world's standards were set by the British Empire, including for example time zones and the common law, but that's not the issue of this thread.

 

The issue isn't about general schooling either, as that's not the focus of the English Profile. General schooling is measured by the OECD's PISA test, which is usually published every 3 years, and regularly posted here. The PISA test is also renowned among professional linguists as methodologically flawed, but far better than the English Profile.

My answers were mainly in reply to the 'you've been here 20 plus years why haven't you learned Thai' posts.

I admit not exactly on topic but?

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20 hours ago, webfact said:

Thailand’s score shows a declining trend in English proficiency in the country. Laos and Brunei were not included in the index. 

Matches with my own experience in SEA over the years; with English proficiency in any other country (Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos...) being higher than Thais'. In most of these countries one can often have a simple conversation with a local, but not so in Thailand. And even if that Thai can speak some English, it is often unintelligible due to weird accent and grammar...

 

Easy to communicate in English in Japan and Taiwan, too. My experience in China was different, more like Thailand, but that might be due to local peculiarities, as other parts of the country might raise the average.

Edited by StayinThailand2much
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43 minutes ago, overherebc said:

Maybe the lifestyle they have doesn't require a great knowledge of Thai and they are retired and happy. Isn't the idea of being retired to do what you want, when you want and how you want? If you are retired and want to learn Thai do it. If you are retired and happy without learning Thai then why should you listen to someone telling you to learn Thai?

I haven't told anyone to learn Thai. I've expressed surprise that some people retire here and then spend so much time complaining about Thais.

 

It's also very clear from many threads on TV/AN that many retirees are not happy here.

 

I've worked all over the world. I always try to be respectful to my host countries, their culture and their language. I honestly have no idea why any kind of traveller would do otherwise.

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19 hours ago, overherebc said:

Not many of the expats here speak latin either.

English, whether you like it or not, is useful all over the world. Thai is useful in one country only, 

True. I fully agree with you.

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, ikke1959 said:

Thailand is the center of the world and when Mr Prayuth came in power he said that Thai was a world language... I have explained so many times that students should learn English because it used everywhere and on the internet, but the only response I get is speak Thai is better.....Refusing to participate in the lessons and never try to say a word English. 
I noticed that in the 15 years I am teaching English went downhill in speedtime...But I retire after this semester because the unwillingness of the students. Results are visible.. and than you have to watch DLTV when the Thai teachers teach English..... than you know no wonder...... 

My experience is quite similar.

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17 hours ago, Thunglom said:

Every year it is the same single source and a company involved in selling English Education.

We really need a better analysis.

Would you disagree with the conclusion that overall Thais have very poor English skills? I don't, but I noted that all at the top of the list have been British or American colonies. 

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17 hours ago, blackprince said:

The English Proficiency Index is the most methodologically flawed test around. Serious linguists wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. From their own website:

 

"The test-taking population represented in this Index is self-selected and not guaranteed to be representative. Only those who want to learn English or are curious about their English skills will participate in one of these tests. This could skew scores lower or higher than those of the general population." Not 'alf guv.

 

A more telling comparison would be with the number of westerners who gain any Thai fluency after years or decades of immersion in the Thai language.

 

 

Do you have a better test and survey? This tallies with my own experience in Europe expcept that I would have ranked Sweden somewhat higher. In Asia, the top Asia nations all were former colonies and many still have English as a recognised language of the state.

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17 hours ago, blackprince said:

The English Proficiency Index is the most methodologically flawed test around. Serious linguists wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. From their own website:

 

"The test-taking population represented in this Index is self-selected and not guaranteed to be representative. Only those who want to learn English or are curious about their English skills will participate in one of these tests. This could skew scores lower or higher than those of the general population." Not 'alf guv.

 

A more telling comparison would be with the number of westerners who gain any Thai fluency after years or decades of immersion in the Thai language.

 

 

The information you give from the website is interesting. It suggests that results of the survey may be  skewed upward in terms of English proficiency because the large masses who don’t want to learn English, would not form part of the survey.

 

in terms of westerners learning Thai, this thread is about the proficiency of Thai’s speaking English. If you want to talk about westerners speaking Thai, start a new thread as it’s a different subject.

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