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Thailand’s English proficiency plummets: Survey


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English is a world-wide language, true. But then it doesn't mean that people have to speak like the Queen and have a 10,000 words vocabulary. In fact, even among native speakers the accents are sometimes atrocious (to me) and also on this forum there are so many typos and grammar mistakes.

 

I am a retiree who has already learned a number of languages, who doesn't have a Thai wife and who is too lazy to go beyond conventional phrases in Thai. I am extremely pleased with the level of English I find everywhere in Chiang Mai or Phuket or Bangkok, from shops to restaurants to drivers and just random persons on the street. Who cares if they make mistakes, as long as we understand each other. Some mistakes can be funny, some annoying, but overall I am grateful that the Thais speak English (in the city at least) as much as they do.

 

Proficiency and surveys, I couldn't care less.

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During my many trips to Cambodia I noticed a better level of English proficiency than in Thailand, amongst ordinary people. i wonder if it's because UNESCO was involved in education in Cambodia?

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2 hours 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.

Can't speak about engineering, but my (international) firm looked at doing an M&A deal with a Thai company a few years ago (was actually my first long-term exposure to the country). All contracts and conference calls were in English and that was the automatic expectation of both parties.

 

I suspect that any kind of cross-border or international project will generally be conducted in English at the decision-maker level. There's just not much alternative, and my experience is that execs in Thailand are fully aware of this.

 

As for why it's important for Thais to learn English, well - it's the language that will open up more of the world for them than any other language they could learn. Both in terms of spectrum of life opportunities and in terms of access to knowledge.

 

Quick illustrative example: there are ~6,414,612 Wikipedia pages in English but just ~134,000 in Thai (2% of the Eng amount). Content quality tends to differ also, with greater detail in English. Sure that info might eventually be available on the Thai internet elsewhere, but good chance that it hits the English internet first. In an information economy, speed and volume of information are critical. It hurts the locals if they have to wait for info to slowly be reproduced in a language they can access.

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Why wouldn't it plummet?

 

Teachers are teaching but students are not learning

 

Students are not stupid, they are bored, bored, bored!

 

Thai teachers of English ore not proficient in either spoken or written English

 

It is about time teachers themselves were taught by native speakers

 

Teacher training is hopelessly inadequate and quite wrong in its rote-style of teaching!

 

Another topic I feel I am wasting my breath on!

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7 minutes ago, The Cipher said:

Can't speak about engineering, but my (international) firm looked at doing an M&A deal with a Thai company a few years ago (was actually my first long-term exposure to the country). All contracts and conference calls were in English and that was the automatic expectation of both parties.

 

I suspect that any kind of cross-border or international project will generally be conducted in English at the decision-maker level. There's just not much alternative, and my experience is that execs in Thailand are fully aware of this.

 

As for why it's important for Thais to learn English, well - it's the language that will open up more of the world for them than any other language they could learn. Both in terms of spectrum of life opportunities and in terms of access to knowledge.

 

Quick illustrative example: there are ~6,414,612 Wikipedia pages in English but just ~134,000 in Thai (2% of the Eng amount). Content quality tends to differ also, with greater detail in English. Sure that info might eventually be available on the Thai internet elsewhere, but good chance that it hits the English internet first. In an information economy, speed and volume of information are critical. It hurts the locals if they have to wait for info to slowly be reproduced in a language they can access.

That might well be true where most of the Thai employees were privately educated. At the level of ordinary people, taxi drivers, waitresses etc, the level of English proficiency isn't good, it's better in Cambodia, a much poorer country. As I mentioned in my other comment, I wonder if that's because UNESCO was/is heavily involved in education in Cambodia?

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8 minutes ago, RafPinto said:

I think the accent is perfect:

 

Hello hansum, wer ju go, I go wis you.

Wer you flom.

Massass

They didn't even learn that from a Thai teacher;  that was passed on by another Bar Girl

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I wonder, why Singapore is in the list? when its official language is English ???? Canada have two official languages English and French and not listed although many French speakers do not speak English in Quebec.

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21 hours ago, Mango Bob said:

Maybe we English speaking countries who live in Thailand should try speaking some Thai.  I bet we are worst then the Thais.

Your totally missing the point, on purpose. Thai is only spoken in Thailand, whereas English is the most widely spoken language in the world. Meaning if you want to work or travel out of Thailand, it would benefit you to speak English!

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22 hours ago, ThomasThBKK said:

Portugal? I never met anyone speaking english there except expats... 

It's like france or spain, they don't want to -.-

Why should they? I never hear British people in the UK speaking French or Spanish to each other, never.

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Well, what do you expect from 15 years of schooling - 6 years primary, 6 years secondary and 3 years university? 

To the clownery of education ministry, the clown-in-chief of the government = a tip to the hat for a job well done; you all deserve a silver medal. 

Keep up the good work and nosedive your country onto the least proficient country; only another 12 countries to beat and, after overtaking 99 I would assume that the remaining 12 are a walk in the park. Then you'll get solid gold medals - all of you politicians and crooks! 

This failed state is a doomed country and sadly enough it is what it is by the virtue by its own people voting for successive (s)elections of governments which ensured, that Thailand is in a free fall into the abyss. In one to two generations you're creeping on the floor and might understand then, that there is no substitute to education. The 1% sitting on 58% of the money will finally understand, that you cannot eat money and civil war is around the corner! 

You HiSo pr1cks; keep up your high noses, ridicule the dirty farang, the dark kaek, the hatred chaeks and everything else non-Thai. What a pity for such a beautiful country with mostly lovely people! 

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24 minutes ago, cnx101 said:

I remember seeing a sign outside an English language school, Wanted English teachers only American teachers.

I know.
I applied. She asked: Wer you flom.
I said from Julop (europe).

Ok, can start today.

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33 minutes ago, arithai12 said:

I hope linking to youtube is allowed... or look for teacher Phensri

 

 

The sad thing is, that this clip exactly mirrors the average English class with Khun 

Inospeakenglishmaipenlai, with 90% of the classtime explaining the word in Thai and practising saying the Thai word, then mispronouncing and memorising this for the rest of the lesson.

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21 hours ago, Mango Bob said:

Maybe we English speaking countries who live in Thailand should try speaking some Thai.  I bet we are worst then the Thais.

You used a superlative adjective when you needed to use a comparative. 

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22 hours ago, ThomasThBKK said:

Portugal? I never met anyone speaking english there except expats... 

It's like france or spain, they don't want to -.-

Hi,

Don't be so sure about your experience and certainties about the others... I'm french and I can have a discussion even technical with you in English, Spanish and Portuguese (and Thai) providing you, of course, speak other languages than your English mother tong.... by the way, what is the proficiency in Thai of the 10th of thousands English speaking people living there ??? 

 

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This is most likely by design. You could not do a worse job with education in Thailand, if you were trying to make that happen. So, what is the reality here? Why is it so dismal? Why are they not employing legions of native English speakers? When the teachers are failing the tests they give their students, you know the system is completely broken. You want to improve your standards, fix it. Otherwise, just admit you are engaged in sabotage. 

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21 minutes ago, hotchilli said:

Considering the Thai gene pool from which students have to learn from it's not surprising.

Thai teachers who pass every exam to become teachers yet cannot get past "hello I'm fine thanks and you" without getting into difficulties.

and the education ministry contracting the cheapest labour from god knows where, who's grasp of English is a second language at best.

Reap what you sow..

I've met many Thai 'English' teachers, and I can confirm your observation. 85%, or so cannot string a meaningful sentence together, their English is often unintelligible, and every other sentence they say starts with: "Because..."

 

Add to that the lack of interest for other cultures and countries, not only among the average Thai, students, but also among Thai 'English' teachers, and one can understand why English proficiency has been steadily declining over the past 20 to 30 years. 

Edited by StayinThailand2much
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21 hours ago, Mango Bob said:

Maybe we English speaking countries who live in Thailand should try speaking some Thai.  I bet we are worst then the Thais.

Worst then Thais. You need to go back to school.🤣🤣🤣

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