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Thailand’s English level drops for the third year – English Proficiency Index

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Pikrepo

English skills in Thailand have dropped for the third year in a row with an English language proficiency score considered to be “very low.” In the past year, Thailand’s ranking dropped from 74 out of 100 countries to 89, according to the 2020 English Proficiency Index by EF Education First. The index is based on test results from 2.2 million adults from 100 countries and regions.

Thailand scored 419 out of 800 according to the English Proficiency Index, which is considered “very low.” Thailand ranks 20 out of 24 countries surveyed in Asia and 7 out of the 8 in Southeast Asia, topping Myanmar. Singapore scored 611, ranking number 1 in Asia with “very high” English proficiency, followed by the Philippines with a “high” proficiency score of 562.

According to the report, the lack of English proficiency in Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka hampers access to jobs in the tourism industry which makes up 10% of their economies.

With comparatively low wages and beautiful scenery, these countries already attract over 38 million visitors per year. These visitors are mainly concentrated in resort areas. In order to spread the wealth more evenly to different regions and open jobs in tourism to more of the people who want them, schools will need to do a better job teaching English to all students.

Thailand has been on a downward trend for the past 3 years. In 2017, Thailand ranked 53 out of 80 with a “low” proficiency score of 49.7 (using the previous scoring system.) In 2018, Thailand ranked 64 out of 88 with a “low” proficiency score of 48.5. In 2019, Thailand ranked 74 out of 100 with a “very low” proficiency score of 47.6.

Thailand's English level drops for the third year - English Proficiency Index | News by Thaiger

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Education First

 

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mister Stretch

    Friday, November 27, 2020 at 10:15 am

    All those that are surprised raise your right hand.

    That’s what we thought.

    This comes as news to none of us that work in this industry.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, November 27, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      Nor news to those of us outside the tourist industry or foreign tourist zones!

    • Avatar

      .

      Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 1:23 am

      As a Thai citizen, I find this fact to be very much appalling. Quite frankly, the notion that one ought to leave this egregious country has become increasingly coherent and a very sensible thing to do. The mere existence of this article is truly an ignominy to me, and suffice to say, to Thailand itself.

  2. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Friday, November 27, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Shouldn’t they be learning Mandarin instead?

    • Avatar

      Will Ko

      Friday, November 27, 2020 at 4:06 pm

      They do, but you obviously dont understand the significance of English as an I international language of business and commerce

      • Avatar

        EdwardV

        Friday, November 27, 2020 at 10:08 pm

        And you shouldn’t assume. It was a joke, nothing more.

    • Avatar

      preesy chepuce

      Saturday, November 28, 2020 at 12:35 am

      Only if they want to be enslaved by the CCP.

  3. Avatar

    Jeff

    Friday, November 27, 2020 at 11:32 am

    The Thai education system isn’t about educating, it’s about self enrichment and sabai sabai. Students are nothing more than a source of cash flow to school administrations.

  4. Avatar

    Stephen King

    Friday, November 27, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    I don’t have a degree in metallurgy so I’m not suitable to teach English, right?

    I am an NES, born in England, raised in Australia.
    I have an Associate Diploma in Marketing.
    In management for 30+ years I often facilitated training programmes for 1 to 30 staff.
    I have excellent communication and people skills.
    I have always designed teaching classes myself, tailored to the student/s needs.
    7 years experience teaching English.

    Also not suitable…which would you choose to teach yourself or your family?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, November 27, 2020 at 3:15 pm

      One NES employed as an English teacher at the main district secondary school was a Ghanaian lady I met in our local noodle shop, whom I could barely understand but who told me how polite all her students were as they all insisted on calling her “Maa dam”.

    • Avatar

      Will Ko

      Friday, November 27, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      The requirements to teach in Thailand are in general NES plus any degree.
      The idea behind a degree is to give the impression of some intelligence
      However one also needs a TEFL/TESOL certificate which is the basic theory of teaching English as a foreign language.
      Just because one is a native speaker, it diesnt infer one can teach.
      In fact most native speakers I know, not only dont know how to teach but also have little or know u understand of English grammar or syntax and have kittke ability to understand what they are teaching in which order and how.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Friday, November 27, 2020 at 9:40 pm

        The “native speakers [you] know” appear to be far from the only ones to have little knowledge of grammar or syntax!

        … and let’s be honest, a TEFL / TESOL certificate doesn’t really mean “one can teach” either.

        Given the relatively high requirements for NES teachers here and the relatively low pay, I can’t see the situation getting any better any time soon.

        • Avatar

          preesy chepuce

          Saturday, November 28, 2020 at 12:48 am

          To be honest, no certificate means you can teach, even the really fancy ones.
          We all remember our best teachers at school, but it we think a little broader, we remember the people in general in our lives that taught us stuff. Teaching is a bit of a bogus protectionist profession – the way it guards access to QTS is ridiculous (e.g.: you can teach in a uni for 40 years and still not qualify for QTS, when a spotty adolescent with bits of paper can in 18 months).
          Whilst I agree that a lot of native-speakers are useless at teaching; the inference that being a non-native speaker who is good at teaching is somehow as good as a native-speaker who is good at teaching is bogus.
          I say this as someone who studied Asian languages formally and informally, and who has taught technical subjects to both native and non-native English-speakers.
          I have learnt 3 Asian languages partly from non-native-speakers, and they can take you so far, but you still eventually need a native speaker to get to the advanced stuff.
          At the lower levels, it’s about understanding how people learn and remember, and making it enjoyable, and you don’t need degrees and stuff for that. Listening and presentation skills are underestimated for their importance in driving the other areas of improvement.
          My English is in the top 1% of native-speakers according to a formal test I took, and I am very happy to hire Africans and Caribbeans with native-English (e.g.: South Africans; Trinidadians), and accents that aren’t strong, as long as they are fun and engaging and extroverted, because a Thai student only needs to get to about 650 in TOEIC to be good to go.
          Thailand has a captive pool of native-English-speaking tourists they could filter through and find some useful people from.

      • Avatar

        RA

        Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 8:18 am

        Before pressing the “Post Comment” button, please at least run spell-check. This may help your argument.

  5. Avatar

    Sen

    Friday, November 27, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    Keep searching for low-skilled drunk farangs and pinoys Prayuth, way to go Prayuth.

    • Avatar

      Yammya

      Friday, November 27, 2020 at 8:07 pm

      This ^^^

    • Avatar

      Paul Revere

      Monday, November 30, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      Spot on. In my 20 years of living in and visiting every corner of Thailand, almost every western “English Teacher” I’ve met has been a creepy and pathetic clown. No wonder the students aren’t inspired to learn.

  6. Avatar

    west tiger

    Saturday, November 28, 2020 at 2:12 am

    The Junta don’t want educated people otherwise they will have to pay them people a proper living wage. They certainly don’t want people learning English the international busines language of the world

  7. Avatar

    .

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 1:15 am

    As a Thai citizen, I find this fact very much appalling, and quite frankly, the notion that one ought to leave this egregious country has become increasingly coherent. The mere existence of this article is an ignominy to me and suffice to say, to Thailand itself.

  8. Avatar

    .

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 1:55 am

    As a Thai citizen, I find this fact to be very much appalling. Quite frankly, the notion that one ought to leave this egregious country has become increasingly coherent and a rather sensible thing to do. I speak for all of us, that this article is truly an ignominy to Thailand’s education system, and undoubtedly, to Thailand itself. In spite of all this, I do still hope that Thailand will one day be less dystopian and a stable country. (As opposed to what Thailand is experiencing in the present–)

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 1:47 pm

      Third time lucky? Using loads of abstruse Latin words isn’t really the best way to sound natural.
      It’s not nearly as bad as many other places in the world, both nearby and far away. Enough young people are switched on enough to manifest change as inevitable generational handover takes place.

      • Avatar

        .

        Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 4:01 pm

        Well, prior to posting 3 of my statements, I thought it was deletable hence why I posted 3. I will concede that you do have a point apropos of my usage of abstruse words. Granted, I was simply trying to express my opinion as accurate as I deem fit, but apparently it doesn’t sound “natural.”

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Monday, November 30, 2020 at 11:39 am

          Nor does claiming “I speak for all of us”.

          You don’t.

          • Avatar

            .

            Monday, November 30, 2020 at 12:40 pm

            Nor is the fact that this article isn’t an iginomy to Thailand’s education system isn’t valid

          • Avatar

            .

            Monday, November 30, 2020 at 12:44 pm

            Nor is the fact that this article is an ignominy to Thailand’s education system isn’t vaid**

        • Avatar

          Preesy Chepuce

          Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 12:58 am

          To be brutally honest, whilst you have a point, what I’m getting at, is that your style of language is not better than wonky broken English. A good education in any language should include helping people communicate, and that is about more than simply vocabulary.
          My English, is in the top 1% of native speakers, and I speak other languages, and I could reel off loads of very hard words, and use semi-colons and all that, but, I understand that context is key, and communication and the teaching of it is about helping people not simply learn words and grammar, but actually get through to people. As it goes, I have professional experience helping non-native-speakers up to PhD level, and part of helping them is to help them dial down the dictionary-swallowing, and develop a style that is effective. I can tell you now that this post I am adding is grammatically incorrect, but it doesn’t matter – and knowing that – that’s what matters.
          The solution to improving English in Thailand, is to reach out to native-English-speaking countries, and establish some schemes where teachers from both countries can do exchanges. Thai teachers would learn a lot in English primary schools (they really go deep into grammar with little kids), and many honkies would love a break from oppressive western life. Thais have a particular need for speaking and writing skills, and they won’t get it from hiring Filipinos, Pakistanis, and Kenyans, they need that full exposure to competent native-English speakers who are experienced teaching both little kids and foreign adults, IMO.
          I’m sure you would score highly on a TOEIC test, but TOEIC isn’t a measure of everything.

          • Avatar

            .

            Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 4:23 pm

            Well, I very much appreciate your honesty; to be utterly frank, I’m rather disappointed in myself for engaging in internet debates. Thank you for your sentiment, and FYI, I’m not sure if the TOEIC test is really necessary-

          • Avatar

            .

            Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm

            Well, I very much appreciate your honesty; to be utterly frank, I’m rather disappointed in myself for engaging in internet debates. Thank you for your sentiment, and FYI, I’m not sure if the TOEIC test is really all that necessary-

  9. Avatar

    .

    Monday, November 30, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Nor is the fact that this article is an ignominy to Thailand’s education system isn’t vaid*

    • Avatar

      .

      Monday, November 30, 2020 at 1:08 pm

      Honestly there should really be a delete button-

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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