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Thailand not ready to upgrade English



Thailand not ready to upgrade English | Thaiger

PHUKET: It’s too soon to declare English as Thailand’s second language for teaching in schools, says Tongthong Chandransu, secretary-general of the Office of the Education Council (OEC).

News reports late last week said the Education Ministry planned to declare on October 22 that English is officially the second language for teaching in Thai schools.

But Tongthong denied there would be declarations related to the issue on October 22.

“The education reform policy committee, chaired by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has discussed improving or upgrading English language teaching in educational institutions. But the committee has not yet reached a conclusion on how to develop the teaching,” Tongthong said.

He was not sure if there was confusion caused by the news reports on the issue.

He said the issue to be announced on October 22 would be about developing student quality by allocating 30% of their study time to activities outside classrooms.

“To initiate a nationwide English language teaching improvement scheme is a big issue. We need to prepare enough basic structure – like instructional tools, technology and qualified teachers – as well as arrange funds, which will take a long time.”

He said the PM and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij have agreed in principle to upgrade the quality of English language instruction and would support the scheme.

“We need to clarify the term to be used when referring to the language teaching improvement scheme, to prevent confusion. I’m not sure if the committee will state that English will be taught as the second language for teaching in schools or not, but I can say that it is considering the language teaching improvement scheme.

“And, it will be able to give an answer on how it will move this project forward within the next one or two months,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Education Minister Varakorn Samkoses said he agreed with the idea of declaring English the second language in schools, as Thailand will be part of the Asean community in 2015.

However, he said, most Thai people were not ready for communication in English despite the coming Asean community. So other sectors of society should prepare for the change as well, by seeking strategies to help improve their personnel, especially the government and private sectors.

“To move the education sector [forward], we should start with training our Thai teachers along with importing foreign teachers,” Varakorn said.

“The Basic Education Commission’s English Resource and Instruction Center should be the main agency responsible for the scheme. It should collaborate with universities to share their knowledge and train and certify teachers in each region.

“Schools should create an English learning environment by using sign boards in English around their premises; having students perform English-language stage dramas; teaching math and science in English; and having foreigners [coming in to] meet and talk to students,” Varakorn said.

English is used as an official language in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore, but used as a second language only in Malaysia, according to Wikipedia.

— The Nation


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