CHIANG RAI – Thailand has fared poorly in a global survey on adult English-language proficiency. The kingdom ranked 55th among 60 countries where English is not the mother tongue, falling into the “very low proficiency” group.
Mastering English is a priority for Thailand as the ASEAN Economic Community era begins to take shape. Once it kicks in, AEC will open up tourism related job opportunities across the 10 nation region, a development that will favour countries that have a strong foundation in second language skills and a trained workforce to take mid-level management jobs in tourism and hospitality.
Krissanapong Kirtikara, vice-chair of Thailand’s Quality Warning Foundation, has emphasized the need to improve the country’s English-teaching standards in order to boost competitiveness in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community’s (AEC) launch in 2015. The AEC will mean further economic integration of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Students should get to grips with the language itself by speaking easy phrases and sentences, rather than memorizing rules.
A familiar excuse for the kingdom’s deficiency is that Thais have never “had to” speak English, since Thailand was never colonized by Britain.
This excuse might work for those who don’t need to communicate with non-Thai speakers or who never need to find information in English. But those who cannot speak and read at least some of the language will find their potential is limited in a global village whose mother tongue is English.
Improving Thailand’s English proficiency will boost not only personal skills and potential, but also the competitiveness of the country as a whole. Right now they are losing out on opportunities to progress economically, socially and even politically.
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