Low English pro­fi­ciency score shows ‘promis­ing signs’

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL - OM JOTIKASTHIRA

Thai­land has shown promis­ing signs of im­prove­ment in over­all English lit­er­acy, de­spite be­ing ranked 53rd out of 80 coun­tries in this year’s Ed­u­ca­tion First (EF) in­dex, ac­cord­ing to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Swiss-based lan­guage school.

Ed­u­ca­tion First re­cently re­leased its EF English Pro­fi­ciency In­dex (EPI) 2017 which showed Thai­land had low a pro­fi­ciency in English skills in 53rd place.

This year’s re­port com­piled re­sults based on more than 1 mil­lion test re­sults from 80 non-na­tive English speak­ing coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries.

In­for­ma­tion for Thai­land’s rank­ing was com­piled from around 10,000 Thais who took the test last year, ac­cord­ing to Minh N Tran, se­nior di­rec­tor for EF’s re­search and aca­demic part­ner­ships.

Last year, Thai­land was ranked 56th out of 72 coun­tries, which clas­si­fied the coun­try as hav­ing a very low English pro­fi­ciency, with an EF EPI rank­ing of 47.21.

This year’s re­sults showed lit­tle im­prove­ment, with the coun­try re­ceiv­ing an EF EPI rank­ing of 49.78.

How­ever, the higher score has moved Thai­land up one pro­fi­ciency band, giv­ing the coun­try a low English pro­fi­ciency rank­ing.

Mr Tran said Thai­land is set for a trend of steadily-in­creas­ing English pro­fi­ciency, as Thai par­ents will look to ob­serve more glob­ally aligned prin­ci­ples in light of Asean­re­lated de­vel­op­ments

“We should be see­ing a lot more in­vest­ment in English train­ing lo­cally and abroad here,” Mr Tran said. “Par­ents who can af­ford to send their chil­dren to English­s­peak­ing schools in Thai­land and abroad to English-speak­ing coun­tries will con­tinue to do so.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Tran, Thai­land’s new pro­fi­ciency-band rank­ing has clas­si­fied it as one of the fastest de­vel­op­ing coun­tries based on the EF EPI rank­ings.

Around 60,000 Thais have com­pleted the tests since they started in 2011.

“Thais — stu­dents in par­tic­u­lar — are now look­ing for an in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment where they can learn English,” said Li­nus Jon­s­son, vice pres­i­dent of EF’s op­er­a­tions in Asia.

“Stu­dents from Asia tend to score rel­a­tively high on tests, but what we would en­cour­age is more task-based learn­ing and a com­mu­nica­tive ap­proach.”

Mr Tran said im­prove­ments in Thai state schools would bol­ster the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, since more stu­dents are reg­is­tered in these in­sti­tu­tions.

“Ex­tremely suc­cess­ful coun­tries like Sin­ga­pore cur­rently see ed­u­ca­tion as an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, in­stead of a purely ed­u­ca­tion-based ini­tia­tive,” Mr Tran said.

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