The Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) aims to revamp Thailand’s English language education, following the country’s recent “very low” English proficiency ranking.
Obec chairman Ekkachai Keesukpan said after a commission meeting yesterday that the attendees discussed the development of English skills for Thai students after Thailand dropped from 74th to 89th out of 100 countries this year in the recent English Proficiency Index conducted by the global education company EF Education First.
Thailand’s English language proficiency scored 419 out of 800 under the company’s new point scale, which is considered “very low”.
Thailand is currently ranked 7th in Southeast Asia, behind Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia, respectively, and ahead of Myanmar. It ranks 20th out of 24 countries in Asia.
The meeting agreed to urgently improve Thai students’ English proficiency starting by building an ecosystem conducive to English learning. Teachers should also try to communicate with students in English, the chairman said.
Less than half of English teachers in Thailand had passed level B1 of English in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), he said.
According to the chairman, Obec would soon discuss plans to urgently develop English skills for both teachers and students. Obec would also propose that interviews to select school executives be conducted in English.
It was not necessary that Thai children have a British accent but they must be confident communicating in English, Mr Keesukpan said.
Mr Keesukpan said the meeting also approved the merger of 29 schools and dissolution of 17 schools.
Schools that had asked to be merged must be able to say when they would close after the merger, the Obec chairman said, and suggested the schools be closed within a year.