Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

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Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by buksida » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:31 pm

When South-East Asia introduces a common economic market in December, job-seekers throughout the region will face more competition, with English-language skills in higher demand.
Phuket, Thailand - At a luxurious resort in southern Thailand, Boblyn Pertible from the Philippines is completing a professional internship for her bachelor’s degree in hotel management.

"I will consider applying for jobs outside my country after graduation," she said in fluent English. "The coming of the Asean Economic Community will definitely open doors to more opportunities for me."

In December, Thailand and the other nine member states of theAssociation of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) are due to start asingle market. Integration will enable the free flow of capital, goods, services and skilled labour. Workers in eight areas - engineers, nurses, doctors, dentists, architects, surveyors, accountants and tourism professionals - will be able to migrate across Asean borders.

The market is home to more than 600 million people, almost double thepopulation of the United States. The combined economy will be the seventh largest in the world, comparable to that of Britain or Brazil. Language skills will matter in the new single market, especially in English, the only lingua franca in Asean.

"English will be extremely important as a means for communications in business," said Treenuch Phaichayonvichit of the Thailand Development Research Institute."However, Thai students seems to perform poorly. The mean score onnational tests in English has always been below 50, which is a failing grade by any standard."

"The performance in international English proficiency tests is also inferior to other countries in the region," Treenuch said. The average Thai test-taker typically scores lower than those in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar on both the International English Language Testing System and theTest of English as a Foreign Language.

Thailand ranks 55th out of 60 countries on the English Proficiency Index, the world’s major ranking of English-language skills. That is the lowest among South-East Asian countries.

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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Gérard » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:00 pm

Most Thai teachers have never practiced their English in an English-speaking country.
Most English-speaking teachers in Thailand do not speak, read and write Thai, or very poorly and some of them are not even qualified for teaching.
I really think that the problem lies with the teachers and not with the pupils or students.

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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Vital Spark » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:44 pm

Gérard wrote:Most Thai teachers have never practiced their English in an English-speaking country.
Most English-speaking teachers in Thailand do not speak, read and write Thai, or very poorly and some of them are not even qualified for teaching.
I really think that the problem lies with the teachers and not with the pupils or students.
I agree with your first point, Gerard, but I have some excellent students who have never practiced their English in an English-speaking country. It's all about the desire to learn and improve. With regard to your second point, it is not necessary for a native English teacher to speak, read and write Thai. I never use Thai in the classroom. Are qualified teachers better than non-qualified ones? That's debatable. However, in my experience, the more 'qualified' the teacher (MA's and PhD's) the worse they are at teaching.

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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by richard » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:08 pm

Not in the Teaching profession so maybe a dumb question but how come Vietnamese and Cambodian vendors speak very good English and some as young as 8 years old speak perfect English?


Edit....Maybe it is as VS said .............desire, ambition and realisation that that is the way to go
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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Gérard » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:01 pm

Vital Spark wrote: it is not necessary for a native English teacher to speak, read and write Thai. I never use Thai in the classroom. VS
[/quote]

So, how can you explain anything to a beginner ? How can you teach the basic grammar rules ? Isn't it useful to stress the differences between Thai and English with good examples ?

As a translater who has learned a few languages, I would probably be able to learn another one with somebody who cannot explain anything, but not so easily as with somebody who can.

I have been an assistant to a Thai teacher for 4 years (private lessons only) and everyone of us improved a lot.

As for me, I think that Thai people can learn anything with good teachers :D

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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Bristolian » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:25 pm

^^i agree but only if the Thai education changes from preset ideas of grammar rules, rule and accept that simple understanding of the spoken basics are more important. The rest follows and does not lead!!
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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Vital Spark » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:26 pm

Gérard wrote:So, how can you explain anything to a beginner ? How can you teach the basic grammar rules ? Isn't it useful to stress the differences between Thai and English with good examples ?
Good questions, Gerard, but the simple answer is that you don't need to explain grammar rules to beginners. Just like my mother didn't explain the present continuous tense to me. I've successfully taught Pratom 1 pupils, who soak it up like a sponge - with the aid of pictures. One of the biggest mistakes made by the Thai educational system is using Thai and English when teaching the alphabet: A = ant, mot, etc. I now teach university students, and spend most of my time undoing badly taught English ('...but my teacher at school said...'). I teach a lot of grammar in the foundation course, using simple examples (in English). :)

Totally agree with you, Bristolian.

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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Bamboo Grove » Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:35 am

Are qualified teachers better than non-qualified ones? That's debatable. However, in my experience, the more 'qualified' the teacher (MA's and PhD's) the worse they are at teaching.


I disagree strongly. In Finland all the teachers must have M.Ed. before they qualify. For many years, the Finnish teachers have been very well thought internationally concerning their high quality teaching standards. Of course, it depends on what your M.A. is about and you should go through a certain period of pedagogical and didactic studies.

The English language standard nowadays in Finland amongst the younger generations is relatively high and we speak both English and Finnish in the class. Of course many tools are used alongside, as you use pictures. Most classes have access to internet and it's easy to find additional material. I agree with Gerrard that the teachers' qualifications must be there but it is not a matter of M.A. or Ph.D. or whatsoever, it's a matter of knowing how to teach and what kind of excersices are best for the students. It's also about the teachers' ability to use different teaching methods.

I agree with you, Vital Spark that desire to learn and motivation are the most important things, though.
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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Takiap » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:15 am

Gérard wrote:Most Thai teachers have never practiced their English in an English-speaking country.
Most English-speaking teachers in Thailand do not speak, read and write Thai, or very poorly and some of them are not even qualified for teaching.
I really think that the problem lies with the teachers and not with the pupils or students.
I have said the same thing before as well, but then someone pointed out that they had learned another language, during which English was never spoken in class. Reading that, I was suddenly reminded of my own school experience. Growing up in South Africa, English and Afrikaans were both compulsory. If you failed a language, you repeated the year. Interestingly enough, I cannot recall any of my Afrikaans teachers ever speaking a single word of English.

Foreign students were given a two year grace period. That is, they would not have to repeat the same grade if they failed Afrikaans. However, after two years the same rules applied to them, and while some might have suffered as a result, all those that I knew managed to learn the language within two years, in classrooms where no English was spoken.

Anyway, I agree with Vital Spark, in that a desire to learn is the most important factor, along with the skill of teachers.


One problem, at least in my opinion, is the fact that if a student decides that they couldn't care less, there is nothing any teacher can do about it. In my day it was somewhat different; we simply had no choice in the matter.


Additionally, based on my 18 years in Thailand, the vast majority of Thais are simply not willing to entertain the thought of actually being able to learn something from a foreigner.

Lastly, while there probably are a number of Thai English teachers who are able to speak, read and write the language fluently, most can barely string a sentence together. They teach straight from a book, not to mention the fact that many of those books are akin to a bad joke. It's like the blind leading the blind.

I certainly don't blame those teachers though, because I think the problem rests with the Thai education system. Like most other things here, there is a "mai pen rai" attitude towards education.
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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Gérard » Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:25 am

I agree with this too : (Quoting VS and Takiap)
Anyway, I agree with Vital Spark, in that a desire to learn is the most important factor, along with the skill of teachers.

But I still think that a good knowledge of Thai is a great help in teaching English, especially for beginners and intermediate learners. It allows you to understand why Thai people will be wrong in building sentences and you will be able to give clear explanations in their own language until they are able to understand English at a fair level.

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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Bamboo Grove » Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:50 am

Gerard wrote:
But I still think that a good knowledge of Thai is a great help in teaching English, especially for beginners and intermediate learners. It allows you to understand why Thai people will be wrong in building sentences and you will be able to give clear explanations in their own language until they are able to understand English at a fair level.
I agree. A teacher must know where his/her students face difficulties. What is different in their own language to the one they are learning and what are the similarities. Without knowledge of the learners' language, it will be very difficult to know why they repeatedly make the same mistakes.
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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by StevePIraq » Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:29 pm

It is easy to see the impact of things opening up. I recently spent a few days at the Amari Watergate Bangkok and they have numerous staff from Myanmar, perfect English and so polite. A few months back I was in Phuket and the hotel seemed to be totally staffed by Myanmar employees, my wife was amazed when she ordered in Thai and they didn't understand, it was great seeing her get pi@#ed off because of it, usually it is me angry when no one speaks English
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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Spitfire » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:54 pm

I agree with VS too.....it's about whether the students are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated.

Yes, there are transient and 'fly-by-wire' passing through teachers that perhaps are not the best choice but it's about exposure to the language and having some teachers (in many places) is better than none.

When it comes to educational problems here in Thailand, the MoE (Ministry of Education) needs to take long hard look at itself in the mirror and correct it's systemic problems from being an outdated dinosaur and constrained by it's own generic makeup and those who manage it, or are members of the government service that administrate it and uphold antiquated views and retrograde ideas. Some of the crap I hear being taught is just outrightly silly and belongs in the past to the tune of 50-60 years ago.

As an aside, it is also pertinent to mention about how do you attract OK to decent teachers to anywhere outside of BBK on a salary of 35-40k baht...not going to happen. You pay for what you get, and if the salary is so stingy, then how are you going to get real degree-qualified teachers in education or English (plus CELTA/TEFL/DELTA) to go to Nakhon Nowhere and grind away with such a crappy salary? You end up with muppets and blaggers or the occasional OK teacher because they are there somewhere for their own (or their wife's) reasons.

I don't need to explain the concepts of economics/satifaction/motivation on the part of the teacher to readers......no, all the good ones are going to stay in BBK and earn a 6 figure salary instead.

No brainer really.
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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by Vital Spark » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:32 am

This is rather amusing...



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Re: Poor English could dim Thai job prospects in Asean common market

Post by HHTel » Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:08 pm

That's hilarious but unfortunately quite near the truth!

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