Thais rank low again at English

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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by 404cameljockey » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:08 am

HHTel wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:43 pm
European birthrate diminishing and Asian increasing,
As usual, jamjar, you have got it wrong. The birthrate in Asia is diminishing not increasing. That's why, Singapore and other countries are offering incentives to reproduce. Thailand has recently announced benefits for having more kids.

As an aside, classic Thai is spoken by less than half of the Thai population.
Johnjar once again starting his fights with other forum members, personal insults start appearing (Alf Garnett for one); a sure sign.

Singapore as a leading light in Asia has a very good record in English language, and in fact are trying (wrongly IMO) to stamp out Singlish as a local variant/dialect, because they understand the importance of English in international trade and relations.

If China does manage to grab an even larger percentage or world commerce, trust me, they will learn English to communicate. At least in my children's lifetime.

This thread was about the poor uptake of English in Thailand (which is on record); this is important and unfortunate for them, because if they believe they want to be outward looking in the world then this failing will hurt them. Certain people have twisted it to try to make it sound like expats moaning about not being understood. Can we keep it on topic please and avoid the backbiting.

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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by buksida » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:16 am

HHTel wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:47 am
The nub of this thread should be about the proficiency of the English language in Thailand and not about whether expats can speak Thai or not!
Indeed, this topic is about failings in the Thai education system (rote learning, too much focus on grammar, and zero conversation). Nothing whatsoever to do with expats speaking Thai.

Those that want to discuss expats speaking Thai can another thread. All further off topic blather and aggression will be removed.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by Dannie Boy » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:18 am

404cameljockey wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:08 am
HHTel wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:43 pm
European birthrate diminishing and Asian increasing,
As usual, jamjar, you have got it wrong. The birthrate in Asia is diminishing not increasing. That's why, Singapore and other countries are offering incentives to reproduce. Thailand has recently announced benefits for having more kids.

As an aside, classic Thai is spoken by less than half of the Thai population.
Johnjar once again starting his fights with other forum members, personal insults start appearing (Alf Garnett for one); a sure sign.

Singapore as a leading light in Asia has a very good record in English language, and in fact are trying (wrongly IMO) to stamp out Singlish as a local variant/dialect, because they understand the importance of English in international trade and relations.

If China does manage to grab an even larger percentage or world commerce, trust me, they will learn English to communicate. At least in my children's lifetime.

This thread was about the poor uptake of English in Thailand (which is on record); this is important and unfortunate for them, because if they believe they want to be outward looking in the world then this failing will hurt them. Certain people have twisted it to try to make it sound like expats moaning about not being understood. Can we keep it on topic please and avoid the backbiting
Can we keep it on topic please and avoid the backbiting well said that man!!

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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by Spitfire » Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:06 pm

So, moving along then...one of the other major problems with about 70% of any class you get here (even at university) is the reluctance/refusal to participate in speaking pair/group work. It's too much effort for them and are unwilling to give it a try mostly. Obviously they are not used to it as it goes against what they are used to but even an excersize like survey the class with questions provided is a huge undertaking for most and you can see it in their faces, asking themselves things like "What? I have to move and do something." And then you are still hearing way too much Thai being spoken.

The levels of idleness and apathy are simply breathtaking in so many of them. Not all, the Medicine MD students, Dentistry students or the individually motivated to succeed types know the score and do it. If you get a course of Crop Production or Sports Science then it's just...faceplam, they are mostly not even interested. You do what you can to help etc. but it's not really that effective.

By the time they get to university a lot of them are already caste in a fashion that is not conducive to learning a foreign language. Many simply don't want to learn and just want to fall on the line and get a pass (thinking that they will never leave Thailand so don't need English really). It all goes wrong for them at high school in my opinion and in effect university here is just an extension of that. Untill that changes, expectations should be realistic. Yes, certainly the universities require reform too but the students are not in their formative years when they get to university and it would be more useful to get the younger levels and Mathayom sorted out first. To do that though, many hard truths would have to be looked at in the bright light of the day and I'm not sure they really want to do that.

There are so many distractions now for students from social media/Internet related stuff plus expectations from parents/culture/society/peers and you can couple that with a basic absence of any discipline from within or from outside, not to mention the entitlement of younger people in general....surprised any of them manage to focus on what's good for them after they are given everything on a plate without lifting a finger or doing a day's work.

There is no "abracadabra" solution to leaning a language and it requires motivation, exposure to it, hours of practice and study plus patience and the right instruction. This is a hard combination to achieve in the right environment. Racking-and-stacking 60 students into a classroom is not the correct environment and basically turns into a lecture as is not conducive to modern teaching methods. Yes, some are naturals with languages but most are not.

There are many reasons as to why the title of this thread is so, but they run way way deeper than (but do include) casually saying the university course is substandard or something etc. and plenty of them aren't even educationally related...but I'm not going to go there.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by HHTel » Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:11 pm

Many simply don't want to learn and just want to fall on the line and get a pass (thinking that they will never leave Thailand so don't need English really).
Spot on. It doesn't matter how good the teacher is, if they don't want to learn then they won't. On the other hand, if they are motivated, then they will learn in spite of the shortcomings of the teacher.

My daughter was taught by a Thai 'English teacher' who couldn't speak English! In spite of that she passed English at a much higher level than her teachers. What she didn't learn at school she learnt at home by reading English books and watching English TV. She's been back in the UK now for just over a year and is doing very well. Without English she would never have made it.

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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by buksida » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:03 pm

My eldest is fluent in both languages, so much so that he can embarrass his English teacher (which isnt good i know). Because the system is so backwards here and they're graded mostly on grammar, he does not come top in the class. That accolade usually goes to a Thai girl who has learned the grammar by rote but cant speak a word of the language.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by Spitfire » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:17 pm

Kids like yours Buksida that are constantly exposed to the language everyday always come out well/top and that's the thing, most of these kids might study English in a lesson but as soon as the lesson ends it's not even thought about till next class whenever that is. Kids like yours hear, speak and use it all the time...a huge advantage. Grammar awareness is of course required but nothing tops communicating properly and use of vocabulary.

If you asked your kids what their mother was doing at the moment and they said "She will have been shopping at the mall for two hours by 3 o'clock Dad", it is much more important that they have the ability to say that than realise and tell you it's the the future perfect continuous tense...Dad, haha. A lot of foreigners probably couldn't tell you that if you asked them about the grammar on that.

The best way to learn a language is to learn to read and write it plus be exposed to situations where you need to use it. And reading authentic texts is certainly the best way to expand vocabulary and that's one of the ways I learned back in the day.....reading the Times or Telegraph newspapers everyday and looking stuff up that I didn't know.

Sure works.

Edit - Typos
Last edited by Spitfire on Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by buksida » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:20 pm

All true, but it doesn't help their grades in the Thai education system which is weighted towards Thai language subjects and grammar.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by dtaai-maai » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:25 pm

Spitfire wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:06 pm
So, moving along then...one of the other major problems with about 70% of any class you get here (even at university) is the reluctance/refusal to participate in speaking pair/group work.
[...]
The levels of idleness and apathy are simply breathtaking in so many of them. [...] You do what you can to help etc. but it's not really that effective.

By the time they get to university a lot of them are already caste in a fashion that is not conducive to learning a foreign language. Many simply don't want to learn and just want to fall on the line and get a pass (thinking that they will never leave Thailand so don't need English really). It all goes wrong for them at high school in my opinion and in effect university here is just an extension of that.
[...] but the students are not in their formative years when they get to university and it would be more useful to get the younger levels and Mathayom sorted out first. To do that though, many hard truths would have to be looked at in the bright light of the day and I'm not sure they really want to do that.
Yep, good post. Nothing there to disagree with. The main problem with teaching at university level (which is where I think most of the current and ex-teachers on the forum work(ed)) is that instead of teaching the more advanced levels you'd normally expect, you're going over stuff that should have been instilled in them when they were at Matthayom (secondary) level, and in a surprising number of cases at Prathom (primary) level.

IMO, the main advantage of having a native English speaker as a teacher is the possibility of substantially improving students' listening and speaking skills - let the Thai teachers focus on grammar. This aspect (L & S) is almost entirely wasted due to their total inability to construct and speak a sentence in correct English.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by Spitfire » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:33 pm

Yes Buksida, but the kids like yours will end up doing better when they get to the real world as English skills are so lacking in the general population that the ones that can speak/write etc. will just get snatched up by big companies and breeze it earning good salaries. I often tell the smarter students, that want to get along, that what will save you and push your career along faster and to greater heights is your English ability, not just your ability in chosen subject. And it starts whilst they are still at school, these kids are popular as they can help the other kids with stuff from computing stuff/games to homework to even just understanding what the teacher says or wants....often see this.

Yes, the education system here is insular looking, as you say, and they don't appear to want to grasp the nettle to fix it as there may be too many hard truths for them to stomach. However, kids like yours that can make the grade have a great future to look forward to. As for the rest, it's will be another generation before things meaningfully change as the people in charge of the MoE are dinosaurs, have to wait till they all go away.
Last edited by Spitfire on Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by Spitfire » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:43 pm

dtaai-maai wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:25 pm
Yep, good post. Nothing there to disagree with. The main problem with teaching at university level (which is where I think most of the current and ex-teachers on the forum work(ed)) is that instead of teaching the more advanced levels you'd normally expect, you're going over stuff that should have been instilled in them when they were at Matthayom (secondary) level, and in a surprising number of cases at Prathom (primary) level.

IMO, the main advantage of having a native English speaker as a teacher is the possibility of substantially improving students' listening and speaking skills - let the Thai teachers focus on grammar. This aspect (L & S) is almost entirely wasted due to their total inability to construct and speak a sentence in correct English.
Yes, absolutely, you are quite right about many foreign teachers at university are going over stuff that they should have learned long ago. You are basically in the trenches teaching on the frontline as the Thai PhDs don't want to do it. I sometimes find it disheartening that I must go over the present perfect (Have you ever...with a class of 60 20 year-olds. When I did my CELTA they always said as little grammar as possible please and you'd hear the instructors saying about too much grammar in the student teachers' lesson plans...haha

Also correct about the main benefit they get is simply being exposed to and dealing with a native speaker/foreigner so they have communication experience with one for a few years, and if they have experience of different foreign teachers as opposed to just one, so much the better. Anything abstract is brain strain on them.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by oakdale160 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:40 pm

A young woman in the company where I worked had spent several years in the US when a child. She spoke perfect American accented English when alone with English speakers. When Thais were present she spoke with a Thai accent and made frequent mistakes. Being fluent in English would make her unpopular.

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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by HHTel » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:52 pm

When my daughter was at Salesian, we had many laughs at homework which was set. In many cases the homework set was just plain wrong. One complaint that comes to mind from her teacher was that she was spelling her name (Victoria) wrong. The teacher was using some transliteration from Thai and came to 'Vikthoria' as the correct spelling. After having a laugh about having marks docked, I sent a copy of her birth certificate to school. Did the teacher apologise and admit her mistake? Hell no but she did agree to allow my daughter to spell it both ways. Saving face??

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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by Spitfire » Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:44 pm

HHTel wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:52 pm
Did the teacher apologise and admit her mistake? Hell no but she did agree to allow my daughter to spell it both ways. Saving face??
That's the problem, these kids are mentored by the incompetent in high school and by people that know very little when it comes such a thing as an international language or the future in general. As for saving face....I'm not even going to get started on that one, haha.
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Re: Thais rank low again at English

Post by MDMK » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:04 pm

buksida wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:03 pm
My eldest is fluent in both languages, so much so that he can embarrass his English teacher (which isnt good i know). Because the system is so backwards here and they're graded mostly on grammar, he does not come top in the class. That accolade usually goes to a Thai girl who has learned the grammar by rote but cant speak a word of the language.
my god. that he doesn't finish top of the class. absolutely horrific that he gets beaten by someone who can't speak a word of english but parrot-learned the grammar rules that most of us native english speakers have no idea of or use for . I might (we all might) overuse words like shocked, but in this instance I am genuinely shocked.

Very informative thread this, I am enjoying it.

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