Expert sees ‘promising signs’ of rising English proficiency

Expert sees ‘promising signs’ of rising English proficiency

Minh Tran, director of research and academic partnerships at EF Education First, believes Thailand is ‘set for a trend of steadily-increasing English proficiency’. (Photo provided)

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 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 seek to adapt better to Asean-related 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 English-speaking 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.