Looks like we’ve got our work cut out; Thailand come out bottom of the pile for English proficiency

A global survey conducted by EF Education First ranked Thailand at number 55 out of 60 countries for English language proficiency.  Looks like us EFL teachers have a lot more work to do to help them to play catch up!

I knew that Thailand wouldn’t fare well, maybe around the middle, but bottom six?  Followed only by Panama, Kazhakstan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq?  Fantastic, this is who Thailand share their English level with:-


OK, so I know Borat is fictional… but, still – for the lol’s.

Considering the high level of tourism and the approach of the formation of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), whose official language is English, Thailand will need to pull their finger out and up their English game pretty sharpish.

The world is becoming a smaller place, where being proficient in English is key to success.  Thailand has spent a long time trying to protect its culture, ways of life and its people – but has that been at the cost of falling behind the rest of the globe?

Malaysia, which is literally less than an hour from where I sit typing this right now, ranked 12th.  I could drive there right now and be able to fully converse with the guy selling me coffee!  Not that I expect or even want to do that in Thailand, but it’s insane that within such a short distance there can be such a massive difference, and it’s all down to education and more importantly, general attitude to needing (and wanting) to learn English.

So many of my students haven’t even realised the importance of English yet, and so they don’t want to learn.  But then again, when they are probably going to take over their father’s rubber plantation and stay living in their little town where English isn’t seen or heard other than for a few lessons a week with the token farang teacher, do they really need to learn it?

Before we force feed the language down their necks, we need to encourage the students to come to their own conclusions about why English is important to them, if it is at all.

Click here to read the full article that brought this to my attention.  And here for the full survey results.

I am a stupid monkey.

The current extra curricular aim of the moment, other than attempting to play the guitar (but rather lazily opting for Kate Nash songs that require no real talent) is learning to read Thai, or at least understand the Thai alphabet so that I can un-code the many things around me in Thai script such as signs (we are never quite sure if we are walking past ‘no entry’ or ‘danger’ signs) and menus (oh to order more than just the four things we order every time because we know that particular place sells it!).

The first step was to look at the consonant sounds that are in my name and find the corresponding Thai letter.  And this is where I found out that my name features two lovely animals.  You see, each Thai letter has an accompanying name or object (similar to our A apple, B ball, C cat) but unlike our version this doesn’t stop being used once people grow up, and each letter continues to be referred to using it’s full name.  So, K is kor kwai, or buffalo.  Buffalo are slow, and seen as stupid in Thai culture especially when being atributed to a person (buffallo is often shouted as a taunt in the classroom, usually at big, oafish and slow boys).  Next we have L, or lor ling.  Monkey.

Teacher. Oh foudn great joy in informing me that this makes my name, in the literal sense, mean STUPID MONKEY.  Thanks!