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.

Home and Away; my new weekly feature

courtesy of Google images

I’m such a sporadic blogger – I go from spamming people’s inbox’s and news feeds with constant updates and then I disappear for weeks at a time.  It’s just that sometimes I have nothing of interest to say, and what’s the point in blogging for the hell of it?  So, I have decided to set myself a bit of a weekly challenge to post a news item from my real home (Cornwall, England) and from my away home (Hat Yai, Thailand).  I often find myself reading the local news from back home as it helps me to feel connected to what’s going on while I’m away.  And, similarly, I like to keep up with local news here too.  Hopefully posting my favourite news of the week will give you all a bit of an insight into where I am living now and where I come from.  I don’t know, it’s an idea.  Let’s see how it goes…

Before I officially kick the weekly feature off I thought I would post some of my favourite Home and Away news that I have encountered since I have been here.



Penryn is the next door town to my hometown of Falmouth, Cornwall, and I had the pleasure of calling it home for around 2 years before I moved back in with my parents and then decided to jet off to Thailand.  The main street in Penryn is host to all manner of local characters including a certain Ketamine Kate, a skinhead who always dons the full Romper Stomper style get up, a number of toothless gentlemen, day time drinkers, bench sitting old men and a high population of chavs.  I’m not sure which category the main character of this news story falls into but I am sure that he was one of Penryn main street’s finest.  Reports claim that he was parading down the street butt naked, shouting, and then proceeded to chop off his own penis.  All in broad daylight in plain view of horrified onloookers.  The removed appendage was thrown into a bush and the man retired to his home on cosy sounding Mutton Row, before passing out.  “It is thought the man may suffer with a mental health issue.”  (falmouthpacket.co.uk).   To read the story click here.


A handy ‘other news stories you might be interested in’ feature lead me directly to this story.  Again we find ourselves in Penryn with one of its fines, this time found apparantly sunbathing on a road just off the main street.  One man cuts his penis off, another risks getting his sunburnt.


This story from May 2013 is but a further chapter in the ever growing story of one man and his questionable fetish.  A fetish for slurry.  Now, for those of you who aren’t from farming areas may I clarify that slurry is the sloppy mess found in a slurry pit, which is where farmers chuck all their animal waste (read: shit) and organic waste (read: rotting food) and leave it to ferment.  It stinks.  It certainly isn’t something that gets me in the mood for a bit of how’syourfather.  However, our lead male in this saga feels exactly that way.  A few years ago now, a farmer became suspicious after finding evidence of activity in and around his slurry pit.  Now, slurry pits are dangerous places; people die drowning in them every year (what a way to go), so the farmer kept an eye on the area to make sure that everything was safe.  Sure enough, on his routine checks he soon ended up discovering used tissues, women’s underwear and that old tell-tale sign that someone’s been wanking in your poo pit – buttock indentations in the ground.  This farmer has a family and kids to look out for, so he gets the police involved.  Upon searching the man’s home they discovered over 80 pairs of women’s knickers (rumour has it that these were stolen from washing lines) and lunch boxes full of slurry.  Repeated re-offending, restraining orders and custodial sentences later, we find ourselves with the climax (no pun intended) of the story thus far; the ‘slurry pervert’ as he has been branded by local papers, was once again discovered smeared in slurry, surrounded by tissues, and upon discovery he threatened to burn down the farmer’s home.  They are now finally looking into a mental assessment for this guy.


NB: I live in Hat Yai city which is in Songkhla province in south Thailand – the deep south, in fact.  We border one of the three provinces that are subject to an insurgency with daily shootings, car bombs, IEDs etc.  Hat Yai itself suffered it’s last bomb just over a year ago when the main shopping centre, Lee Gardens, was attacked with a car bomb, killing 5 people and injuring 300.   It would be very easy for me to post a shocking story about a certain killing or kidnapping associated with the insurgency but I am going to try to look for news outside of this ongoing situation.


Thailand is no stranger to power cuts and blackouts.  Lights often dip in and out of brightness, plugs spark and fuses blow.  But, a few weeks ago we found our entire village plunged into darkness just as we were setting off to eat dinner.  We decided to drive on into the city centre where they would have power and so somewhere to eat, but as we crossed the bridge that marks the start of Hat Yai, the usual cityscape of high rise condominiums and shopping centres was missing.  Apparantly the blackout was bigger than we thought.  We ended up eating a cosy candle-lit dinner at our usual restaurant back in the village, the air full of the community spirit that something like a power cut brings (I can distinctly remember our road losing water when I was a child and everyone queueing up to take their daily ration to store in the bath tub and feeling the same kind of atmosphere).  It wasn’t until we regained power a few hours later and checked the internet that we discovered that this power outage had spead across the entire south of the country, spanning a total 14 provinces.  As usual, no concrete reason has een given for why this happened but the most popular theories are; lightening, human error and of course, a political story – that power was removed by the government to prove some sort of point to the rebellious deep south.  Who knows.  It was fun though, although a shame that it didn’t extend into the school day, awarding us all with a day off.  Click here to read the story.


OK, so I have to admit that I can’t find the original story for this as the Bangkok Post online only seems to archive the pst 3 months of stories and this one happened just before.  I’m sure I posted it on my facebook so I will track the link down.  Don’t want you thinking I am making these things up!

On a Saturday night in Hat Yai it isn’t out of place to encounter an elephant or two as you sip on a beer.  Namey, a big adult female elephant and a little young boy elephant, both walked around the city by their prospective owners offering photo opportunities to Malaysian tourists and locals alike.  I’ve met both of these elephants and they seem fine, a little docile even, but not aggressive or threatening.  This story concerns the young male elephant, who was doing his rounds one weekend night when he encountered a little 8 year old Thai boy who wanted his photograph taken sitting on the elephant.  The owner said that this was fine and lifted the boy onto the elephant.  What the owner didn’t know was that the young male elephant was entering his first period of musth, or sexual aggression, and having another young male sit on him did not make him happy.  He bucked, much like a horse would, sending the boy flying into the windscreen of a car.  Luckily the little boy was OK, but the elephant was taken from the owner, had his tusks removed (and probably sold on the black market…) and was then returned to the owner.  I’ve seen him walking around tuskless, and that is how I know this story to be true.


Now for a story a little farther afield, in Central Thailand.  After a fire broke out at an Ayutthaya unofficial rubbish dump, firefighters discovered over 1000 dog skulls in the remains of the blaze.  The rubbish dump is very close to a meatball factory, raising suspicion that they were dumped and set alight to cover up the dodgy dog meat use in the factory’s produce.  This is one a many dog meat scandals that I read every month – tasty!

And that brings us up to date with a few random stories from Home and Away.  Best get reading to find my first official picks for my weekly update.