English proficiency in Thailand isn’t just “very low” (we always knew that but have it in cold print now) but has actually fallen to 62nd out of 70 nations worldwide and is now officially third worst in Asia.
Only Cambodia and Mongolia fared poorer in the region, according to the annual English Proficiency Index (EPI) released by Education First (EF), an international education company specializing in language training, cultural exchange and academic programs.
And no, this isn’t just any survey based on a few hundred test results – the EF EPI is actually the world’s largest ranking of countries by adult English skills, with the results based on data collected from nearly one million Thai adults who took the company’s online English tests last year.
According to the Bangkok Post, the EF report now delivers a damning indictment not only of the Thai people’s English language skills but the kingdom’s education system in general:
Thailand’s English proficiency remains low despite the country’s large tourism industry.
Thailand’s school system performs poorly on international assessments across all subject areas. The average years of schooling there is also lower than the regional average, meaning that Thai adults are less educated than many other Asians.
This is despite the fact that Thailand spends a greater percentage of its budget on education – 31.3% – than any of the other 70 countries the survey covered. Think about this for a moment.
To make things worse, the Bangkok Post adds:
The county’s decline in English proficiency can be seen in age breakdowns. Youths 18-20 years old and adults 21-25 exhibit poorer English skills than those in the 26-30 age bracket.
So younger Thai adults do not speak/write better English than older Thais – their English proficiency is actually worse.
Now think about this for a moment or two and then ask yourself: Is Thailand ready for the upcoming launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) on December 31, 2015?