Thailand’s English language proficiency worse than almost anywhere else in the world

Thai students are lovely, but their English skills are usually poor

Thailand’s English language proficiency is even worse than poor countries like Myanmar and Cambodia

Anyone who has taught in Thailand’s school system, or lived any length of time in the South East Asian country, knows Thais have some of the worst English-language skills in the world.

That was confirmed recently by the annual English Proficiency Index, which came out at the end of November, and ranked Thailand as 97 out of 111 countries.

Up three places from a couple of years ago, but still abysmally low for a country this developed.

Even much poorer countries Myanmar and Cambodia beat Thailand in their English-language proficiency, ending up at #93 and #94 respectively.

Foreign teachers not remotely surprised at Thailand’s poor English skills

Not that any of this will surprise most, if any, foreign teachers who have taught or are currently teaching in Thailand.

Not when they are familiar with dealing with the abysmal Thai education system that is horribly run by the Department of Education, with parents who don’t care if their children speak English as they don’t see it as an educational priority, or the children themselves — many of who are unmotivated due to said parents’ lack of concern.

Add in that Thai English teachers have poor English proficiency themselves, due to the Thai education system prioritizing grammar and reading rather than listening and speaking, and it is no wonder Thailand’s English proficiency is worse than almost anywhere else in the world.

Of course, various Thai governments have set forward plans to improve the English skills of their citizenry, but all so far have failed.

Primarily because their programs made little sense — mandating foreign teachers attend a joke of a ‘Thai Culture Course’, for instance, as if they were the problem — or coming up with a policy to recruit 10,000 native English speaking teachers, but then never following through on it.

In other words, as long as the apathy towards English education is endemic, and current and subsequent governments do not make Thailand’s English proficiency a priority, it is likely Thailand’s place on the English Proficiency Index will continue to be at the same low level next year as well.

Or, if Thailand’s educational system goes the way of most other things in Thailand under the current junta government, likely even worse.