Thailand is starting to take English seriously

Posted by claudio on March 14, 2012 in Teaching in Thailand |

The Nation reported yesterday that Thailand has set aside a budget of 100 million baht to send 1,137 teachers abroad to brush up their English. The chosen teachers will have an opportunity to attend English training in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Each will get about 100,000 baht to pay for expenses while staying in the foreign country, but they do have to pay for their own airfare.

On first glance, this may look like bad news for foreign English teachers in Thailand. Are they doing this to make the Thai teachers more proficient and thus position them to replace the foreign English teachers at their school? I don’t think so. To get Thai teachers to the level of a native English speaker would require much more than 100,000 baht and one month of training abroad. I rather read this article as good news for foreign English teachers. It shows that Thailand is starting to take English more seriously to prepare its citizens for the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

The article also mentions an initiative to provide a 30-hour English language course to people in other occupations, provide a monthly budget of 10,000 baht for schools to hire foreign English teachers, and ease the regulations concerning the need for licenses for foreign teachers.  To me, this news article looks very positive. These new initiatives will most likely provide expanded opportunities for foreign English teachers in Thailand. What are your thoughts?


  • Rob says:

    Personally I don’t think Thailand is really all that interested in English at all.

    Lets be honest here, Thailand has been a western ally since the end of WW2 and compared to any other country in Asia, their English skills are generally about the lowest. Even a quick trip to Cambodia (with few resources, teachers etc…) has the average person speaking English better than most places in Thailand.

    When you have a country based on low wage factories and the highest gap in all of Asia between the poor and the rich, ask yourself this question…

    If you were in power here in Thailand, would you really want people to able to know a lot about the outside world or would you like everyone in your factory happy with some rice and 200 Bht a day? Not knowing English accomplishes this …

    How many English teachers is a school going to get for 10,000 Bht a month and how many teachers are actually going to be able to afford the flight? Not many either way.

  • Rachel says:

    No, it’s not bad news for English teachers although I do question how helpful it will be overall for Thais.

    And, yes, as the previous commenter said, many upper-class in Thailand are not interested in helping the lower classes get better educated, including improving their English skills, as it doesn’t help them. They prefer to keep them subjugated as much as possible unfortunately.

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