English teaching reform in Thailand to begin this year

Saturday, 08 March 2014 By  MCOT

BANGKOK, March 7 - Caretaker Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang has urged all English teachers nationwide to create new standard for English teaching in a bid to improve students' English communication skills as soon as this year.

Speaking at a meeting on English language educational reforms today, Mr Chaturon reported about one million students were able to read in Thai but needed improvements, while more than 100,000 students could not read at all, no need to mention that vast majority of the students have such poor English skills.

At present, many Thai students could not speak English fluently even after learning the language for 16 years as teaching in the past focused only on improving student’s reading and writing skills.

Mr Chaturon, however, noted that electronic devices used in education allow teaching to be more accurate compared to normal teacher-centred classes.

The minister said he had instructed ministry personnel to outline implementation drafts in order to reform English teaching in Thailand, otherwise Thai students will lack behind their peers in other countries. The implementation plans will be applied in other schools as well, not only those supervised by the Office of the Basic Education Commission of Thailand (OBEC).

The reform outlines will be based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR), the internationally recognised framework that describes students’ language ability on a scale of levels from A1 for those who completed sixth grade, A2 for those who completed ninth grade and B1 for those who completed twelfth grade or those with high-vocational certificates.

The reform is mainly inspired by how students learn to speak Thai at home and later learn to read and write Thai in schools, Mr Chaturon said, adding that from now on, English lessons will be focus more on class interaction to improve student’s communication skills

The ministries will first catagorise Thai schools into three level of readiness ranged from high to low, so that different teaching method will be implemented appropriately for each school. Thai teachers will also need to improve their skills, while more electronic devices will be used in the classrooms to improve Thai education.

ICT devices will be used as well as special classes being set up to promote academic performance in Thai students.

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