Starting this November, students from Prathom 1 (Grade 1) to Prathom 3 (Grade 3) will have to spend more time learning English as a part of the state’s attempts to improve the country’s language proficiency. Starting this November, students from Prathom 1 (Grade 1) to Prathom 3 (Grade 3) will have to spend more time learning English as a part of the state’s attempts to improve the country’s language proficiency.
Deputy Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, who oversees the policy of increasing English in schools, said English in schools under the supervision of Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) will be taught for five hours a week, or 200 hours a semester, up from one hour a week or 40 hours a term now.
Under the plan, students will study a balance of the four key skills — listening, speaking, reading, writing — with a combination of online courses and language-learning apps.
“Students will have to learn at least five new words a day to expand their vocabulary,” he said. The 350 Thai teachers of English language who were trained by the British Council’s English specialists for six weeks in March will also join in the project as head instructors at schools nationwide to guide other teachers.
“I believe that our 350 well-trained teachers will be able to increase the quality and standard of English teachers in Thailand,” Mr Theerakiat said.
As well as calling on this pool of highly skilled teachers, the ministry also plans to attract some retired English teachers who have experience in teaching to come back to work in the classroom to help overcome a teacher shortage problem, especially at small-sized primary schools in rural areas, he added.
Mr Theerakiat said the ministry plans to launch a pilot programme in some schools which are considered ready this term. “If this works out, all Obec schools will follow the same route by the next school term, starting November,” he said.
Mr Theerakiat said the long-term goal is to create students with a strong command of English, which will make them and the country more competitive in the global labour market.
According to the EF English Proficiency Index of the Education First Language Institute, Thailand is rated as a non-English speaking country with very low English proficiency, ranking 14th out of 16 countries in Asia and 62nd out of 70 countries worldwide.
(with grateful thanks to the Bangkok Post)