Problems For English Students in Thailand
There exists an inadequate knowledge of the English language amongst the general populous in Thailand. The source of this problem lies within the educational system and can be seen to its fullest effect within Thai schools. This paper reflects my experiences that have been observed from years of teaching within Thai schools. The main aim of this paper is not to advocate conclusive solutions but rather to expand on, identify and confirm an existing problem which is… the criteria for English levels that are taught in Thai schools. The following is one of the numerous problems occurring within the Thai educational system.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Steven L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Are the current levels of English being taught in Thai elementary schools too difficult?
It is no secret that Thailand suffers from an inadequate system of education. There are lists of factors ranging from an imbalance of equality to a poor political structure. The inadequacy of this system is reflected in the school environment. With the subject of English, teachers are given the task of teaching language structures in a (more often than none) overpopulated classroom. Teaching some of the more complex language structures effectively will make even the most experienced teachers feel flustered. Teachers are at the start of every term given a syllabus to follow, a contract between student and instructor. The majority of responsibility for fulfilling the contract lies in the teacher.
According to the national O-Net testing results for English, Thailand has never seen an average test result score above forty percent. In retrospect, this can be seen as a result of a poor educational system. But the question remains, why are the contracts drawn up between students and teachers if they cannot be fulfilled?
The concept of learning the alphabet before reading a book would be the pedagogical approach. But in Thailand, this method often seems to be reversed. For example, children are taught complicated grammar topics such as present perfect tenses without being able to formulate basic SVO sentences (most often due to lack of vocabulary). The rifts between language levels within a single classroom stretch far and wide and can be seen at all ages.
Education for profit in Thailand is a big business and in Thai bilingual schools the workload for students is intense. Students are required to learn specific subjects in both Thai and English. This leads to an unnecessary amount of stress for both students and teachers. But with education coming at a cost and parents wanting to see results, ineffective teaching methods are applied. Institutes end up taking shortcuts to compensate paying parents. As an effect teachers are often told to pass failing students with an average score.
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So why is Thailand setting the bar so high? It is clear to see that the current methods for teaching students are rendering poor results and causing problems in every dynamic regarding education. Change needs to happen; gradual or drastic, nevertheless change all the same.
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