Thailand’s global English-proficiency ranking has dropped 11 places this year, according to the latest study by Swiss language-education company EF, marking its lowest level in the past decade.
In the eighth edition of its annual English-skill index, released last week, EF — well-known regionally for its language courses — ranks Thailand 64th out of 88 non-native English-speaking countries, which is classified as “low proficiency.”
That’s a significant move down the ladder from last year’s 53rd place out of 80 countries, putting us among the bottom three Southeast Asian countries — beating out only Cambodia and Myanmar.
In third place globally, Singapore, once again, places top amongst Asian countries followed by the Philippines at 14 and Malaysia at 22.
Globally, countries in the “very high proficiency” band remain largely European, with Scandinavian countries performing particularly well.
The report, which aims to paint a broad picture of English proficiency development around the world, analyzed the results of 1.3 million adults who took the EF Standard English Test (EF SET) last year.
The proficiency trend shows just how much the government’s efforts to improve Thailand’s English skills have been very much an up and down affair.
In 2015, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the British Council, established the Regional English Training Centres (RETC), with the goal of improving the skills of primary and secondary English teachers.
Since then, they have reportedly modernized teaching methods for 17,000 (out of 40,000 English-language teachers by shifting from a memorization-based classes to focus more on communication, reported Newswit.
At of the end of September, the ministry revealed that 75 percent of English teachers in Thailand speak English at an “A2” elementary level — according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) — which, they claim, is a huge improvement from before RETC was established.