State unit focuses on boosting English skills

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Sep 6 12:25:56 UTC 2005

>>From Bangkok Post, Tuesday 06 September 2005

State unit focuses on boosting English skills


English has been a universal business language for many years but many
Thai small- and medium-sized enterprises are still not ready to
communicate in the language, especially when it comes to speaking and
writing. Aware of the problem, the English Language Development Centre
under the Education Ministry has teamed up with Board of Investment to
provide English language training courses for Thai entrepreneurs in
Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai.

The centre, established in December 2003 under the government's policy to
encourage the development of English language skills in the country, is a
one-stop service centre for businesses looking for English training
courses for their employees through a network of more than 100 educational
institutions nationwide. Prof Achara Wongsothorn, the centre's director,
said the centre acted as a matchmaker between educational institutions
able to provide the courses and companies that need them.

In analysing demand for English usage in six industries _ tourism,
fashion, food, health science, automobiles and information technology _
the centre found that listening and speaking were the most-needed skills
for all industries except IT. The study also shows that the development of
English language skills among Thai industries are lagging due to the lack
of budgets, discontinuity of training, non-attractive courses and
ineffective teaching methodology.

Prof Achara said the prevailing English teaching method in Thailand was to
treat English as a foreign language with comprehensive listening, reading,
writing and speaking at all levels of education. However, the method was
not successful as students were still unable to communicate effectively.
She said that since the training needs in each industry were different,
the centre had developed standard English for 23 careers such as tour
guides, designers, shop assistants, secretaries, nurses, drivers and

It will also create a standard curriculum suitable to teach employees
across different industries and distribute it to its network members so
they can provide training that matches users' demands. As well, the centre
has a plan to accredit the educational institutions under its network to
ensure that they provide the training that meets the benchmark. Prof
Achara said the centre also used its web site,, as a
gateway to offer 24-hour information related to English development, as
well as a self-testing programme.

She said English was increasingly used and was sometimes mixed in Thai
speech, prompting for a need for proper training. ``Self-learning and the
environment are important for the development of English language skills.
People will make good progress if they listen or watch English programmes
regularly,'' said the professor. The centre is also tasked with drawing a
five-year strategic plan for the development of English language skills in
the country. The plan would be completed by end of this year.

Bannatas Banlursakkul, a trading business owner who joined the training
course for SMEs in Bangkok last week, said he would like to explore what
courses the centre was providing. He said his staff currently had
difficulty communicating in English, especially in correspondence with
customers, and had to seek help from outsiders.


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list