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The studies focus on enabling the students to communicate rather than on the grammar, the teacher said.

 

 

My experience with my own kids, their friends, and other family members suggests this is the single biggest problem with English education in Thailand today. Typically their English language studies focus almost entirely on grammar with even the classroom instruction being given in Thai and with actual conversation in English delayed well past the critical ages.

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Myself personally, I have been speaking my version of English for way over 50 years but ask me the rules of Grammar and I don’t have a clue.

 

I have been asked on numerous occasions about Grammatical rules of English by non English speakers and to be totally honest I don’t know most of them, at School I was more interested in the Sciences than English Lmguage, in fact I never even passed my basic English exam

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Radioman, Thai schools focus on grammar - and even penmanship, for God's sake - because most English teachers simply cannot speak the language themselves. The Thai government decades ago decided that all students from anuban to the 12th year should study English. However, they didn't stop to think where all those English teachers were supposed to come from. I've been to Thai public schools where I had to speak to the English teachers in Thai. When I asked them if they'd majored or minored in English, almost invariably the answer was no. There had been assigned to teach the subject because they were the youngest members of the faculty and no one else wanted to do it.

 

But the way foreign languages are usually taught even in the west makes it almost impossible to learn them. The focus is very heavily on grammar and reading.I presume that is a holdover from the days when university students had to study Latin, a dead language. Its continuation is ridiculous nowadays. The school the Akha student goes to teaches languages to communicate, which should be the practice everywhere. After years of German and Spanish, plus a bit of French, I can read the languages, while my oral comprehension is pathetic.

 

On the other hand, our Peace Corps Thai language training was almost entirely based on communication, and after only a few weeks we were able to travel around, order meals, ask directions, do our own shopping, book train tickets, get a room in an upcountry hotel, and even carry on a simple conversation. By the end of six weeks, we could read well enough to handle a Thai menu and read road signs. Back in the 1970s, there was far less English spoken today, so knowing Thai was an absolute necessity. One member of my group told me he had studied a full year of Thai at the University of Washington. He said by the end of the second week, we already knew as much as he did.

 

Studying a language in the tradtional way is almost a complete waste of time.

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Absolutely correct. I had a real shock the first time I went to question my kids English teacher about some things I didn't feel comfortable with. I wasn't combative or confrontational, I just wanted to understand. That the English teacher could hardly hold a conversation in English did not endear the school too me, most of my Thai neighbours speak better English. A couple of years later they started to employ foreign English teachers, initially a Chinese woman, a Brazilian and then when it became clear they needed native English speakers they replaced them with a Filipino and a Nigerian. The Nigerian was quite good I must admit, though his continued use of "gonna" started to irritate me after a while.

 

You soon understand how important simple conversation is in the learning process when you realise just how well many BG's can get by in English. Excluding the farm fresh ones it's a fair bet that if you search out an older more well trodden (on) example she will likely be able to hold down a reasonable conversation.

 

It might not be the long term answer but as a great stop gap employing a few ex-BG's as English communicators might up their game(sic) a bit.

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Several years ago, there was a letter to the editor in the Bangkok Post.

 

The author commented that he routinely spoke with government functionaries in English, and he routinely spoke with bargirls in English, and the bargirls were almost universally much more fluent and understandable.

 

I noticed something similar during stays in Bumrungrad. The nurses were generally a lot easier to understand in English than the doctors were, even if it did occasionally come out as Tinglish.

 

The reasons appear to be the same: the nurses and the bargirls get a lot more practice on a daily basis.

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The Filipinos seem to be amazing at languages, probably because they are more or less bilingual already. I was speaking in Thai for some time to a hospital nurse, when I suddenly recognized the accent in her Thai. I switched to English and we continued the conversation with equal ease. Having learned one foreign language makes it easier for you to acquire another. You've learned the "tricks".

 

The Voice of America has a news service in "special English". Reports are limited to a 1,500 word vocabulary, which is more than enough to get the message across. The first year of any language study should be aimed at reaching that level, which is all that is really needed for survival. Keep it practical and useful. You can worry about the rest after you've established a foundation to build on.

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Khun Flash, as we are talking about it : the son of Lao´s loveliest woman has recently been accepted at a Bangkok school , name Don Bosco. How would you " rate " this school ?

 

 

 

 

PS : A non-Trump post.

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My wife being Filipina and me having worked there for one year + meeting a lot of Filipinos during our travels + here in Belgium here are my observations.

- Educated Filipinos (read with a college degree) have usually excellent to incredibly good English (American version), I met several dozens colleagues of my wife (AIG insurance) and all of them spoke better English than mine although they freely admit their written English is a bit lacking.

 

- Less fortunate Pinoys usually speak some English but many older ones sometimes don't even speak a single word.

 

- Filipinos abroad: Usually quite good English, as usual educated Filipinos can easily speak 5-6 languages, less educated ones can sometimes be very stubborn, met plenty of nannies/house helpes speaking English well but despite having been in one country for sometimes very long they still don't master even basic expressions.

 

As pointed by Flashermac, it seems reaching basic proficiency in a language is doable with 1500-3000 words but I also saw some studies mentioning fluent proficiency would be when one masters about 15000 words....

 

This said, I sadly met more than a few native English speakers whose written English was worse than mine and I know plenty of native French/Spanish speakers whose written skills are very poor.

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Not to nitpick, because I think the points are valid, but when you talk about Filipinos and college degrees you have to be a bit careful. I know and worked with a whole bunch of them this last 5 year and more and to a one I would say those with a Philippines college degree at their bachelors grade are at what I would call basic high school certificate level by my standards. I have met several with masters degrees and a few with PhD, these last are more at what I would consider a UK bachelors degree level. With one exception, those from the University of the Philippines where a bachelors degree is a bit closer if not quite at what I would call European parity.

 

As an example one electronics college graduate, bachelors grade had a basic understanding of Ohms law, a brief recognition of Kirchoff's laws, no concept of Lenz's law, no calculus capabilities and essentially no AC circuit theory. These would all be considered basic electronics first year diploma requirements in UK.

 

But we were talking about English abilities, and in that they are reasonable albeit it to my ear often massively twisted and at times quite painful, though they have a tonal range that makes it sound almost pleasing. And yes, their girls do have some moves the Thai girls lack and even though they are also quite conservative meeting 'decent' Filipinas is generally much easier, probably because of language, than equally decent Thai girls. Though again even that's changing thanks I think in large measure to social media and dating applications.

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