With TOEFL scores averaging at 450, Thai students' proficiency in the English language appears to be the lowest in the Asean region.
In order to overcome this, academics are urging universities to seriously start strengthening students’ English-language skills by making it a working language at their campuses.
“While, Thais’ average TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language] score stands at about 450; [students from] Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar have averaged around 500. Malaysia and Singapore were even higher at approximately 550 on average,” Sriwika Mekthavatchaikul said at a seminar on improving the capacity and quality of universities ahead of the Asean Economic Community.
She is part of a subcommittee that studies institutions’ readiness for the AEC, which kicks off in 2015.
The seminar was held at the National Institute of Development Administration by the Inter-national Institute for Trade and Development and attended by representatives from universities and several educational institutes.
Sriwika advised lecturers |to make English the first language in campuses and start using technical terms more often while lecturing.
Former education minister Prof Wijit Srisa-arn said usually English is included in university curriculum and accounts for at least six credits, and some universities had technical English courses, but that was not enough.
“It is necessary for us to promote the use of English and learn how to use the language with people from other Asean countries,” Wijit said.