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Thai schools to use English medium

From this year, Thai students and teachers will be encouraged to use English one day a week in school, in a drive to improve language standards before the country joins the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community in 2015.

The Thailand 2012: The Year of English Speaking project began on December 26 with a pilot group of schools, and will focus on spoken English “without excessive concern for grammar”.

Teachers will receive extra training at English language and international schools, signalling an opportunity for providers in the country. Foreign embassies and institutions such as the British Council and American University Association will also lend support.

Schools will be encouraged to participate through a name-and-shame ratings system

While the project is voluntary, schools will be encouraged to participate through a name-and-shame ratings system. Schools not “ready” to meet ASEAN standards will be colour classified blue, those fairly ready, green, and those very ready, pink. Teachers will be incentivised with training and exchange programmes in other ASEAN countries.

The ASEAN Economic Community will be a political and trading bloc with similarities to the EU, and educational improvement is central to its vision. By 2015, it wants to see cross-recognition of regional qualifications and boost English language proficiency to improve engagement with the international community.

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