CityNews – The Education First Institute has released their annual English Proficiency Index in November 2013, which attempts to rank countries based on the English language skills of their adults.
This year saw Thailand placed at the 55th position, out of 60 countries. The only countries that fared worse on the online test were Panama, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq at the bottom position. However, some countries that fared better than Thailand were Libya, Qatar, Guatemala, and Ecuador, even though they are not as prosperous as the Kingdom. Wealthier countries tend to have higher levels of proficient English speakers.
Other countries near Thailand did quite well on the list, with the best being Malaysia and Singapore scoring 11th and 12th position respectively. Hong Kong came in at 22nd, with South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and China following quickly behind. Unfortunately, the Philippines is still absent from the list, but has been scored highly in similar tests before. The Economist named the Philippines home to the Best Business English in the world this year.
Poor English skills are a worrying trait for a country that plans to compete in a globalized workforce. The small amount of competent adult English-speakers makes Thailand’s international future seem gloomy in comparison to nearby countries, especially in the face of the Asean Economic Community launch.