Council set to test all English teachers
Thai and native teachers of English language will have their knowledge certified by the Khurusapha Teachers Council under a plan to assure students they have teachers with "real" English-language abilities.
The move was unveiled Wednesday by deputy permanent secretary for education Chaiyot Imsuwan, referring to a proposal by a working group looking at ways to increase Thai students' English-language skills.
The group has suggested Khurusapha issue certificates to Thai and native speakers of English who can prove they are qualified for English teaching jobs across the education sector.
The British Council, which organises English courses and tests, may be asked to provide advice on ways to test teachers' proficiency as well as their teaching skills, said Mr Chaiyot, also acting secretary-general to Khurusapha.
According to the Education Ministry, native speakers and Thai teachers are required to graduate in education to teach at primary and secondary schools.
Those without such a degree can be allowed to teach for a certain time, but they still need to attend extra training to obtain teaching licences, Mr Chaiyot said.
However, under the plan, the new certificates approved by Khurusapha and the British Council will immediately earn them the right to teach English.
This method could help the government swell the ranks of qualified English-language teachers, who are in short supply, Mr Chaiyot said.
It is also a good way to screen out some native speakers who may possess adequate language skills, but may be just "tourists on Khao San Road wanting to work as teachers", he said.
While qualified teachers are likely to welcome the plan, observers say Khurusapha must consider how to help teachers who do not have English as a degree major adjust to the new criteria.
Jirachaya Jaranai, head of Phyathai School's foreign language department, said she believes the move could help raise the standard of English teachers, especially those who have not graduated in education and may not be as skilled as English majors.
"But the government must give them [non-English majors] time to improve themselves," she said.
"If they fail the [skill] tests, they should be given a chance to try again."