Please note this article was prepared by a guest blogger and is the opinion of this writer and not necessarily Inspire
When the UK announced a couple of years back that the government was tightening up requirements of foreigners seeking settlement into the United Kingdom to speak English it was met with overwhelming approval.
It was greeted with views from all and sundry that of course people who expect to live in the UK should speak the language of the country. If they don’t, good riddance.
Yet the very same individuals who would bar people from the UK see no reason to make the slightest effort to learn Thai. Many who effectively live on retirement visas in the country almost have a badge of pride in refusing to learn the language.
They hide behind the supposed “difficulty” in learning Thai and brazenly expect the locals to speak the Queen’s English. Instead of just getting a pith helmet and going out in the midday sun to expound their imperialistic values, these people hide behind their keyboards spouting interminable nonsense as they bash the locals and their education system for not being able to speak their language. It’s absurd. They even refuse to ‘wai’ thinking it beneath them in some way. Many threads on Thaivisa are evidence of these attitudes.
There has been a requirement to learn some Thai and some Thai culture for a number of people who are living in Thailand. Most international school teachers are required to go through a ten module twenty hour course run by the Teachers’ Council that includes aspects of the Thai language and culture. This is something but actually very little. Teachers in local school may do more…or less. And what about other jobs? Why should learning Thai not be a requirement for extending any work permit?
People working here in all professional capacities and expecting to get work permits should be made to enroll in courses in the Thai language and culture. And not just a few hours – how about make it two hours a week for a year at least 100 hours. And if it is not done….yeh, good riddance and som nam naa. (I won’t write that in Thai as so few will understand it).
Pensioners expecting to enjoy retirement here should be made to study Thai language and culture as part of the deal not just have to show money in the bank. Call it a way of paying tax if you like. It would be for the benefit of all. They would learn something about the country and might even make more Thai friends.
Some people of course already make efforts in the Thai language – these people will not be inconvenienced just helped in having courses more easily available. A whole army of Thai teachers would benefit from increased employment opportunities. Win – win.
Even the language requirements of people seeking Permanent Residence needs to be included. At the moment though the paperwork and requirements for PR are extensive, the language requirements are not. In fact, apart from a few questions that can be circumvented there is virtually no requirement to speak Thai at all. Thais should get on the front foot in promoting their language and culture and not let westerners browbeat them over the ability to use English
And it is not just speaking. All seekers of work permits, retirees from all nations and those trying to get PR should be made to learn written Thai. It is only like ABC for goodness sake, and most people who set their mind to it can learn to a good standard within a year or two.
How many foreigners can read and write Thai? – if not a rarity it is still far too few. Sure, you don’t expect tourists to know but people who live here should all learn. Just attending courses might be enough at first perhaps with an incentive for those who pass exams. Good students could have their pictures taken in the papers with their teachers pointing at them.
And for the retirees it will give them something to do in the day rather than just sit at home or on a bar stool moaning about the country that has given them a welcoming home in their twilight years. Learning Thai and culture may even open their hearts and minds to a more understanding and less imperialistic attitude towards Thailand