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Gaccha

Thai Language Proficiency Exam

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You will be all thrilled to know that the Thai language Proficiency Exam test has come and gone. I went along and was the only farang there. :unsure:

The test is administered in Japanese... :blink: and you require, in my humble opinion, a pass at the Level 2 Japanese Proficiency Exam to stand a chance in the Thai Language Exam.

The latest test can be partially viewed on the website of the test institute:

http://www.nichithai.com/33huishiyanmofan.html

The standards for each test level can be seen here in Japanese:

http://www.nichithai.com/ninteikijun.html

So Level 1 is described as "極めて高度なタイ語運用能力を有し、新聞・雑誌の政治・経済面、一般文献なども読みこなし、法廷・会議通訳、一般翻訳などができること。"

"An extremely high level application of the Thai language, able to read newspapers, with a political or economic or general content, and among other things, can translate meetings and court hearings, as well as do general interpreter work"

Level 5 is the lowest level. "タイ文字の読み書きができること。基本的な文法を理解し、表現できること。初級単語の読み、およびごく初歩的な会話(あいさつ以上)・文章の聞き取りができること。語彙数約500。文法・単語参考書として「CDエクスプレス・タイ語」(白水社)"

"Can read and write Thai letters. Understands and can use basic grammar and expressions. Reads beginner vocabulary, and elementary conversation (above "greetings' level). Able to follow sentences. Have a word count of about 500. The grammar and vocabulary is referenced in the book 'CD Express'"

You can see that is a big jump. My aim is Level 2.

I like the tests because you know where you are with them. None of this relative testing. You either pass (at 70%) or you don't. They give you a very strong urge to study and you know exactly what you should be aiming for and what level you are at. The test is every 6 months, and is held on Silom Road.

If you take a look at the listening test (go to http://www.nichithai.com/33huishiyanmofan.html and then press the link with 1級リスニング). This provides the transcript of the Level 1 listening test that was held last week (yep, Japanese efficiency). The first part (called Question 7 because it immediately follows the writing exam in the examination room) has an explanation in Thai, which you must then select the right Japanese word. Only the Thai is given here. The next question should be really interesting for you. It is the transcript of the whole dialogue for the listening exam. These dialogues are almost comically factually dense. All the test questions then ask pretty obscure questions of fact to see if you got exactly what was said. The question ( then makes you listen to a dialogue and offers two versions of what matches what was said.

So by slowly running through the tests on the linked page, you can work out your listening level.

Then you can go through the writing exam to some extent. A few samples are placed here:

http://www.nichithai.com/ninteikijun.html

Just work your way through the numbers. If you can comfortably follow it then you can move to the next level.

For example, look at Q 1(1) of level 1. You must choose a word that most suitably fits in the space for the paragraph of Thai.

post-60541-0-02106300-1289280334_thumb.j

And here is a Level 4 grammar question:

post-60541-0-42671400-1289280344_thumb.j

Good luck and I hope to see some of you in May! :jap:

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Surely it would make sense to administer a Thai language proficiency exam in Thai?! :o :o

Cheers for the info anyway.

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Are you sure this is the 'official' thai proficiency exam? :huh: Like the one several posters (kriwillems, yoot, to name a few, and others) took over the last several years since they switched from the ป.๖ equivalency testing and went for the proficiency one they offer now?

While I’m not discounting your post outright, I am calling it into question. :blink:

To me, it just doesn't ring true (even given the oft-times whacky mindset of thai beaurocracy :o ) that they'd give the test in japanese. What about the HUGE number of Koreans, Chinese, and other asians who routinely sit that test and who might not speak, read or understand japanese? Are they ruled out because it’s now implemented in japanese only?

Even in briefly looking at the website from the link you provided; I can't see where it is the actual 'thai proficiency exam', (especially as I didn't care to plug the pages into a translator to discern what they might say :whistling: ). This looks more like something cooked up by some company who specifically markets it to the plethora of Japanese nationals here studying thai ;) .

In fact, I thought the real thai proficiency exam was given more towards the end of the year with the results coming out online first, and then you got the paper in the mail at the beginning of the new year.

I could very well be wrong; and if I am, I offer my heartfelt apology. :D

Still, a person would be hard pressed indeed to find a more whacky way to test thai proficiency on 'foreigners' (which last time I checked meant almost anyone who wasn't thai) than to give it in japanese. :(

Strange really.

I only hope kris, yoot, or some of the other people who took the test in previous years can weigh in on this thread. :)

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Are you sure this is the 'official' thai proficiency exam? :huh: Like the one several posters (kriwillems, yoot, to name a few, and others) took over the last several years since they switched from the ป.๖ equivalency testing and went for the proficiency one they offer now?

While Im not discounting your post outright, I am calling it into question. :blink:

To me, it just doesn't ring true (even given the oft-times whacky mindset of thai beaurocracy :o ) that they'd give the test in japanese. What about the HUGE number of Koreans, Chinese, and other asians who routinely sit that test and who might not speak, read or understand japanese? Are they ruled out because its now implemented in japanese only?

-snip-

It is definitely NOT the Thai government's proficiency exam. I hint at this by pointing out that there is no relative marking, but instead, a gradual set of levels to pass. This is a critical and for me 'game-winning' alternative (since I speak Japanese and so there is no language barrier).

This is run by JTLEC (Japanese Thai Language Exchange Centre). They were founded in 1994. The test was the 33rd time it has been set. The test is run simultaneously in Bangkok, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. The top two levels include an oral exam based around a short reading material.

There is another exam administered in Japanese called the "Practical Thai Proficiency Exam". This is much easier for Japanese native speakers than the exam I took, but is unintentionally harder for me because it requires writing a translation in Japanese of a Thai paragraph. Handwriting Japanese requires recall skills that typing or reading Japanese do not require.

So there you are Todd, sorry if I was misleading, it was not my intention. :( But thanks for the input, I always enjoy your posts.

Edited by Gaccha

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Yep, you had me confused there too, but thanks for the references; they look incredibly useful.

As your previous posts have shown regarding Japanese-Thai learning materials, and as I have noticed from casual observation of a few Japanese acquaintances in Thailand over the years, it's really quite stunning - and inexplicable - how Thai learning materials (and tests) for English language speakers are so poor by comparison.

It can't be due to the numbers of foreigners in Thailand (there must surely be way more US/Brit/Aus/NZ than Japanese) or the price (we're not that much poorer :unsure:).

I can only assume that its a reflection of interest - presumably it is the sheer high percentage of Japanese expats/tourists who come here and want to study Thai to an advanced level that drives the learning materials business. The majority of English-speaking expats/tourists seem happy enough to stop at 'sao-wa-dee' and 'kop khun kap' regardless of whether they're here for ten days or ten years..

A sad situation for those of us that would really welcome - and pay for - better quality offerings.

Edited by SoftWater

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The examples of Level 1 materials (the highest level) for reading/writing (like the one you gave a screenshot of and the others on the same page on the website) don't fit the description claimed by the company.

I can pretty much handle those examples (I'm a bit rusty, so had to look up a couple of words, but 90% of it I know) but I'm not even close to being "able to read newspapers, with a political or economic or general content, and among other things, can translate meetings and court hearings, as well as do general interpreter work".

You're looking at a whole couple of orders higher than the difficulty of these examples (which are about similar to Prathom 4= 10yr old school kid; Prathom 5 is the last level schoolbook I tried and couldn't do easily).

Edited by SoftWater

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A sad situation for those of us that would really welcome - and pay for - better quality offerings.

I really wonder what the ability to put Thai into another language is worth. A test of any language only needs that language. When I read the first post I deduced that the exam was testing Japanese in the ability to translate, not a simple test of their proficiency in Thai.

There is plenty of learning material in Thailand and it is very reasonably priced. Just as you ditch the phonetics when you can read, why not make the goal ditching English too, isn't that the point?

Having said that, is there any English in the exams which people take annually? apart from your name of course.

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It's a bit strange that you've to know Japanese for a Thai language test. Why asking 5 words questions like "fill in the correct word" in Japanese? In the official test only Thai language is used.

The examples of level 1 questions are much easier than the most difficult questions of the official Thai language test (which I could absolutely not understand/answer).

The year I did the official Thai language test there were very few farang doing the test (maybe 3 or 4 out of 300). Most people were Asians. I have no idea why so few farang are joining the official test.

The score of the official test might be absolute or relative. They don't release any information about this. I guess it must be relative because I got a high score on most skills (5 out of 6) but know for sure that I could answer less than 80% of all questions correctly.

Edited by kriswillems

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A sad situation for those of us that would really welcome - and pay for - better quality offerings.

I really wonder what the ability to put Thai into another language is worth. A test of any language only needs that language. When I read the first post I deduced that the exam was testing Japanese in the ability to translate, not a simple test of their proficiency in Thai.

There is plenty of learning material in Thailand and it is very reasonably priced. Just as you ditch the phonetics when you can read, why not make the goal ditching English too, isn't that the point?

Having said that, is there any English in the exams which people take annually? apart from your name of course.

Indeed, tgeezer, which is why I recommend the Thai schoolbooks they use in kids schools.

However, what I'm really bemoaning is not the lack of Thai learning material with English in them, but the lack of Thai learning materials produced with effective pedagogy.

Compare the sophistication of textbooks that you can buy to learn English (from US/UK/Aus publishers, I mean, not Thai ones) and you might see what I mean.

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A sad situation for those of us that would really welcome - and pay for - better quality offerings.

I really wonder what the ability to put Thai into another language is worth. A test of any language only needs that language. When I read the first post I deduced that the exam was testing Japanese in the ability to translate, not a simple test of their proficiency in Thai.

There is plenty of learning material in Thailand and it is very reasonably priced. Just as you ditch the phonetics when you can read, why not make the goal ditching English too, isn't that the point?

Having said that, is there any English in the exams which people take annually? apart from your name of course.

Indeed, tgeezer, which is why I recommend the Thai schoolbooks they use in kids schools.

However, what I'm really bemoaning is not the lack of Thai learning material with English in them, but the lack of Thai learning materials produced with effective pedagogy.

Compare the sophistication of textbooks that you can buy to learn English (from US/UK/Aus publishers, I mean, not Thai ones) and you might see what I mean.

Ah good so you use the kids books too, we should have lots to talk about then. I have been doing them for about four years but only for the five months I am here. I got my books from the Chula book shop and they are mostly the โรงเรียนสาธิต ones. ป๔ เล่ม ๑ is the best for the fundementals I think. I never saw book 2 and worry about my education being incomplete! I have book 5 which is one book for the whole year. I bought ม.๑ which I suspected would be a consolidation of the primary years and so it proved to be. I have books which were bought for me ภาษาพาสนุก ชุดสนุกกับอักษรกลาง for younger children, if I want to find out how little I know.

I think that I have the basic writing system weighed off, I know , ลากข้าง ไม้หนา พินตุ ฟันหนุ actually I seem not to know anymore; that's all I can get now!

I have a book on modern grammar by นววรรณ พันธุเมธา which is very unconventional. She only has verbs and nouns of the standard catagories of words, all the rest, conjunctions, prepositions, adjectives etc are in about three more catagories like คำแทน คำเชื่อม (you may think conjunction but its not only them) คำขยาย คำเสริม I can't remember them all obviously more than three.

I made a great discovery today on the other site, when DH posted a sentence เขาไม่ค่อยเป็นที่สนใจของนักข่าว and was able to put it back into standard structure; นักข่าวไม่ค่อยสนใจเขา That is what I remember we used to do in English grammar and I was really happy that this book, which hitherto I had found a bit of a pain, was helpful. I have read it twice now and will read it again, now that my interest is rekindled.

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The examples of Level 1 materials (the highest level) for reading/writing (like the one you gave a screenshot of and the others on the same page on the website) don't fit the description claimed by the company.

I can pretty much handle those examples (I'm a bit rusty, so had to look up a couple of words, but 90% of it I know) but I'm not even close to being "able to read newspapers, with a political or economic or general content, and among other things, can translate meetings and court hearings, as well as do general interpreter work".

You're looking at a whole couple of orders higher than the difficulty of these examples (which are about similar to Prathom 4= 10yr old school kid; Prathom 5 is the last level schoolbook I tried and couldn't do easily).

This is an interesting post Softwater. Kris's post below adds to it by pointing out the Level 1 questions are not as hard as the hardest questions asked in the Thai government exam.

Want interests me here is the dynamics of what it means to udnerstand "90%". Here is a sentence with a 90% understanding level if by 90% you mean you knew 90% of the words:

"Charles got into trouble with an attempt to [ ] someone on the [ ] by an [ ] message."

I remember when I attended a Thai language class that the teacher asked what percentage did we understand. "80%", "65%", "45%", said the students, and then I said "2%". If by 90% you mean you know 90% of the words then there is no way on earth you can get through the 70% pass mark barrier. I see the totality as the key to the percentage. I think you've either got it or not. The sentence above, I think with a 90% knowledge of the words you can say I can surmise that Charles is now in trouble as he wrote something, and presumably somebdoy read it. Did I "understand"? I am not so sure about that.

The language exam has a pass mark of 70%. This barrier gives you little room for error. There are also time contraints of around 25 seconds for each question, so you don't have time for conjecture. And the questions gradually increase in difficulty. Also, the grammar questions are not testing vocab levels but getting the exact order right, every time. They are very intolerant of "minor" mistakes, because that is the point.

Here is the sentence by Charles:

"Charles got into trouble with an attempt to slander someone on the Internet by an anonymous message."

But how do you get to 100% understnanding? Well, like this:

2,000 word vocab= 80% understanding

5,000 word vocab= 90% understanding

10,000 word vocab= 95% understanding

It is painfully exponential. It takes 100 of hours of extra learning to get that one word you don't know. Yet the words not known are the words that are crucial to the meaning of the sentence.

So we are left with a dilemma. How do you known that which you do not know that you do not know. The unknown unknown. Well, that is the role of the exam.

The Thai Proficiency Exam is clearly based on the japanese government's proficiency exam. THe levels claimed are virtually identical. With that exam, I often thought the exam did not seem to match the claims it made, yet everybody who I met who passed the Level 1 could do exactly what it said on the tin. The exam knew exactly how to assess the grammar/reading/listening/speaking skills and come to a decisive, objective conclusion. The exam is precisely intended to overcome the issue of just how much do you know.

The listening exam is a good example of this point. It is, frankly, easy as pie. In a sense. But actually it is very tough. Because it is factually dense, the questions asked are on obscure points that are *implied* by the speakers, and it tests not simply understanding but striking levels of memory recall, that depend on the extent to which the language is naturally embedded in your mind. The exam gives you just seconds to read the questions asked (in Thai) to opt for an answer and then move to the next question. It is totally unforgiving. You either know the Thai as well as clicking your fingers or the exam will burn you. There is no "... now I know this word, what was it... ah, yes...".

I remain very confident in the integrity of the exam. The Japanese rarely make mistakes. :jap:

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The test system sounds very similar to the official test.

The scoring system might be different. In my opinion the scores given on the official test are much higher than our real level. For most skills I am supposed to be on ม.3 level (according to the test). I think myself I am closer to ป.4.

The biggest problem I had with the official test was the limited time we got for each question. The time pressure is really terrible. I was really exhausted after the test which takes about 3 to 4 hours.

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Hi Gaccha

When I said 90% I did indeed mean that 90% of the vocabulary was known to me. And you're quite right that that means nothing about how much of the meaning one understands. Sometimes I know all the vocabulary in something that is said to me, and yet I still I don't understand the meaning at all = 0% comprehension.

That is, in part, because meaning is not just a function of vocabulary and syntax but also context. If you don't see the connection between the context and the syntax and vocab you may not understand anything at all. Consequently, tables like this:

2,000 word vocab= 80% understanding

5,000 word vocab= 90% understanding

10,000 word vocab= 95% understanding

make no sense in my view, and in the view of most theories of meaning since the 1940s (positivist and transmissionist theories of meaning might dispute that, but they are pretty well discredited these days. Have a look here if you want some background.)

I've no idea whether the test you describe is valid or not; I'm happy to take your word for it (though less on the 'Japanese never make mistakes' claim). What I meant in my post was that the level of vocabulary was neither particularly difficult nor sufficiently complex enough to allow one to understand things like court transcriptions and meetings.

Sw

:)

Edited by SoftWater

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