Thailand continues to act on the fact that CEFR was never designed as a set in stone framework to be strictly adhered to. Instead its aim is to provide guidance, reference and transparent descriptors to educators using its constructs in different contexts.
National scholars quickly identified problems relating to its application with typical Thai English users and expressed need for a revised country version to be explored.
It’s not the first time modifications to CEFR have been proposed to better suit the realistic needs of learners country-to-country. A research project headed out of Switzerland first introduced the idea of level expansions with the inclusion of Pre-A and split-category descriptors for A and B denoted with + levels. The Swiss Research Project which expanded the original 6 levels to a total of 10 whilst maintaining transparency, usefulness and relevancy is partly responsible for much needed adaptations currently being rolled out under EQUALS and British Council.
Similarly following wide adoption of CEFR in Japan researchers justified the need to tailor descriptors for English language in the context of localized use. A framework consisting of 12 levels was proposed under CEFR-J in 2012. This version provided further complimentary resources such as word banks and inventories to better assist its national learners and assessors.
More recently the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training has taken steps to formulating its own version of CEFR-V following statistics showing need for improvements in English, likely reflecting on weaknesses in higher education provisions and the knock on effects it could have on the country’s future as part of ASEAN.
FERE-TH is the latest in country revisions now being looked at for Thailand’s prominent use of English in the future. Following massive education reforms starting back in 2014 and the Thai Ministry of Education’s ambitious national targets for show casing English, FERE-TH is certainly a step in the right direction. The framework’s country specific descriptors seem to acknowledge education styles still heavily underpinned by traditional culture whist preparing for a new wave of much needed adjustment. This all comes in light of the Ministry’s commitment to using CEFR momentarily to booster positive change whilst FERE-TH is refined for practical use nationwide.