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1 byte removed, 9 March
Talk: grammar fix
As Thailand has never been colonized, not many Thais can speak English, but since the 1980s many Thais have started to learn English. As of 2011, English is compulsory in most schools, and spoken in the larger cities, although in rural areas a little Thai will come in handy. Outside Bangkok, students learn English from age 13 and learn at the basic level, so very few people can speak English. The 2012 research found that 10% of the population are fluent in English, and 32% can speak English at least at basic level, and the age group with most English speakers is 25-34.
In general, Thailand and it's its citizens have a very poor standard of spoken English (exceptions include hotel staff, waiters in touristy areas and prostitutes), if any at all, which is compounded by their shyness and the thought of losing face by using broken English. So if someone is making the effort to speak to you in English, be patient, listen carefully and do your best to interact with them. It can be difficult - the tuk-tuk driver who is giving you a thumbs-up and asking you about "lane-loony" is speaking about an English football player, and someone who is asking you if you want to "sa-mock" is almost certainly offering you a cigarette. For most holiday-makers, their English will be better than your Thai, so try and go with it! They also like to break English words and names into individual syllables, so if your name was William Hewitt, this would be pronounced as "will-lee-yum he-you-it", which sounds very different to the English pronunciation.
There is also a colloquial form of English spoken among Thais in urban areas, not inappropriately known as Tinglish, which takes a bit of getting used to if you intend to join in the conversation on local topics. Thais will almost always try to speak 'standardized English' when approached by Western travellers. In general, police stations and government offices will have English-speaking staff on duty, but you CANNOT rely on this. If you need to speak with the police or an official, if you can find someone to translate, things will be so much easier.
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