SEAC, ASEAN’s most innovative and dedicated Lifelong Learning Center, is fulfilling its goals to enhance skills and capabilities of Thai people and simultaneously laying a solid foundation for a learning society suitable with Thais of all ages through a new partnership with ELSA, a Series A startup from Silicon Valley backed by Gradient Ventures – Google’s AI focused venture fund, to introduce ELSA Speak which is an AI English language speaking assistant for all non-native English learners. With its core priority to develop expertise in English speaking and bridge communication gaps during scenarios in which English is spoken, ELSA Speak is currently recognized the world’s first and only application offering instantaneous and precise feedback with phonetic hints when compared to a native English speaker’s pronunciation. ELSA Speak delivers a marvelous experience for English pronunciation practices to your pronunciation, conversations, and communication confidence and capability unlike any other application. This partnership and a joyous introduction of ELSA Speak should stimulate Thai citizens—especially tourism, hospitality, restaurants, healthcare and education sectors as they can effectively and conveniently upskill their English speaking proficiency, so they can learn, work, reach their full potential to meet notable and steady growth of tourism industry in Thailand.
One of key bloodiness sustaining Thai economy is revenue mainly from tourism industry in Thailand which can generate up to one trillion baht. Projection of revenue from tourism sector in 2019 by Thailand Tourism Council (TTC) is at 1.95 trillion baht and the council also estimates that Thailand is likely to welcome 39.73 million tourists by the end of this year. Just for September of this year, an official figure from Economic Tourism and Sports Division, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, stated that Thailand had welcomed 2.9 million foreign tourists which was noted as an increase by 10.11 percent compared to September 2018. They generated an estimated revenue to Thailand at 0.13 trillion baht or 8.73 percent higher than the same period last year. These figures prove that Thai tourism industry can still enjoy growth as a result from influx of regional visitors amid global economic recession. A 9-month accumulation shows that 29.46 million visitors had visited Thailand which is a 3.51 percent increase based on a year-on-year comparison and up to 1.42 trillion were generated, a slight increase from last year’s record by 3.45 percent. Aside from all aforesaid statistics, investments in tourism and service industry have no sign of slowing down and demands for capable personnel are still high.
Mrs. Arinya Talerngsri, Chief Capability Officer & Managing Director of SEAC (Southeast Asia Center), says “Presently, both business owners and entrepreneurs are still continually focusing on tourism and hospitality investments which this action tends to highly affect the demand for more labor. Nevertheless, we have to say that in this industry sector prefer to hire “Qualified Staffs” or those who meet their expectations in expertise, career potential, and English communication skills. They should be able to fluently and confidently converse in English with visitors or customers from overseas. Unfortunately, the latest EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), Thailand has dropped 10 spots in the proficiency rankings for non-native English speaking countries and is currently categorised as “Very Low Proficiency” with a ranking of 74 out of 100 countries (In 2018, Thailand was ranked 64th out of 88 Countries), thus, is a matter of great urgency and must be precisely addressed.
With a priority on grammar over communication proficiency, it can be inferred that English language pedagogical approaches in Thailand may be inaccurately focused as lack of communication skills tremendously affect confidence of Thais to pronounce, speak, and converse in English. SEAC wishes to be one of outstanding English language learning assistants as we realise that the capability to speak English is essential if the country‘s economy is to grow, and our people are to learn, work and succeed in an ever more internationalised setting, interacting with people from around the region and the world. This partnership with ELSA, a Series A startup from Silicon Valley, to bring ELSA Speak which is one of the world’s top five AI application for English learners with more than five million download hits in 101 countries worldwide and 1.5 billion active users is an astonishing partnership for Thais at large as the application trusted by worldwide English language learners is a suitable assistant allowing Thais to break their barriers in learning English. This should open new windows of opportunities and build career progress for individuals. Ultimately, this should also prepare Thailand to meet a strong and steady growth in tourism.
Mrs. Arinya concludes “ELSA Speak acts like a virtual and personal English Speaking Coach to upskill your pronunciation, conversations, and communication confidence in modern-day contexts on and off work. It can be accessed conveniently thorough compatible smartphones and it offers 40 learning topics across more than 6,000 lessons which is updated daily. Each lesson is composed of phrases, words, sentences for listening and pronunciation practices. ELSA Speak offers roleplay practices allowing users to listen and converse with artificial interlocutor accordingly. After the end of each practice, the application will show overall speaking proficiency with an instant assessment and suggestions for further practices for continuity. SEAC is certain that our new partnership with ELSA is a significant milestone for Thai people in midst of Disruption Age as they can effectively upskill their skills in English communication for their benefits at school or at work. Above all, we believe proficiency in a lingua franca like English is critical to accomplishments of Thais and competitiveness of Thailand in global arena.”
Free trial of ELSA Speak is available today for iOS and Android devices. A complete array of services can be accessed through a subscription program of SEAC with an average monthly fee of 100 baht.