Thai Culture and TESOL Essay

Pages: 17 (4751 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

English in Thailand

Teaching English as a foreign language is a difficult task in any culture. The nation of Thailand has a long history of attempting to guarantee that its citizens can speak English. There are many factors that influence the likelihood that individuals will learn English. In Thailand culture and language have greatly affected the ability of the education system to help students become proficient in the English language. Overall the research suggests that both culture and language can be impediments to learning English in Thailand. Although the presence of the English language has existed for quite some time in Thailand, the research suggests that cultural differences in Western and Eastern countries can be difficult to overcome. The research also seems to emphasize the very real differences that are present when comparing the very structure of the English language to the language spoke in Thailand. This is particularly evident as it pertains to conditional structures. These structures are so different that they must be explained thoroughly and require a great deal of practice to understand fully.

Introduction

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Teaching English as a foreign language is a difficult task in any culture. Countries throughout the world have mandated the learning of English as a second language or foreign language. Such mandates have occurred because of the increasingly global nature of the world in which we live. This new global environment has forced the people of the world to embrace English for the purposes of business communication and cross cultural communication. In many cases education systems around the world have made the learning of English a compulsory part of the curriculum starting in elementary school. The goal of making English a compulsory part of the education process is to immerse children in the language at an early age which increases the likelihood that they will become proficient in the language. Those who govern education systems around the world understand the importance of being able to communicate in English for the purposes of conducting business.

TOPIC: Essay on Thai Culture and TESOL Assignment

The nation of Thailand has a long history of attempting to guarantee that its citizens can speak English. There are many factors that influence the likelihood that individuals will learn English. In Thailand culture and language have greatly affected the ability of the education system to help students become proficient in the English language. These impediments must be overcome if the whole of Thailand is to completely engage in the global market in a way that is competitive. The purpose of this discussion is to examine the relationship between Thai culture and the teaching of English as a foreign language in Thailand. More specifically the research will demonstrate that Thai culture and Thai language creates barriers to effective English teaching in Thailand.

Overview of the Increasing use of English Around the world

From a global standpoint, there is a rapidly increasing number of people who are speaking English as a first language, second language or foreign language (FL). These individuals come from linguistic and cultural backgrounds that are heterogonous. As such these individuals use the English language and use the language for many different reasons (Jahan & Roger 2006).

With these things understood, the current Global English occurrence presents certain challenges as it pertains to practices and principles of English language pedagogy. More specifically the authors explain that

"the issue of the cultural manifestations associated with the English language and the way in which these are approached pedagogically in non-English speaking contexts gives rise to a number of important questions for both language teachers and learners. In seeking to learn a foreign language, learners generally expect that they will need to become familiar with the culture of those who speak this language as a mother tongue. In the case of languages that are associated with a single nation-state, the target culture associated with the language in question tends also to be defined along national lines (Jahan & Roger 2006, 2)."

The authors establish the framework by which culture becomes an integral aspect of learning a new language. The article also explains the contextual differences that exist between English speaking and non-English speaking populations in terms of cultural differences and the acquiring of the English language.

The authors further explain that as it pertains to the acquiring of the English language, learners of the language who reside in countries where English is spoken as the primary language will automatically link the notion of the 'target culture' with the apparent aspects of the culture of the English language speakers that surround them (Jahan & Roger 2006). On the contrary, in countries where English is not the primary language, the idea of a 'target culture' associated with the English language, from the viewpoint of foreign language learners, may be unclear (Jahan & Roger 2006).

Important to understanding the sociolinguistic profile of English language on a global scale, a concentric model of English users becomes a useful tool (Jahan & Roger 2006). The concentric model has as a foundation the types and nature of spread, arrangement of acquisition, along with the practical position of the English language in various cultural contexts (Jahan & Roger 2006). The concentric model is formed be three concentric circles that include the Inner Circle, Outer Circle, and Expanding Circle (Jahan & Roger 2006). According to the authors,

"The Inner Circle refers to countries such as the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, which have the traditional cultural and linguistic bases of English. The Outer Circle (taking in Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Hong Kong, for instance) represents the regions which have passed through extended periods of British colonisation and have subsequently institutionalised varieties of English into governmental, legal, education and literary domains. The Expanding Circle includes countries where English has various roles and is widely studied but for more specific purposes (e.g. To conduct business, to access technology, or to access printed information in a range of academic disciplines) than in the Outer Circle. The 'performance' varieties of English used in the Expanding Circle often lack an official status and are typically restricted in their use ((Jahan & Roger 2006,4)."

Thailand as a nation is part of the expanding circle. That is the nation does not have a cultural and traditional basis for using English like the countries in the Inner Circle such as the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition Thailand does not have a history of being ruled by Great Britain in which the speaking of English becomes compulsory. However, Thailand had adopted the learning of English as a means of conducting business and communicating cross culturally. Because Thailand is a member of this particular circle the learning of the English language becomes a different type of experience when compared to nations that are a part of the other two circles. Understanding these learning differences is key to developing curricula that are effective and efficient.

Overall, the research thus far has explained why there has been a global increase in the amount of English being taught in various nations. As an essential aspect of globalization countries are no longer as isolated as they once were and the ability to communicate across cultural boundaries is essential for conducting business and having the capcity able to compete globally. With all these things understood nations around the world have made the learning of English a compulsory aspect of their curricula. Like other countries around the world, the people of Thailand have also made English a compulsory aspect of the education curriculum. The following section will elaborate on the role of English in Thailand's education system.

History and Overview of the teaching of English in Thailand

According to Foley (2005) Traditionally English language teaching (ELT) in Thailand began with the reign of King Rama III from 1824 until 1851. Over time the increase in the number of Westerners living in and visiting Thailand made learning English necessary for administrators and high court officials. In 1921 Thailand made English compulsory for students in grade 4 and beyond. There were two primary objectives associated with English language teaching (ELT) in Thailand. These objectives were to develop modem thinkers and to provide children with a sufficient knowledge of English to be able to function in English-speaking classrooms (Foley, 2005). The author also reports that this type of compulsory teaching of English in Thailand was common until 1960. In 1960 the country's education system underwent another change in which there was a more pronounced emphasis on the English language as a tool for international communication. The utilization of the English language as a communication tool became important as a result of the United States involvement in IndoChina which began to influence different aspects of Thai life. The author also points out that "As regards teaching methods, some attempt was made to replace rote memorization and grammar translation with an audio-lingual method. However, this approach did not succeed very well as it seemed to go against the rote learning tradition that was ingrained in both the educational and religious traditions of Thai culture (Wongsothorn… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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