Do rural communities in Thailand really need English?. Wilaksana Srimavin Ursula Wall Jonathan C. Hull. Abstract:. Do rural communities in Thailand really need English?.
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©2007 WilaksanaSrimavin, Ursula Wall and Jonathan C. Hull
Do rural communities in Thailand really need English?
Although English is widely perceived as an international language, and therefore of considerable utility, many teachers and students in rural communities in Thailand do not see its relevance to their lives. In this semi-structured interview study, people from diverse backgrounds (e.g. teachers, pupils, monks, farmers) were asked about their perceptions of the role/s of English in their locality. While there was a general feeling that English is useful for talking to visiting foreigners, only a minority saw its usefulness for any other purposes (e.g. reading product labels, surfing the internet). Implications for language teachers and curriculum planners are discussed.
(Thongsri, Charumanee, & Chatupote, 2006, 79)
“In the current curriculum, teachers are encouraged to design English courses related to community to reflect local traditions and cultural norms and values (MoE, 2001). This means that the curriculum also aims to include the community as a part of language teaching and learning.”
Our larger project is to look at ways of helping teachers to include “community” in their ELT.
This part was aimed at assessing the English language “needs” of one rural Thai community.
If a community:
is NEGATIVE about English
thinks English is IRRELEVANT,
teaching is much more DIFFICULT.
Four dimensions of social need:
a negotiated process of finding respondents: a ‘purposeful sampling’ of key informants
issues of access and representativeness
“open-ended questions in places and under conditions that are comfortable…”
personal engagement essential: “empathic neutrality and mindfulness” (Patton, 2002)
issues of language and culture
ethical issues of confidentiality, ‘power’ and informed consent (Piper, & Simons, 2005)
Selecting a case:
“Although each case is in some respects unique, it is also a single example of a broader class of things.”
(Denscombe, 2003: 36)
Three inter-connected amphoe in a rural and relatively isolated part of Thailand.
Strong agricultural and horticultural focus, plus two National Parks. Strong cultural traditions.
Some international tourism, but English is spoken minimally.
Five matthayom schools (less than 3000 students in total). All the teachers are Thai and there is no native-speaker support for the teaching of English.
‘Record’ samples of where and how English is already used.
Three principle areas:
English has no significant role in the area
English has a role beyond the community
Outgoing information (1)
Outgoing information (2)
Professional & personal development
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