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Problems of English Learners in Thailand

Problems of English Learners in Thailand | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Thailand is the country located in South East Asia with a population of over 69 million people. Thailand is divided into four regions which include Northern Thailand, Northeastern Thailand, Central Thailand, and Southern Thailand. The official language of Thailand is Thai. But each of the regions in Thailand has its dialect. But the language used for the government, education system or Thai society is the Thai language which Thai people always speak Thai in everyday life as well as in school.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Chadawan S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

English as a global language

English is the international language. It is the medium of international communication which used in many different areas such as in business, education, and government. Having skills in English communication will allow the learners to access more opportunities, having more international connections and give them chances to access more online information.

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Thai language environment and learning style

In Thailand, people speak mainly Thai. They speak Thai at home and at work. In school, the learners only study English in the class. They have very limited time to learn and get familiar with English. In most of the school, the English teachers are Thai. Their teaching is focusing on grammar structure which appears in the coursebook. The Thai education system requires the teachers to complete many documents to assure the quality of the teaching and the school to keep the school in a high reputation. The Thai education system is failing to look at the result of the teaching or the outcome of the students. Thai learners learn English from the first year of kindergarten until the fourth year of their Bachelor's degree in the university which a total of 19 years in the education system but they are still unable to communicate in English.

They can only complete the English coursebook. Many factors lead to learner’s problems in learning English in Thailand. First, the learner’s lack of motivation. Thai English learners have low motivation in learning English. Motivation is the internal driven of a person to do something. In class, teachers tend to control all activities, play the most important role in class. The learners will only just follow the instruction from their teachers which makes the students have low motivation and self-esteem in learning English. Second, the surrounding environment is becoming the major shortfall for Thai’s English learners. Thailand had never been colonized.

Therefore, Thailand is hardly involved with other languages especially English. The people in Thailand speak mainly Thai. In school, students are only studying English in class as of 50 minutes each day and other than that they speak Thai. Thai learners have rare opportunities to practice English outside the class. Therefore, the inadequate time of learning and surrounding influence on how learners learn English. Third, personal-psychological factors may also affect the learning of the English of Thai learners. They are lack of confidence in speaking. In the classroom, listening and speaking were less in focus.

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Teaching approach

But the English class in Thailand are more teacher-centered and exam-oriented. Students are shy to speak because they are afraid of making a mistake in speaking. In the classroom, the teaching is more focus on the grammatical structure rather than listening and speaking. When they listen, they try to translate it into Thai which makes it hard to understand in a limited time. The learners might get bored of doing that or feeling nervous. Therefore, it resulted in more anxiety among the students in class when they listening and speaking. Fourth, insufficient English language skills of teachers also resulted in learner’s English learning. As mentioned above that some Thai teachers have limited experiences in using English.

Therefore, when they teach English to the students in the class, they are more focus on the coursebook for grammatical structure but less on listening speaking. It directly affects the leaners in their English communication skills. Fifth, the size of the classroom also become the problems of the learners in Thailand. The size of the Thai classroom is approximately 40-50 students per class. It seems to be a problem for the teacher in controlling the class when teaching or conducting classroom activities. Sometimes, the teacher has to keep their voice high to keep all students motivated. Some of the students may use their native language with their friends chatting in class.

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Therefore, the teachers need to use more pair work activities that can allow all students to participate. Although there are many problems of English learners in Thailand both internal and external factors. But there are many organization trying to overcome these problems especially Thai’s government that helping the develop the skills of the English teachers’ across Thailand to change their perception and their way of teaching in order to keep them motivated as well as support the students to learn English and be able to communicate in English as their second language.

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