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English language teaching in Thailand: Filipino teachers' experiences and perspectives

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Abstract

English language teaching and learning is vital for the development of the country and its people. In Thailand, English language teaching has become one of the most popular jobs both for native and non-native English speaker-teachers. However, only a few studies have been conducted to identify and describe English language education in the Thailand. This study presents the experiences of 9 Filipino university and college English teachers and their perceptions on the teaching of English as a foreign language in Thailand. The method used was in-depth individual interviews. Findings reveal that although Filipino teachers were positive about teaching English to Thai students, they perceived that English language teaching in the country is a challenging task because of students' lack of interest in the English language; lack of exposure to and support for an English speaking environment; unclear and unsuitable English language curriculum; and lack of teacher professional development. Implications are discussed and suggestions for future studies are offered.
Issues in Educational Research, 28(4), 2018 1080!
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English language teaching in Thailand: Filipino teachers’
experiences and perspectives
Mark B. Ulla
Walailak University, Thailand
English language teaching and learning is vital for the development of the country and its
people. In Thailand, English language teaching has become one of the most popular jobs
both for native and non-native English speaker-teachers. However, only a few studies
have been conducted to identify and describe English language education in the
Thailand. This study presents the experiences of 9 Filipino university and college English
teachers and their perceptions on the teaching of English as a foreign language in
Thailand. The method used was in-depth individual interviews. Findings reveal that
although Filipino teachers were positive about teaching English to Thai students, they
perceived that English language teaching in the country is a challenging task because of
students’ lack of interest in the English language; lack of exposure to and support for an
English speaking environment; unclear and unsuitable English language curriculum; and
lack of teacher professional development. Implications are discussed and suggestions for
future studies are offered.
Introduction
The need to use English as a lingua franca in the ASEAN nations (Kirkpatrick, 2011; Baker,
2012; Crocco & Bunwirat, 2014) has brought changes in language education policies in the
region. In Thailand alone, aside from the massive teacher training and other teacher
development programs, a number of native and non-native English speaking teachers
have been hired and employed by most private and public schools and universities around
the country (Hickey, 2014) to reform their language instruction, strengthen bilingual
programs, and improve the English language proficiency of their students (Ulla, 2017).
Even if most of these schools and universities prefer to employ native English speaking
teachers (UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), there is still a number of non-
native English speaking teachers who are hired to help the local Thai teachers teach
English. Among the non-native English speaking teachers who are teaching in Thailand,
Filipinos are on the list. The hiring of these Filipinos as ASEAN local-teachers to teach
English in the region adds up to an increase of the non-native English language teachers
(Floris, 2013) and to a growing number of immigrants in Thailand.
Recent research studies on international teacher mobility and migration have explored
some reasons behind this exodus. For example, teachers who left their own country were
disappointed by their own country’s educational system (Sharma, 2012). They wanted to
have better living conditions for their family abroad (Oloo, 2012); and they wanted to flee
from political turmoil in their home country (Collins & Reid, 2012). Some studies also
reported the experiences that these migrant teachers faced when they came to their
destination countries. A culture shock and cultural disagreement both in the classroom
and in the workplace (Bailey, 2013), racial discrimination (Savva, 2017), demanding
working conditions (Bense, 2014), language barriers (Abramova, 2013), and dissatisfaction
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and unhappiness that separated them from the rest of the people in the host school
(Fimyar, 2017) were among the common challenges and issues that teacher-immigrants
encountered. A more positive experience by the immigrant teachers has been that of being
able to share with the local teachers their own culture and language (Gu & Canagarajah,
2017). Given the growing number of teacher migration studies that focused on
experiences, challenges, and opportunities of migrant teachers in different countries, more
research studies that concentrate on teacher migration in the same region and!its
implications for the improvement of the language education, particularly in the ASEAN
region, are needed.
In this context, looking into the teaching conditions for Filipino teachers and the
challenges and issues regarding teaching English in the ASEAN region are important.
However, only a few studies have concentrated on this area in the region and in the whole
of Asia. Thus, it is the purpose of this paper to present the experiences of the Filipinos as
migrant, non-native English speaking-teachers, who come from the same region, and who
share similar linguistic backgrounds (Kirkpatrick, 2014) with other people in the region.
Looking into the teaching conditions of the Filipino teachers, the challenges and issues
regarding teaching English in Thailand will reveal implications for the improvement of
language education, not only in Thailand but also for all the nations in the region.
Understanding the need for English in the region as a regional language and the demands
on teaching and learning it, from the perspectives of Filipinos as migrant teachers, will
shed light on issues in English language teaching in the ASEAN context, where native
English speakers are preferred over the non-native English speaking teachers (Walkinshaw
& Duong, 2014).
Filipino English teachers in Thailand
Generally, Filipinos, being the third largest source of international migrants after China
and India (Nicolas, 2011), come to Thailand with the hope of improving their economic
status and to support their families back in the Philippines. They constitute one of the
biggest groups of foreign teachers teaching in the country (Knell, 2017). Although they are
considered non-native English speaking people, since English is only their second
language, they have found opportunities to work in Thailand (Ulla, 2017). With their
fluency in English, they are seen teaching English, science, mathematics, and computer
subjects in kindergarten, elementary, secondary, tertiary, and language center classrooms
in the country.
Among the many reasons why Filipinos seek better employment abroad is the lack of
employment opportunities and low salary rates in their home country (Frederiksen, 2014).
The same findings have been obtained by Ulla (2017) concerning Filipinos as non-native
English speaking teachers (NonNESTs) in Thailand. His findings revealed that one of the
common reasons why Filipino teachers come to teach in Thailand is that the Philippines
suffers from a lack of employment options. While Frederiksen (2014) reported some of
the challenges (e.g. the language barrier, homesickness, and lower salary rates compared to
native speaking teachers) that were revealed in her study on Filipino teacher migration,
Ulla (2017) stated that Filipino teachers in Thailand had a positive perception towards
1082 English language teaching in Thailand: Filipino teachers’ experiences and perspectives
teaching English, as they had better salary rates and opportunities compared to when they
were teaching in their home country. Accordingly, teaching in Thailand has developed
more of the teaching skills of these Filipino teachers. Thus, a growing number of Filipinos
are coming to Thailand to work. To date, there are already more than 16,000 Filipinos
who are living and working in Thailand; and most of them are teachers (Novio, 2014).
This number does not yet include those Filipinos who are undocumented and who left the
Philippines as tourists but later on have found and applied for jobs in Thailand.
English language teaching in Thailand
English is not widely spoken or used in Thailand. In schools and universities, English is
not used as a medium of instruction. This is the reason why some Thai students have
difficulty speaking and understanding the language. Even if the English language has been
introduced to them since they were in their primary years at school (Kaewmala, 2012;
Noom-ura, 2013), it has been unsuccessful and ineffective (Kongkerd, 2013; Noom-ura,
2013). This is manifested in their low language proficiency scores in TOEFL (Educational
Testing Service, 2010) compared to people from other nations in the region (Noom-ura,
2013). In a test data and score summary released by the Educational Testing Service
(2010) for TOEFL Internet and paper-based tests, Thailand consistently trailed behind
other Southeast Asian countries with an average score of 75 out of 120 for Internet-based
tests and 486 out of 660 for paper-based tests. This low to zero English proficiency level
of Thai students is generally associated with the kind of English language teaching and
learning they received in their classrooms.
In the literature, some studies have mentioned a number of factors why English language
learning in Thai classrooms is unproductive. Firstly, while teachers in Thailand are
delivering the lessons in their local language, they tend to focus more on grammar
(Simpson, 2011). Secondly, there is a lack of confidence and a lack of speaking
opportunities for the students to practise their English language communication skills
(Noom-ura, 2013). Thirdly, there is a lack of qualified teachers to teach English, as most
of these teachers do not have a degree in English (Dhanasobhon, 2006). Lastly, English
lessons are conducted in a teacher-centred classroom, making the students passive
learners (Wiriyachitra, 2002). With these factors contributing to the English language
education problem in the country, the Thai government and its education institutions are
working to address these issues. Bringing in some foreign English teachers to help the
local teachers teach English and other subjects is seen as one of the best ways to improve
English language education in Thailand.
Related studies
The following are related studies concentrating on native and non-native English speaking
teachers who have been teaching in some parts of Asia and in the ASEAN region.
However, numbers of these studies are limited. Only a few studies address NonNESTs,
one of the more relevant was done by Frederiksen (2014) who found that Filipino
teachers chose to work abroad because of better salary rates and working environments.
Some of the challenges that were revealed in her study included the language barrier,
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homesickness, and lower salary rates compared to native speaking teachers. Similarly,
Hickey (2014) interviewed African and Filipino foreign teachers in Eastern and
Northeastern Thailand. She found that these teachers were not able to get a teaching job
in the country’s capital due to their non-native English speaking status. She also suggested
that racism, discrimination in the workplace, and lower salary rates were the common
issues and problems faced by these teachers. Students’ preferences for being taught by
NES and NonNES teachers was explored by Walkinshaw and Duong (2012) in Vietnam.
They found that students preferred the NES teachers of English since they believed that
native speakers possessed an ideal English pronunciation model, and that native speaking
teachers were better English language teachers. Walkinshaw and Duong (2014) also
examined student perceptions of native and non-native English teachers in Japan and
Vietnam. It was found that NESTs were perceived to be good models of the English
language, but deficient at grammar lesson discussion. The non-NESTs, on the other hand,
were perceived to be more effective in teaching grammar lessons.
In Thailand, the hiring of foreign teachers both native and non-native has become a
popular research topic in the field of language education. Although there have been no
claims yet that prove students learn English better with a NEST or a NonNEST (Grubbs,
Jantarach & Kettem, 2010), a number of studies have explored students’ perceptions and
attitudes towards learning English with either a NEST or a NonNEST. In most of these
studies, conducted in Thai classrooms, students seemed to have a more positive attitude
and perception towards a native English speaking teacher over a non-native English
teacher. For example, in a study conducted by Grubbs, Jantarach and Kettem (2010),
although it was reported that a number of the students expressed preference for a NEST
to teach them pronunciation, reading, speaking, and listening, there were a few students
who preferred a Thai teacher to teach them grammar and writing. Similarly, the study of
Phothongsunan (2016), on Thai university students’ attitudes towards native and non-
native English speaking teachers, revealed that students favoured the NESTs to be their
English language teachers over the Thai local teachers of English. Watson Todd and
Pojanapunya (2009) also claimed in their study that students expressed their preference to
be taught by a NEST rather than a NonNEST.
While the above-mentioned studies have explored students’ perceptions and attitudes
both for NESTs and NonNESTs in Thailand, only a few studies have focused on
students’ perceptions of NonNESTs, and NonNESTs’ perceptions and experiences in
teaching English in Thailand. The study conducted by Thunnayok (2015), though
revealing students’ positive attitudes towards NonNESTs, failed to discuss the
NonNESTs’ experiences and perceptions of teaching English in Thailand. Thus, it is the
aim of this paper to bridge this gap in the literature. This present study attempts to
identify the experiences of Filipinos as migrant teachers in Thailand, with regards to
teaching English, and language education in the country and in the whole region. It
addresses the research question:
What are the experiences of Filipinos as non-native English speaking teachers
teaching English in Thailand, concerning:
a. Thai EFL students;
1084 English language teaching in Thailand: Filipino teachers’ experiences and perspectives
b. English language classroom;
c. English language education conditions; and
d. professional development.
Method
This study is a qualitative research that relies heavily on in-depth interviews (Edwards &
Holland, 2013) as the main tool in data collection.!It made use of interview guidelines (e.g.
a set of open style questions) to ensure that the responses would address the research
questions from Filipinos as ASEAN local-migrant English teachers in Thailand. This
research design was chosen to explore and describe the experiences of these Filipino
teachers as non-native English speaker-teachers. This study was conducted between the
months of March and June 2017.
Participants
A total of 9 Filipino English teachers (2 females, 7 males) who were teaching in colleges
and universities in Thailand participated in the study. Their ages ranged from 33 to 45,
total years of teaching experience ranged from 5 to 17 years in Thailand and the
Philippines, and they were teaching different English courses to first-year university
and/or college students. Two Filipino teachers held doctorate degrees in language
education; while 7 held masters degrees in English language and education. Qualitative
purposive sampling (Palinkas, Horwitz, Green, Wisdom, Duan & Hoagwood, 2013) was
used in the study. The sampling criteria were that the Filipino English teachers had to be
teaching English in Thailand for over a year, were teaching English to university or college
students, had an English teaching or language education degree, and had at least three
years teaching experience in the Philippines and in Thailand.
Data collection
The researcher identified some nearby universities and colleges before he visited them to
ascertain the number of Filipino English teachers. Two universities and one college had
employed Filipino English teachers. An informal initial interview was conducted with the
teachers at the time of the visit. Questions related to participants’ teaching conditions, the
challenges they faced, and their EFL students were asked. Although these data were
excluded from the final analysis, they formed as the basis for an in-depth interview from
which the findings of the study were developed.
Participants were informed about the study and their consent to be part of it was sought.
After they agreed, their contact numbers were asked in order to schedule an in-depth
interview at a convenient time. Data collection took 9 weeks (1 week per participant) as
the participants were only available during the weekends. Although there was no time
limit, the interviews lasted between 35-60 minutes and were held in different places and
various times. Interviews were in English and centred on the respondents’ English
teaching experience and conditions in Thailand, including the issues, challenges, and
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problems. Lastly, the interview findings were coded and grouped according to the themes
that were developed throughout the course of the analysis.
Data treatment
Data collected from the interviews were treated in confidence and only the researcher has
access to it. Participants were informed about and assured of their anonymity throughout
the conduct of the study.
Interviews were audio-recorded through the use of a mobile phone. Although the
questions were asked in English, some teachers answered in the Filipino language. Thus,
the audio texts were transcribed and translated into English. All the data were then
subjected to content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) and categorised according to the
themes developed from the analysis. The transcripts were read carefully and repetitively to
identify these themes and were categorised and arranged according to the research
questions posed for this study.
Results
Four main themes, with excerpts quoted from the interview to highlight the experiences
of these teachers, were developed for this study, as posted in the research questions.
These four main themes included Thai EFL students, English language classroom,
English language education conditions in Thailand, and professional development. Sub-
themes were also formed based on the data gathered from the interview. These sub-
themes were respect, and English language learning interest, which fall under the main
theme of Thai EFL students.
For the purpose of data presentation, only the initials of their last names and their ages
were included in the quotations below.
Thai EFL students
a. Respect
All of the nine (9) participants held a positive perception of their students. They noted
that all of their students respected them, even if they were coming from a neighboring
country and even if they were non-native English speaking teachers. One of the teacher-
participants mentioned,
Even if the colour of my skin is brown and I speak English as my second language, Thai
university students are very respectful. They always greet me with a wai anywhere they
see me. It is very gratifying to know that these students, although I do not speak the
same language as them, they still treat me like the way how they treat their local teachers
[A, 36 years]
My students always address me with “teacher”, “ajarn”, and “khrub” or “kha”. These
words are signs of respect and I always get these whenever I see my students or they see
me anywhere [J, 42 years]
1086 English language teaching in Thailand: Filipino teachers’ experiences and perspectives
I do not have a problem with my students and I do not have a behavioural issue with
them. They are just so awesome. I respect them as my students, and in return, they also
respect me as their teacher. I guess it is on the way how you treat them [N, 43 years]
b. English language learning interest
Although seven of the participants perceived that their students were motivated to learn
English, two revealed that they had students who showed no interest in learning English.
When they were asked about the reasons why, a female teacher stated,
In my class, I could really tell among my students those who are very keen on learning
the language and those who are not. Personally, I could say that some of them have no
interest in the learning the language since they find it difficult to learn. [S, 35 years]
They find learning and expressing themselves in English difficult. They were used to
being taught in their own language, and they see no value in learning the language since
most of them said that they did not have plans to work and/or live abroad [W, 45 years]
This was supported by another female teacher [B, 33 years] who said,
I have one student who said that she does not need to learn English. When I asked her
why she told me that she has no plans for living abroad. She just wants to live and work
in her own country where English is not widely spoken.
However, one male teacher [K, 38] also stated that a number of his Pharmacy and Medical
Science students were keen on learning English. He said that most of his students wanted
to be good at their profession in the future so they wanted to be proficient in the English
language.
English language classroom
Teacher-participants also revealed that in order to motivate their students to learn the
English language and to engage them with the teaching and learning materials, they had to
prepare interactive activities that were easy for students to do. One male teacher
maintained that,
Although we use textbooks, I always have games and other interactive activities in my
class. I believe that since these students have difficulty understanding and expressing
themselves in English, it is best to put them in situations where they need to practise
using the language [D, 40 years].
Traditional classroom discussion or teacher-centred classroom is not for Thai students.
They need to be engaged in different activities where the use of the English language is
practiced [W, 45 years]
The moment I entered into my class, my students would already know that I brought
with me some group work activities, ice-breaking activities, and interactive class
discussion [J, 42 years]
It is a good thing and of help that all of my English classrooms are equipped with
technology. I can easily make use of them to make my English lessons interactive [R, 34
years]
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Other teachers also reported that they have been learning the local language in order to
connect to and promote mutual understanding between their students. One teacher [K, 38
years] disclosed,
Sometimes, when things get tough in the classroom, I speak their language. It is easier to
communicate to the students if you know their language. Although English is still the
language of instruction, Thai language can be used when there is a need to use it in the
classroom.
English language education conditions
Teacher-participants were also asked about their perceptions on the language education
and the condition of the English language in the country. Teacher [A, 36] stated that,
I think the problem here is that English teaching is only confined within the four walls of
the classroom. When students go out, they are never reinforced and exposed to English
speaking environment. Everything is in their local language from signposts to TV [A, 36].
Students lack exposure to English speaking environment. They only get to practice and
learn English in the classroom. They don’t even use English when speaking to their
classmates and friends outside of the classroom. English is not even used as a medium of
instruction in most of the courses in the university. I think what is needed to be done
here is that there should be a total English language support from the outside. In this
way, students will be exposed to the use of English in their daily lives [J, 42].
I think teaching basic communication skills to university students is too late for their age
already. Rigid English language teaching should be done while they were still in their
primary years at school. While it is still good to learn English at the university level, the
focus of English language teaching should now be higher. At my university, I am
teaching English lessons that should be taught and learned only by students who are in
their primary years at school. I cannot blame the university since our students really have
a low English language proficiency [D, 40].
At my university, students are required to take 4 General English courses. And all these
courses have nearly the same content and focus. In other words, students are not
introduced to different language skills…. If we want to see improvement in the language
learning of our students, they should be offered and taught with other language skills [K,
38].
I think there is a need to revisit and or revise the curriculum here especially on the
English language courses as these are not seen to be effective in motivating and
promoting learners’ English language learning [B, 33].
Professional development
Seven participants during interviews voiced their needs to have a professional
development program. They said that they needed support from their school heads to
enhance their teaching skills and to deal with their students who study English as a foreign
language.
1088 English language teaching in Thailand: Filipino teachers’ experiences and perspectives
I think what we need as foreign English teachers in Thailand is teacher training…. To
help us cope with the challenging job of EFL teaching, professional development
programs that will centre on foreign teachers’ teaching capabilities should be made
available [N, 43].
As an EFL teacher here, I think I should know more about the culture of the people so
as to understand my students…. The school should be able to provide us some basic
training programs on culture awareness [B, 33].
Teaching EFL to Thai students is really challenging… I think what I need is more
training on how to teach and deal with EFL students…. My background is ESL teaching
and although there is a little difference, I still think language teaching training in EFL
context is needed [S, 35].
Discussion
This study reports on the experiences of Filipino English teachers who were teaching the
English language in Thailand. From the findings, Filipino teachers held a positive
perception of their Thai EFL students. Although the literature reported that EFL students
preferred to be taught by native English speaking-teachers (Songsirisak, 2015; Walkinshaw
& Duong, 2012; Walkinshaw & Duong, 2014), teacher-participants maintained that their
students respected them as non-native English speaking teachers. However, it must be
noted that respect and preference are two different terms. While it is true that students
respect them as their teacher, it does not mean that they prefer them over the native
English speaking teachers. This kind of study must be carried out in the future to
investigate whether or not there is a correlation between respect and preference of Thai
students for native and English speaking teachers. Furthermore, in Thai classroom
contexts, where there are a number of native and non-native English speaking teachers
teaching, respect can still be the most important behaviour needed by teachers in order to
deliver lessons efficiently in English teaching and learning classrooms.
However, there seems to be a big challenge faced by a number of Filipino language
teachers of English teachers, in particular in Thailand. Students’ English language learning
interest is a key factor for successful language learning, but students seem to have lacked
of it. The perceived low interest in students’ learning of English as revealed in the
interview findings showed that some Thai students, though not all, found no value in
learning English. Common reasons were that they did not need English in Thailand and
they did not have plans to work abroad, or live abroad. In a study conducted by Hayes
(2016), 14% of his Thai student-respondents held a negative perception towards learning
English. They stated that English was too difficult to learn and they did not see the
economic value of learning English for their future careers. Most of these students did not
want to work abroad where English is required. Hence, there was no need for them to
learn English. This negative attitude of the students towards the English language might
be one of the reasons why Thailand is lagging behind neighbouring Southeast Asian
countries in English language proficiency (Educational Testing Service, 2010).
It must be noted, however, that the reported lack of interest of the students in learning
the English language can be cultural and personal. Thailand is the only country in the
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ASEAN region which was not colonised by the West. This historical data gives a clear
picture why some Thai people may lack motivation and interest in learning English.
Likewise, students who actually find learning the English language valuable for them in
their future careers are among the only ones who have a strong interest in learning the
language. In the present study, pharmacy students were perceived to have a high interest
in the English language learning. Other studies (Kitjaroonchai & Kitjaroonchai, 2012; Lai
& Aksornjarung, 2018) have reported that students in nursing and medicine, and English
major students have a high interest in learning the English language as they see the need
of it in their future professions.
Generally, when students lack the interest in learning the language, teachers have to play a
very crucial role in the classroom to make their students value the importance of learning
the English language. As Filipino English teachers in Thailand, these teacher-participants
have exposure to English as a foreign language teaching, as they became used to teaching
English as a second language back in the Philippines. As reported in the study, they
wanted to develop and grow professionally in their profession. Therefore, these teachers
need continuous professional training to update their skills, especially in the context of
EFL teaching. Research studies on teacher training (Kagoda, & Sentongo, 2015; Nenty,
Moyo & Phuti, 2015; Ulla, 2017; 2018) showed that training teachers in modern era
teaching methodologies will equip them necessary skills in contemporary English language
teaching.
Nevertheless, based on the findings, teachers revealed that they have been making their
English language classrooms an exciting place to learn English by having interactive
activities and games. Some of the many ways that teacher-participants employed in their
classroom as reported in the study were developing and creating a non-threatening,
interactive, and exciting English learning environment, and learning the local language to
connect and relate with the students. Amjah (2014) mentioned that teaching English to
students is quite tasking for teachers, especially if students do not have an interest in that
learning. Thus to make the language learning fun and enjoyable, teachers should have
effective teaching strategies for the students. This includes using ICT, games, interactive
activities, and other relevant, exciting materials for language teaching. In this way,
students' interest and motivation to learn English is stimulated and enhanced.
Another important finding from the study is the condition of English language teaching
and education in Thailand as perceived by the participants. It was revealed that there was
little support or reinforcement of the learning of English outside the classroom. English is
not spoken outside the classrooms and it is not widely used in television, newspapers,
signage, and billboards. Thus, students have insufficient knowledge of and a lack of
exposure to English language environments. However, it must be noted that the
participants’ perceptions point to difficulties in recognising and dealing effectively with
the fact that English needs to be taught as a ‘foreign language’ in Thailand. Teaching
English as a foreign language may be a challenge for them but this also supports the
respondents’ requests for professional development to assist in addressing these and other
issues in their classroom pedagogy.
1090 English language teaching in Thailand: Filipino teachers’ experiences and perspectives
Furthermore, unsuitable English language curriculum also adds to the problem. A study
by Souriyavongsa, Rany, Abidin and Mei (2013) reported that lack of exposure, unsuitable
curriculum, and English not in use as a medium of instruction were some factors why
students in Laos have low English proficiency. Exposure to the language may help
students in learning and acquiring the skills in the English language, as evidenced by a
number of researchers (Ferdous, 2013; Olmedo, 2015; Pascual, 2017; Tonoian, 2014). All
found that exposure to English speaking environments is a contributing factor towards
learning the language.
Although the present study reported the experiences and perceptions of Filipino English
teachers concerning teaching English in Thailand, the findings may not be fully
representative of Filipino teachers and other nationalities teaching English in the country.
First, only a relatively small number of Filipino teachers were interviewed. Second, the
researcher used interviews as his only research instrument. Lastly, only those teachers
teaching at the university and or college level were considered for the study. Future
research studies should concentrate on a larger sample size and on other nationalities
teaching in Thailand, in order to gain a more extensive understanding of the English
language teaching situation in the country. Other research studies may consider comparing
the experiences of other foreign teachers teaching English around Southeast Asian
countries to further identify and describe language education in the ASEAN region.
Conclusion
This study presents the experiences of Filipino teachers including some issues and
challenges on the teaching of English as a foreign language in Thailand. Findings revealed
that although Filipino teachers were positive about teaching English to Thai students, they
perceived that English language teaching in the country is a challenging task because of
the following factors; students’ lack of interest in the English language, lack of exposure
to and support for an English speaking environment; unclear and unsuitable English
language curriculum; and lack of teachers’ professional development.
The experiences of these Filipino English language teachers and their perspectives on
teaching in Thailand provided a new light on issues in English language teaching in the
country. Although teaching and learning of English has always been emphasised by the
government, more work must be done in order to make the English language education in
the country successful. This involves giving continuous support for all foreign language
teachers, both native and non-native English speaking teachers in the country.
Professional development for all teachers must be considered, especially as EFL teaching
may be a taxing job for non-EFL teachers, or for those teachers who do not have an
experience in teaching EFL students. Additionally, support for English language learning
must also be given to the students. This includes students’ continual exposure to the use
of English language, curriculum revision, and the use of English as the medium of
classroom instruction. The implications of this study are not addressed only to the schools
and other education institutions in Thailand and in the ASEAN region where English is
mostly taught as a foreign language. It is also for the government to consider the
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experiences and perceptions of foreign English language teachers with regard to
improving language education in the country.
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Mark Ulla finished his Master of Arts in English language teaching at Mindanao State
University, Marawi City, Philippines, where he also obtained his Bachelor of Arts in
English. He is now a lecturer at Walailak University Language Institute, Walailak
University, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand.
Email: mark.ul@wu.ac.th
Please cite as: Ulla, M. B. (2018). English language teaching in Thailand: Filipino
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... Accounts of NNESTs'compelling reasons to pursue a teaching job abroad, their struggles and challenges encountered before and after getting hired, and overall lessons learned as teachers of English in a foreign land have been explored in an Asian study which reveals that the emigration of school teachers is driven by rising demand in the destination countries, their dissatisfaction with the education system and desire for a better life (Sharma, 2012;Ulla, 2018). Furthermore, a study in Colombia opined that educators are pursuing opportunities to travel abroad to achieve individual academic goals, obtain personal independence, and gain intercultural understanding. ...
... Also, issues such as culture shock, logistics, unfamiliar structural and organizational arrangements, differing notions of assessment, communication gaps, and problems with teacher-student relations have been observed (Bailey, 2013;Abramova, 2013;Bense, 2014;Ospina & Medina, 2020). Meanwhile, studies also have presented a positive experience abroad, which is that of having been privileged to share with other international teachers their own culture and language and to appreciate more the concept of cultural differences in an international teaching environment (Dirou, 2016;Gu &Canagarajah,2017;Ulla, 2018). Nevertheless, amid the turbulence of all these concerns, foreign teachers need to become active learners to embrace the changes and uncertainties of their new lives. ...
... To date, there is a growing number of migration studies that focused on non-native English-speaking teachers' experiences, challenges, and opportunities in different countries (Sharma, 2012;Oloo, 2012;Collins & Reid, 2012;Ulla, 2018;Floris & Renandya, 2020), I have not stumbled upon any study that centered on the lived experiences of NNESTs in the UAE, particularly those of Filipinos and Indians. ...
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Non-native English speakers, venturing abroad to work as English teachers, have drastically grown in number. In the United Arab Emirates, a country that regards English as a vital aspect of progress and sustainability and a home to more than 200 nationalities, Filipino and Indian teachers have found their platform to practice their profession, while facing the reality that such a country openly prefers to hire native speakers over non-native ones. Hence, this study was conducted to explore the lived experiences of 12 non-native English speakers (six Filipinos and six Indians) in the context of working as English language teachers in the UAE. Responses, collected through in-depth interviews, were analyzed to shed light on the overarching question. Findings revealed that informants came to the UAE to earn a bigger salary, grow personally and professionally, and enhance their communication skills. Furthermore, issues and challenges experienced by these teachers were clustered into personal matters (homesickness, new environment adjustments, and language barriers) and professional matters (preference for native speakers, curriculum adjustment, classroom environment, and teacher-parent connection). Data also unraveled the coping mechanisms of the informants: recalling motivations, building connections, utilizing various teaching approaches, and practicing cultural sensitivity. Finally, this study reflected the insights of the teachers, categorized in themes of unlimited learning, native vs. non-native speakers’ salary difference, uninterested learners, and the importance of understanding the work contract. Based on the findings, implications on administrative and pedagogical practices were explicated, leading to recommendations for future research on the phenomenon of teacher migration.
... However, there is little research on the professional identity of English teachers from ESL countries, particularly in Korean ELT, in which White supremacy is deeply embedded in the prevalent "English fever" (Park 2009). While there are a few studies of experiences of English teachers from South Africa and the Philippines (Balgoa 2019;Ironsi 2021;Stewart 2020;Ulla 2018), little is known about subtle differences among them in terms of the intersection of race, language, and nationality and how it has influenced the self-perceptions of Black teachers of English from ESL countries and their lives as racially marginalized teachers in Korea. ...
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Despite an increase in ethnic diversity within the country, the English language teaching workforce remains undeniably binary in Korea. Using an inter-sectionality lens, this study was an exploration of the racialized experiences of one Ugandan female teacher of English working in Korean ELT. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate how she perceived herself as an English speaker and teacher and how Koreans' stereotypes of ideal English teachers and Black people affected her professional identity and self-perceptions. Findings suggest that the Ugandan woman was rejected by the formal accreditation process and faced considerable challenges in her efforts to be accepted as a qualified English teacher in Korea. On the other hand, she perceived herself as a native-like English speaker and a fully qualified English teacher with an MA degree in TESOL and years of English teaching experience. This study reveals not only the practical difficulties of a biased assessment system, but also the narrow discourse concerning who can legitimately be recognized as an English teacher in Korea, which is at odds with the Korean policy of a pursuing multicultural society and honoring diversity and with the global trend of recognizing multiple English.
... English was among those subjects taught in Thailand that was forced to move online. Although English has been taught in Thailand for many years, most Thai teachers teach English in Thai (Ulla, 2018), and the focus is on grammar which limits learners' opportunities to listen and communicate, leading to low English performance (Chanaroke & Niemprapan, 2020). Listening skills were particularly problematic for learners in the researcher's teaching context. ...
Article
It is challenging for EFL teachers to hold in-person classes during a global pandemic. This circumstance discourages EFL students from participating and practising English in class, which affects their performance and test scores, particularly on listening tests. When combined with video conferencing, the flipped classroom has improved student achievement. The present study aimed to examine the effect of the flipped classroom through videoconference on the EFL undergraduate learners’ listening skills and to explore their opinions toward this teaching model. Therefore, the study tried to answer the main questions on the effects and the learners’ opinions toward this teaching model. This study involved 37 undergraduate learners from a state university in Bangkok who were administered a listening pre-test and post-test. In addition, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were conducted. The findings suggested that the flipped classroom conducted through online video conference affects listening skills since the pre-test and post-test had statistically significant differences. This study also employed a questionnaire and semi-structured interview to collect data from the participants, and the results revealed that the participants held positive opinions toward this teaching model. This study recommends that EFL teachers employ this teaching model in their lessons. Additionally, teachers can develop the findings of this study in future research to help EFL students improve other English abilities apart from listening. Regardless of the global pandemic, which hinders classroom instruction, this idea of instruction can make teaching and learning management as effective as classroom instruction.
... In reality, both native and non-native English teachers struggled to contextualize their teaching strategies with their foreign learners. In this sense and according to Ulla (2018), both teachers experience hindrances to students' learning, including lack of exposure to the English language, a nonestablished English curriculum, insufficient teachers' training, and lack of interest in learning English. For Altun (2015), teachers who work abroad also encounter varied curricula that are different from the ones they have followed. ...
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We are very happy to publish this issue of the International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research. The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal committed to publishing high-quality articles in the field of education. Submissions may include full-length articles, case studies and innovative solutions to problems faced by students, educators and directors of educational organisations. To learn more about this journal, please visit the website http://www.ijlter.org. We are grateful to the editor-in-chief, members of the Editorial Board and the reviewers for accepting only high quality articles in this issue. We seize this opportunity to thank them for their great collaboration. The Editorial Board is composed of renowned people from across the world. Each paper is reviewed by at least two blind reviewers. We will endeavour to ensure the reputation and quality of this journal with this issue.
... In Thailand, Ulla studied the experiences and perspectives of nine Filipino English university and college teachers. The findings showed that Filipino teachers find it challenging to teach English in Thailand because of students' lack of interest in the English language, lack of exposure and support for an English-speaking environment, unclear and suitable English language curriculum, and lack of teacher professional development [25]. In addition, a case study of seventy Thai teaching staff in one university revealed that heavy workload and low salary were the demotivating factors that can lead to job dissatisfaction [26]. ...
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Teaching demotivation may negatively affect teachers' performance in English language teaching. This present study investigated the demotivating factors and coping strategies of seven Filipino English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers in Thailand. Using a qualitative design, a semi-structured interview was used to elicit the views of teachers. Findings have shown five demotivating factors: administration-demotivational factor, colleague-demotivational factor, student-demotivational factor, self-demotivational factor, and parent-demotivational factor. Moreover, self-regulation strategy and pedagogical strategy are useful for the teacher to cope with those factors. Implications were discussed to help foreign EFL teachers in Thailand become aware of teaching challenges in Thailand.
... Many factors contribute to learners' ability to pronounce words in another language and English pronunciation is no exception. Previous researchers have consistently found that factors such as the native language, age, exposure, innate phonetic ability, identity, language ego, motivation and concern for good pronunciation, appear to influence the teaching and learning of pronunciation [37]. However, the current study was only focused on the effect of teachers' teaching method and the development of a new learning process to improve Thai English learners' pronunciation. ...
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span lang="EN-US">In Thailand, the achievement of English learners has been disappointing, despite the constant efforts to develop English education, and there is an urgent need for Thai learners to focus on the pronunciation of English. The research identified Thai English learners’ specific English pronunciation problems. It also designed and facilitated a new self-directed learning process for learners to improve their English pronunciation, which is based on a combination of a community of practice (CoP) and self-directed learning. There were 15 participants selected purposively involved in this study. This study demonstrated how to use new learning process to identify specific problems and shares how to solve problems by practicing among participants so that the objectives can be reached. The new learning process was useful in helping users to improve their English pronunciation to communicate effectively in real life. The new learning process also can be used for other language learners.</span
... In Thailand, although Filipino teachers expressed positive attitudes toward teaching English to Thai students, they perceived that teaching English in the country is a difficult task. It is due to students' lack of interest in the English language, a lack of exposure to and support for an English-speaking environment; an unclear and unsuitable English language curriculum; and a lack of teacher professional development (Ulla, 2018). On the other hand, since most Filipinos have at least some fluency in English, they are considered one of the most English-speaking countries in the world, according to Cabigon (2015). ...
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This study aimed to explore and compare the attitudes of Filipino English Language teachers in the Philippines and Thailand toward Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) during the Covid-19 pandemic. This study used a qualitative approach and was phenomenological in nature. Filipino teachers who teach Thai and Filipino English language students were surveyed using this method. There were 10 participants in this study. This study focused significantly on in-depth interviews as the primary source of data. The study found that Computer-Assisted Language Learning is an effective strategy in teaching English in the respective group of students of the participating teachers from the Philippines and Thailand. The teacher-participant interview resulted in three (3) major themes: Teachers' General Attitudes toward CALL, Thai and Filipino Students' Attitudes toward CALL, and Professional Development. Sub-themes were also formed based on the data gathered from the interview. These sub-themes include interest, effects to teaching, faster and easier work, which fell under Teachers' General Attitudes toward CALL; fun, Training, Educational Advancement, which fell under the Professional Development. Based on the findings, the study concluded that the Computer-Assisted Language Learning strategy provides a broader opportunity for teachers to establish a student-oriented, student-friendly, and engaging classroom environment for learners. It is recommended to conduct further studies related to the topic.
... Among the foreign teachers teaching in Thailand, Filipinos formed one of the biggest groups of teachers in the country (Knell, 2017). Although the English language is only their second language, their language fluency brought them to Thai kindergarten, primary, secondary, and tertiary classrooms teaching English, Science, Mathematics, and Computer subjects (Ulla, 2018). This means that Filipino teachers, who have a bachelor's degree and can speak English, could find a teaching job in Thailand. ...
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While a number of migration studies concentrated on the economic, political, and social issues faced by immigrants both in their home and host countries, studies that attempt to connect migration, culture and sexuality, particularly the migration decisions among gay men and how such migration shaped and influenced their identity and sexuality within the Global South context are scarce. Using the theoretical frame of queer intercultural communication, this study aims to explore and understand the labor migration of two highly skilled Filipino gay men and how they construct or reconstruct their identity and sexuality in Bangkok, Thailand. Findings from the individual interviews revealed that personal, professional, and social factors shaped participants’ decision to come and work in Bangkok. Being highly skilled and having a job in Bangkok provides the participants the means not only to support their personal and family needs but also to participate in queer discourses and practises that allowed them to explore and understand their sexuality. This study highlights that looking at the issues on identity and belonging from the gay men’s perspectives enhances our understanding of the multiple gender identities that contribute to the study of queer intercultural communication and migration.
... Having a look at the teaching conditions of the Indonesian teachers, the challenges regarding teaching English in Indonesia especially in higher education will give implications for the development of language education, particularly in Indonesia. Understanding the need of acquiring English as an international language and the demands of teaching English, viewed from the perspectives of the Indonesian teachers, will focus on the issues in English teaching, including speaking, where native English speakers are preferable over the non-native English speaking teachers (Ulla, 2018). ...
Article
p class="05IsiAbstrak">The purpose of this present study was to explore a dozen of English-speaking problems encountered by pre-service English teachers in one of Indonesian Higher Educations. The data of this qualitative study were garnered through semi-structured interviews to ten pre-service English teachers at Institut Agama Islam Negeri Kudus and relevant documentations. The results revealed that speaking English fluently is not really easy for the pre-service English teachers. In addition, they encountered some problems including lack of appropriate vocabulary, grammar mastery, correct pronunciation, and lack of confidence. This study presents an implication in accordance with the curriculum development of speaking course in higher education particularly at Institut Agama Islam Negeri Kudus including the need of reformulating the speaking course curriculum which emphasizes on the integration of technology to arouse the spirits among pre-service English teachers in speaking English. Moreover, the need of providing more chance to speak English for them both inside and outside of the class.</p
... Thailand's higher education aims at training students not only in new developments of graduates' knowledge, equipped with 21 st century skill attainment pertaining digital age literacy, effective communication, innovative thinking and high efficiency, but also in their specific field knowledge. In the test summary launched by the Educational Testing Service for TOEFL Internet and paper-based test, Thailand's steadily left behind other Southeast Asia (Ulla, 2018). To equip them with the crucial tools for their highest performance, the need to master their English generally and specifically in their field has to be addressed. ...
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This research is intended to increase space and time in learning English, where space and time for English is very difficult to find in Indonesia. Through Mobile applications, learning will be more exclusive so as to reduce psychological barriers and cut the gap between teachers and students. They will feel more confident in expressing their opinions. This lesson will also be more constructive, give each other feedback between students and students and lecturers with students. This research will begin with the observation process to determine the object and location of the research. The use of WhatsaApp in learning will be conducted outside the classroom by determining the regular schedule and consistently. Begin by creating a group of 5 students with low levels of English language skills. The feature to be used is voice comment/messaging. Speaking skills will be the focus of this research. The method to be used is a combination of quantitative and qualitative (Mixed Method). Observations and interviews as qualitative representations and measurements of audio / speaking duration represent quantitative. The results of the study indicate that the use of WhatsApp in supporting learning outside the classroom provides varied progress. The review is measured from several aspects, namely Gender, Duration, Personal Margin Duration, Total Duration and Overall Personal Average.
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This study sought to investigate the types of motivation (integrative or instrumental) that English major Thai students at Asia-Pacific International University have toward the learning of the English language, and the correlation between the students’ learning motivation and their academic achievement (GPA). A modified 20- item motivational survey adapted from Gardner’s (1985) Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) was administered to 137 English major Thai students. The findings reveal that the students had high levels of integrative and instrumental motivation to learn English. Their instrumental motivation was found slightly higher than their integrative motivation. The investigation also demonstrated that there is a significant positive relation between students’ learning motivation and their academic achievement (GPA). Following these findings, some pedagogical implications are discussed with their recommendations.
Article
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This study examined EFL learners' attitudes and motivation towards learning English through content-based instruction (CBI) at a university in Thailand. Seventy-one (71) university students, the majority sophomores, answered a 6-point Likert scale questionnaire on attitudes and motivation together with six open-ended questions regarding learning the CBI-based course. Classroom observations were conducted and the scores of mid-term and final tests were collected. Statistical analysis showed that in general the students held a considerably positive attitude towards the CBI-based course and their motivation for learning English was at a moderate level. Significant differences were found in attitudes between students from the Faculty of Nursing and those from the Faculty of Medicine while motivation between the students from these two programs was not significantly different. It is recommended that teachers of CBI-based courses should adopt motivational strategies to enhance both the students' instrumental motivation and integrative motivation, and further studies should investigate learning environment, learner identity and learner engagement in the CBI classroom.
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Research studies show a number of significant contributions of professional development programs towards teachers' teaching skills. This paper explores the views of eight (8) university lecturers in a university in Yangon, Myanmar with regards to the teacher capacity building and language enhancement training program they attended from 2014-2016. The interview data, which were subjected to qualitative content analysis were taken from the participants' personal knowledge and experience of the teacher training program. The data were read many times, coded, and assigned to different themes. Findings revealed two themes; appreciation and hardships. Although teacher participants were glad to be part of the training program, they also coped with some challenges. Some important implications for the enhancement of the teacher training programs and language education in Myanmar were discussed and future research directions were also offered.
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The British Council introduced the English for Education College Trainers (EfECT) Project in Myanmar. This program aims to improve the English language proficiency and teacher training methodologies of all state teacher trainers. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate teacher perceptions and attitudes towards this program. The methods used to collect the data were modified questionnaire, focus group discussions and class observation. Based on the findings, teachers reported that they had opportunities to interact with English speaking teachers, could practice their English skills and learned student-centered teaching methodologies. Some issues and challenges that they noted included lack of time for preparation, missing some sessions due to other responsibilities, having poor listening skills and pronunciation, and difficulty adapting to communicative learning and teaching styles. The implication of this study is for policy makers and educational organizations to support local teachers and help them become better teachers in the country.
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Click: http://www.academia.edu/6216323/Exploring_Beliefs_of_Pre-Service_Teachers_toward_English_as_an_International_Language
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