European Journal of Language Policy

English language policy in Thailand

European Journal of Language Policy (2017), 9, (1), 27–44.

Abstract

The focus of this article is on English language policy in Thailand and education policy in particular as the most obvious manifestation of official overt language policy. As such English language education policy offers a lens through which to examine current language ideologies and the connections between language policy and practices. We place English within the wider linguistic landscape of Thailand in relation to Thai and other languages and explore the monolingual and monocultural ideologies that underpin much policy in this area. However, we also suggest that recent policy reflects an increasing awareness of multilingualism. Nonetheless, Thailand along with many other countries in ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) has invested considerable resources and time in English, based on an underlying ideology that views English as the language of development and globalisation. At the same time, there has been persistent dissatisfaction with the perceived results of education practices as regards English proficiency levels. We argue that much of this supposedly low level of proficiency is due to inappropriate native speaker and Anglo-centric models of English which do not reflect the growing use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) globally and particularly as the official lingua franca of ASEAN. We also note the concerns that have been raised as regards the detrimental effects on other languages and areas of education resulting from an over-emphasis on English and the inequalities that this may reinforce.

L’objet de cet article est la politique de langue anglaise en Thaïlande et la politique de l’éducation en particulier, comme la manifestation la plus évidente de la politique linguistique officielle déclarée. En tant que telle, la politique en matière d’enseignement de l’anglais offre un moyen d’examiner les idéologies linguistiques actuelles et les liens entre la politique et les pratiques linguistiques. Nous plaçons l’anglais dans le paysage linguistique plus large de la Thaïlande par rapport aux langues thaï et autres et explorons les idéologies monolingues et monoculturelles qui sous-tendent de nombreuses politiques dans ce domaine. Cependant, nous suggérons également que la politique récente reflète une prise de conscience croissante du multilinguisme. Néanmoins, la Thaïlande et de nombreux autres pays de l’ANASE (Association des nations de l’Asie du Sud-Est) ont investi des ressources et du temps considérables en anglais selon une idéologie sous-jacente qui considère l’anglais comme le langage du développement et de la mondialisation. En même temps, cependant, il y a eu une insatisfaction persistante avec les résultats perçus des pratiques éducatives en ce qui concerne les niveaux de compétence en anglais. Nous prétendons qu’en grande partie ce niveau de compétence, supposé faible, est dû à des modèles d’anglais anglophones inappropriés et anglo-centriques qui ne reflètent pas l’utilisation croissante de l’anglais comme lingua franca (ELF) dans le monde et en particulier comme lingua franca officielle de l’ANASE. Nous notons également les inquiétudes qui ont été soulevées au sujet des effets néfastes sur les autres langues et les domaines de l’éducation résultant d’une trop grande accentuation de l’anglais et des inégalités que cela peut renforcer.

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Author details

Baker, Will

Jarunthawatchai, Wisut