The Thai society and foreign English teachers

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The Thai society and foreign English teachers

Postby justthedave » 22 Sep 2020 20:33

As most of you might know I’m doing my PhD research about the privilege and marginalization of foreign (native and non-native) English teachers in Thailand. I am looking at the working context, the social perception, and the overall self-image of both the native and the non-native English teachers in Thailand.

And here lies my question.... what do you believe the Thai society really thinks about foreign (native and non-native ) English teachers in Thailand?
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Re: The Thai society and foreign English teachers

Postby Wannapa » 23 Sep 2020 10:02

I would say it's very common that Thai people think native English teachers provide good (better) linguistic models. I don't know why Thai people care much about native accent, but they certainly do. Their attitudes towards nonnative English teachers (e.g. Filipino) are more positive now. You can explore further if it's because they have had good experience with nonnative English teachers or it's the only choice.
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Re: The Thai society and foreign English teachers

Postby stevelouw » 24 Sep 2020 11:51

In the schools where I work, the relationship with the foreign team is not a simple issue. The school, and the parents, want the foreign teachers, and the students often do too, but we (as in, us foreign folk) do not make things easy. The Thai teachers do their best to accommodate the non-Thai teachers, but you can often see there are real costs involved. For instance, the kids get confused, the Thai teacher tries to help out, but then the foreigner gets upset because the students are listening to the Thai teacher and not to him. That sort of thing. I can see the Thais get frustrated with the lack of communication, the cultural and linguistic arrogance, the pedagogical ineptitude, and so on. Rightly so, in many cases. There is also sometimes resentment over salary imbalances.

At the same time, when there is a foreign teacher who does do a good job, or has the right bearing (whatever that might mean), there is great excitement, and competition arises among the Thai teachers to have that foreigner allocated to their classrooms. Also, parents really expect to have native English speaking teachers for the money they've paid, and since they do not have insights into the behind-the-scenes drama, their expectations may simply stop there. Having the foreign teacher is a fantastic opportunity, in many respects.

Richard and Aum have published two papers on students' attitudes towards foreign teachers, based on an implicit associations technique. Their findings, I think, reflect some of the complexity of the students' beliefs about having non-Thai language teachers.
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Re: The Thai society and foreign English teachers

Postby Jatupon P. » 05 Oct 2020 07:38

I seem to have a feeling that how native and non-native speaker teachers are perceived is context-dependent in one way or another. From my experience involving in the context of some international and ESL schools in Phuket, it is rather clear that native speaker teachers are preferred. Namely, English variety produced by native speakers (e.g. British and American accent) are believed as an appropriate and prestigious instance of English language practice. One example that is drawn from Ajarn Wannapa’s point is that Thai people who have a native-like accent are perceived to be successful English learners.

For some schools in rural areas, it seems, however, that native and non-native speaker teachers are equally valued in terms of English language use. Their distinctive linguistic practices seem to be deemed as the quality of ‘individuality’. I am not sure whether this is common elsewhere. This piece of opinion is just based on my experience.
Jatupon P.
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