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The amount of exposure the participants have to the English language outside of

5. Results and analysis

5.2 Open-ended questions

5.2.2 The amount of exposure the participants have to the English language outside of

This question was perhaps not understood correctly by some participants. Due to this, it is slightly challenging to interpret the answers provided. It was hard to deduce from some of the participants if they were already taking extra lessons or if they would like to take them.

From some of the responses it was clear that the participant was already taking extra English lessons outside of school. Many of the participants replied that they would like to take lessons if they had the chance. A couple of the participants said that they do not have the chance to take extra lessons due to the high cost:

“If taking studying extra was not expensive, I would take English lessons outside of school.” (WW15)

One of the respondents expressed the strong desire for improvement in language skills:

“If I had the chance, I would very much like to take extra lessons. I’d like to be able to speak and read fluently. I’d like to understand English better and speak with English people so that we understand each other. If I really had the chance, I’d really want to take extra lessons.” (SS21)

The responses to this questions already showed how many of the participants seem very keen to learn English and they would like to study it more than they are studying currently.

5.2.2 The amount of exposure the participants have to the English language outside of school

50 Question 7: How often do you use English outside of school?

Overall, the participants rarely used English outside of school. The responses to this question were similar among the participants from different schools. Many of them replied that they use English “almost never” or “not very often”. Some said that there are no opportunities to use the language. There were a few participants that reported using English often. Some participants mentioned the situations they used the language in in their replies to this question.

One participant reported extra English lessons as an extracurricular use of the language:

“When taking extra English lessons or when meeting teachers from abroad.” (MS6)

Even in the case of this participant, the use of English is limited to educational use, as it is related to taking extra lessons or to teachers. Therefore, situations truly outside of a language-learning environment seem to be rare.

One of the participants reported the family business as an environment where the English language is used:

“Helping mom sell things in the evenings, farang customers all the time.” (WW33)

Interestingly, this participant refers to “farang” customers, distinguishing them as the group to use English with. The term “farang” appeared in other responses as well:

“Not very often, because don’t often meet farang.” (WW40)

“Use when farang ask something.” (WR22)


“Almost never, sometimes meet farang.” (SS1)

These responses seem to indicate that some of the participants relate the English language to

“farangs”. This is interesting, as the majority of the foreigners that visit Thailand come from other Asian countries rather than from “Western” countries (see section 2.3.4). Even though English was considered a universal language for communication by almost all the participants and the role of English in AEC 2015 was clearly acknowledged by many, the language is still associated with Western culture.

This association that some of the participants have with English and Westerners could be partially due to the attempted implementation of communicative language teaching (CLT, see section 2.3.3). CLT strives for a native-like competence in English (Methitham &

Chamcharatsri, 2011) and this emphasis on Western culture in relation to studying English could account for the way in which the students relate the language and its use to communication with “farangs”. Question 8: If you use English outside of school, what situations do you use it in?

Many of the participants reported using English in situations when a foreigner asked for something. In many cases, the participants had used English while giving directions to tourists on how to get to a specific place. Mainly the participants referred to “foreigners”, but some of them referred specifically to “farang”. Some of the respondents simply referred to meeting foreigners:

“When meeting people from abroad who do not speak Thai.” (WW1)

52 As could be seen in some of the responses to the previous question, customer service is one field of language exposure:

“When selling things to customers from abroad.” (MS24)

Some participants reported using English with customers at, for example, their parents’


In numerous responses traveling was reported as a time when English was used. Thus, while traveling abroad the participants used English. Opportunities to use English in Thailand are limited, as these participants related their use of the language to being outside of the country.

Some participants reported using English with friends. Some specified that they used English when speaking with friends from abroad, but some of them simply wrote that they used English with friends. From these responses, it was unclear whether Thais used English among themselves or whether these respondents used English with non-Thai friends. Nevertheless, there were some participants that used English in social situations that did not involve a formal setting.

In addition, the media was a source of English-language exposure. The participants reported using English while listening to music, playing games, watching movies and or using the internet:

“Use when watching movies, listening to music, on the internet.” (WR30)

53 One participant specifically wrote watching movies with Thai subtitles. In general, movies in Thailand are dubbed and watching movies in English with Thai subtitles is a conscious decision and choice made by the viewer. Question 9: Do you have foreign friends? If yes, do you speak English with them?

Most respondents reported that they did not have foreign friends. This confirms the limited amount of exposure they have to English outside of school and the lack of “real” situations in which to use the language. In schools MSW, WW and WR there were less than five respondents that replied “yes”. In the other two schools, there were a few more.

In school MS, most of the respondents that had foreign friends also said they spoke English with them. A few of the participants reported that they did not have foreign friends, but if they did, they would speak English. A couple of participants said they had foreign friends but they spoke Thai together, as the participants could not speak English.

One student from school WR reported using both English and Chinese with foreign friends.

Another replied “yes” to having foreign friends, but the mutual language between them was not English because the friends are Japanese. In school WW, one participant said that (s)he has foreign friends, but does not dare to speak English with them.

Overall, the amount of exposure the participants have to the English language outside of school is quite limited. Most of the extracurricular situations of language exposure involved

54 the media, such as television or the internet. Some opportunities to use English with foreigners occur for some of the participants, but these are mainly simple conversations such as giving directions or serving customers. The chance for a real conversation is rare and the majority of the participants is rarely or never exposed to such situations.

However, despite the opportunity some of them have to use English with non-Thais, the opportunity is not grasped due to the feeling of lack of fluency in the language. Some said they do not dare to use the language, even though they had occasions to do so. This theme of being afraid to use the language arose in replies to the last question as well and it will be discussed further in the following sections. On the other hand, some of the participants have made an extra effort to improve their language skills, in watching movies with subtitles for example.