Date of Award

5-5-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Jeannine M. Fontaine, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sharon K. Deckert, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Eugene F. Thibadeau, Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation explores the perceptions prevalent in the discourse community of English teachers in Thailand regarding the role of English and English Language Teaching (ELT). In particular, this study seeks to determine to what extent these perceptions show characteristics of de facto colonialism in the local ELT context, which is identified by critical applied linguists. The participants were Thai teachers of English from the lower northern region of the country. Data were derived from two sources: a questionnaire and e-mail interviews. In response to the main question posed in this research—What signs, if any, are there of de facto colonialism embedded in the ELT context of a non-colonized nation, Thailand? Characteristics of colonialism can be explained in four interrelated dimensions, namely, scholastic, linguistic, cultural, and economic. In the first dimension, Thai scholarship and wisdom are perceived as inferior to those of English native speakers, at least in the view of the Thai TESOL professionals. Secondly, the teacher participants agree that Thai students will be better English users if they conform to the language patterns and norms of native speakers. Moreover, it is perceived that Thai students will learn English better if they know Western native-speakers’ culture. Finally, the participants state that it is preferable to offer more and better job opportunities for English teachers in the country if they are native speakers from the West. Given the results of the study, it can safely be assumed that to certain extent colonial values can be observed through the local teachers’ perceptions. The dissertation concludes with suggestions and recommendations for not only Thai teachers of English, but also others involved in the local ELT. We, Thais, have to be aware that ELT in the country has been influenced by views favoring ‘nativeness,’ or ‘native-speakerism.’ This ideology cannot equip us to fully participate in richly multicultural English-using communities that are emerging in the 21st century global environment. Further, evaluation schemes should not be designed to assess Thai students’ performance against the British or American norms or to measure to what extent they conform to such dominant ‘native’ patterns and models.

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