National Language Policy and English Language Teaching Practice in Thailand: English as the Language of Commerce

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Phohnthip Smithsarakarn

Abstract

This paper examines national language policy (NLP) and English Language Teaching (ELT) practices in Thailand, with a particular focus on English for commerce. The study highlights the link between NLP and ELT in the Thai case and identifies key constraints of ELT that indirectly led to the policy's partially successful outcomes before highlighting an alternative approach to overcome these challenges. The Thai National Language Policy plan was launched in 2006. English is adopted as a language of commerce to support the NLP’s goal in strengthening economic development. However, though awareness of the importance of ELT has increased, results in English proficiency are still unsatisfactory. This article argues that Thailand's NLP has raised awareness of English as an International Language (EIL) and medium of communication. Unfortunately, teaching practices and assessments in Thailand have remained important. This article proposes that the combination of EIL and intercultural communicative competence concept (ICC) is an alternative framework for addressing constraints in ELT and enhancing the effectiveness of English for commerce policy. To support this argument, this article highlights the status of English before addressing the critical challenges with ELT. Finally, this paper reiterates that the complementary relationship between EIL and ICC is an alternative option for directly addressing ELT’s challenges, indirectly enhancing NLP’s purpose of using English as the language of commerce for economic development at local and international levels in this borderless global community.

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