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Problems for learners in ThailandWhen teaching thai students we need to be aware of a number of potential problems that may affect their ability to learn or may require a bit more attention. These potential problems include, but are not limited to, the students past educational experiences and the style of traditional teaching in thailand
. There are differences in structure between the thai language and the english language. There are differences in pronunciation, and also the fact that thai is a tonal language and english is not. These all create problems for thai people wanting to learn english.
In Thailand there is a different approach to teaching, and it is often noted that Native english teachers approach teaching in quite a different way. In the thai educational system they have a greater emphasis on memorising grammar rules and vocabulary. This means that students may become better at reading and writing skills quite quickly, but will struggle more with speaking and listening skills. It is important as a Teacher to maximise the opportunity for students to use all four of these skills. If you notice that speaking and listening skills are falling behind then concentrate on these areas more heavily. thai students are non-confrontational and are unlikely to give feedback about a lesson unless specifically asked. Make sure you include feedback sessions in your classes to ensure you are meeting the needs of the students.
Structural differences between the thai and english language also present many problems. To start with we use a different alphabet. Students have to learn the Roman alphabet and learn how to create the letters. Sentences are structured differently between the two languages. In a thai sentence, they will often leave out the subject and the object. This transfers to english, and in a subject-verb-object sentence it makes little sense. It is common for them to misuse auxiliary verbs, for example “where you go?” instead of “where are you going?” They also often omit verbs such as ‘go / to be’. The thai writing system differs hugely from english. They don’t use capital letters, don’t have gaps between words and use very few punctuation marks. Their nouns and verbs don’t change form and they use only one tense, so it can be hard for students to grasp the rather complicated tense system in english.
There are many different sounds that we make in the english language that they don’t make in the thai language. It can be hard for students to pick up these sounds. They typically have trouble pronouncing ‘r’ and ‘l’ and also ‘th’, ‘sh’, ‘ch’. Quite often when speaking they will drop off the final consonant of the word. This can be overcome through practise and drilling. You may have to teach the student how to make the sound.
thai is a tonal language, whereas english is not. Their tone will naturally come across when they speak english which can cause problems as they stress the wrong part of the word. Again this can be overcome through drilling.
There are many problems for thai students learning the english language, but they can all be overcome through effective teaching from their ESL teacher!
Voicu Mihnea Simandan, 2010. ‘Learner Difficulties for thai Students.’ www.simandan.com/?p=383
Richard Scott, 2006, ‘TEFL Problems Faced by thai Students Learning english’ www.teflcorp.com