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Common problems for Thai students of EnglishBy overlooking materials from an online tefl course, a text of a first-hand account of teaching in thailand, and a critical study of successful methods of teaching english to Thai students, this paper will explain common obstacles that Thai students encounter when learning english, as well as an introduction to a number of methods best suited to cater to those unique problems. We will examine the key elements in learning a new language, and then how those elements apply to Thai language and culture. Finally, we will look at a few ways to potentially overcome these obstacles as a teacher in thailand. Ratana Pawapatcharaudom writes that there are five variables in action when gauging the potential success of a student learning a language in a classroom: 1. Linguistics 2. Socio-cultural effects on language learning 3. Intercultural communication barriers 4. Learning strategies 5. Differences in educational systems and backgrounds (Pawapatcharaudom 4) Though these problems tend to simmer together, they are distinct in their influence on the learning experience. Concerning linguistics, students must be competent in numerous areas of the english language in order to successfully demonstrate in. Studies found that most commonly "...Asian students encounter the linguistic problems such as writing composition, listening comprehension and plagiarism" (6). Sociocultural studies reveal that language and culture are developed together and "... that learning language relates to social structure, culture and power relations between learners and members of the society" (7). Intercultural communication barriers include all levels of assumptions, prejudice, and ethnocentrism regarding a given culture (and its language) as well as just general communication anxiety. Learning strategies are the methods being used by the learner to acquire new language, and the difference between educational systems and backgrounds is significant between most western countries and thailand. More simply, ITTT agrees with Pawapatcharaudom, but categorizes the general learning variables in terms of motivation, nervousness, language awareness, behavior problems, life experience, culture and first language, and language level (ITTT unit 1). It can be said that the problems that arise in Thai students learning english are related to the level of immersion into the socio-cultural english that they are given, as well as the extent to which teachers address the differences in Thai culture and learning systems and how they apply to foreign language acquisition. Mike Fook writes that Thai schools, language, and culture are very different from a western perspective. There is a much higher value placed on status, rapport, and community respect in Thai culture; Fook calls this "Thai Face". "Face is one of the underlying attributes concerning Thai behavior...Extra care is taken by all Thais not to step on those that are in high social positions. One that has a high position in society will be embarrassed more easily" (Fook 537). As an english teacher in thailand it's very important to be aware of this, and to be extra careful to give fair judgment to all class members. Also, given that inevitably there will be a loss of face at some point in a classroom, it is important that the teacher promotes a friendly atmosphere where mistakes are acceptable and active learning is supported. A friendly atmosphere is also important because in most traditional Thai classrooms, there is a heavy emphasis on rote memorization and recitation, and it is more teacher-dominated and rigidly organized. In contrast to traditional Thai educational systems, however, studies show that language is acquired faster and more precisely when the students are actively engaged in the learning material and are regularly encouraged to be creative with language (Pawapatcharaudom 23-4). Thus, a welcoming and immersive classroom is a must. All the studies referenced in Pawapatcharaudom's essay point to writing as being the key difficulty for Thai students, followed by listening. This is likely because it contains all the primary obstacles for Thai students of english. In order to write effectively, one needs the ability to creatively engage a topic without a significant worry for making mistakes (at least at first). The teacher must promote a classroom where creativity is a must and where mistakes are perfectly acceptable. Works Cited ITTT. TEFL Course. N.p.: ITTT, 2012. Print Fook, Mike. The Ultimate Guide to teaching english in thailand. N.p.: Amazon.com, n.d. Print. Pawapatcharaudom, Ratana. An Investigation of Thai Students? english Language Problems and Their Learning Strategies in the International Program at Mahidol University. Http://www.gits.kmutnb.ac.th. Mahidol University, 2007. Web. 30 June 2012.