Thai second language writing: the development of language knowledge and cross-cultural influence

WOODWARD, Nigel (2014). Thai second language writing: the development of language knowledge and cross-cultural influence. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

A key element in improving both the assessment and learning of English as a second language (ESL) in English-medium schools is a deeper understanding of how language knowledge develops. However, relatively few studies have investigated the development of academic language in learners with ESL, and there appear to be no studies of this kind focusing on Thai learners. This study investigates the language knowledge of Thai learners of English in an English-medium international school in Bangkok, Thailand. The objective of the study was to understand both the developmental trajectory of features of academic language and the influence of Thai culture on English writing. The writing of two groups of Thai learners in year 9 of secondary school, Early Immersion (6-10 years in English-medium education) and Late Immersion (3-4 years of English-medium education) was compared. The writing of these two groups was also compared to that of English mother tongue (EMT) writers of similar age and the Thai writing of a group of Thai students of similar age studying in a Thai secondary school. The broad developmental pattern of Thai learners of English in this environment can be summarized as a movement from simplicity, through complexity to control and towards increasing flexibility. Late Immersion writers have achieved a degree of complexity but still lack control of some basic elements of clause structure. Early Immersion writers have achieved control of these features and are moving towards increasing flexibility, marked by the developing use of logical and experiential grammatical metaphor. Some features differentiating the English writing of Thai and English mother tongue writers can be best explained as the results of cultural influence. These include a tendency for Thai writers to make relatively frequent use of modal verbs with a deontic function when writing on certain topics and to be more indirect and less explicit when expressing opinions. The findings of the study have implications for both assessment and teaching. Assessment tools for both EMT and ESL writers would benefit from a more direct and precise reference to linguistic elements. Similarly, when teaching learners with ESL alongside EMT learners in secondary English classrooms, planning and teaching that includes exploration of how the grammar of English enables effective communication would arguably be appropriate for both groups.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2014 12:53
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2015 12:41
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8556

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