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«By Kirati Khuvasanond A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Curriculum and Teaching and the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University ...»

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Kirati Khuvasanond

A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Curriculum and Teaching and the

Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Kansas

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Dissertation Committee:


Dr. Marc Mahlios, Chairperson _________________________________

Dr. Meagan Patterson, Minor Advisor _________________________________

Dr. Manuela Gonzalez-Bueno _________________________________

Dr. Heidi Hallman _________________________________

Dr. David P. Hurford Date Defended: ____________________________

Copyright 2013 Kirati Khuvasanind ii The Dissertation Committee for Kirati Khuvasanond certifies

that this is the approved version of the following dissertation:





Dr. Marc Mahlios, Chairperson Date Approved: ___________________________

iii ABSTRACT This study focused on three different techniques used for teaching vocabulary to English as Foreign Language (EFL) students in Thailand. The purpose of this study was to find the “best” possible match of instructional technique with selected cultural elements in Thai 6th grade classroom. The study, conducted with 10 EFL teachers and 599 EFL students in Thailand, took the form of pretest-posttest and questionnaire for students, and interview for both students and teachers. To determine the effectiveness of three instructional techniques, students were asked to complete a pretest and posttest on vocabulary. In between the pretest and posttest, teachers were asked to teach vocabulary lessons to their students following a prescribed plan according to the instructional technique assigned to each classroom. Students were asked to complete a questionnaire asking about their feedback toward the instructional techniques and cultural factors that effected learning environment. Teachers and students were asked about their perspectives and cultural factors that effect teaching and learning effectiveness during the interview session. Results indicated that in terms of learning effectiveness, students who received Teacher-centered instructional technique performed better in some parts of vocabulary test than those who received Learner-centered instructional technique. Within Learnercentered instructional technique, students who received Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) instructional technique outperformed students who received Jigsaw instructional technique. In terms of cultural elements, the results indicated that CIRC and Jigsaw are better matched with Thai 6th grade classrooms than Teachercentered. The study provides suggestions and recommendations for Thai classroom on the instructional technique that better match with Thai teachers and students in terms of

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I wish to thank the individuals who participated in this research study. I appreciate the students and teachers who provided feedback and personal perspectives toward teaching and learning in Thai classrooms.

I would like to express gratitude to my committee members, Drs. Marc Mahlios, Meagan Patterson, Manuela Gonzalez-Bueno, Heidi Hallman, and David Hurford. I might never pursued my doctoral degree without all the committee members support. I would like to thank Dr. Marc Mahlios, research chairperson, who always inspiring and encourage me to accomplish this research and always believing in me and my ability.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents, Mr. Somchai Khuvasanond, Mrs.

Pensiri Khuvasanond, who always supporting me on every step of my life. Special thanks to my brothers, Mr. Kittisak Poolsawat, Mr. Peerapong Surawan, and Phramaha Rithtirut Piyaseero (Butdee), who helped in contacting schools in Thailand and always

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Figure 3 A simple Path Model of Cooperative Learning Processes. 18 Mean Score by Type of Skill, Pretest, and Posttest in Figure 4

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Figure 8 Students’ Feedback toward Jigsaw Classroom Instruction 63 Figure 9 Students’ Feedback toward CIRC Classroom Instruction 64 Figure 10 Students’ Feedback toward Teacher-Centered Classroom

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Table 4 Relative Effectiveness of Vocabulary Learning Methods 27 Vocabulary and Technique Applied to Students in Each Table 5

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Overview With the increasing use of the English language in Asian countries, it is important, especially to educators, to understand English language instruction with an awareness of students‟ background cultures to be able to provide better introduction for students to improve their English ability. The general intent of this study was to compare and contrast the use of cooperative learning methods and traditional teaching approaches in teaching English vocabulary to Thai students. It has been shown that vocabulary is one of the most significant factors in improving English language skills for those who study English as a foreign language (EFL). However, in Thailand for example, students learn a great deal of vocabulary largely by memorizing vocabulary lists, but still face problems of actually “knowing a word,” including its form, meaning, and use, which prevents them from advancing their overall English ability (Jenpattarakul, 2012).

Some educators (Jacobs & Farrell, 2001) have argued that a learner-centered teaching approach is a better way to advance language learning. Nation (2001) explained that cooperative learning methods help in getting learners to explore both a variety of word meanings and a variety of elements of meaning that a word contains. However, to apply a learner-centered approach in the traditional teacher-centered pedagogical environment has been a great challenge for decades in Southeast Asian countries. This resistance is due to social and cultural paradigms that undergird many Thai classrooms and, specifically, the important role that cultural norms exert in affecting teacher-student relationships and teaching-learning in classrooms.

Background in Understanding the Thailand Context The teacher-centered approach has been the norm in Thai education for more than five decades. Students in Thailand attain a great deal of knowledge through repeating after teachers and through memorization of words. Park (2009) explained that the learning characteristics of Southeast Asian students have distinct and diverse cultural values, such as respect for authority, commitment to family tradition, and a strong social hierarchy. Their learning is more likely to be passive and of a nonverbal style.

Nonkukhetkhong, Baldauf Jr., and Moni (2006), and Wiriyachitra (2002) indicated that the traditional Thai education system, which is teacher-centered, focuses on passive strategies that require students to wait to receive knowledge from their teachers. Because of this, Thai students sometimes have difficulties in making choices about their own learning. For example, Thai students, faced with the problem of choosing their project‟s topic, take a long time to make the decision about their topic when teachers give students freedom to choose their own topic. This problem of Thai students having trouble making decisions was reported in ASTV Manager Online (2010).

Thailand and English Language Education The national language in Thailand is Thai. According to government sources, almost 100% of the population speaks Thai (National Identity Board, 2000). Other languages, such Chinese, Malay, Lao, and Khmer, are spoken by minority groups (Foley, 2005; National Identity Board, 2000). Even though Thai is the only official language and there is no official second language, English is, in fact, a second language used widely in the country. Moreover, English abilities are perceived as a fundamental skill for professional advancement. Kachru‟s (1998) circles of English placed Thailand in the Expanding Circle of English users. This means English is not a native language of Thai students, but English is used in education, international communication, and business.

(See Figure 1 for the three concentric circles of Asian English).

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Figure 1 :Three Concentric Circles of Asian English (Populations are thousands).

Source: Kachru, 1988.

Under the Thai National Education Act (NEA) of B.E. 2542 (1999) (Office of National Education Commission, 1999), one of the foci is on the nature of the learning process occurring in all subject areas in which NEA is recommending a change to a more learner-centered pedagogy. To become “Learner-centered,” according to the NEA, requires teachers to modify their traditional role from being a “teller or source of knowledge” to being a “facilitator of knowledge.” However, teachers who teach English as a foreign language (EFL) in Thailand still predominantly use a teacher-centered approach, mainly relying on lecture, textbook and grammar translation, which are the approaches with which current teachers are familiar and which are consistent with dominant cultural norms (Maskhao, 2002; Thamraksa, 2003). Manchak and Manchak (2006) suggested that Thai education reform is needed to help students use English effectively. As shown in the national examination, students‟ average score on university entrance examinations in English have not reached 50%. Similar results from the Office of the Education Council (ONEC) also revealed that the results of Thai youth‟s English proficiency is below, and cannot compete with, other countries. To better reflect English proficiency in Thailand, countries surveyed for adult English proficiency results showed that Thailand ranked 42nd out of 44 countries. This means Thailand ranks below neighbor countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malasia (Bangkok Post, 2012a). In addition, the Bangkok Post (2012b) reported that Thailand is ranked ninth out of 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in English proficiency.

Policy under the Tenth National Economic and Social Development Plan (2007National Economic and Social Development Board, Office the Prime Minister,

2007) stated that the Thai educational system would be investing in improving quality.

The Bureau of International Cooperation (2008) reported that this policy addressed the development of curricula, instructional media, and so forth. Transforming language

learning is one of the specific teaching and learning reform plans in Thailand:

The Ministry of Education is leading the transformation of the education system with a strategy based upon enhancing moral and ethical values together with a core program for improving quality in education.…Transforming language learning: transforming and developing the teacher and learning of language, using authentic materials and learning situations; including the English Program (EP) aimed at providing full or partial Thai national curriculum subject in English. (p. 10) The improvement of Thai education in foreign language learning, specifically English, is not only just for the purpose of using a language but also because it is a medium to bring Thailand to the international standard at the top of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.

The AEC is a single regional common market of ASEAN countries scheduled to be in operation by 2015. Known as ASEAN, it is made up of 10 countries: (a) Brunei, (b) Cambodia, (c) Indonesia, (d) Laos, (e) Malaysia, (f) Myanmar, (g) the Philippines, (h) Singapore, (i) Thailand, and (j) Vietnam. The aim of the AEC is to create a competitive market for people in ASEAN countries, with a free flow of goods, services, investment capital, and skilled labor. AEC citizens will be able to work and move freely among these 10 countries (Bangkok Post, 2012b) The Thai government, aware of the AEC campaign and created many policies to help prepare the Thai people to join the AEC in 2015. One thing the Thai government is aware of is the English proficiency among the Thai people. English is to be the language for commerce and communication in the AEC. Chongkittavorn (2012) reported that the Thai Ministry of Education brought up a “Let‟s learn English” campaign to provide English education to Thai people with skills and language ability who can communicate with other Asian countries.

Instruction type is one of the factors that could help improve teaching a language in the classroom. Three teaching models were involved in this research: (a) teachercentered, (b) Jigsaw, and (c) Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC).

Each of these three models has a unique process of approach in the classroom. In addition, each of these models has different characteristics that have high potentials to be good matches with the Thai socio-cultural background in Thai classrooms.

Teacher-centered instruction has been the norm in Thai education for more than five decades. Almost all students in Thailand attain a great deal of knowledge through repeating after teachers and through memorizing. While some group work is involved in classroom learning, groups in Thai classrooms are more likely to set up through traditional learning groups, where students just work together. There is no interdependence and no individual accountability involved in the group work. Some students in the group might be passive members and wait for other members to lead and do work. This leads to only a few members mastering the learning material while other members do not.

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