Budsaba Kanoksilapatham is a Professor of English in the English Department, Faculty of Arts at Silpakorn University, Thailand. She received her PhD in Linguistics (Concentration of Applied Linguistics) from Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA. Throughout her academic career, she has provided both professional and community service, locally, regionally, and internationally. With her extensive experience of teaching and researching English education over the years, she has frequently been invited to give keynote speeches and presentations at national, regional, and international conferences. In addition, she has served on the editorial and advisory boards of a number of international refereed journals. In 2015, she was appointed by the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) to be a TRF Senior Research Scholar in English.
Glocal Synergies for Young Learners: Global English Lessons, Local Thai Content
Recent studies have shown that English education can be harnessed as a means to foster other bodies of knowledge. With the focal point on the synergy of global English and Thai identity, this presentation highlights two crucial issues that deserve scrutiny. First, it should be noted that for young Thai learners, local Thai identity - rather than national identity - needs to be prioritized for their identity formation. Second, English education scenarios in Thailand are generally paradoxical. That is, although Thai learners’ overall English skills are not satisfactory, in certain urban communities, the future of English education can be quite rosy, whereas that in many rural communities seems to be quite bleak. This presentation highlights the role of local culture or local Thainess in English education. Methodologically, three different sets of local Thainess-based English lessons representing three different parts of Thailand (the northeast, north, and south) were systematically constructed. Subsequently the sets were implemented at four elementary schools in each corresponding part of Thailand over an 11 week period. Based on a number of assessments employed, the global English lessons based on local Thai culture contributed positively to strengthening the English competence of these young learners. By extension, through these lessons, the learners’ identity can be formulated and expanded to national identity and regional identity with additional cultural exposure. Finally, the currently prevailing disparity in English education in Thailand can be greatly reduced when these local students can express a sense of authority of their own cuture through English, sharpening their voice and identity, resulting in an equitable society and sustainable national development.