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Pedagogical and Implementation Issues in Teaching English to Thai Taxi Drivers

Janpha Thadphoothon As English is not their mother tongue, Thai taxi drivers, in general, are not keen to converse in English with foreigners or visitors to the kingdom, affecting their ability to provide effective service. Their difficulties in speaking English have been experienced and recognized by Thai society at large. Many of them lack confidence; they may avoid providing services to the non-Thai passengers. However, some manage to pidginize the language, focusing on the message, not the accuracy, and that has proven to be successful. Attempts to help develop their English skills have been done by various agencies, but often with little success. This paper looks into the pedagogical and implementation issues in relation to the success of teaching Thai taxi drivers basic English under the constraints of time and other infrastructural limitations. It describes a community-service project called: Teaching Basic English to Thai Taxi Drivers, an integration of a course on cross-cultural communication and a community service program. The project began in 2012 as part of the action plan of the English Department of Dhurakij Pundit university. It involved the interviews of Thai taxi drivers and the discourse analysis of those scripts, lesson planning and writing and the production of the audio CDs. The presentation will discuss implementation and pedagogical issues related to the project implementation. In particular, it will discuss some salient examples of the English lessons developed by the student participants and the feedback from the taxi drivers.

Bio Dr. Janpha Thadphoothon works as an English teacher at the Faculty of Arts, Dhurakij Pundit University, Bangkok, Thailand. He graduated with a B.A. in Education from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, in 1993 and an M.A. (Industrial & Organizational Psychology) from Thammasat University, in 2000. He received an Advanced Certificate in TEFL (Distance Education) from SEAMEO Regional Language Center, Singapore. He holds a doctorate in education from the University of Canberra, Australia.