A critical analysis of the 2001 national foreign language standards-based curriculum in the Thai school system

  • Supanit Kulsiri

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The status of English language has increased over the years as a tool for international communication. The Thai government emphasises that English language education has now become part of the full driving force for national development. This research implies that in order to cultivate Thai learners of English to meet social demands, sound theoretical and coherent philosophical bases of curriculum are essential in the curriculum planning process. This research analyses the new official English language curriculum for the Thai school system: "English language learning strands and standards under Basic Education curriculum 2001" (English language standards-based curriculum, ESB Curriculum),which in 2001 was promulgated as the new official English language curriculum. This research reveals both the coherence and incoherence of the theoretical and philosophical bases of the Thai ESB curriculum, identifies strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum and makes recommendations for curriculum revision and curriculum development that could result in positive and effective changes in English language teaching and learning in Thailand. This thesis rests on the premise that principles underlying decisions made in curriculum planning will have a major impact on the effectiveness of the curriculum. It follows that difficulties with foreign language education nowadays are a consequence of the incoherence of philosophical, theoretical, and social bases of curriculum design. This research analyses the English language curriculum by asking questions about who was involved in the curriculum planning process and what were the decision making mechanism and processes involved in its planning. The research is different from other research in curriculum studies in Thailand that aim only at curriculum implementation and evaluation. Three sources of data have contributed to the analysis of the curriculum: curriculum-related documents, interviews with the curriculum committees, and interviews and questionnaires with school teachers. The analysis has shown that (1) the curriculum was developed with input from numerous experts and various groups of stakeholders which affected the underlying principles, philosophical and theoretical bases of education and English language teaching and learning; (2) the theoretical and philosophical bases of the curriculum were found to be incoherent among curriculum elements; (3) the curriculum has problems at the level of meaning and this has led to the difficulty of conveying the philosophy of Thai education to the school level. The study has found that the incoherence of the theoretical underpinnings of the curriculum elements leads to misunderstanding, misinterpretation and misuse of the curriculum. The implication for future research is to stress a critical literacy approach to English language education and curriculum development. In this way, English language is seen as a language for empowerment, knowledge enhancement, social development and development of learners as a part of Globalisation and Information Age in the 2lst Century as also stated in the Thai National Education Act 1999.
    Date of Award2006
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAndrew Lian (Supervisor), Jeremy Jones (Supervisor) & John COLLARD (Supervisor)

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