Somatically-enhanced approach (SEA) in intensive Thai course for academic purposes

  • Paitaya Meesat

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis has endeavoured to evaluate the efficacy of the Somatically- Enhanced Approach (SEA) for Mandarin Chinese students learning Thai as a second language (Chinese students) in an intensive Thai course for academic purposes (TAP). There are two objectives in this research. The first is to identify difficulties encountered by students when they are listening and speaking in a Thai medium academic setting. The second is to investigate the effectiveness of SEA in an intensive Thai course for academic purposes in solving problems identified in objective 1. TAP employed communicative activities based on the strategies and activities used in SEA to train Chinese students to perceive and produce intelligible Thai prosody. These strategies involved relaxing the body, humming, clapping, using movement and gestures in the teaching of Thai. Drama techniques were also used to train Chinese students to detect the discourse features of Thai in academic lectures. The activities in TAP with SEA were concerned with focusing on prosody such as tone, rhythm, and intonation of Thai language, not on consonants or vowels or lexical tones as separate entities. TAP with SEA provided learners with a routine containing three phases which are (1) the sensitization phase; (2) the consolidation phase; and (3) the utilization phase. The analysis of the test scores from the Academic listening test, the Summarizing test, the Public exit test and the Speaking test using t-tests revealed that, after the SEA treatment, Chinese students in the experimental group improved their listening performance to a level sufficient to grasp the subject matter of academic lectures. They also outperformed the control group in terms of listening performance. This study also revealed that after the SEA treatment Chinese students in the experimental group employed more cognitive and metacognitive strategies when listening to academic lectures in Thai. These findings demonstrated that SEA in TAP had positive impact and benefit on Chinese students’ listening proficiency by making them more effective listeners. Moreover, after the SEA treatment, Chinese students in the experimental group improved their speaking proficiency. Their improved performances in speaking skills were rated much more native-like compared with their performance before intervention by a panel of 9 native speakers. Moreover, the average rating of the students’ performances in the experimental group in the post speaking tests was higher compared with that before the intervention. Chinese students in the experimental group also demonstrated improvement on Thai prosody production. The number of speech errors in prosodic features such as tone, stress and pause were reduced by 50% compared to the data collected before the treatment. Furthermore, after the SEA treatment, Chinese students’ Thai speech became more fluent according to fluency standard as defined as increased speech rate, number of syllables per minute, number of long sentences, increased mean length of runs between pauses, and a decrease in the number of inappropriate pauses. Such findings provide evidence that active learning strategies used in TAP can achieve long term positive impact on students’ listening and speaking performances.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorFelicia Zhang (Supervisor) & Eleni Petraki (Supervisor)

    Cite this