Highlights

Chula Organizes the 22nd Chula The Impact Academic Forum “Mastering Thai at Your Own Pace: Soft Power through Self-Directed Learning” Enhancing Soft Power Through Thai Language for Foreigners

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 The Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University in collaboration with the Thailand Foundation is promoting the learning of Thai language as a new form of Soft Power which is rapidly gaining popularity internationally.  It has now launched language instructional media for teaching Thai in nine languages via   Chula MOOC and the E-book format.


Thailand’s Soft Power trend is being given attention internationally. It is a vital tool to be used in promoting the economic growth of the country bringing in numerous foreign tourists from all over the world, earning Thailand one of the highest rankings as a tourist destination.   It is crucial, therefore, that instructional media for the teaching of Thai in a foreign language for foreigners be provided.    The Center for Thai as a Foreign Language, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University has worked with the Thailand Foundation to produce Communicative Thai for Foreigners video clips in 9 languages to be featured via Chula MOOC and in an E-book format, an innovative response to Thailand’s Soft Power concept which has attracted significant interest nationally and internationally.  

Mastering Thai at Your Own Pace: Soft Power through Self-Directed Learning

At the 22nd Chula the Impact “Mastering Thai at Your Own Pace: Soft Power through Self-Directed Learning” academic forum organized by Chulalongkorn University Communication Center at the Center for Digital Humanities, Boromrajakumari Building, Faculty of Arts on Thursday April 4, 2024, Assoc. Professor Dr. Suradech Chotiudompant Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Asst. Prof. Dr. Kiat Thepchuaysuk Director of the Center for Thai as a Foreign Language, Faculty of Arts and Mr. Tharit Charungvat Secretary-General of the Thailand Foundation discussed the key role played by instructional media for the teaching of Thai for foreign learners to provide them with the opportunity for basic learning and comprehension of the language.  The forum was moderated by Asst. Prof. Dr. Jessada Salathong, Department of Mass Communication, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University.    

ศ.ดร.บัณฑิต-เอื้ออาภรณ์-อธิการบดีจุฬาฯ
Professor Bundhit Eua-arporn, Ph.D.
President

Assoc. Professor Dr. Suradech Chotiudompant Dean of the Faculty of Arts explained the notion of the Thai language as Soft Power and that Thai language plays an important part in creating Soft Power because Thai people mainly use Thai as their medium for communication. Therefore, if foreigners who come to live in Thailand will use only English in order to communicate they might fall short in certain areas of their communication and the ability to better appreciate and understand Thailand.  Having a basic knowledge of Thai should help provide such comprehension and enhance the experience of the country as a tourist.  Thailand is now well known for its potentials in tourism and is ranked as one of the top tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.  Now that the situation regarding the spread of COVID-19 has eased a project such as this which aims to develop Thai language instructional material for foreigners is a vital tool to enable foreigners to access Thai with greater ease via an online platform.  What is remarkable about the Communicative Thai for Foreigners video clips is that it does not rely only on English as its medium of instruction but with languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean it should appeal to foreign tourists who are visiting Thailand from a number of countries. 

Assoc. Professor Dr. Suradech Chotiudompant Dean of the Faculty of Arts
Assoc. Professor Dr. Suradech Chotiudompant
Dean of the Faculty of Arts

For Asst. Prof. Dr. Kiat Thepchuaysuk Director of Chula’s Center for Thai as a Foreign Language, Faculty of Arts, the Center is committed to encouraging and developing all aspects of Thai as a foreign language be it offering courses and programs at Chulalongkorn University as well as programs for the general public.  It also works on developing teachers of Thai for foreign students, research on Thai as a foreign language as well as the production of teaching materials for Thai as a foreign language.  Communicative Thai for Foreigners video clips is a convenient way to access the language that targets foreigners who are interested in learning Thai anytime and anywhere with relative ease.    

Asst. Prof. Dr. Kiat Thepchuaysuk Director of Chula’s Center for Thai as a Foreign Language, Faculty of Arts
Asst. Prof. Dr. Kiat Thepchuaysuk Director of Chula’s Center for Thai as a Foreign Language, Faculty of Arts

Asst. Prof. Dr. Kiat further explained that the clips are very user-friendly for foreigners since they do not require the ability to read or write Thai using the Thai script.  Instead the words are presented through linguistic phonetics that has been adapted to the teaching and learning of the language to enable the learner to grasp the pronunciation of various words and sentences.   The content of these clips concentrates on basic communication for example ordering food, shopping, travel, introducing oneself, talking about one’s family etc.   Communicative Thai for Foreigners comes in 9 languages – Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, English, German, French, Russian and Spanish.  

“Aside from being disseminated along with an E-book companion on two platforms, the Chula MOOC and the Thailand Foundation website, the video clips are also a part of the “Basic Thai for Communication” and “Basic Thai for Foreigners” courses being offered to students.  So far the response we have received from our students who have used these clips has been overwhelmingly positive.”  Asst. Prof. Dr. Kiat concluded. 

As Secretary-General of the Thailand Foundation, Mr. Tharit Charungvat observed that the Thai language is currently gaining traction among foreigners since there are increasingly more numbers of migrant workers and businessmen who are working here in this country.  Thailand is also a hub for various types of educational and medical services, for example.  Interestingly, we also now see the proliferation of entertainment media from Thailand that is now highly popular whether they are films, series or even songs that have gone viral on the internet with a global reach for an audience that wishes to better understand the medium being presented.   The Thailand Foundation which is affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conducting Thailand’s public diplomacy realizes the need to offer Thai language course for foreign language speakers and has therefore sought a partner to create a program for teaching Thai as a foreign language to cover as many regions around the world as possible.   It has worked in collaboration with Chulalongkorn University to produce teaching materials for Thai using foreign languages in the E-book form that one can download from the Thailand Foundation’s website.  In addition to this, the Thailand Foundation has also worked with Chulalongkorn University, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus and Princess of Naradhiwas University to produce materials for teaching Thai in Arabic Hindi, Bahasa Indonesia and Turkish. 

Mr. Tharit Charungvat
Secretary-General of the Thailand Foundation
Mr. Tharit Charungvat
Secretary-General of the Thailand Foundation

For those who are interested the 22nd Chula The Impact “Mastering Thai at Your Own Pace: Soft Power through Self-Directed Learning” forum can be found on this link.

Chula is the place to discover one’s true individuality and the years I spent here were most enjoyable.

Rossukhon Kongket Alumni, Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University

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