English language learning in the margins: Toward a movement to help service-industry workers in Thailand.

Authors

ผศ.ดร.Yu-Hsiu Lee

Published

Theory and Practice in Language Studies

Abstract

This paper examined the largely unexplored effects of exposure to foreign
customers’ language (eg, English) as informal learning for service-industry
workers, a pattern common in developing countries where resources to
learn English were not widely accessible to lower-status workers in the
labor market. It also pointed out the paucity of research on service-industry
workers’ language development in applied and sociolinguistic literature.
This pilot study adopted two analytical tools, the magnet of trend’s model
and the concept of “quadrant,” to highlight the English learning opportunities
provided for the service-industry workers in a developing country, and
explored how the development of their language abilities enabled them
to expand and navigate more quadrants. Field visits and qualitative interviews
were undertaken to gather data from the sample, consisted of 200 participants.
Broad content analysis conventions were deployed to interpret interview
data and field notes derived from observations, aimed at combining both
emic and etic (interactional) data. The paper reported the role of
English-speaking customers as informal tutors to facilitate these
workers’ English language development. This paper turned to different
case studies of exemplar workers who reported following the
English-for-customer (EFC) pattern, because they illustrated two themes
common across the sample studied. The results revealed that, among
these workers,(1) educational background and (2) exposure to
English-speaking customers in an informal educational setting may
contribute to fostering the learning of English.

(2559). English language learning in the margins: Toward a movement to help service-industry workers in Thailand. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2016(4), 649-662.