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Positioning in multilingual classrooms: a case study of Thai students in a British University

By Singhanat Nomnian


The rapid growth of international students in UK higher education increases linguistic diversity in academic and social contexts in a British university, and that raises issues regarding the extent to which multilingualism influences interactions and inter-relationships between tutors and international students within classroom settings. This study explores the factors affecting the ways Thai students position themselves in relation to their tutors and peers with regard to oral participation in pre-sessional EAP and postgraduate classrooms. The data were collected from seven Thai students by means of semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, and English speaking logs from July 2005-April 2006. Drawing upon Creese and Martin's (2003) multilingual classroom ecologies, Pavlenko and Blackledge's (2004) identities in multilingual contexts, this study reveals how the construction of the Thai students' identities is influenced by linguistic ideologies and power relations existing within classroom settings and the wider socio-political environment. Based on positioning theory (Davies and Harré, 1990; van Langenhove and Harré, 1999), the data analysis uncovers four key factors affecting Thai students' positioning in the pre-sessional classroom. These factors include tutors' teaching styles and methods, as well as their implicit expectations about student participation which significantly impact on Thai students' involvement in class and group activities. Classmates also play a crucial role with regard to Thai students' willingness to engage in class discussions which is related to their relationships and the Thai students' attitudes towards their classmates' linguistic diversity. Thai students' personal identities and agency are vital in their decisions to take up participative subject positions in order to achieve their academic goals. There is also an interplay between social interactions outside the class and Thai students' language use within the class. In MSc Marketing classrooms, there are three additional factors, including lecturers' linguistic diversity, the perception of students from other business disciplines, and the large class size, which crucially determines the extent to which Thai students want to take part in class and group discussions. This study suggests EAP tutors acknowledge the status of English as an international language to enhance international students' classroom participation. It is also vital to improve the attitudes of students and academic staff regarding social inclusion and tolerance towards international students who bring about a positive, intellectual and social climate within the British university landscape

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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  1. (1999). (eds.) Language, Society and Power: An Introduction. London:
  2. (1996). A critique of the neglected epistemological assumptions of educational research.
  3. a little. I think maybe this one is answer but I‟m not sure.
  4. a lot, go to class.
  5. about life experience outside the lecture?
  6. about the topic, about the lecture.
  7. all of my friends from MSc Marketing from English language
  8. all of my group is Thai friends. We speak in Thai language. I
  9. All of them is about theory. I don‟t know why I have to
  10. always recognise and know it.
  11. always use my opinion and my experience to do my presentation. If
  12. And I read a lot, have to do assignment, you know? That‟s 408 why I have to read it. I think I‟m good postgraduate student.
  13. And then what?
  14. And very useful for me.
  15. And when you disagree, what did you do?
  16. Appendix 3: English Speaking Log (I) Appendix 4: English Speaking Log (II) Appendix 5: Classroom observation field note Appendix 6: Informed Consent Form Dear _______________________, I am a Thai doctoral student
  17. Asia people, that‟s okay.
  18. assignment is very good. I think the more difficult for me is the
  19. background is the same. We can talk together. But maybe some
  20. background of case study. Because in the case study,
  21. basically when you went to class, some class you didn’t
  22. because of culture, maybe because of nationality.
  23. Because the first time I came here I think about this course is very
  24. because we know everyone.
  25. Before you present it, you have to talk with your…
  26. Black people, you know from Nigeria,
  27. Bonny explains to me about game theory about
  28. Brand communication when I study lecture 2.
  29. British teacher is easy to understand, not speak too fast or too slow.
  30. but some people if I answer it. Some people think that it‟s
  31. But this year, no. Don‟t have it. That‟s why I
  32. can do something it‟s good or not good about the topic. Maybe you
  33. can get some information from your friend.
  34. can understand because she‟s from Sri Lanka as well. I think
  35. can understand it. Maybe it‟s the same as Shanara. That‟s
  36. can use in this sentence about the specific vocabulary from marketing,
  37. can‟t understand the question either.
  38. cannot understand the question.
  39. care about it.
  40. care if someone might not like you too. When that guy said,
  41. classmate?
  42. compare with my English language class, we know everyone
  43. course with me. I can know her friend,
  44. Did he ask?
  45. Did the teacher encourage you to participate in class?
  46. did you learn any thing from the class?
  47. Did you like it?
  48. Did you understand the question?
  49. Did you want to say something?
  50. didn’t you say it in the class to show that you know I think
  51. difference between a language student and a postgraduate
  52. Difficult for me. I think I get used to it here. The difficult one may be
  53. discussed about the outside information about mobile phone. I
  54. don‟t know how I can explain, maybe has something about
  55. don‟t know why. I sit here and my friends want to sit here. That‟s
  56. don‟t know why. Maybe I have a new friend because of we have
  57. don‟t know. I don‟t know why. Sometimes I just listen and kept
  58. don‟t know. Sometime, I just share my opinion.
  59. Easy to communicate it. In a big class, we don‟t know
  60. employers as well. It‟s very useful.
  61. energy to encourage students to study with her.
  62. English language class is so small, if compare with
  63. English language course. But you can‟t familiar with your friends in
  64. fast or something like that. Sometime I can‟t understand.
  65. first time I went to class, it‟s not boring. She can make me encourage
  66. For example, what class is that?
  67. For example, you did a case study on Orange,
  68. For me to understand. We have discussion. If somebody have
  69. for postgraduate, we have time. You study only short time and you
  70. for this lecture. But I told him why you were very excited with this
  71. friends to me. Next time, if I meet her, we‟ll chat together.
  72. friends. I can know from her.
  73. From your friend?
  74. Ghana or something like that speak with me. It‟s very difficult to
  75. give something for employees and employees give something to
  76. good for this year. We don‟t have choice. You know the first time 450 many friends told me that the prospectus got different one.
  77. Greek for Vicky. I get used to with her pronunciation.
  78. group discussion. Maybe group tutorial together,
  79. group. You can discuss maybe 2 hours or 3 hours per day.
  80. had a group discussion only one time, maybe in the Library
  81. have many thing about specific one about marketing.
  82. have to do assignment and exam, finish.
  83. have to use something about the theory or about the general marketing
  84. Have you ever?
  85. He always asking about questions for “what do you think about
  86. He always skips class. You know the advertising
  87. he didn’t have any group discussion.
  88. he don‟t have any group discussion.
  89. here because of the prospectus. But this year they change it.
  90. hours with my flatmates.
  91. How about Brand and Communication? You think the lecturer is
  92. How about Human Resource Management?
  93. How about lecturers? Have you met them outside the class?
  94. How about when the lecturer walked around and asked question?
  95. How about your academic ability?
  96. How can you learn those words or vocabulary?
  97. How you can attract employees to stay with you.
  98. I alway go study everyday from 9‟o clock until 4.
  99. I can always speak here.
  100. I can know something. You know Vicky study the same
  101. I care about this one.
  102. I didn‟t present it.
  103. I didn‟t want to say. That‟s it. You know what does I mean.
  104. I don‟t know all of them.
  105. I don‟t think so. You know when we stay here, I always explain
  106. I don‟t want to answer. Sometimes, it‟s so boring.
  107. I don‟t want to move. But some of my Thai friends want to sit
  108. I don‟t want to study. But I think I spent a lot of money in
  109. I have a problem about my assignment, I‟ll ask. The last time, I ask
  110. I learn something, how to develop brand communication.
  111. I like it.
  112. I may choose to study at other university, have a small group.
  113. I mean in lecture, not in here. I think reading is really really
  114. I read a lot before the exams or before I do my
  115. I speak more than before with my flatmates. But in a lecture, I
  116. I think all of MSc Marketing,
  117. I think I will copy or imitate some pronunciation.
  118. I think it maybe can develop my skill a lot.
  119. I think it‟s very good. Because we can learn.
  120. I think it‟s very useful for me. I think I studying
  121. I think maybe if I learn something about manage people,
  122. I think my listening is improve, but I‟m not sure. If I go back
  123. I think now I read faster than before.
  124. I think so, but I don‟t mind speaking in English.
  125. I think so.
  126. I think so. I‟m very lucky to stay here. If I don‟t speak
  127. I think they will think that this one is a good good idea, maybe
  128. I think this one is not useful because we can‟t adapt for
  129. I think when have exams, it‟s more pressure. I think when I do
  130. I told my friend why I disagree with this one.
  131. I want to say something. I told somebody. But I think that‟s
  132. I was talking with Pekky,
  133. I‟ll learn something more. But I‟m not sure now I learn
  134. I‟ll speak English language everyday about more than one or two
  135. If we have to learn about case study, we need to know about the
  136. If you ask me about I like this course, I don‟t like it more than I like it.
  137. If you talk about writing I think it‟s okay. I can manage and organise
  138. If your opinion is different from theirs, what will you do?
  139. In my lecture?
  140. in one group, somebody speaks a lot, I will keep quiet.
  141. In the class discussion, when you stay in a same group of Thai
  142. In the first interview I told you. I think this one is too big class.
  143. In the library hall?
  144. In the library hall. How did you feel about that activity?
  145. international marketing and HRM, we have a discussion in a small
  146. International marketing, he is from Sri Lanka. But I think his
  147. introduced them to me. After that when I saw them, we can chat
  148. Is it different from inside and outside class?
  149. Is it different from talking with him personally?
  150. Is it good or not?” “How you develop it?” “Why
  151. is okay because we have time to arrange it.
  152. It helps me to talk more. You know some people, they didn‟t
  153. It’s a good thing to have teachers from other nationalities.
  154. It’s difficult for him or you?
  155. It’s the same. You think you participate enough.
  156. It‟s different from here.
  157. It‟s easy to talk personally. If I can‟t understand, I ask him to explain
  158. it‟s important for customers?” He always ask it. But no one answer
  159. It‟s not about five or ten years ago. When she speak, when she
  160. It‟s not difficult for me.
  161. it‟s not enough. Sometimes I forgot what should I write.
  162. It‟s not good, not bad.
  163. It‟s not new friend.
  164. it‟s not very well.
  165. It‟s so boring. But uh about uh maybe four or five lectures, it‟s very
  166. It‟s the same as semester one.
  167. It‟s the same.
  168. it‟s too difficult to show your opinion or to do something. Maybe if I
  169. It‟s very boring. In two or three lectures very boring. All of them is
  170. (2002). Jongil) from the School of Education; Ishani Chandrasekara, Dr Andrea Tsoligkas, Dr Teera Phatrapornant, Dr Supruet Thavornyuthikarn, and Dr Vee Chayakul for their (Pook, English translation, 10/08/05) Alptekin, C.
  171. just keep quiet as well. You know, some questions, I disagree but I
  172. just listen to you?
  173. K: In a big class.
  174. K: In one class of HRM, you were supposed to be a human resource
  175. K: In that group, there were Greek people as well.
  176. K: In your lecture in each class this second term.
  177. Keep quiet. I will chat with my friend I disagree.
  178. know that we have to interview in English language. I still want
  179. know, I don‟t know how can I know I improve it or not.
  180. knowing Vicky, is it easier for you to discuss with the rest of the
  181. language because we have some Taiwanese friends.
  182. Lecture 2, I think maybe it‟s the same thing. It‟s so
  183. manager deciding policies for the expat, remember?
  184. Maybe different nationality, different idea. We can get it.
  185. maybe don‟t tell you more, the limitation. If you can find
  186. Maybe if you talk something, maybe with I think that it‟s
  187. maybe it‟s useful for me as well.
  188. Maybe someone don‟t like you, someone like you.
  189. me, I think in my lecture I didn‟t practice English language, only
  190. mean all of my MSc Marketing or only my group or…
  191. mean HRM and International Marketing? I think it‟s the same.
  192. mean she speaks too fast.
  193. mean speaking and listening, that‟s okay. And maybe it‟s about
  194. mean what postgraduate student should do for studying here?
  195. more or not because you know I graduated from marketing. I think
  196. MSc marketing course. Very different.
  197. (2003). Multilingual Classroom Ecologies: InterRelationships, Interactions and Ideologies.
  198. my assignment and exams. About listening is very good to practice. If
  199. my friend, her English is better than me. I mean Vicky.
  200. my friend, in here. With Kimi and Wan Ling and my friends.
  201. native and non-native speakers of English, whom do you think you will have more chances to talk with?
  202. Nimal about international marketing assignment.
  203. No one know.
  204. not bad. You know sometime, I don‟t want to go. I don‟t
  205. not sure.
  206. now if I improve English language. How can I know? I
  207. now my knowledge from undergraduate maybe I‟m not sure.
  208. Now think about yourself.
  209. Now we will go deeper in different classes.
  210. now you speak less or more than before.
  211. Of course. In discussion, we talk something about marketing.
  212. one is British people. British teacher is really good.
  213. only sometimes because we sit there, another person is there, not only
  214. opinion in this group. When we collected together, Pekky talked about
  215. or you can learn something about the background. Maybe mission or
  216. Pekky seemed to talk more in the group but you just listened.
  217. people I can learn something from them.
  218. (2005). Pierre Bourdieu and the practices of language.
  219. postgraduate course I mean marketing, it‟s too big. You can see what
  220. practical to use it. Just study “Who think that?” “Why think that?”
  221. Preparing for exams is more difficult. We have time only two hours,
  222. (2003). Problematising cultural stereotypes in TESOL.
  223. Product Policy and Brand Communication, no discussion. Only
  224. Product policy we had one about presentation. You know my
  225. responsibility have to present it, but the lecture is cancelled.
  226. sales volume or CRM or Brand Communication or Brand Loyalty.
  227. same as Petch‟s group. Two groups cancelled on that day.
  228. share your opinion with your friend. You can speak.
  229. she was talking, I didn‟t want to interrupt her. That‟s okay. If
  230. She‟s English is really good because she finishes Linguistics.
  231. (1999). Small cultures.
  232. So you have problems about writing assignment.
  233. some people got something higher than some people. I think the
  234. Some people have strong idea. You know what does I mean.
  235. some pictures I saw it many many times, more than ten, about the
  236. some sentence. That‟s fine. That‟s okay, easy, easy sentence.
  237. something about the case study, did you use outside experience to
  238. something from English language class to develop your knowledge
  239. Something like that.
  240. Sometime different nationality, different pronunciation. Sometime I
  241. sometime difficult to explain something.
  242. Sometimes from lecture, from reading, sometimes from my friends.
  243. Sometimes I don‟t know how to speak these words. I ask her. I can
  244. sometimes is very very old, maybe five or ten years ago, not up-to-
  245. Sometimes the question is so complex. I can‟t understand it.
  246. Speak a lot.
  247. Speaking outside the lecture, you don’t need to use any marketing
  248. strong ideas, maybe he don‟t want to give in.
  249. students from MBA got ideas more than me when I speak to. Some
  250. students from other countries?
  251. study about the advertising but use something to develop a
  252. study in English language. I know them because of my friend
  253. Talk about the course, the lecture, assignment, exams. About general
  254. (2006). TESOL at forty: what are the issues?
  255. that I want to run my own business.
  256. that person never knows.
  257. That‟s it I share in here. But to collect in a group, I didn‟t
  258. That‟s why I can get used to with her friend.
  259. the background sometime the same. I think maybe just
  260. the difference. You can familiar with your friends when you study
  261. The first lecture was very difficult for me. Lecture two is
  262. The first thing for me is listening. But for me speaking
  263. the first time we do something about the paper together before
  264. The first time we had to separate in two small groups. I share my
  265. (2003). The Monkey’s Mask: Identity, Memory, Narrative and Voice. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books Ltd.
  266. the ones in your marketing class. What do you think?
  267. them again in the class, does it help you to talk more?
  268. Then we gathered with Greek people again.
  269. Theory for Brand Communication.
  270. think about being a language student
  271. think about the group discussion, you can show your opinion.
  272. think her behaviour look like Nik, you know? He always talk
  273. think it‟s not enough for me. If I can choose it, I‟d prefer to study
  274. think lecturers are okay. The class is too big. The options are not
  275. think so. I‟m a good postgraduate student because I alway go to
  276. think this HRM, some people told me that it‟s very boring.
  277. think you are a good postgraduate student?
  278. think you are part of it but you don’t know all of them.
  279. thinking in my country and their countries.
  280. This activity is really good. Some people told me that it‟s
  281. this one again?‟ „Can I do this one about assignment or not?‟ or „I can‟t
  282. to adapt your ideas or to support your ideas. „Why you think that?‟
  283. to me again „What does you mean about this one?‟ „Can you explain
  284. to study and to do the assignment and two exams. I think assignment
  285. to work in a big international company about 2 or 3 years.
  286. together every time. When I go out, always my friends introduce her
  287. try to make other new friends but it‟s not easy. I find something it
  288. vision of the company, you can know why they think that.
  289. walk and explain something, use something it‟s uh up to
  290. want to complain. I don‟t know if I complain what happens.
  291. want to explain to her about my assignment or my topic and she
  292. want to study. But okay, only 3 or 4 hours, if you can‟t get knowledge,
  293. wants me to listen about her presentation.
  294. Was it difficult for you to deal with other students?
  295. Was there any group discussion
  296. We met friends in City Centre or when we have a party. If you go out
  297. we put something in the group. We talk and share our opinion
  298. We talked about Brand performance. This time, we speak
  299. were sharing the group with Pekky.
  300. What academic or English ability you have improved over the
  301. what did you like about this course?
  302. What did you mean?
  303. What did you think about having other students from disciplines I
  304. What did you think having different lecturers from different
  305. What do you expect to gain from Course EAP?
  306. What do you mean by from your friends?
  307. What do you think about that? How do you feel?
  308. What do you think that the postgraduate student should do?
  309. What do you think?
  310. What kind of difficulties did you experience in your study?
  311. What kind of skills?
  312. What observations do you have about your classmate’s
  313. What opportunities do you think you will have to speak English with native speakers of English? And with non-native speakers of English?
  314. What should I do? Because we don‟t know everyone in
  315. What’s the point of having discussion if you don’t say what you
  316. when do you feel comfortable speaking English?
  317. when do you feel uncomfortable speaking English?
  318. When someone has strong ideas.
  319. when we have a group discussion, we need to separate, sometimes,
  320. When you met them outside, what did you talk about?
  321. When you read a lot, you can recognise it. This sentence you
  322. when you study postgraduate. I mean we can learn a lot in English
  323. Why did you talk about that?
  324. Why didn’t you answer him?
  325. Why didn’t you make other new friends?
  326. Why do Thai students usually group together?
  327. with Chinese or Taiwanese students.
  328. with me. That‟s okay. I will answer him when he asks me.
  329. with your speaking ability?
  330. Writing assignment, just a bit. But not…
  331. (2002). Writing Games: Multicultural Case Studies of Academic Literacy Practices in
  332. yeah, she speaks too fast. We always have a group discussion
  333. Yeah, sometime I agree. Sometime, I disagree.
  334. you again if I get knowledge or not.
  335. you can learn more people. You can know about their behaviour
  336. you can practice listening.
  337. You can‟t learn about I mean you can‟t get a new friend.
  338. you discuss something in class, do you use any marketing
  339. you don’t talk. Outside class, you talk. Are you satisfied
  340. you feel more comfortable speaking in Thai?
  341. you gathered in a small group, which language did you use?
  342. you go home, what kinds of skills will be important?
  343. you go to lecture, always you can practice listening.
  344. you go to mobile shop, the staff will encourage you to buy it.
  345. you have a chance to talk with your course instructors outside
  346. you have any chances practice speaking
  347. you have any comments about your classroom experiences
  348. you have any comments about your course instructors?
  349. You have to get something. Maybe listening, that‟s okay.
  350. You have to use examples to support your ideas.
  351. You know some students discussing in class.
  352. You know the first time Petch came, he was very excited
  353. you learn the same ideas?
  354. you meet them outside in the pub or something and meet
  355. you might not like him.
  356. you participate in the class discussion if you have an opportunity? Why? Why not? _____________________________________________________________________
  357. you read a case study, is it important to know something
  358. you said when they have strong ideas, did you agree or
  359. you spend most of the time talking in Thai then?
  360. you talk about prepare for exams.
  361. you think is it helpful or not?
  362. you think she disagreed with that guy as well?
  363. you think that you participated enough?
  364. You think you can imitate.
  365. you want to run the business, you have to encourage employees
  366. you would prefer to study MBA.
  367. your friend, does your friend has the same idea as you? I
  368. your idea not good?

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