Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Thai Students' Language Learning Strategies

Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Thai Students' Language Learning Strategies

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Chinese is the most popular language in the world. More than one billion people in the People's Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other places in East Asia speak Chinese. The importance of Chinese stands out as the most spoken language in the world, with over an estimated billion people in China and various other parts of the word speaking it. One can easily assume this makes Chinese one of the most important languages on the planet. China as a country is growing by leaps and bounds as a world power. Even though English happens to be popular throughout China, most Chinese people tend not to understand English very well, so learning some Chinese is important knowledge to have.

The economic, social, technological and cultural expansions of the PRC have played significant roles both in Southeast Asia and other regions of the world. This can be seen from the fact that the United Nations has provided Mandarin Chinese as one of the five main languages used in the communication of the United Nations. Addressing the importance of Chinese language in the world that resulted in Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language is one of the ways to get the attention from students in many countries around the world. That is, Chinese is as important as other foreign languages currently taught in Thailand, such as English, French, German, Spanish or Japanese. We can see that Chinese language has been steadily increasing in popularity over the last several years. As Chinese people are associated with Thailand labor market at all sectors, Chinese language in important in contacting with people at all levels; whether it is used in travel industries, to contact a sales business or with a joint venture with Chinese businessmen from the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore to do business. The demand for people with knowledge of the Chinese language is therefore increasing.

From the reasons mentioned above, Mandarin Chinese has been taught extensively both in Bangkok and upcountry, from kindergarten to elementary, secondary and university level, and both in private and public schools. However, we can see that the overall situation of teaching Mandarin Chinese in Thailand, especially in education, both public and private, it is still not quite as successful. This may due to several factors, including the lack of teachers with sufficient knowledge and expertise, the lack of clear policies and effective programs to manage teaching Mandarin Chinese, and factors relating to the availability of a male student.

As Wenden(1985)reminds us, there is an old proverb when states: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eat for a lifetime". Applied to the language teaching field, this proverb might be interpreted to mean that if students are provided with answers, the immediate problem is solved. But if they are taught the strategies to work out the answers for themselves, they are empowered to manage their own learning.

In the author's personal views, in order to promote successful Chinese language education, there is a need for understanding the learning strategies used by the students. Namely, investigating learning strategies employed learners of Chinese language is considered to one of the most important hearts that bring the students to success. Therefore, the government, as well as teachers and researchers in the field of Chinese language learning should involve and take responsibility in the promotion of teaching and researching in order to provide meaningful database that can be us as references to the facilitation of more effective learning and teaching.

BACKGROUND

According to Oxford Learning strategies (LLS) for Oxford, (1992/1993: 18), the definition of language learning strategies are "specific actions, behaviours, steps, or techniques that students (often intentionally) use to improve their progress in developing L2 skills." Language learning strategies are different from teaching strategies (the techniques used by teachers to help learners leam) in that, the learner, and not the teacher, is the one who exercises control over the operations of the designated activity (O'Malley et al. …

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