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Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Social Sciences legacy departments
Title: The linguistic marketplace of ELT in a Christian mission in Thailand: Perspectives of missionaries and Thai learners
Author(s): Mayi, Luqman
Supervisor(s): Blackledge, Adrian
Copland, Fiona
Keywords: Christian Mission
English Language Teaching (ELT)
Missionary Organisations
Language and Religion
Ethical Concerns
Covert Actions in Teaching
Christian and Non-Christian Scholars Debate
Missionaries in ELT Contexts
The Role of ELT in Missions
Perspectives of Missionaries
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS)
Thai Buddhist Students
COVID-19 Impact
Thematic Analysis
Linguistic Marketplace
Symbolic English
Language Ideologies
Cultural and Spiritual Aspects
Trade-Off in ELT
Issue Date: 14-Dec-2023
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: For the past three decades, the intersection of Christian mission and English language teaching (ELT) has been a topic of debate in TESOL. Scholars such as Edge (2003), Pennycook and Coutand-Marin (2003), Pennycook and Makoni (2005), and Varghese and Johnston (2007) have conducted critical reviews and highlighted that some missionary organisations incorporate their faith into English language teaching activities, raising ethical and moral concerns. One of these is that some missionaries engage in covert actions, appearing to teach English while attempting to impart religious knowledge to students. This criticism has sparked a heated debate among Christian and non-Christian TESOL scholars. However, our understanding of the connection between language and religion remains limited, as there is still a lack of evidence of how Christian missions behave in ELT contexts. This research aims to contribute to the debates by exploring the perspectives of missionaries from different organisations (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and three other Christian churches) regarding the role of ELT in their missions in Thailand. The study sought the perspectives of five Thai Buddhist students who had learned English through interactions with LDS missionaries. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the study was conducted in phases. Phase one involved interviewing five Christian teachers (including two LDS missionaries) to gain insight into their perspectives on the role of English language in their Christian missions. Phase two involved interviewing one former LDS missionary and five Thai Buddhist students to explore the role of English language teaching and learning in the "free English class with missionaries” programme held in an LDS church in Thailand. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to delve into their perspectives. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the interview data, resulting in the identification of five themes in this study: 1) Reasons for teaching English in a Christian mission, 2) ELT qualifications in a Christian mission, 3) The role of missionaries as missionary English language teachers, 4) Free English as a Christian tool?, and 5) the “leaving the door open” approach. The findings of this study highlight the multifaceted and complex nature of ELT in Christian missions in Thailand. Both missionaries and Thai learners perceive the role of ELT in multiple ways. For the missionaries, it serves as a means to reach Thai people and share their faith when possible. For Thai learners, it presents an opportunity to improve their English skills through interactions with English speakers. From a linguistic market perspective, English as a symbolic language in Thailand provides a negotiated ground. The missionaries utilise their English skills to connect with Thais, while the Thai learners seek to enhance their English linguistic capital. In this framework, the study reveals that ELT in Christian missions is not a one-sided affair where the missionaries, with their privileged English competence, solely impart knowledge. Rather, it operates as a trade-off, benefiting both missionaries and Thai learners. This finding underscores the notion of ELT in Christian missions as a linguistic marketplace. Symbolic English, linguistic capital, and economic capital are intertwined in complex ways. In contexts where symbolic English and language ideologies prevail, the role of missionaries as ‘native’ English speakers is reinforced, allowing them to effectively share their faith. In conclusion, this study sheds light on the complex phenomenon of ELT in Christian missions in Thailand. It highlights the interplay between language, religion, ideology, and culture in the narratives of missionaries and Thai learners. It emphasises that ELT in this context goes beyond a mere instrument for teaching the language and is intricately connected to political, cultural, social, and spiritual aspects. Ultimately, ELT in Christian missions involves a trade-off between missionaries and Thai learners.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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