Racial Discrimination Against Non-Native & Non-White Migrant Teachers in Thailand 🤷🏻♀️
Updated: Apr 13
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This is my fourth blog in English because I want to publish it as a part of a subject at Mahidol University International College (MUIC) and examples of how my friends and I work on General Education subjects. 😉
This blog is a part of the ICGC 102 Academic Writing and Research II (Trimester 2, Academic Year 2020-2021) final argumentative research essay on Racial discrimination against non-native and non-white migrant teachers in Thailand. 🇹🇭
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Racial discrimination against non-native and non-white migrant teachers in Thailand
English is the most commonly used second language globally because people realise its importance and learn English for many purposes, including; preparing for their future career, pursuing their education abroad and doing business internationally (Kurniawati & Rizki, 2018). English language teaching and learning are important because it is a lingua franca and international communication in the ASEAN nations, which has brought language education policy changes in the region (Kirkpatrick, 2011; Baker, 2012; Crocco & Bunwirat, 2014). It is undeniable that the English language teaching job is one of the most popular jobs for native and non-native speakers who want to become teachers in Thailand. However, some people question whether learning English with only native speakers is more effective than non-native speakers or not? Another reason is the cultural ideology in learning English because Thailand is never colonised by the West. This paper argues that fluent non-native speakers can teach English in Thailand and discuss these topics, including; racism in the Thai teaching industry reduces non-native migrant teachers’ abilities, Thai undergraduates’ attitudes about Philippine English and inappropriate perceptions about native and non-native speakers on racial backgrounds.
Background Paragraph and Definitions:
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission (2021), racism happens in many places due to discrimination, hatred and prejudice directed at someone because of their national origin, ethnicity and colour. Racism can be revealed through their attitudes and people’s actions, and sometimes racism is not obvious, does not reveal directly or involve violent behaviours. For example, the human resources department looked at a list of applicants and thought these applicants were qualified until HR saw those people’s photos, revealing their racial background and chose not to accept those applicants. On the other hand, race discrimination refers to when someone gets treated differently because of their race, and it does not have to be intentional to be unlawful (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2020). It also includes either a one-off action or a rule or policy found on race. For instance, someone who has Thai-Chinese national origin and is living in Canada with a Canadian permanent resident card is discriminated against due to their Thai-Chinese national origins or Asian races.
Roeland (2017) argues that the Filipinos are non-native English speakers because the Philippines' national language is Tagalog and mostly Filipinos’ first language even though they are good English speakers; however, technically, they are not native speakers. Furthermore, some Filipino teachers are not being hired due to a lack of TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA (English-teaching) certificate and only hiring native-speakers requirements. That means they cannot be good teachers compared to native speakers. From a provided example, some Thai parents blamed Filipino teachers that their children’s English is not good enough since “they have Filipino teachers at school”. The evidence depicts some experiences which the writer observed as a white English teacher in Thailand (Roeland, 2017). The writer got involved with both Thai students, and Filipino teachers then wrote and published details on the popular foreign teachers Webboard to point out the facts and experiences. However, the weakness is lacking in academic research methods and in-depth interviews to make more reliable sources. There are various opportunities for people from different races in Thailand, and people should not be discriminated against based on their races rather than on their abilities.
Racism in the Thai teaching industry reduces non-native migrant teachers’ abilities:
Racism in Thai society is based on Thai’s perception through misconceptions from contemporary literature that people with darker skin must be evil and social representations that light-skinned people are wealthy and superior to other skin or race types (Mongkol, 2020). Racism in Thailand’s teaching industry is common and particularly bad when most schools only want a white face since students’ parents demand the schools as customers are always right. Moreover, non-white teachers tend to encounter racism in finding jobs even though they are well-qualified teachers with 20 years-teaching-experiences in English speaking countries; the only reason they did not get hired is their “Indian” race (Tasty Thailand, 2013). The reasons were given that their “Indian-English accent is hard to understand”, and another is “their smells from the food they eat”, which is irrelevant to teaching abilities. Most Thai school heads have hired a young-white backpacker without teaching experience, a university degree before hiring a non-white with a fully-qualified teacher and many years in teaching experiences due to the races (Tasty Thailand, 2013). It is undeniable that native English speakers rarely go through the language learning process and thus are incapable of emphasising new learners and cannot deliver essential pushes when required. Despite this, non-native teachers are better positioned to teach basic knowledge and the beginner level since they do not have the edge in terms of idioms and nuances, which is hard to understand based on learners’ English level. Native English speakers are needed, particularly when English learners are in the proficient stage, to sound more like a native speaker or naturally communicate in English (Carrera 2020).
Thai undergraduates’ attitudes about Philippine English:
Thai undergraduates’ perspective about Philippine English (PE) is rated as neutral means it is better than Thai English and Singaporean English but worse than American English and British English. Filipinos are considered one of the largest migrant workers in the teaching industry in Thailand (Knell, 2017). Notwithstanding, one study stated that PE is negatively rated for English pronunciation compared to General American English and British English (Phusit & Suksiripakonchai, 2018). As Wattananukij & Crabtree (2020) mentioned that the mean scores which portray the current attitudes of Thai undergraduate students overall toward Philippine English were 3.50 (status and competent), 3.35 (social attractiveness), and 3.03 (linguistic quality), with the highest score of 5. It is noticeable that despite an increasing number of Filipino English teachers in Thailand and direct exposure to Filipino English teachers, attitudes from Thais towards Philippine English have not significantly changed. According to Prakaianurat & Kangkun (2018), it is suggested that Philippine English should be accepted as academic contexts in medium construction in Thailand for the reason that Thai EFL learners can familiarise themselves with Philippine English and use Philipine English as a communication medium to communicate with Filipinos. As cited from the research, it can be concluded that Philippine English pronunciation and Filipino teachers’ English proficiency or teaching quality are not the main reasons Thai students should be complained about their abilities or biased with Filipino teachers through racial perspectives. The evidence proves non-native English speakers are not being judged on their language but other factors such as “race”. The Filipinos’ English communication skills are better than other nationalities in the ASEAN, and their accents are neutral, so it should not be a problem to study English with them (Wattananukij & Crabtree 2020).
Inappropriate perceptions about native and non-native speakers on racial backgrounds:
The vast majority of Thais still have wrong perceptions of native English speakers’ races that students can differentiate between non-native speakers and native-speakers by teachers’ skin colour. From in-depth interviews with Thai students, they said, “native English teachers must have blonde hair, white or fair skin and blue eyes, while non-native can be anyone who does not look like this or have darker skin and perhaps look like Thais, which means Filipino teachers” (Comprendio & Savski, 2019). Non-native racialisation is common in the Thai context, which portrays a generalised image of the white westerners; however, without Thais understanding how largely background differences are, all white-westerners are not the same. English is not the white native language, but other westerners just speak English fluently, which is the same as Filipino and Indian teachers speak, but different racial backgrounds bring about inequality in teaching job fields (Hickey, 2018). As Methanonpphakhun and Deocampo (2016) discussed inequality in hiring teachers, ten migrant teachers of English in Thailand finding many non-white teachers had encountered discrimination on the job markets, frequently being excluded from high-rated paying jobs. The explicitly native-speakers biases in Thais’ aspect have strongly rooted in the English teaching and education fields, leading to the domination of negative attitudes shaped through contact with specific non-native speakers and migrant educators (Holliday, 2015). Last but not least, micro-level disparities can affect daily English practices and the English learning process as it often directly impacts the way English is learnt by English learners (Comprendio & Savski, 2019).
In conclusion, this essay examined that racism in the Thai teaching industry is a problem for non-white and non-native migrant teachers, helped understand Thai undergraduates’ aspects about Filipino teachers and Philippine English, and realised biased perceptions about native and non-native speakers on racial backgrounds. Furthermore, many Thais have inappropriate perceptions towards Filipino teachers and Philippine English, which is straightforwardly about races more than their English proficiency and teaching abilities. Filipino teachers have experienced racism and racial discrimination as teachers in Thailand due to their racial backgrounds, especially their skin colour.
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I sincerely apologise for any misunderstanding and error that may appear on my blog. I hope you gain more knowledge in what I have done in the essay about racism in the teaching industry in Thailand. 😉
Mahidol University International College(MUIC), Mahidol University, Salaya Campus, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand 🇹🇭 Fine and Applied Art Division | Media and Communication Media Com MUIC, 628 Batch 3. ICGC 102 Academic Writing and Research II 🇨🇦 2nd Trimester of the academic year 2020-2021. Lecturer: Ajarn Walter The initials credited to the only person: MKW (Mie)
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Published: 1 April 2021, 02.18 AM (BKK Time, GMT+7)
Updated: 1 April 2021, 11.35 AM (BKK Time, GMT+7)