ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION TEACHER PREFERENCE: THAI UNIVERSITY ENGLISH LEARNERS’ VIEWS

N. Jindapitak

Prince of Songkla University (THAILAND)
The only available model for pronunciation teaching in the tertiary context in Thailand is exclusively based on the native-speaker paradigm. That is, English language teaching (ELT) should be informed by native speakers since they are believed to be ideal informants in language use and usage. This pedagogical assumption has been adopted and practiced widely by parties involved in English education to the extent that only native English teachers (NETs) are qualified and allowed to teach courses concerning aural and oral skills including pronunciation. However, the notion that native speakers are the ideal English language teachers has been questioned by a number of scholars, arguing that non-native English teachers (NNETs) can also make several positive contributions to the field and are not inferior to NETs professionally. This study reports on findings of an investigation into learners’ attitudes to the question of whether Thai English teachers (TETs) can teach English pronunciation or can be good pronunciation models on the basis of two cross-validated research methods: the matched-guise test and semi-structured interview. Findings show that the ideological construct of idealized native speaker is still deeply rooted in the context of English education in Thailand in the sense that TETs are always marginalized or treated as the second best teachers when it comes to pronunciation teaching. The paper calls for the need to demythologize the construct of native speaker in the field of ELT by stressing the importance of professional credentials and expertise over the native/non-native dichotomy.