White Prestige Ideology and its Effects on ELT Employment in Thailand

By Phongsakorn Methitham.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the discourse and perceptions of employment hegemony, particular in hiring for English language teaching positions in Thailand. The English Language Teaching (ELT) industry still promotes and maintains imbalances and inequalities in employment by solely serving a particular group of native English speakers from Western countries. The native English speakers with Caucasian appearance, mainstream British or American accents, and western representation are granted a privileged position and status in English language teaching as they are thought to represent both the model English speakers and the ideal English teachers. In contrast, their counterparts, non-native speakers with ELT-related university degrees, face discrimination when applying for teaching positions. To date, research into the issue of discrimination in employment has been conducted only in the UK and the US. In-depth interviews were conducted with each of the 19 teacher participants. Hiring policy, recruiting practices, and job advertisements were selected as primary examples of the discriminatory discourse and as a focus of the interview questions. The study reveals that it has always been the policy and practice at their institutions to offer a higher entry-level salary to foreign teachers than to Thai teachers of English. As “being a native speaker is a merit,” nearly all Thai participants understand such an inequality without any resentment, or accept it with only mild resistance or resentment. In addition, it is interesting that the presence of discrimination in local job advertisements are not acknowledged by Thai teachers, or it is perceived as the common phenomenon in globalization and commercialization of English. From the results of the study, the hiring policies and practices in Thailand need to be reevaluated and reconstructed.

Keywords: White Prestige Ideology, ELT, and Employment in Thailand

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.145-156. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 803.629KB).

Dr. Phongsakorn Methitham

Lecturer of English, Englsih Section, Humanities Faculty, Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, Thailand

Phongsakorn Methitham is a lecturer at the Department of Western Languages at Naresuan University in Northern Thailand. He received his Ph.D. degree in Composition and TESOL from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include the teaching and learning of second language issues related to World Englishes.


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