Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 5, No. 4 (2008)

Teaching Thai as a foreign language using the Somatically-enhanced approach

Felicia Z Zhang, University of Canberra
Maliwan Buranapatana, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, KhonKaen University


This paper reports on the effectiveness of a language teaching approach called the Somatically-Enhanced Approach (SEA) (Author, 2006) in the teaching of the Thai language for a group of Vietnamese learners in Vietnam. Teaching innovations include: the use of relaxation techniques to relax students; the use of humming, clapping and physical gestures to emphasize the rhythm of the Thai language; the use of a Speech comparison tool (Sptool) for self-study; and the provision of all learning materials on CDs. An experimental study involving the teaching of Thai to Vietnamese students in Vietnam was carried out using SEA. The results of this study are encouraging. After twelve face-to-face contact hours, ten Vietnamese students who undertook a course in SEA spoke Thai, in the limited contexts covered in the course, as fluently as fourteen of their fellow students who had been studying Thai for more than one year using the traditional approach. In this paper, the results of the study, both quantitative and qualitative, will be reported. An evaluation of the Speech comparison tool will also be included.

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