Changing Orientations to English During English-Medium Study Abroad in Thailand

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Daisuke Kimura, Pennsylvania State University

English as a lingua franca (ELF) scholarship has offered a number of pedagogical recommendations, emphasizing the negotiability of linguistic and cultural norms, the centrality of adaptability, and the relevance of multilingualism. However, despite its educational potential in cultivating participants’ skills in these areas, study abroad in non-English-speaking countries has received limited attention. In a preliminary attempt to address this gap, this study traced a Japanese exchange student’s changing perceptions of English during her yearlong sojourn in Thailand through 10 semistructured interviews. The analysis reveals a clear transformation of her attitudes to her peers’ English(es) and to her own language use. Although she initially regarded native English as an object of admiration, she came to view communication in a utilitarian manner, departing from naïve adherence to established norms. The author argues that attitudinal changes are critical to ELF users because no single variety can be sufficient for dealing with diverse interlocutors.