Toward a Language Education Policy for Immigrants in Thailand: Lessons Learnt from Europe and Canada with a Case Study of Phuket Island
Phuket, the most famous tourist island in Thailand, receives a large number of immigrants, especially from Myanmar, into its workforce. As a result, related immigration concerns are often linked to education. As such, a high number of children of these immigrants are not directly accepted by and assisted with suitable arrangements into local schools despite a linguistic priority which has been accepted internationally as a human right that children should learn in their mother tongue for improved educational success. In this study, the issue is approached by presenting a brief review of mother tongue instruction in Europe
and Canada with the aim to posit for Thai policy makers to consider initializing a suitable educational language policy specifically for the children of immigrants in Thailand by employing Phuket Island as a case study. The advantages and drawbacks from western countries could provide lessons for Thailand in coping with the issue. It is proposed that enabling languages in education for immigrant children should be set out with a clear vision and strategy, and that also some
educational authority should be decentralized to local governments who can respond effectively to the needs of stakeholders in the areas. Moreover, budgetary and management plans are crucial for successful implementation. Lastly, appropriate international collaboration will drive the policy toward success. Hence, linguistic phenomena within immigration and minorities in Thailand, as well as in other ASEAN countries, could be approached by moving away from the historically European standard language center, as noted by Halliday (2007).
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