Background and History
In 2009, Prof. Dr. Sompong Wittayasakpan acknowledged that there were a lot of people interested in studying the Thai language. Formerly, Chiang Mai University once accepted foreign exchange students to study in class with Thai students. Unfortunately, they were unable to study together smoothly because international students did not understand the lesson contents thoroughly due to language and communication barriers.
Therefore, Thai as a Foreign Language Program (Thai As a Foreign Language or TFL) was established and developed to suit foreign students. TFL is a 4-year program focusing on learning the Thai language by natural approaches like native speakers. Our goal is to help foreign students achieve their academic accomplishments in Thai language skills, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in order to communicate with native speakers effectively.
The Popularity of Learning Thai Language Among Foreigners
Currently, there are many educational institutions, both domestic and international, offering courses in Thai as a foreign language. According to a survey conducted by the Office of the Higher Education Commission in 2013, it appeared that international students chose to study Thai as a foreign language, second only to the Business Administration Program. Most of the students who attend higher education institutions in Thailand are Chinese because the Chinese government has a policy to increase its economic growth called "One Belt One Road." Besides, Thai is one of the most significant languages in ASEAN. As a result, foreigners from many countries are choosing to study Thai in Thailand as well.
ASEAN Community and Educational Adaptation
At present, Thailand has a high economic expansion as a result of switching from the agricultural sector to the industrial and service sector. Consequently, there is more investment from other countries, especially from China, which has a huge influence on ASEAN countries in terms of economy, society, military, and diplomacy. Hence, Thai language is one of the most popular languages among Chinese students and also students from ASEAN countries.