English as a Subject in Higher Education in Thailand


In 2023, the British Council will conduct context-specific research in this area to have a better understanding of the “state of play” of English as a Subject (EaS) in the tertiary sector in Thailand. The research findings are expected to shed light on developments since the 2016 policy briefing and provide the basis for more targeted approaches into future EaS research in higher education.


About the research

This research will aim at those with a track record and close links to the Thai higher education (HE) sector to conduct high quality research on English as a subject (EaS) in the Thai HE sector. The maximum funding available is £30,000. The resulting report should detail the “state of play” of English as a subject (EaS) across the tertiary sector in Thailand. It will include both public and private universities within the following categories: Global & Frontier Research; Technology & Innovation; Area-based & Community; Moral & Intellectual Cultivation and Specialized & Professional.  It will also ensure that both rural and urban higher education institutions (HEI) are fully represented. In doing so, it aims to provide a comprehensive report of the provision of English as a Subject (EaS) in Thai HEIs currently. The quality of the output will attract key stakeholders including the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI), the Council of University Presidents of Thailand, the Association of Private Higher Education Institutions of Thailand, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the Ministry of Education (MoE) and other interested parties regarding a snapshot of the landscape of EaS delivery in Thailand’s HEIs currently. Resulting articles will be published as part of the British Council Research Papers series online. 

Potential research areas and questions may include (but are not limited to) one or more of the following:

  • Curriculum for English as a Subject (EaS) in higher education in Thailand
  • Pedagogy for English as a Subject (EaS) in higher education in Thailand
  • Formative Assessment in English as a Subject (EaS) in higher education in Thailand
  • Summative Assessment in English as a Subject (EaS) in higher education in Thailand

Expected outcomes and outputs

  • Outcome – High quality research on English as a Subject (EaS) at tertiary level in Thailand
  • Output 1 – Research report of at least 40 pages
  • Output 2 – Policy brief of approximately 2 pages outlining key findings and recommendations for the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI)
  • Output 3 – Research presentation of approximately 20 slides to be delivered to MHESI, outlining the key findings and recommendations


Higher Education in Thailand context: English as a subject (EaS)

There are currently 175 higher education institutions in Thailand (MHESI Open Data, 2021) In higher education institutions in Thailand, General Education (GE), which is worth 30 credits, is partly comprised of foreign language learning (Darasawang, 2007; Foley, 2005; Methitham, 2014; Taladngoen, 2019).  Of the foreign languages on offer, English is the only compulsory language with twelve credits as a minimum to meet the English Language Requirement (ELR) at tertiary level (Taladngoen, 2019).

The 2016 OHEC call for greater transparency and coherence in the teaching, learning and assessment of the English language is an important driver for improvements in English language provision within HEIs (Baker and Jarunthawatchai, 2017). A summary of the OHEC’s policy (originally in Thai) states that:

(1) all universities specify their own English language policy and goals to standardize their students’ English language proficiency, 

(2) all the universities provide an English standardized plan accordingly to the specified policy, 

(3) all the universities revise their English learning and teaching provisions and focus on students’ achievements based on the specified goals, 

(4) all the universities provide extra curricula, activities, teaching materials, teaching aids, and/or environment that support English language learning, 


(5) all the universities consider and decide to construct their own standardized tests or implement a commercial standardized test to examine their students’ English language proficiency. (Taladngoen, 2019, p.21)

English as a subject (EaS) has been defined as ‘English in formal education systems where home language is the medium of instruction and English is (often) taught as a core and compulsory subject’ (Galloway, 2020, p.6). EaS sits at the opposite end of the continuum from English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) and is also distanced from immersion and content and language integrated learning (CLIL) categorisations (Galloway, 2020, p.13).  It may be referred to through terms such as English as a Foreign Language (EFL), English Language Teaching (ELT), English for Academic Purposes (EAP), English for General Purposes (EGP), English for General Academic Purposes (EGAP), English for Specific Purposes (ESP) or English for Specific Academic Purposes (ESAP).  EaS is therefore characterised by being a subject with instruction featuring the home language – Thai - to varying degrees.  As such, courses which fall under EMI, immersion or CLIL are not the focus of this particular research aim and should be regarded as distinct and separate from EaS.