READING IN ENGLISH: WHAT PROBLEMS DO STUDENTS FACE IN THE SOUTH OF THAILAND?

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Napapat Thongwichit

Abstract

This paper aims at investigating current English reading problems of undergraduate students by using two government universities in the south of Thailand as case studies. The research was designed as a mixed-methods study which employs both quantitative and qualitative methods in data collection. The interview data was used as a supplement to the survey results. There were a total of 377 students who responded to the survey and afterwards the purposive sampling was used to identify twenty students to be interviewed. The findings indicated that the student participants’ reading problem was clearly related to vocabulary. (M=2.63). The participants appeared not to have trouble with sentence structures and other problems: applying necessary skills in reading, connecting prior knowledge to a reading text, or being overwhelmed with negative feelings towards a difficult reading passage. Consequently, this research study suggests that although a current trend of reading strategies instruction has been introduced to the field of L2 reading, language knowledge, particularly vocabulary, should not be underestimated when finding solutions to English reading problems in this context.

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