Lukas Winfield

Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Publication Date



This study examines the needs, competencies and conditions for teachers to effectively teach the Thai-Lao mother tongue. The Isan Culture Maintenance and Revitalization Program in Conjunction with Khon Kaen, Chum Phae, Muang Phon municipality government, recently introduced the Thai Lao mother tongue into 15 schools as an elective subject. This marks the first time the government has incorporated the Thai-Lao language into formal schooling. An orthography of the language was only recently developed so teachers lack preservice training in teaching the language and familiarity with reading and writing Thai-Lao.

In the three school districts participating in the project, I conducted observations of three Thai-Lao classes, and 13 interviews and 36 surveys of Thai-Lao teachers. Using this data the study identifies six key areas that governments and educational projects should address: Thai-Lao teachers' levels of content knowledge; attitudes towards Thai-Lao; knowledge of relevant pedagogy; access to learning and teaching materials; and supportive school administration and government policy. The study found all teachers valued the teaching of Thai-Lao in some form. However, in order to effectively teach Thai-Lao teachers need access to additional learning materials and continued access to in-service training, specifically to develop their Thai-Lao literacy skills. I conclude with recommendations for policy makers, practice, and further research that can improve the capacity of the government to support Thai-Lao mother tongue teachers.