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Interview with Puvanai Nattaradol

Nattaradol, Puvanai
Nattaradol, Jessica
Date of Interview: 
Cultural identification
Puvanai Nattaradol talks about language assessment practices in both Thailand and the US.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Jessica Nattaradol interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
JN (Jessica Nattaradol): You ready? What's your name?
PN (Puvanai Nattaradol): My name is Puvanai.
JN: Um, your last name?
PN: Nattaradol.
JN: So that's how you pronounce it. [Laughter]
PN: Um-hmm.
JN: OK. Um, how old are you?
PN: Twenty [pause] six.
JN: [Laughter] OK.
PN: This, this year, going to be 26 in June.
JN: You're going to be 26 in June? What year were you born?
PN: Uh, 36. Ah. [Laughter]
JN: [Laughter]
PN: Going to be 27 in June.
JN: OK. Maybe I should find another interviewee. [Laughter] Um, just kidding. Where are you from?
PN: Um, Thailand. Bangkok.
JN: OK. How long have you been here in the United States?
PN: Mmm, let's see. Long ago. Two, two years, two year and a half, years. Yes.
JN: OK. Um, what is your profession? What do you do?
PN: In here?
JN: In the United States, mm-hmm.
PN: Um, my profession from Thailand?
JN: Well what, yeah. What did you do in Thailand and then what do you do here?
PN: Study.
JN: Here or both places?
PN: Both places. [Laughter]
JN: You just [laughing] studied?
PN: Yeah.
JN: OK. [Laughing] Um, what are you studying?
PN: Now the info, information technology.
PN: About computer, about internet, and a little bit of business.
JN: Sounds like fun. Um, what languages do you speak?
PN: Java, C++.
JN: Speak. [Laughing]
PN: [Laughing] Thai and English.
JN: OK. Um, I'm going to ask you questions about language classes that you took here in the United States as well as in Thailand, um, and their assessment. How you were assessed for them, or tested for them?
PN: Um, OK.
JN: What kind of language classes have you had?
PN: In Thailand?
JN: Yeah and how, how old were you when you started?
PN: What kind?
JN: Like what languages I guess?
PN: English.
JN: Only?
PN: And Thai.
PN: In some schools, there, there are English class, but, um, it's like one hour a day.
PN: And after class we never use, we didn't have any chance to use it. There some student if they leave me, uh, their school like located near some, some travel I mean.
JN: Some travel?
PN: I mean, some popular area that a lot of foreigner come to we say.
JN: Ah, like international? No.
PN: Not international, like big part or, uh, good place [laughter] that foreigner come visit. Like temple or something.
JN: Ah, OK.
PN: So then the, those students try to communicate with foreigners, too?
JN: Oh, really?
PN: Yeah. "Can I help you?" In fact it's the English. [Laughter]
JN: Oh, how good. OK.
PN: Yeah.
JN: Um, was it mostly, I know that in, in, I don't want to stereotype, but in some Asian countries, it's mostly based on grammar, like writing and not so much on speaking \\ the language.\\
PN: \\Um-hm, um-hm.\\
JN: Is that true in Thailand too?
PN: Yeah. We study grammar every year, I mean every, from I start study English from elementary school, junior high school, and high school. Every year of grammar and memorize the vocabulary and that's all. A little bit of speaking but not much. Some, some, some teachers \\ had the-. \\
JN: \\OK.\\
PN: -Different style teaching.
JN: So it just depends.
PN: But they have to be, um, you have to follow the, the, the cards, how you call that one?
JN: Outline?
PN: Yeah. I think they have like all the outline for, from the government, or some, some, someplace, like big people, they try to, they give all the outline to every school-.
JN: Mm-hmm.
PN: -And to follow this.
JN: Yeah. That's what they do here. There are standards-.
PN: Mm-hmm.
JN: -That they have to follow. Um-.
PN: Um, I didn't answer your about the assessment.
JN: I haven't asked it yet. [Laughing]
PN: No, the ( ).
JN: Mm-hmm.
PN: No?
JN: No.
PN: Um, OK.
JN: Um, how did you feel about the language classes?
PN: Here?
JN: Well, in Thailand as, um, compared to here.
PN: Um, OK.
JN: Which to you prefer? What, what do you like about either of them?
PN: I, I don't like, uh, the class from, from school, I mean from, from high school or junior high. I prefer the one that I went on Saturday, every Saturday I went to like, uh, special school [laughing] for and study English.
JN: How old were you when you did this? How horrible. So you went to school all week and then you had to go to school on Saturday?
PN: Yeah, yeah. It's normal.
JN: Oh, my gosh. Never. Not in the United States. Uh-huh. Kids would rebel.
PN: Now, uh, elementary school kids, they are all like competigent.
JN: They're competitive?
PN: Um, they're competitive. They try to, they study hard, they went to special school, study mathematic to improve their ability or English, or anything. Scientists, science. They have all kind of ex-, special school now there. Like after, maybe after you finish school at three o'clock in the evening, or someplace four, go to, they, they go to the special school at five and finish at eight.
JN: Oh, my God.
PN: [Laughing]
JN: Their parents must like that.
PN: Yeah.
JN: [Laughing] "Yeah. No kids, we have the whole house to ourselves."
PN: But they, they prepare for entrance?
JN: The entrance exams?
PN: Entrance exams.
JN: And those are, uh, I don't know if this is off track, but like, the entrance exams are, um-.
PN: Difficult.
JN: I would imagine so, but how do they-?
PN: Like 100,000 student try to get to the universities and only four, 40,000 can go.
JN: To the university?
PN: The rest have to go to, like other, other university. Like no one want to go, something like that. Have to pay a lot of money and, money and university, something like that.
JN: Oh. OK.
PN: So they want to go to the public university.
JN: So public university is free?
PN: Not free, but cheaper and \\ better. \\
JN: \\ And better. \\ That's interesting.
PN: Not better I mean.
JN: Because here the private universities.
PN: Mm-hmm.
JN: Are more expensive and better. [Laugh] That's interesting.
PN: I don't know, maybe the same but when you go to at it they look at name of university.
JN: First.
PN: Ah, you come from \\ this one?\\
JN: \\ Yeah. \\
PN: Ah, no.
JN: The same thing here, I mean.
PN: Even if you have good grade from that, like 4.0, but from this school, no. [Laugh]
JN: So. [Laugh] OK. No. I won't ask about your university. Did you go to a good school? [Laugh]
PN: Yeah.
JN: OK. [Laugh] Um-.
PN: Very difficult.
JN: So. [Laugh] OK. Um, did we cover how you feel about your classes? What about Tai classes? What is that? Is that mostly writing or-?
PN: Um-hmm.
JN: Reading?
PN: I think that.
JN: I mean how do they assess \\ for those classes? \\
PN: \\ They combine. \\
JN: English and Thai?
PN: No. I mean they use, uh, writing, reading, speaking.
JN: Mm-hmm.
PN: Listening.
JN: In Thai?
PN: In English, too. English.
JN: But-, OK. Is it, does it mostly, what about the assessments for or tests for the Thai classes?
PN: We do not have the assessment for the Thai class.
JN: Or English classes?
PN: I never took one.
PN: In Thailand but I, I heard from my friend that only, no write, write, not writing, like multiple choice.
JN: Oh. OK. What do you think about multiple choice?
PN: It's, I don't know. Combine if you know, you, you can do it. Uh, you can guess. I know if you very lucky, you can. [Laugh]
JN: [Laugh]
PN: 25 percent, if, like four, four try, a, b, c, d. [Laugh]
JN: 25 percent. [Laughing] I hate, I well, no. I won't give my opinion, but I just did. [Laugh] Um, I guess we'll stay on the assessment thing. What, uh, when you were tested here, because you were tested here, what tests did you take?
PN: From ELS, um, language school.
JN: ELS language centers?
PN: Mm-hmm. Language center. Uh, they have all, multiple choice, writing, um, speaking and listening I think, because they, they, I took the all tests.
JN: Mm-hmm.
PN: And I, that, I think they, they can test the listening and speaking at the same time.
JN: The listening and speaking, yeah. Do they have, um, because I've given tests to the listening portion, um, was it also part of the, like, they have multiple choice? You said there was like a written part and a, a multiple choice part. Was the listening, like, part of-, did you have multiple choice, was the listening like you had to listen and then choose the correct answer, or-?
PN: Oh, yeah. That, too.
JN: \\ Because they usually do that. \\
PN: \\ Yeah, yeah, yeah. \\ [Laugh]
JN: They have \\ most of them. \\
PN: \\ That one fun. \\ Yeah. I remember. [Laugh]
JN: [Laugh] What do you think about that?
PN: They're difficult. It's good.
JN: [Laughing] It's good, it's difficult.
PN: [Laugh] Yeah. I mean, if you know that, if I don't know, if you are rich and ( ) good you can hear it. But for me, at first time, it, oh, have tough time with that.
JN: Yeah.
PN: It's good. I think it's good to.
JN: To test that way?
PN: Mm-hmm.
JN: Um, what about like, the TOEFL? Do you like those tests?
PN: TOEFL is difficult. Sometimes.
JN: For the GRE? [Laugh]
PN: Yeah. GRE also.
JN: [Laugh]
PN: TOEFL is very difficult, but it's, uh, it's hard to get, like, full, like 600 up.
JN: Hmm. I doubt I could get 600, [laugh] seriously. I, and I'm a native speaker and I teach English. [Laugh]
PN: A teacher can get full mark.
JN: Lori did. My friend Lori. Um, OK. Back to Thailand, because that what I basically, mainly wanted to revolve around. Are there other options for learning languages, like um, international schools or?
PN: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They have international school and now there are a lot of them now. Almost every, no I think only in, in many programs. A lot are in Bangkok and in Chiang Mai, like big, big city. Um, first, now there are many foreigners, uh, that stay in Thailand and they have kids and want to, send their kids to international school. Some Thai family live in, they get to international school to, or some school that have like, uh, normal, I mean, they have to assist them in one school.
PN: If you want to, you can choose which one you want to go, like teaching Thai or ( ), or teaching English-.
JN: Uh-huh.
PN: -Also in university.
JN: What if you have a child from, um, I'm just curious, from the United States that you wanted to learn to speak Thai also? Could the child still learn Thai at school?
PN: Um, I don't know.
JN: Because you went to a Thai school.
PN: Um-hmm.
JN: That's, OK.
PN: Of course, they, they teach you.
JN: Teach Thai at international school?
PN: All the kids speak in Thai and- [laugh].
JN: OK. I'm just curious. Um, let's see. So, language assessment in Thailand, you don't recall much of that, I guess we'll skip over that. Even in class your teacher didn't assess you? You didn't have portfolios or-?
PN: No.
JN: You didn't have any written work? It was just-?
PN: No everyone study the same thing.
JN: Just memorize and don't use it ever again?
PN: [Laugh]
JN: [Laugh]
PN: Use in class, um, assignment.
JN: Assign, like homework? But that's it? That's so weird. OK. No stress, that's kind of cool, but, um, how do you feel about language testing in general? I mean, you took the ELS language center's test and you took the TOEFL and there's the verbal part of the GRE. You took that. Which methods do you think are the most appropriate and which ones do you think are the most effective?
PN: I think the one that, uh, at ELS.
JN: Um-hmm.
PN: I think that's a good one.
JN: And that was comprised of [pause] a listening portion.
PN: Um-hmm. Listening.
JN: With multiple choice?
PN: Yep. Writing and reading.
PN: So, almost, it's almost like TOEFL, but it easier and someone actually, uh, participate with you.
JN: Ah. So you didn't like the TOEFL because it, was it a computer-based?
PN: Yeah. [Laugh]
JN: OK. [Cough] You don't like computer-based tests?
PN: Um, difficult to-, I mean, um-hmm, um-hmm. Have, uh, time limit.
JN: Uh-huh.
PN: Sometimes you get nervous about that, with, couldn't do anything.
JN: Uh-huh.
PN: Um, the GRE. GRE also too, too much, some vocabulary I never use, I never heard about that.
JN: [Laugh]
PN: Study once and no one use it.
JN: They, sometimes they do, some of that vocabulary because I had to take the GRE, too and whew. [Laugh] It's hard. Um, so you think the best method is to have a person to participate with you?
PN: Um-hmm.
JN: Um, let's see. I guess that's it. Yeah. That's it. I don't have any questions. Do you have any questions for me?
PN: Do you have kids?
JN: [Laugh] Do I have any kids?
PN: [Laugh]
JN: You're such a dork. [Laugh] Uh-huh. [Laugh]
PN: [Laugh]
JN: Yes I do. And she's waking up so I'd better go. Um, thank you for your participation.
PN: [Laugh] You're welcome.
JN: [Laugh] I'll talk to you soon. Thanks.
PN: Bye.
JN: Bye.