Identifying the Needs of Business English Students to Prepare them for the Workplace

  • Manita Srisawat

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


There is a recognised need for the improvement of communication skills in the Thai context. This study concerns the matches and mismatches of how the workplace uses English, the skills needed in workplaces and how the university provides a target business English course in Thailand. The research aims at building a foundation so that the results of this study can be a guide for developing business English teaching and learning materials for learners. The participants were from three stakeholders: heads and entry-level staff, teachers and students. A qualitative and quantitative methodological approach was utilised to create the questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, which were developed by using global communicative competence from Louhiala-Salminen and Kankaanranta (2011). The findings revealed that both matches and mismatches between the workplaces and the university were found. One prominent mismatch is that English is used as a (business) lingua franca in the target workplaces, focusing on its use by people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, whereas English is taught as a foreign language in the target university, emphasising people who firstly use English as their official language. For communication to be successful, being understandable is more important than becoming a native speaker. However, it depends on the context whether it is spoken or written. Another salient aspect is that understanding business content or knowledge in the field is most prioritised. English competence is inadequate for working in international communication, but business competence is mandatory to work effectively and successfully in the target industries. More significantly, the study demonstrated the expansion of two-layer addition from the current three-layer model of Louhiala-Salminen and Kankaanranta (2011). The fourth and fifth layers were dubbed multiple skills, including English and other skills and additional materials that help teachers develop teaching and learning materials that will help graduates work efficiently and successfully. This study firmly concluded that working in the target organisations in Thailand requires more than just linguistic proficiency. Clearly, while developing teaching and learning materials, teachers need to consider global communicative competence. Communication success depends more on being understandable than on becoming an expert native user. Working effectively, even with inadequate English skills, is greatly aided by using English as a business lingua franca.
Keywords: business English as a lingua franca, global communicative competence, communication in Thai workplaces, teaching and learning materials

Date of Award17 May 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorGlenn Hadikin (Supervisor), Marie McCullagh (Supervisor) & Catherine Jane Carroll-Meehan (Supervisor)

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