A Study on the Factors Affecting Thai Taxi Drivers’ English Competence
This study investigated the factors affecting Thai taxi drivers’ English competence. A sample of 342 taxi drivers answered questionnaires and performed tasks measuring their English language ability and the factors affecting their language ability. The taxi drivers are all Thais and were sampled from three zones within the Bangkok metropolis. The research instruments included the test and the questionnaires. The data collection was carried out from January to May 2016.
A structural equation model (SEM), based on relevant theories and research findings, was also constructed to explain the factors affecting the taxi drivers’ English language competence. Based on the literature review, the following seven hypotheses were set:
1. There is a significant relationship between Thai taxi drivers’ past education and training and their English language competence.
2. Thai taxi drivers’ attitudes toward foreign passengers affect their English language competence and are related to their motivation to learn English.
3. Thai taxi drivers’ motivation to learn English affects their English language competence.
4. Thai taxi drivers’ independent English language learning behavior positively affects their English language competence.
5. There is a significant relationship between Thai taxi drivers’ motivation to learn English and their attitudes toward foreign passengers.
6. Thai taxi drivers’ motivation to learn English and their independent language learning behavior are related.
7. Thai taxi drivers’ prior exposure to English is related to their independent language learning behavior.
A proposed model explaining the relationship between the exogenous and endogenous variables was tested against empirical data. For data analysis, LISREL version 8.72, statistical analysis software, was used to analyze the data. After some adjustments to the proposed model, it alighted and fitted with the data. collected. The results showed that all of the set hypotheses above were confirmed by the empirical data.
The results showed that all of the set hypotheses were supported by the empirical evidence. The model was fitted with the Chi-square of 53.821, CFI of 0.996, NFI of 0.972, GFI of 0.977, and RMSEA of 0.022. The majority of Thai taxi drivers’ English language competence was at a low level (Mean = 2.50). It was also found that their educational background and English language training significantly affected their English competence directly and indirectly.
The findings imply that the majority of Thai taxi drivers are motivated to learn and use English with foreign visitors. However, their humble English competence means that they need more support in terms of training opportunities, including content and methods that are flexible and practical.