This study investigates the Thai English Code Switching (TECS) in the academic setting within the contexts of Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Varsity Carnival as a result of the spread of English and internationalization in Thai higher education. The study seeks to examine the linguistic features, functions, and motivations performed by the Thai academic seminar participants. The study made use of a qualitative approach in examining the data which were taken from the audio recordings of the Thai academic seminar participants’ speeches, semi-structured interviews, and field notes. The Markedness Model of Myers-Scotton (1993; 1998), the Conversational Approach of Gumperz (1982) and World Englishes Approach proposed by Kachru (1993) were used to analyze the speech data.
The findings revealed that the TECS features at the lexico-semantic and discourse levels appeared in several in-group discussions, and they served as a lingua franca to English in the out-group interactions. Remarkably, the Thai variety of English (TE) features functioned as expressions of question tags, politeness and gender, confirmation, repetition for emphasis, and formation of a new dialect variety. Meanwhile, the characteristics of linguistic functions (conversational, speech act and discourse markers) were varied in the social functions and other physical factors such as the language and social interaction in this community practice, the continuum of formal and informal academic setting, and the kinds of activities, topics, participants and settings. In addition, it found that the linguistic motivations were mainly employed for effective communication, better understanding, and explanation of concepts in cultural contexts; followed by self-expression; preference; and unconscious use i.e. TECS/TE functions include conceptualizing English concepts in explaining difficult concepts and simplifying issues, as a stress-releasing strategy, as a distraction and aside, used in reprimanding, as a tone-softener and as a language of youth.
Finally, this study is significant because it will enable policy makers to recognize that TECS/TE occurs at all levels of education and must be given appropriate attention. It will also serve as a reference point for future research into language changes or shifts in Thailand, as well as, add to the existing literature in the study of language use in education.