The Impact of the SMILE Project on Thai EFL Learners: Collaborations between Thai and Japanese L2 Learners

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Prapaipun Pornthanachotanan
Shigenori Wakabayashi
Jun Iio
Junji Sakurai
Yohei Honda
Teera Insawat
Pornsiri Singhapreecha


This study presents an international collaboration in the Students Meet Internationally through Language Education (SMILE) project and investigates how the SMILE project impacts Thai EFL students. This program provides students with opportunities to use English as an Authentic Communication Tool (E-ACT) by sharing their experiences and culture with high school peers in Japan online. Thirty-one Thai twelfth graders from a public high school in Bangkok participated in the SMILE project in the 2022 academic year. The course of the SMILE project we describe in this paper consisted of four collaboration classes (50 minutes, four times), and each class consisted of two sessions (25 minutes, twice). In each session, the Thai students met Japanese students in the same school grade in small groups with four or five students in total. These classes were conducted via online channels. Thai students’ data were collected from class observations, interviews, and questionnaires. The results revealed that the Thai students 1) increased their confidence in using English, 2) gained broader perspectives from the cultural exchange sessions, 3) were eager to have similar collaborations with new Japanese students, and 4) showed clear enjoyment in their activities. Given these benefits, we conclude that the experience that student participants gained through the SMILE project had a substantial impact on them, which is likely to change their attitude toward studying English in the future. Besides, we discuss how current approaches to learner psychology may or may not be applied to our findings. Based on the results, the authors argue that having students with different first languages meet online should be conducted more widely in EFL circumstances.

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Pornthanachotanan, P., Wakabayashi, S., Iio, J., Sakurai, J., Honda, Y., Insawat, T., & Singhapreecha, P. (2024). The Impact of the SMILE Project on Thai EFL Learners: Collaborations between Thai and Japanese L2 Learners. LEARN Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 17(1), 662–687. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Prapaipun Pornthanachotanan, Watsuthiwararam School

A full-time English teacher at Watsuthiwararam School, Bangkok, Thailand. She obtained her MA from the Language Institute, Thammasat University.

Shigenori Wakabayashi, Faculty of Letters, Chuo University and Workshop Initiatives for Language Learning

A professor of Applied Linguistics, Chuo University, Japan, and Representative Director of the Workshop Initiatives for Language Learning (WILL). His research interests focus on the innovation of educational programs and modeling second language acquisition.

Jun Iio, Faculty of Global Informatics, Chuo University and Workshop Initiatives for Language Learning

A professor of Computer Science, Chuo University, Japan, and Director of WILL. His research focuses on ICT application in education and other human activities.

Junji Sakurai, Sekisaibo LLC and Workshop Initiatives for Language Learning

A COE of Sekisaibo LLC and Director of WILL. He is an expert in material and course design for education.

Yohei Honda, Chuo University High School

A full-time English teacher at Chuo University High School. He obtained an MA from Sophia University, Tokyo.

Teera Insawat, The Chuo-Thammasat Collaboration Center

A full-time coordinator at The Chuo-Thammasat Collaboration Center, Thailand.

Pornsiri Singhapreecha, Language Institute, Thammasat University

A professor of Linguistics, Language Institute, Thammasat University, Thailand. Her areas of research are SLA and syntax in generative grammar.


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