Natthaphon Tripornchaisak


Research title: Intercultural communication mediation and intercultural comp

Research Summary


This PhD project seeks to investigate the notions of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) and intercultural mediation in the Thai-English interpreting industry. Critical literature recognises that ICC and intercultural mediation are present in the Thai interpreting studies, although researchers have not investigated them in depth. The existing accounts have not yet elaborated on what competences interpreters utilise in mediating intercultural encounters. Furthermore, a preliminary observation of training programmes suggests very little about the teaching of culture. Because of its argued importance and the lack of scholarship, the research questions for this study will focus on two main areas: 1. What constitutes Intercultural Communicative Competence in the interpretation industry? 2. What role does Intercultural Communication play in interpretation via interpretation sessions, classrooms, and training programmes? Data will be collected using two methods: document analysis and a series of semi-structured individual interviews which incorporate the use of vignettes. 


First, Thai-English interpretation is a critical mechanism in driving Thailand’s interaction with people from other countries. The surge in language needs may be the result of increased tourism (Chuwiruch, 2019; Talty, 2019) and that English is the official language of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 2008). Despite the growing significance of English, Thailand’s ability to use English is still far behind other Asian counterparts, according to the reported standardised scores of TOEFL, TOEIC, and IELTS (ETS, 2018; IELTS, 2018); therefore, interpretation services are paramount for international exchanges. Parker (2008) estimated for 2014 that the figure translation and interpretation jobs in Thailand would consist of a regional significance of 19.65 per cent of nine Southeast Asian nations, excluding only Myanmar.

At the core of this research, I will argue that the knowledge of culture is of no less importance than the linguistic knowledge in interpretation. The research will attempt to investigate the notion of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) and intercultural mediation in interpreters. The document analysis of 37 independent studies by Chulalongkorn University Master’s students in translation and interpretation can also help ascertain that mediation remains an essential component in interpretation. It appears that the concept of ICC is yet to be realised in the provision of training programmes, although a well-trained interpreter may carry a better bargaining chip in both interpreting skills and negotiation. To summarise, first, the practice of ICC is present in various fields by performing mediation. Second, although interpreters or users assert that intercultural competence is fundamental, what the research lacks is the actual accounts of the intercultural encounters which can corroborate what constitutes intercultural communicative competences critical for interpretation. Therefore, with a view to addressing this, this research is aimed to probe into the intercultural experiences and ICC problem-solving skills of the participants. It is hoped to offer a more in-depth understanding of Intercultural Communication in the process of interpretation in Thailand.

What benefits will this research bring?

First, the PhD will provide insights into the intercultural communication process taking place during interpretation. The project aims to shed light on the cultural mediation and implications that interpreters encounter. This is a missing gap between the two study fields. Given that interpretation and intercultural communication at postgraduate levels are in their infancy and in need of academic nurturing, additional literature and expertise would help bring Thailand academia to the front. The research is then likely to enable an academic merger which can lead to the development of training lessons or programmes that embrace the notion of intercultural communication.

Second, on practical terms, it is expected that readers and the public will be able to learn more about the positive impact and/or adverse repercussions that interpretation can have on people’s lives. I propose the following areas that this project can help improve.

  • A lack of governing body; i.e., translation and interpretation services do not need any certification to operate in Thailand (Australian Embassy Bangkok, 2016). This has led to low-income, unstable job security, no welfare, no social recognition from colleagues and no apparent career path (Maneerat, 2010; Onlaor, 2010; Sirithanachai, 2010; Wuttiwong, 2014) while a small number of highly-experienced interpreters are more fortunate to receive reasonable pay (Nuchanong, 2008).
  • A realisation of the importance of intercultural communication may influence a shift the relationship between the position of ICC and the role of interpreters; at the same time, uplifting the public perception, professional standards and welfare.


Chuenmanuse, P. & Tripornchaisak, N. (2017). The Roles of the Consecutive Interpreters in the Political Settings: A Case Study of the Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha. Journal of Translation and Interpretation Thailand, Thailand. Journal of Translation and Interpretation Thailand (JTIT) vol 1, no 1(2017)


Sponsored by Thammasat University, Thailand.



Natthaphon has taught at Thammasat University in Thailand for five years. His research interests lie primarily in the area of intercultural communication and interpreting studies.

Additional Information

Educational background

  • 2019 to date: PhD, University of Glasgow, UK
  • 2014: Master of Crosscultural Communication, University of Sydney, Australia
  • 2012: Bachelor of Arts in English, Thammasat University, Thailand

Professional background

  • 2014 - Present (Study leave): Full-time lecturer at English and Linguistics Department, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University
  • Director of International Studies (ASEAN-China) (International Programme) - September 2016 - August 2019
  • Adjunct lecturer and speaker: Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, and Nakhon Pathom Rajabhat University

Interpreter and Rapporteur 

  • Thai Court
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF)(February 2016/ August 2018) 
  • Nike Training (November 2015)
  • Ministry of Labour, Thailand, ASEAN Guidelines for CSR on Labour (March 2016) organised by the Ministry of Labour, Thailand
  • DAAT Digital Advertising Association (Thailand)(2018)
  • Giffarine Thailand (2018)

Voice over

  • Thai PBS & TDRI: Thailand Development Research Institute


  • "AIIC Training of Trainers Seminar: Teaching Consecutive Interpreting, the First 6 months" organised by the Traning Committee of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), and led by Andrew Gillies in Bangkok (2016)
  • "AIIC Retour Interpretation into English as B Language" by Matthew Perret from the Association Internationale des Interprètes de Conférence (International Association of Conference Interpreters-AIIC) (2017)
  • “The Upgrade of Skills: consecutive interpreting with English as B language two-day-course, 5-6 Jan 2019 led by James Jennings (International Association of Conference Interpreters-AIIC).