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This article aims to study language competence and language choice of Vietnamese-Thai people in Udon Thani Province. The sample included 70 participants who were divided into three age groups. Data were gathered through questionnaires, in-depth interviews and observation. Analysis was done by using sociolinguistic concepts. The study found that language competence varied according to age group. The oldest age group was more competent in speaking many languages than the two younger groups. The older groups were also more competent speaking Vietnamese and Isan, while all age groups were similarly competent in speaking Central Thai. Age, interlocutor and place were the three factors that significantly influenced language choice. Language is an important aspect of the preservation of culture and identity. Moreover, the use of both Vietnamese and Isan is diminishing among Vietnamese-Thais because of the transition and use of Central Thai in the formal sector throughout Thailand. Therefore, in order to preserve the identity and culture of Vietnamese-Thais in Thailand, the need and importance of language and culture should be taught and emphasized to future generations. We suggest formal implementation of relevant language policies in favor of both Vietnamese and Isan languages in order to support the diversity of languages and cultures in Thai society.
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