English is regularly perceived to be the global language that is used for cross-cultural communication by people from around the world (e.g., Crystal, 2003). Following international trends, English has exerted a presence in the cultures, languages, and interactional patterns of the peoples of Asia (Kachru, 1998: 91). The status afforded English native and near-native speakers reflects the perceived importance and interpersonal functionality of English in the region, and efforts by Asian governments to teach English at younger ages, as well as the demand for English ability by corporations, the media, and individuals, demonstrate its perceived instrumentality. In spite of the presumption of usefulness, there have been surprisingly few studies investigating Asian learners' perceptions of and decision to use English in specific settings. There is also a need for research that extends beyond individual countries to include pan-Asian issues, particularly in the “lesser-researched expanding-circle societies, including … Japan … [and] Thailand” (Bolton, 2008: 9). In order to address this gap in the literature and inform discussions about the comparability of students across Asian Expanding Circle countries, the aim of the present study is to compare and contrast how students in one Southeast Asian Expanding Circle country (i.e., Thailand) and one East Asian Expanding Circle country (i.e., Japan) view the usefulness of English to their lives.