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Felte quarterly issue 2

  1. 1. FELTE QUARTERLY ☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 Faculty of English Language Teacher Education University of Languages and International Studies, VNU For internal circulation only 1
  2. 2. Felte Quarterly ☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 Faculty of English Language Teacher Education University of Languages and International Studies, VNU For internal circulation only Editors Mr. Ngô Xuân Minh (Division II) Ms. Trần Hoài Giang (Division II) Ms. Hoàng Hồng Trang (Division III) Layout Editor Ms. Trần Hoài Giang (Division II) Editorial Advisory Board Ms. Nguyễn Thu Lệ Hằng, FELTE Dean Ms. Nguyễn Ngọc Quỳnh, FELTE Vice Dean Ms. Vũ Mai Trang, FELTE Vice Dean Mr. Khoa Anh Việt, FELTE Vice Dean Photo Credit Front cover photo taken by Spoii (2009). Retrieved from: http://spoii.deviantart.com/gallery/☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 2
  3. 3. Table of Contents Editors’ Notes ................................................................................................. 4 FELTE Rhythm Curricula revision and course development projects Nguyen Thu Le Hang..................................................................................... 5 AUN at FELTE Nguyen Thanh Thuy & Phan Ngoc Quynh Anh ............................................. 6 Workshop on teaching reading Vu Thi Kim Chi ............................................................................................... 7 FELTE Library Do Thi Minh Ngoc .......................................................................................... 8 Been there done that Vu Mai Trang ................................................................................................. 10 FELTE Faces Mr. Vu Hai Ha, an inspiring scholar Nguyen Thi Chi .............................................................................................. 12 Feature Article Developing socio-cultural competence in the context of English as a global language: Implications for English classrooms in Vietnam Nguyen Thi Thuy Minh .................................................................................. 16 Review Mckay, S.L. (2002). Teaching English as an international language: Rethinking goals and approaches. New York: Oxford University Press. Thai Ha Lam Thuy ......................................................................................... 23 Teaching in Focus Mentoring program at Division of English Skills 1 – the pathway to become a professional learning community. Nguyen Thi Thu Hang & Can Thi Chang Duyen............................................ 26 Call for Contribution .................................................................................... 32☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 3
  4. 4. Editors’ Editors Notes Spring is unarguably the most celebrated season in Vietnam, and to match the festive atmosphere of the season, this issue of FELTE QUARTERLY has been attired in the rosy hue of peach blossoms, the symbolic flower of spring in Northern Vietnam. The sight of peach blossoms is also reminiscent of the time for Vietnamese people to look back on the previous year and look forward to the brand new one. Hence, the journal starts with FELTE Rhythm, a quick review of some remarkable events occurring in the past semester in the faculty, including the Curricula revision and Course development project, the AUN project and the establishment of the faculty library as well as a photo stream of other recent activities. In this season of growth, the journal enjoys the birth of “Been there done that” – a new column hosted by Ms Vu Mai Trang – which gives room for faculty members’ brief stories about their mind-opening trips. In the third column (FELTE Faces), F.Q. proudly presents a young, yet exemplar figure of the new generation, Mr. Vu Hai Ha – a Ph.D. candidate at Monash University. Also in this issue, F.Q. is honored to introduce a research report by Dr. Nguyen Thi Thuy Minh, who despite her physical absence is still present in professional discussions and admired for her contribution to the FELTE family. In the Review column, Ms. Thai Ha Lam Thuy provides a succinct but informative critique of a notable TESOL publication from Oxford University Press. The issue ends with a report on the mentoring program at School of English I, which will hopefully act as food for thought for other schools of the faculty in their process of mentoring new staff. As usual, all readers should not miss the Call for Papers to keep themselves informed of ways to join the vibrant community of F.Q. writers and editors. To conclude this special issue, the Editorial Board would like to offer their best wishes to all FELTE staff members and their families on the occasion of the new year. Hope the year of the Dragon will be the opportune time for all to unleash their potential and ascend to the new heights in all aspects of life. F.Q. Editorial Board☼ Issue 2 ☼ Summer 2011 4
  5. 5. FELTE Rhythm CURRICULA REVISION AND COURSE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS Nguyen Thu Le Hang course developers will have time to go through the process until teaching handouts are produced and papers relating to their work presented at international conferences and get published. The Faculty of LCESP is in charge of this 1st stream subjects under the guidance of Dr. Diana Dudzik. FELTE has 1 subject- Issues in Teaching English as an International Languages- in this group. The 2nd stream is named the Rapids as the course developers had only 2 intensive weeks coached by Assoc. Prof. Martha Bigelow. During these two weeks of December, they worked on 8 Proficiency subjects. All the Rapids teams have kept working on their draft Following the success of the National English syllabi and shared the versions on Google Docs. The Teacher Education Curriculum (NETEC) project led by 3rd stream is called the Rivulet as the course Dr. Diana Dudzik and the course development developers had few workshops facilitated by Dr. project guided by Assoc. Prof. Martha Bigelow in the Dudzik and the deliverables for this subject group first half of 2011, the professional team of FELTE had are limited to Course Overview, Objectives, several opportunities to get involved in 2 major Description and Assessment. By 15 January 2012, projects in the second half of the year. FELTE successfully completed the huge work load The 1st one is the revision of the curricula and managed to submit to the University all the towards uniformity among ULIS faculties in terms of required syllabus summaries for the new subjects. the total number of credits and the total number of We still have a long way ahead, as we have only subjects per curriculum. FELTE Dean joined with passed the starting point. Highlights of the Course other Deans of the University in a series of Development Project, yet, motivate us all as we “are workshops and working sessions throughout the making history”, creating such transformational Summer, with the facilitation of VPAA and the changes as designing courses following the Backward Director of the Training Affairs Department, followed Design, or restructuring the Proficiency courses by consultation sessions among the key staff of condensed to 4 semesters only while adopting the FELTE. Two curricula for mainstream and two challenging approach- the Integrated, Theme-based curricula for the Fast-track- one set for English and Genre-based Approach. teacher education, another for the training of interpreter/translator and administration officer- In the coming months of the first half of 2012, were finalised, with 8 new English proficiency a larger number of team leaders and members will subjects and 14 new subjects in the professional involve themselves in various tasks including the knowledge domain. survey among employers, alumni and current students about the curricula and program standards, The 2nd major project is the Multiple-stream the comparative analysis of similar English Teacher Course Development. There are 3 streams: the Education and English language programs in the Contextual subjects, the Proficiency subjects, and the world and in the region, and above all, the course Other subjects in the Professional Knowledge Domain development as planned in our roadmap. (M5). The 1st stream is called the Meandering as the☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 5
  6. 6. FELTE Rhythm AUN at FELTE Nguyen Thanh Thuy & Phan Ngoc Quynh Anh AUN- WHAT IS AUN-QA? 13/9/2011, Professor Nguyen Hoa, ULIS rector, signed the decision to establish the self- ASEAN University Network-Quality assessment board of the Honor program of Assurance (AUN-QA) System was originated by English teacher education according to the AUN- Dr. Vanchai Sirichana, the first chairman of the QA, including: AUN Board of trustees (AUN-BOT) in 1998 in order to reach and maintain the high standard • Professor Nguyen Hoa, President – Chairman education for not only a particular country but • Dr. Do Tuan Minh - Vice President – Vice also for ASEAN as a whole. Since then, AUN-QA chairman has been continuously put into practice, • Ms. Nguyen Thu Le Hang, M.A. - Dean of FELTE developed and thrived to become a strong QA – Vice chairman system, gaining the international recognition. • Ms. Vu Tuong Vi, M.A. – Head of Fast Track Program – Secretary QA should be an instrument for mutual • Dr. Lưu Bá Minh, Associate Prof – Standing recognition to and respect of differences among member individual institutions including their diversified • Dr. Ha Le Kim Anh, Head of Academic affair - cultural and basic resources. The Project was Member welcomed by the 4th Meeting of the AUN-BOT in • Mr. Nguyen Xuan Chu, M.A. – Head of Myanmar in 1998 and became an important personnel office - Member priority of the AUN, particularly in the dimensions • Dr. Lam Quang Dong, Head of Faculty of of teaching, research and overall academic English - Member management. The assessment of the Fast Track Program AUN IN VIETNAM based on AUN including 15 criteria and 68 sub- In Vietnam, AUN-QA has been carried out criteria started from September to November, with various activities and Vietnam National 2011. During this time, lecturers of FELTE were University, Hanoi has officially been one member divided into different specifically-assigned of AUN Board of trustees since 1995. groups namely Writing group, Editor Group and Supporting Groups. Supporting groups are ULIS – VNU is currently working on Fast- different groups of lecturers taking charge of track program evaluation. One of the objectives finding evidences for AUN 15 criteria. of this program is to look back on the achievements of Fast-track program education By the end of November, Writing group will during the past years as well as to define existing have finished the first draft of the AUN self- problems that need to be solved in order to build assessment report based on the evidences found up the orientation for development in the coming by Supporting groups. years. On the other hand, thanks to the AUN-QA As planned, at the beginning of December, project, not only ULIS teachers’ self-evaluation 2011, the report and the self-assessment competence will improve but they also get more checklist will be submitted to the Quality familiar with international standards and criteria. Assurance Board of VNU. On January 2012, ULIS Besides teachers’ participation in the project, will welcome the experts of AUN coming to ULIS students’ contributions are of great importance to evaluate the quality of Fast Track Program for to the success of the project. ELT students.☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 6
  7. 7. FELTE News Workshop on Teaching Reading by Ms. Susan Lucasse Vu Thi Kim Chi The workshop on Teaching Reading by Ms. attractive was the partial conduct of a sample Susan Lucasse on August 30th, 2011 was an eye- integrated reading lesson designed by Dr. Melissa opener to many novice teachers who were Smith. In the role of students, we gradually went fumbling for an effective and inspiring way to through the three phases of the lesson with teach reading skill. New teachers with little relevant and exciting activities which required us experience of teaching at college learnt a lot not to read both intensively and extensively. This only from Ms. Lucasse’s presentation, but also sample lesson illustrated really well the theory of from the way she organized activities and integrating intensive and extensive reading tasks modeled an effective reading lesson. By putting in L2 classroom and gave me a lot of ideas for my the audience in the shoes of learners, she actually teaching. The post activities were very creative made us consider what a student looked forward but quite challenging, as they asked students to to and needed to acquire after some time actually get engaged in the story by acting the reading. She also directed our attention to roles of the characters. Although it might be reading as a daily activity that we did, both in difficult for such activities to be included in a real Vietnamese and English, very often. Reading does reading lesson under our circumstances, they not need to be academic and serious all the time. provided the hints for us to design reading tasks Therefore, we can help students improve their in which students are encouraged and challenged reading ability with interesting authentic tasks at the same time to use the knowledge they just and texts which seem to be part of their everyday learn in the lesson for certain purposes. life. The section that seemed to be the most☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 7
  8. 8. FELTE Rhythm FELTE Library Do Thi Minh Ngoc It’s finally here after months of planning! deserves to be called the first resource for meeting FELTE Library is now officially open to the mass all FELTE Teachers’ information needs. The Faculty community of FELTE Teachers on every Tuesday and Managerial Board and the library staff are Thursday morning, starting from November, 2011. endeavoring for the commitment to turn the library into the key agent in enabling FELTE Teachers to “Headquartered” in Room 206, B2 Building on prosper in the information society and supporting the campus of the University of Languages and any individual who is undertaking professional self- International Studies (HULIS), the library offers development. ideally tranquil and inspiring work space, welcoming atmosphere, and easy and unrestricted access to an Just spare your time, come along and join with extensive collection of university course-books, us. The library staff – all of whom are young and reference materials and CDs. The library, currently energetic teachers of the Faculty, are always on housing nearly 170 items in high demands, hand to help you! FELTE Library is open from 9 a.m to 11 a.m on every Tuesday and Thursday!☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 8
  9. 9. FELTE Rhythm Division 2 Inset Training L2 Vocabulary knowledge 16 Nov 2011 as a two-sided coin two 18 Oct 2011 Dr Michael Harrington, School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies, the University of Queensland, Australia ULIS StarS 16 Nov 2011☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 9
  10. 10. BEEN THERE DONE THAT Hosted by Vu Mai Trang Having recently taken a course? Gone on a trip? Done something interesting? Met new people? In this space of each issue of FELTE Quarterly we post a question for you to share your experience and to learn about, and from, our colleagues. In this issue let’s meet four FELTE faculty members who have attended conferences in the last couple of months to find out what had well impressed them. Ms Hieu Thuy (ELT) Voices in ELT International Conference, Thamasat University, Thailand, June 2011. The first impression that the Conference had on me was its organization. Though that was the first time TU held such an International conference in ELT, they had decided to make it big. The venue was placed in a five-star hotel, and the reception dinner was extremely Thai. I was also delighted by the helpfulness, English proficiency level, and professionalism of their voluntary students. They were all wearing their smart uniform - the guys in suits with ties and girls in shirts and skirts. There were just about 15 of them but whenever the guests needed help, they could manage right away. For example, on discovering that my name was misspelt on the Certificate of Participation, I immediately sought for help and a nice girl appeared just in time to direct me to the responsible person. (ELT) Ms Mai Trang (ELT) New Directions, British Council Assessment and Evaluation Symposium, Kuala Lumpur, July 2011. One of the things I most remember from the trip was the story of one Malaysian colleague. Every single day of the Symposium she came into the conference hall with a super tiny, sometimes crying, baby in her arms. Struck by an empathy being a working mother myself, I talked to her and found out to my amazement that her baby is just 3 weeks old! I was further taken aback when one of her friends joined our conversation and almost proudly added that this is the seventh child of hers! The efforts of this woman to make this far must be enormous, considering what I learned from the participants list that most people who came to this Symposium are those of significance, including noted scholars Women seen on KL streets, many in black veils and policy makers. Thinking of her, however, I can’t help feeling lucky, in some way, imagining the boundaries she must have tried hard to go beyond, successfully or not.☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 10
  11. 11. BEEN THERE DONE THAT Thơm Thơm 1) Ms Thơm Thơm (English 1) Discourse, Knowledge and Culture Symposium, University of Danang, University of Hue and University of English and International Studies (ULIS-VNU), Danang, December 2011. Since it was the very first time I joined a conference in this city, I was filled with lots of emotions: the curiosity to discover Danang as a place of interest, the honour to meet and learn from many researchers in the field, and the anxiety to prepare for my presentation on Discourse. However, what most impressed me at the Symposium was the presentation by the guest speaker, Professor Ly Toan Thang (Institute of Dictionaries and Encyclopedia) focusing on Discourse Analysis from Cognitive perspective. The presentation attracted me in the way that the scholar was serious to investigate a seemingly minor example: “đít chai/the bottom of the bottle” in a Picture taken in My Son popular Vietnamese saying: “mắt kính dày như đít chai”. To my surprise, the professor did a thorough research in various languages in different parts of the world, and traced back to our longstanding history and culture to provide rather impressive explanations and conclusions. He strongly believed that the example might have rooted from the traditional and habitual sitting habit of the Vietnamese, “ngắi bắt”. Hardly words can express my thirst for every single theory proposed and my satisfaction to listen to the rational explanations. Most importantly, I have learnt much from his commitment in doing scientific research, which greatly motivates young learners like me in the research career. I was fortunate enough to have a good time in Danang and join the interesting Symposium. Ms Quỳnh Lê (English 1) Quỳnh Lê International Conference on Language and Communication, ICLC 2011, Bangkok, December 2011. I was most impressed by the hospitality and excellent organisation offered by the host at the Conference. On arriving at the site, instead of seeing young beautiful volunteering girls, as we usually do domestically, I caught the sight of many not-so-young ladies and gentlemen here Picture taken with Teun and Dijk and there giving help in the plenary session room and always with a friendly smile on their faces. During the welcoming party that afternoon, we learned that they were holding key positions in their organisations and all were with ..Ph.D! They did their best to comfort the participants, from the "tiny" things - like making a walking tour to get our feedback on lunch food- to "bigger" ones, like getting us the proceedings released years ago! Not until the last day did I find out that they had just recovered from the severe floodings ever just weeks before!☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 11
  12. 12. FELTE Faces Mr. Vu Hai Ha, an inspiring scholar FELTE has a tradition where the teachers, generation by generation, have made non-stop endeavor to pursue their desire of self-fulfillment in learning and teaching. Among those who have been successful in reaching out to the world education is an arguably outstanding young figure, Mr. Vu Hai Ha, an enthusiastic, inquisitive, and inspiring teacher - researcher. He is pursuing a PhD degree in Education at Monash University, Australia in his 20s. Stimulated by a desire for the engagement and enhancement of young-generation teachers currently working in FELTE in their teaching and researching career, I have invited teacher-cum-postgraduate-student Ha to share his philosophy and experience in his developmental route. ‘The teacher always needs to learn , • Nguyen Thi Chi (C): Hello, my teacher. Thank something, ; and that’s the most important you for joining in this second issue of FELTE thing I think. And dedication, especially Quarterly. How are you there? teaching in Vietnam… you know when it comes to teaching in Vietnam, there are a lot of • HH: Hello Chi. Everything is fine. How about difficult conditions and parameters that I think you and your work? dedication will come first to good teachers; • C: Everything seems to go in a right way for and that’s what I am trying to do. me. And now, shall we talk a bit about you, about your qualities? ☺ • HH: It’s my pleasure ☺ ‘ when it’s your job, especially concerned • C: If you have to choose three adjectives to quite a lot of people, you should give it describe yourself, what will you choose? • HH: Uh… ‘Dedicated’; that’s the first one. The what you have , second one might be ‘hard-working’; and the • C: Well, that seems the reason why you have third one is ‘serious’. ☺ been so popular in our department as well as • C: So what do you mean by ‘dedicated’ and in our university. Many teachers and students ‘serious’? have praised your endeavor and dedication in both teaching and researching. So could you • HH: Well, I think it’s a kind of complementary please share with us your thoughts of these in the sense that when you show your broad areas? dedication to something, it doesn’t mean that you are not serious. You shouldn’t take • HH: Of course. I am always willing. ☺ ‘serious’ in the negative sense. I think ‘serious’ • C: Thank you, teacher. As I know, teaching means that when you are interested in philosophy is very important because it can☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 12
  13. 13. FELTE Faces assist the enhancement of a teacher’s the task of students is doing exercises and the performance, so I wonder what your task of the teacher is saying it’s right or wrong, philosophy of teaching is. or skim and scan the text to take the cues, or that’s sort of thing. And when I was a student • HH: Well, I think it’s very hard. I never collect in CLC or Fast-track program, I found reading my philosophy of teaching. But I think the most was dull, was boring and kind of monotonous. important principle underlying teaching is, you It’s like exam-coaching, I think. But when it know, being able to explain to students. I comes to the reality, I realize that there is mean that you should help your students much more in reading than to answer the understand the matter as much as possible. questions. I read an article in real life, I realize And another thing is that you inspire your that at the end of the article there is no students. In the past I emphasized the first question and no right or wrong, no multiple one, the first principle, that is how to convey choice questions, so reading is to relate what my ideas to the students in the clearest way as you already know with what you are reading, possible. But in recent years, I think that I am so that it can help you best with your purpose shifting to the later principle, instead of, you as well as enrich your knowledge. That is the know, passing on the information to the main thing that I want to be realized in my students, I try to inspire them; that is I give reading lesson, reading is not for answering them the tool, the inspiration, I inspire them, questions, but reading for life. So reading is and I encourage them to explore things in real not just receptive, but reading is input and is a life. So, in brief, teaching means inspiration source of inspiration. I want to use the word and inspiring students. ‘inspiration’ again. It is again my philosophy of teaching. Reading is inspiration to other skills • C: Yeap, I like the word ‘inspiring’. Honestly, and also to life, to work, everything. I really when I was a student, I was inspired a lot in want my student to understand that reading is your reading lessons. They did not only very important, not for exam, but for real life provide me with knowledge and skills but they as well. also proved me that teaching was an art, • C: How did you do to make your students particularly teaching reading. And I’d like to understand that reading is not doing the ask you some more specific things related to exercises but the input for other skills? your reading lessons. • HH: It’s really hard because whether we like it • HH: Ok! or not, examination and testing system in our • C: You know many students reckon reading university is kind of standardized tests, so the lessons are so dull, but those who attended students don’t… It’s kind of paradox here, the your lessons, as far as I know, all felt excited. students don’t want to do exercises like IELTS How did you keep students motivated with so- or TOEFL so much but when they are directed called dull lessons? towards reading for other purposes, they complain that, you know, we need to be • HH: Well… well. Normally, people classify coached for the exams. So that’s what I say reading as receptive skills, and by receptive, there is a paradox here. I think that the most they give students kinds of reading in the important thing here is to help students classroom, something prescribed by the understand the purposes of reading. For teacher on syllabus, and their tasks are simply example, with your class, at the beginning of answering the questions. And sometimes the the semester, I talked about my intention of questions are very closed-ended… I mean that critical reading, and I told you, I remember,☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 13
  14. 14. FELTE Faces course, you are talking about reading, but‘ teaching means inspiration and inspiring students , when it comes to warm-up activity, I always tried to make the connection between the • “It’s up to you. If you are willing, you will learn warm-up activities with the listening skills that a lot. If you are not willing, it is ok, because your class focused. So I think that meaningful you know, it’s kind of workload, not only for makes creative sustainable, and in order to do you, students, but also for teacher. But if you that the teacher should read a lot. There are think it’s the opportunity to learn, we do many sources of reading, library, somewhere together”. I think that it is important for else, and even workshops. I remember I learnt teachers to help students to understand why a lot from the workshops when I was in my first they are doing something in the first place. teaching year. I attended the workshop on Otherwise, it’s kind of imposing on the Critical Thinking by Ms. Phung Ha Thanh, and students that they must do that. So it takes it was very useful, it gave me a lot of time; and come back to your question: how, I interesting ideas about how to improve my think, talking to students, motivating them and classes. And that’s the first thing; the teacher helping them to see what kinds of problems, always needs to learn. And secondly, you and what the reading program does not should think, put yourself in the students’ provide them, and then inspire them to do situation, you think of how students are gonna something different. Finally, I think both do this, or think of what activities will work and students and teacher need to involve in that. what you are going to do. We, teachers, always • C: Humm… That will be kind of food for need to encourage the students to give thought for teachers, especially for me, a feedback because creativeness, if it is not ‘new-comer’ in teaching career. And I appreciated by the students explicitly, and remember you once told us that innovation sometimes students do not show whether they was essential in teaching; it makes a teacher an enjoy the activities, the new things brought by attracting and vivid textbook. Could you please the teacher, we may feel demotivated; so I share with us how to be constantly innovative think listening to the students is one way to in our teaching? encourage you to be even more creative. I shouldn’t forget to mention that I also learn • HH: Well… I remember some people asked me from the students themselves because this question before, and I say first of all, it sometimes I ask students to be creative in comes from the nature of the teacher, being class and some students have really good creative. I think that not all teachers are techniques or ideas. I may duplicate their ideas creative because for some of them, creative or I may build up my ideas based on their means breaking the rules, the textbook. It is ideas. So in brief, in order to be constantly kind of take risk and some don’t like to take creative, the teacher needs to learn all the risk. So, first innovative comes from teachers, time, whenever you can, when you are a and second it must come from students. Some teacher, when you are a student, when you are classes like to explore new things and we find a workshop attendant. their motivation to learn, but there are classes which don’t want to change at all. As for your • C: So interesting: teachers need to learn at any question about the techniques to be creative, I time, and even learn when talking to each think that first of all the teacher need to read a other in this way. ☺ lot because, you know, innovation should be • HH: ☺ meaningful. For example, you remember the warm-up games at your listening class? Of ☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 14
  15. 15. FELTE Faces • C: And now I’d like to move on to another big • ‘ Research is an opportunity to learn , area in which you are also popular, that’s enthusiasm for teaching. I didn’t know why research. Could you please share with us what because, you know, dedication is still my merit, ‘research’ means to you? And how come have my strength, my quality. I think the problem you been attracted to research? might be my communication with the students. So I really want to understand the younger • HH: For me, research is an opportunity to generation even more, so that in the future learn… Research is an opportunity to sharpen when I come back to Vietnam, I love teaching your skills. Many people think that research is even more. So far I think that at least I just reading and writing only but research understand the younger generation much includes a lot of skills, for example, when you more. I realize that in the past I had some go out to interview people, that is socialization, conflict with young generation because I didn’t communication skills, when you present your understand them enough. That’s why I decided idea to the public or to the panel, you sharpen to work on their voice, their language, and your presentation skills…And I realize lots of their values in classroom. skills I have today and I am confident with come from my research experiences… The • C: I think not only you but many other teachers most important thing that inspires me to do a can get benefit from your study. I long for lot of research is that I could learn a lot from much more inspiring lessons of yours when them… Another thing is you have right attitude you come back… And the last question is ‘Do to understanding of research. You don’t try it, you have any research plan in the coming you know, kind of application for scholarship, time?’ or prizes I think. Actually, in my situation I • HH: Of course, I am doing one, my PhD project. didn’t even, you know, claim the prize when I I’m also writing a course book for critical got the first, second prizes, and I was eligible reading program. So you’ll find new ideas for extra points or marks in GPA but I didn’t about critical reading in this book rather than claim that, because I was satisfied with what I handouts. Actually Ms. Yen and Ms. Ha in Fast- got already. In brief, you take research as an track program are experimenting the program opportunity to learn and understand it, right now. We are working closely as a team especially student research. Probably that will although we are thousands of miles away. inspire you. That’s collaborative teaching and action • C: I remember that your current thesis is about research in my view. Vietnamese 9X TESOL trainees’ Struggle of • C: Thank you very much for your energetic Voice for their Language and Values. And what sharing. I believe that FELTE teachers, inspires you to do such research? especially young teachers, as well as students • HH: Well, again I have to say that research will soon find teaching and learning about should come from your real life. Many people reading much more an interest and a challenge think that I do research on 9X because they are than a bore. Also, we will probably be more popular, modern, and they are probably of my engaged in research ourselves as well as in topic and that I am going to talk about the guiding our students to do research. On behalf international language or anything, but actually of FELTE teachers, I wish you notable success it’s not. You know, the reason why I chose the in your PhD study. We hope to see you soon in topic is that the more I taught them, the young teaching. generation, the more I realize that I was bored, • HH: Thank you. I also hope to see all of you and I lost my appetite, energy and my soon. Best wishes to my colleagues!☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 15
  16. 16. Feature Article socio- Developing socio-cultural competence in the context of English as a Global Language: Implications for English classrooms in Vietnam Nguyen Thi Thuy Minh National Institute of Education In his report for the British Council entitled “English Next”, David Graddol (2006) points out that as English becomes a global language, native-speaker (NS) norms are becoming less relevant. This is because the global spread of the language would mean fewer interactions involving an NS. The fact that an increasing number of interactions in English nowadays are taking place between people who use it as an additional language can make the task of teaching cross-cultural communication skills more complex than ever. Instead of introducing only NS socio-cultural norms, English teachers now need to help their students to accommodate to a much more diverse range of cultural differences and perspectives (Crawford 2006). In this paper, I will discuss the challenges that the globalization of English has posed for teachers in preparing ‘socio-culturally competent’ English language users, and draw implications for English classrooms in Vietnam. I will firstly address the concept of ‘socio-cultural competence’ as a core component of ‘communicative competence’ with reference to the context of English as a Global Language (EGL). Drawing on this discussion, I will then argue that teaching English rules of speaking in this new context should be informed by a World Englishes perspective rather than by NS norms as it was previously assumed, and finally I will explicate the relevance of this proposition to English Language Teaching (ELT) in Vietnam. 1. Socio-cultural competence in the context of EGL: A critique of the NS model Socio-cultural competence is the knowledge that enables a speaker to express his/ her meanings and intentions via speech acts (e.g. requests, invitations, disagreements and so on) appropriately within a particular social and cultural context of communication. This knowledge necessarily involves both having linguistic means for expressing speech acts and understanding the socio-cultural constraints on the use of these means (Canale 1983). Socio-cultural competence is essential for effective communication and in fact constitutes one of the core components of one’s communicative competence’ (see Canale and Swain 1980, Canale 1983). That is to say, a language user cannot be deemed ‘competent’ if he or she is unable to, among other things, ‘do things with words’ properly in a given context of use of the given language. Research into cross-cultural communication has repeatedly shown that performing speech acts in a second language (L2) can be a challenging task for many L2 learners (see Kasper and Rose 2002). Difficulties arise mostly due to the inherent differences that exist between their first language (L1) and culture and the second language and culture. Very often, these differences have caused miscommunication (Thomas 1983). The implication drawn from this body of research is language pedagogy needs to allow L2 learners to explore the socio-cultural norms of the NS community and the various ways they constrain the language use by this community (see Rose and Kasper 2001). Indeed, this idea has tremendously impacted L2 classrooms in the past few decades. It has remained widely accepted among teachers and researchers for years that L2 pedagogical practices can benefit enormously from a description of NS models. For example, Cohen (1996: 412, cited in McKay 2002)☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 16
  17. 17. Feature Article explained how studies that compare NS speech act behavior with learners’ speech act behavior can contribute to the teaching of L2 speech acts: “Once descriptions of the speech acts are made available, the next task is to determine the degree of control that learners have over those speech acts … Ideally, this information could then be used to prepare a course of instruction that would fill in the gaps in language knowledge and also give tips on strategies that might be useful for producing utterances. The role of the learners is to notice similarities and differences between the way native speakers perform speech acts and the way they do.” McKay (2002) points out that what underlies this NS-based pedagogical model is the assumption that the goal of L2 learning is to achieve the ‘NS competence’. According to this model, any variation from the NS norms would be considered undesirable or even ‘defective’ (Crawford 2006, Foley 2007). For example, Thomas (1983) describes two types of learners’ ‘failure’ when performing a speech act in the L2. “Socio- pragmatic failure’ is evident when the learner either performs the given speech act where it is not expected (e.g. asking a new acquaintance personal questions) or does not perform it where it is required (e.g. thanking for a service). “Pragma-linguistic failure’ happens when the learner expresses the speech act in a non-target-like manner (e.g. making an imperative request). While the proposition that L2 pedagogy needs to set as its aim the development of learners’ socio- cultural competence is plausible, the assumption that this competence should be based on an NS model is not without criticisms (McKay 2002, 2003, Crawford 2006, Foley 2007). Kasper (1997) argued that for adult L2 learners the goal of achieving a native-like competence is unfeasible since L2 is increasingly difficult to acquire with age. Cook (2002: 333), for instance, indicated that “only a vanishing small percentage of students ever come close to the ‘success’ of duplicating native attainment”. What is more, it is unreasonable to assume that the goal of L2 learners is to achieve a native-like socio- cultural competence. There is evidence to suggest that L2 learners do not always desire to adopt NS rules of speaking because sometimes it happens that these rules conflict with their own system of cultural beliefs and values (Hinkel 1996, Ellis 1994, Kasper 1997). Perhaps they only target at becoming competent L2 users while maintaining their cultural identity (Ellis 1994, Siegal 1996). The total convergence with the NS behavior by L2 speakers may also be viewed negatively by some NSs. For example, the former might be perceived as “intrusive and inconsistent with the non-native speakers’ (NNS) role as outsider to the L2 community” (Kasper 1997: 12, abbreviation added). Therefore, some divergence as a marker of non-membership could perhaps be more appreciated (Kasper, ibid.). Another problem lies in the difficulty establishing what can count as ‘NS norms’ because as Kasper (ibid.) argues, the NS community is certainly not a homogenous group. This is precisely the case of the English language, where so many varieties exist. Kachru (1989), for example, divides the English speaking world into three groups, which he terms the ‘inner’, the ‘outer’, and the ‘expanding’ circles (Figure 1). The ‘inner circle’ includes countries where English is spoken as the first/ native language (ENL) (e.g. the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and which he refers to as ‘norm- providing’ countries. The fact the NS of these English varieties do not necessarily share the same ‘norms’ would make the task of ‘following NS norms’, supposed it were desirable, rather daunting for English learners, especially if they learn the language outside the territory of the ‘inner circle’. As Yano (2001: 120) puts it, “As far as English is learned by immigrants in English-speaking societies such as Britain and the United States, there does not seem to be any problem in learning the language in the socio-☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 17
  18. 18. Feature Article cultural framework of these societies. However, problems arise when English is learned as a second (ESL) or foreign language (EFL) in societies where English is not used as the native language, because English is no longer used in the Anglo-American socio-cultural framework alone”(abbreviations added). Indeed, NS norms seem less relevant in contexts where people do not need to interact with the NS (Yano 2001, Graddol 2006). People in the ‘outer circle’ such as Singapore, India, or the Philippines have their own rules when using English to communicate within their society. These rules inform appropriate language use for particular contexts, though not necessarily similar to those observed in the UK or the USA (McKay 2002). In encounters where people come from all different countries, it also makes little sense why they should adopt the socio-cultural norms of a particular English NS community to communicate with one another (McKay 2002, 2003). Inner Circle (ENL) Outer Circle (ESL) Expanding Circle (EFL) Figure 1: Kachru’s categorization of countries in which English is used (from Crystal 1997: 54) Finally, the difficult is related to the term ‘NS’ itself. As Graddol (2006: 110) indicates, “Global English has led to a crisis of terminology. The distinction between ‘native speaker’, ‘second-language speaker’, and ‘foreign-language user’ have become blurred”. In other words, it has become more problematic than ever to define ‘an NS’ in the new context. One reason is varieties of English in the ‘outer circle’ have become so well established that many ESL speakers would feel they are NSs of English and do have NS intuition (Yano 2001). In fact, Kachru himself (1999) has acknowledged the increasing importance of the ‘outer circle’, proposing that the English speakers from this circle should now be better described as ‘functional’ NSs rather than L2 speakers. Another reason for Graddol’s claim is the boundary between the ‘outer circle’ (ESL) and ‘expanding circle’ (EFL) is also becoming less clear since the EFL learners in some countries are becoming more like second language users (Graddol 2006). For example, many European countries such as Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland have been found in transition from an EFL context to an ESL context (Graddol 1997, cited in McKay 2002, Yano 2001). English is now being used daily in various areas of life such as media, business, professional discourse, higher education and so on in these countries. Spreading at the present rate, English language use is anticipated to be found in similar transition in other continents very soon (Yano 2001). Given all these changes, Graddol (2006) argues that it makes little sense to hold on to the ‘traditional’ distinction between NSs and NNSs, and in a globalized world it would be more helpful to distinguish English speakers according to their proficiency levels rather than their ‘native’ status. Also, what can be threatening to many L2 speakers is the fact that the term “NS’ seems to emphasize the ‘superior authority’ of the NS over the latter. As Graddol (2006: 83) points out,☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 18
  19. 19. Feature Article “the target language is always someone else’s mother tongue. The learner is constructed as a linguist tourist – allowed to visit, but without rights of residence and required always to respect the superior authority of native speakers.” As argued earlier, the assumption of ‘NS superior authority’ is hard to justify today. This is because with the vast and fast growing number of English L2 speakers, far surpassing the so-called ‘NS communities’, the ownership of the language seems to be shifting away from the latter (Yano 2001). There is an increasing consensus that English should no longer be viewed as a possession of the Anglo-Saxon community, but should be considered to belong to anyone who uses it (Yano 2001, McKay 2002, 2003, Foley 2006, Graddol 2006). Graddol (ibid.) even points out that the future of the English language does not depend on the Anglo-Saxon countries but in fact is determined by the people of Asia since this continent will boast the largest number of English language users in the 50 years or so to come. In short, as McKay (2003: 13) points out, “there are many reasons for putting aside the traditional pedagogical approach of employing NS models”. It is unfeasible and does not allow for learners’ subjectivity and social claims. Nor does it cater to their communication needs in a wider diversity of contexts and reflect the recent global development of English. In response to the given criticisms, there is a need to reconsider what it means to be a ‘socio-culturally competent’ EGL user, and work toward an appropriate pedagogy that helps to achieve this competence in the new context. 2. Towards a socio-cultural competence in the EGL context: Implications for Vietnam Needless to say, if the goal of ELT pedagogy is to train English speakers who will be communicating in a globalized world, there is a need to shift to a new notion of ‘communicative competence’ “where the communication is defined by the capacity of individuals of different cultures to interact” (Brumfit 2003: 120) rather than is limited to the capacity to interact with NSs. In a similar vein, socio-cultural competence needs to be redefined by a broader set of knowledge and abilities than the knowledge of the target culture norms alone. It needs to be seen as the capacity of individuals to be aware of the differences that exist between their own system of beliefs and values and that of their interlocutors and the capacity to negotiate these differences such that common understanding is achieved and solidarity is established (see Gee 1993, Kramsch and Thorne 2002, Bredella 2003, all cited in Crawford 2006 for a similar discussion). Obviously, the teacher’s task in the multilingual context of English use will become more complex than in the past since they will need to help their learners to accommodate to a much wider diversity of cultural perspectives and discourse communities than what is presented by the NS community, and at the same time to achieve intelligibility without losing their cultural identity (Crystal 2001). This can be achieved only by a pedagogy that advocates cultural and linguistic diversity and that respects learner individuality and system of beliefs and values. Like any other countries in the ‘expanding circle’, Vietnam is giving an increasingly higher status to the English language. A recent article found in Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper reveals that the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam is planning a project worth 300-400 million USD for promoting the teaching and learning of English in schools. English will be taught from Grade 3 (age 8) and become the medium of instruction for selected subjects when students reach the upper-secondary school level. The goals are also set that 80% of secondary school students throughout the country will be learning English by the year 2020 and university graduates in targeted majors such as financing, banking, IT, and tourism should achieve a working knowledge of the language. These facts and figures are plain indicators of the government’s growing awareness of the important role of English as a means of both regional and global communication.☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 19
  20. 20. Feature Article Figure 2: Top 10 FDI countries/ economies by number of projects Looking at the context of English use in Vietnam today, I would argue that although much of cross- cultural communication happening in the areas of business, trade and tourism is done in English, the people involved come from a far wider diversity of L1 backgrounds than merely NSs of English. For example, according to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), over 80 different countries and economies have invested in Vietnam between 1988 and 2007. Among the top 10 investors (in terms of both number of projects and registered capital), only USA is an ENL country (see Figures 2& 3). The statistics provided by the General Statistics Office between 2000 and 2005 also indicates that international visitors to Vietnam represented a wide diversity of nationalities and cultures (Figure 4). Besides the two ENL countries, namely the UK and the USA, many EFL countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand were also found among the top sources of visitors. Investment Capital in 1988-2007 16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 A ng a ce ds an I re n ia US V. re pa an Ko po lan ys iw Ko sh Ja e ala Fr ga Ta Th ng er iti Sin th M Br Ho Ne Figure 3: Top 10 FDI countries/ economies by investment capital (in million USD) When English is learned to be used outside Vietnam, I would also argue that it is for communication across a wide range of cultures and speech communities. For example, in education, besides the vast☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 20
  21. 21. Feature Article number of Vietnamese students going to study in ENL countries such as the USA and Australia (PTIT, 18 May 2007), the number of students going to ESL countries such as Malaysia and Singapore is also growing very fast (Bao Viet Nam, 28 September 2008; Gia dinh Online, 19 December 2007). A source from Singapore reveals that Vietnamese students are among the 6 largest groups of overseas students in this country (Bao Viet Nam, 28 September 2008). Obviously, as English is increasing its influence as a global lingua franca on the world’s communication, the range of cultural boundaries English users cross is also expanding. This is precisely what English users in Vietnam are experiencing now. The implications that this reality has for English teachers are crucial. My argument is the time has come for us to rethink our goal of ELT and the implications it brings in terms of teaching methods, materials and assessment. If we are to develop fluent users of EGL, who are capable of accommodating themselves to a wide variety of cultural perspectives without losing their own sense of self and identity, we need to reconsider such issues as what makes a socio-culturally competent English user, how this competence should be assessed and what cultural materials are useful in teaching it. A pedagogical approach that employs NS models as sole ‘standard’ reference is certainly not capable of helping us to achieve this goal. 900 800 700 600 2000 2001 500 2002 400 2003 300 2004 200 2005 100 0 Taiwan Japan France USA UK Thailand China Figure 4: Statistics of international visitors to Vietnam in 2005 References Bao Viet Nam (2008). Hoc sinh Viet Nam du hoc Singapore tang manh. Accessed October 20, 2008 at http://www.baovietnam.vn/giao-duc/84085/20/Hoc-sinh-VN-du-hoc-Singapore-tang-manh Bredella, L. (2003). For a flexible model of intercultural understanding. In G. Alfred, M. Byram, and M. Fleming (Eds.), Intercultural Experience and Education (pp. 31-49). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Brumfit, C. (2003). Individual Freedom in Language Teaching: Helping Learners to Develop a Dialect of their Own. Oxford: OUP. Canale, M. & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics 1 (1), 1- 47.☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 21
  22. 22. Feature Article Canale, M. (1983). On some dimensions of language proficiency. In J. W. Oller (Ed.), Issues in Language Testing Research (pp.332-342). Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House. Cook, V. (201). Second Language Learning and Language Teaching. London: Anorld. Crawford, J. (2006). Becoming an L2 user: Implications for Identity and Culture in the Language Classroom. Studies about languages 8, 70-76. Crystal, D. (1997). English as a Global Language. Cambridge: CUP. Crystal, D. (2001). The future of Englishes. In A. Burns & C. Coffin (Eds.), Analyzing English in a Global Context (pp.53-64). London: Routledge. Ellis, R. (1994). The Study of Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. FIA (2007). Statistics of Foreign Direct Investment in Vietnam in 1988-2007. Accessed October 08 at http://fia.mpi.gov.vn/Default.aspx?ctl=Article2&TabID=4&mID=52&aID=412 Foley, J. (2007). English as a Global Language: My two satangs’ worth. RELC Journal 38 (1), 7-17. Gee, J. (1993). An Introduction to Human Language: Fundamental Concepts in Linguistics. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Gia dinh Online (2007). Sinh vien Viet Nam du hoc o Malaysia tang nhanh. Accessed October 20, 2008 at http://www.giadinhonline.vn/Chitiettintuc/tabid/7944/ArticleID/100964/ Graddol, D. (2006). English Next. United Kingdom: British Council. Also vailable at www.britishcouncil.org/learning-research. Kachru, B. (1989). Teaching world Englishes. Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics 15 (1), 85-95. Kachru, B. (1999). Asian Englishes: Contexts, Constructs and Creativity. Keynote address, The 12th World Congress if the International Association of Applied Linguistics, Tokyo. Kasper, G. (1997). The role of pragmatics in language teacher education. In K.Bardovi-Harlig & B.Hartford, Beyond methods (pp. 113-141). New York: McGraw-Hill. Kasper, G., & Rose, K. (2002). Pragmatic Development in a Second Language. Oxford: Blackwell. Kramsch, C. & Thorne, S. (2002). Foreign language learning as global communicative practice. In D. Block & D. Cameron (Eds.), Globalization and Language Teaching (pp.83-100). London: Routledge. McKay, S. (2002). Teaching English as an International language: Rethinking goals and approaches. Oxford: OUP. McKay, S. (2003). Toward an appropriate EIL pedagogy: re-examining common ELT assumptions. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 13 (1), 1-22. Tong cuc Thong ke (2005). Nien giam thong ke 2005. Hanoi: NXB Tong cuc thong ke. Nguoi Lao Dong (2008). 300-400 trieu USD cho du an day tieng Anh. Accessed October 20, 2008 at http://www.nld.com.vn/tintuc/giao-duc/217900.asp Rose, K., & Kasper, G. (2001). Pragmatics in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. PTIT (2008). Du hoc: Dua di sao chang don ve? Accessed October 20, 2008 at http://www.ptit.edu.vn/news_detail.asp?id=1126&lang=0 Thomas, J. (1983). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics 4, 91-112. Yano, Y. (2001). World Englishes in 2000 and beyond. World Englishes 20 (2), 119-131.☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 22
  23. 23. Review Teaching English as an International Language: Rethinking Goals and Approaches Sandra Lee Mckay – 2002 New York: Oxford University Press Review by Thai Ha Lam Thuy Academic Development, ULIS, VNU Recent decades have witnessed the worldwide spread of English. It is estimated that speakers of English as a second language and a foreign language will soon outnumber those who speak it as a first language. For its globally undeniable dominance, many agree that English has become an international language. Nevertheless, the spread of English has resulted in a number of varieties of English spoken today regarding grammar, lexical, and phonological levels (p.1). Hence, pedagogical implications in the teaching and learning English as an international language (EIL) are urgently necessary to be examined more than ever before. Teaching English as an International Language: Rethinking Goals and Approaches by McKay is one among very few books dealing with this issue. The book also achieved Winner of the Ben Warren International Book Award for outstanding teacher education materials. This book consists of five chapters, an introduction, and a conclusion, each of which examines a particular aspect of the phenomenon of teaching and learning EIL. The first chapter, ‘English as an International Language,’ tries to define an international language by examining the essential features for a language to be international. Though the number of individuals who use the language does count, it would be a hasty conclusion to define a language as such. One very important characteristic of an international language is that it is “no longer linked to a single culture or nation but serves both global and local needs as a language of wider communication.” (p.24) Moreover, an international language needs to develop alongside other languages. McKay also discusses the reasons which enhance and hinder the development of English. The negative effects of this spread are touched upon together with its positive effects. Kachru’s classification of Inner, Outer, and Expanding Circle countries is used to explain for the current trend of English use in the world. The idea of the three concentric circles of the language is utilized throughout the book to help better understand the assumptions that current theories and practices of the teaching and learning English have stood on. The purpose of Chapter two, ‘Bilingual Users of English,’ is to argue a native speaker norm in English language research and pedagogy is not relevant and unproductive to many contexts in which English is used as an international language. McKay also proceeds to problematize the definition of ‘native speaker’ by evaluating the validity and appropriateness of a native speaker norm. Furthermore, she points out the problems of using native-like competence in second language acquisition research and suggests thoroughly examining individual learners’ specific☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 23
  24. 24. Review uses of English within their particular speech community as a basis for determining learning goals. She explores the native speaker ideals impact on bilingual teachers and enumerates the advantages that bilingual teachers bring to their profession when they share their students’ culture. In Chapter three, ‘Standards for English as an International Language,’ McKay investigates what variety of English should be considered the standard for international use of the language. Distinctive linguistic features of varieties of English are examined. Changes in and attitudes towards changes in lexical, grammatical, and phonological aspects are discussed with a thorough review of previous studies. Regarding pragmatic and rhetorical competences, the demand for conformity to Western cultural pragmatics and rhetorical conventions is questioned. It is concluded that the focus should be placed on developing “awareness of cross- cultural variation [rather than] promoting Inner Circle pragmatic and rhetorical rules” to answer the question of intelligibility. (p.94) As defined in chapter one, an international language is a language that “can’t be linked to any one country or culture”, and it must belong to those who use it. However, questions of whose discourse rules to apply in the use of EIL is problematic and whose culture of learning should be used receive a great deal of concerns from educational. Regarding these issues, Chapter four, ‘Culture in Teaching English as an International Language,’ explores culture in EIL teaching and culture as it is embedded in teaching materials. The teaching of discourse competence, the use of cultural materials in the classroom, and the cultural assumptions that inform teaching methods are reexamined. The last chapter, ‘Teaching Methods and English as an International Language,’ explores the concept of ‘culture of learning’ by describing the cultural differences in learning between Asian and Western countries. Moreover, different attitudes towards knowledge are examined. While Asian students tend toward conserving knowledge end (knowledge of the past), Western students tend toward extending knowledge (new knowledge is developed). From this point of view, McKay argues “comparison of various non-western cultures with western ones suggests that in some ways the latter are the standard and hence should provide the model for the teaching of English. However, in the teaching of an international language, bilingual users should be allowed to take ownership not only of the language but also of the methods used to teach it.” (p. 107). Unfortunately communicative language teaching (CLT) – a teaching method of Inner Circle developed countries - has been adopted widely under the assumption of modernization theory with “limited insights until they become virtually meaningless” (Swan 1985, cited in McKay, 2002). In this chapter, McKay critically reviews the rise of communicative language teaching (CLT) in particular contexts, especially in Asian countries. It is concluded that one should not assume that a single teaching method (e.g., CLT) is appropriate in all teaching and learning contexts. The notion of a cultural sensitivity of learning is promoted. Furthermore, McKay shares an opinion with Prabhu (1990) that “no one best method and no one method that is best for a particular context.” Prabhu’s believes “there is a factor more basic than the choice between methods, namely, teachers’ subjective understanding of the teaching they do” (1990, cited in McKay, 2002) – teachers’ ‘sense of plausibility’. This belief is advocated by many famous scholars such as Kramsch and Sullivan. The findings in their study☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 24
  25. 25. Review in Vietnam context are in keeping with the motto ‘think globally, act locally’; in other words, ‘global thinking, local teaching’. However, my concern would be laid in the validity of ‘teachers’ sense of plausibility’ or how teachers themselves can enhance their plausibility sense. McKays conclusion, Rethinking Goals and Approaches, succinctly summarizes the major points elaborated in the book on the development of theories in EIL, teaching goals, and approaches to teaching EIL. The book develops a strong case for shifting the ownership of English away from Inner Circle countries through a wide review of studies in many parts of the world. The book is clearly written with well-structured organization. A short summary of what have been discussed is provided at the end of every chapter. Teaching English as an International Language is a useful source for reflection among those teaching English to multilingual users, creating curriculum and materials for English courses, or conducting research in the field of English language acquisition.☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 25
  26. 26. Teaching in Focus Mentoring program at Division of English Skills 1– the pathway to become a Professional Learning Community Nguyen Thi Thu Hang & Can Thi Chang Duyen Setting the scene Division of English Skills 1 (hereafter the division or Division 1) is in charge of teaching the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing to first-year students enrolled in English Department. The division has totally 28 teachers, ranging from 24 to 34 years of age. Half of the teaching staff has been working in the division for 4-6 years; one third has less than two years experience; and the most senior group (5 teachers) has been teaching for about 8-10 years. The division suffers high rate of turnover since every year an average of 4-5 teachers (mostly in the middle group) are transferred to other divisions in the department and it usually expects to recruit very young teachers who are newly graduates. Therefore, a mentoring program was devised in 2009 to 1) assist the young teachers in the beginning of their career; 2) promote the learning and sharing practice in the division; 3) create an understanding and supporting relationship among the teaching staff; and 4) improve the teaching quality reflected in the enhanced students’ outcomes. Each year the mentoring program focuses on a particular language skill. In the first year it was Listening skill, then Reading in 2010, and this year Speaking. The most senior group and some from the middle group (with 6 years experience) are appointed mentors, and mentorship is for less experienced teachers, though priority is given to the youngest group with less than two years teaching. Participation in the mentoring program is on a voluntary basis, though most of the division members are encouraged to join. At the first meeting of the program (usually one or two weeks before school year starts), the list of mentors and mentees is finalized and mentees can directly contact and choose his/her mentor; otherwise the program coordinator will randomly match mentor-mentee pairs, making sure each mentor has no more than two mentees to avoid overload. At the second or third week, a senior teacher in the mentor group will give a sample lesson of the focused skill. This sample lesson is video recorded. Anyone can access this video and consult it for his/her teaching. After the sample lesson of an experienced teacher, each mentor-mentee pair will then agree on a meeting schedule, in which they can discuss the mentee’s lesson plans and teaching activities (of the focused skill) to receive feedbacks, comments, and suggestions. They also decide the two lessons in a semester when the mentor will come to the mentee’s class to observe. The observation schedules of all pairs are sent to the coordinator, who will make a synthesis to inform the whole division. When it comes to the scheduled lesson, mentor goes to observe mentee’ class. Then mentor and mentee sit down again to discuss the delivered lesson and draw out remarks and possibilities for improvement. All of the mentees’ classes in which there is mentors’ observation are video recorded. In case they want to have a closer look back at their lesson, the video tape is served as a useful means. Also, by watching the video tape again, both mentor and mentee may find other details that they have missed in the observation. The bank of video tapes is accessible to not only☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 26
  27. 27. Teaching in Focus the mentor-mentee pair but also everyone in the division. It is also stored for later use as teaching resources and researching database. After each observed class, an evaluation form is delivered to the students, asking them to give comments on content of the lesson, the teacher and their overall feeling. At the end of the semester, another evaluation form is given to students, but focuses on the teacher who teaches the focused skill. The evaluation of teachers is known to leaders of the division only. There are two meeting sessions held for the whole division, one in the middle and the other at the end of the semester. In these meetings, feedback for mentors and mentees in general is discussed and evaluation of the whole program is given. Besides, these meetings aim to facilitate and consolidate the open and sharing atmosphere among the members. A learning community In implementing the mentoring program and making it a regular practice, Division of language skills 1 is hoping to create a Professional Learning Community. As Stoll et al. points out in his review of literature on Professional Learning Communities (2006), “learning can no longer be left to individuals. To be successful in a changing and increasingly complex world, it is suggested that whole school communities need to work and learn together to take charge of change, finding the best ways to enhance young people’s learning” (p. 222). It can be seen clearly that the mentoring program in the division is first and foremost to “enhance young people’s learning”. By discussing and receiving feedbacks, comments and suggestions, young teachers get the experience from more senior teachers on their specific teaching pedagogies and contents; hence, the theories they learnt at college are consolidated with real-life practice. By exchanging opinions, teachers find out the best way to deliver a lesson with its particular aims and objectives, with particular teaching resources that a teacher has at hand. Not only does mentoring program benefit young teachers, it also provides opportunities for more senior staff to critically reflect their teaching practices. Young teachers are often characterized by enthusiasm and vigorous teaching styles, their inclination to apply updated technological advancements in their classroom practice while more senior staff, who after several years has accumulated remarkable experience and resources, tend to follow their routines. By working with new teachers, it is likely that more experienced staff is motivated to revitalize their teaching routines. Moreover, the exchange of applying technological advancements into classroom practice can be mutually beneficial, for senior staff, it helps to diversify their teaching resources; for junior staff, it is to make sure they don’t get carried away by fancy techno, become indulgent in technical details and forget the global content of the lesson. But most importantly, during the process of lesson plan discussion, both mentor and mentees have to “make the tacit explicit” by analysing the underpinnings of each and every teaching activity, by which reflecting their underlying beliefs in teaching profession. As such, the division is driven toward “a group of people sharing and critically interrogating their practice in an ongoing, reflective, collaborative, inclusive, learning-oriented, growth-promoting way” (Mitchell et al., as cited in Stoll et al., 2006, p. 223). The observation is to be actually involved in the teaching and learning atmosphere planned by the mentees. It is obvious that what one plans is never exactly what happens. Although it gives certain pressure on the mentee, it does make the mentee prepare better for their lesson and therefore, more able to respond to unexpected situations. “The reported changes in teacher behaviour included: greater confidence; enhanced beliefs among teachers of their power to make a☼ Issue 2 ☼ Spring 2012 27