TESOL teacher education in a globalised world: The case of Vietnamese teachers of English
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This research examines the professional experience of Vietnamese TESOL teachers who previously underwent professional training in two types of Master’s level TESOL programs: those offered by institutions of one of the Inner-Circle countries (e.g., USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand) in these countries (overseas programs), and programs offered by Inner-Circle institutions in association with a Vietnamese institution in Vietnam (localised programs). These programs were chosen as the research is situated in the context of TESOL becoming a globalised field, partly demonstrated in the mobility of teachers and teacher training programs. The impacts of previous TESOL training are investigated through three main lenses believed to encompass different current aspects of TESOL teachers’ professional experience, and which reflect the training content and aims of contemporary TESOL teacher education programs. The three lenses are teachers’ beliefs toward various issues related to the teaching of English as an International Language (TEIL), their autonomy in teaching practice, and their satisfaction with the teaching job. Adopting a sequential explanatory mixed methods design, the present study involves the participation of 85 Vietnamese English language teachers who were trained in either an overseas or a localised TESOL program. Two-thirds of the participants were working at public higher education institutions in Vietnam at the time of the study, and the rest were teachers of private educational organisations. An online survey was first delivered to all participants to garner data on their beliefs about TEIL, their perceptions toward autonomy in teaching practice, and their work satisfaction level. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were then carried out with 20 of them to obtain further clarifications and deeper information about the researched issues. Additionally, teaching observation sessions and retrospective interviews were conducted with three overseas-trained teachers to provide further evidence of their teaching autonomy. In terms of teacher beliefs about aspects of TEIL, it was revealed that post-training, both overseas- and localised-trained teachers had an increased awareness of the pluricentricity of English, the importance of teaching both Anglophone and non-Anglophone cultures, and understanding of the larger social, cultural, and political context of teaching. The study also found that teacher education programs played a significant role in modifying teacher beliefs, such as strengthening, disproving, and reconstructing existing beliefs, or shaping new beliefs. It also uncovered aspects of TEIL where teacher education could exert more impact, such as the construct of language teacher proficiency, and the risk of over-relying on Western teaching methodologies. Regarding autonomy in teaching practice, teachers in both program types demonstrated a medium level of autonomy in their teaching, with the level of autonomy in general aspects of teaching (e.g., deciding on teaching methods and learning activities) being greater than that of curricular aspects (e.g., selecting learning content and materials). Noticeably, teacher education programs were found to provide them with professional knowledge and ideas that they could use to innovate their everyday teaching activities, and to a certain extent allowed them to be autonomous learners. However, they did not seem to provide teachers with much assistance in dealing with curricular constraints, nor inspire them to create spaces for more teaching autonomy. Finally, the teachers’ level of satisfaction with their teaching job was found to vary depending on various aspects. They were most satisfied with intrinsic aspects of the job and the relationships with their students, colleagues, and supervisors, and were less satisfied with aspects related to institutional support (e.g., autonomy given to teachers, recognition of teaching accomplishments), and professional standing (e.g., promotion and salary). Influence of training seemed most evident in how the teachers were positively seen and welcomed by their supervisors, students, and colleagues when they returned, and, in the case of teachers taking overseas programs, how the overseas living and study experience added enjoyment and stimulation to their perception of the teaching profession. These findings confirm the role of TESOL teacher education in enriching the overall professional lives of practising TESOL teachers. On the other hand, they reveal tensions resultant from mismatches between Inner-Circle-based curricula and training approaches and the local Vietnamese context where the teachers returned to teach. The research has important implications for stakeholders involved in the professional development of non-Inner-Circle TESOL teachers in the current globalised world.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Hum, Lang & Soc Sc
The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.
Vietnamese teachers of English