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The rhetoric and reality of teaching English for multilingual and multicultural communication in Vietnamese higher education

Dang, Thi Minh Tam (2021) The rhetoric and reality of teaching English for multilingual and multicultural communication in Vietnamese higher education. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Vietnam’s National Foreign Language Project 2020, commonly known as Project 2020, commenced in 2008 with an initial scheduled completion date of 2020. The project’s central goal focuses on enabling students to communicate (in English) independently and confidently in a multilingual and multicultural context. With a giant proposed budget, Project 2020 has impacted the learning and teaching of English at every level of education within Vietnam. The focus of this study is on how public higher education institutions have implemented the project goal for non-English major students within their own contexts. Implementation in higher education has been investigated at three levels, institutional, departmental and classroom level.

This research is a qualitative case study. Its design is informed by the research framework of Crotty (1998). The study also draws on the work of Kemmis (2010) and the theory of practice architectures around the concepts of sayings, doings and relatings (p.13). Data were collected from document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and from classroom observations.

Participants interviewed in the study were departmental leaders and teachers of English at three public higher education institutions. Their accounts provided interpretations and perspectives around curriculum, pedagogy and concepts underlying the Project 2020 goal.

The findings of the study suggest that the Project 2020 goal that is the focus of this study has yet to be successfully implemented at the case study sites. There is a significant clash of value and culture systems, which is manifested in three areas, curriculum, pedagogy, and change management. The Western elements of curriculum and pedagogy have, in effect, been “bolted on‟ to the Vietnamese educational context without adequate attention to processes to support the successful implementation of change.

The findings also suggest future directions that have the potential to impact continuing work on implementation of this national project, now extended to 2025. To bring about a new reality for English learning and teaching in Vietnam, there needs to be more development of both people and organisations (Quinn & McGrath, 1985) so that change can happen in a way that enables the Western and Vietnamese cultures of learning to function meaningfully together.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
Supervisor(s): Norris, Lindy, Wright, Peter, Maor, Dorit and Ledger, Susan
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