Using English to teach English: Classroom English competence of English language teachers in Vietnam

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VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 Using English to teach English: Classroom English competence of English language teachers in Vietnam Vu Hai Ha* Trường Đại học Ngoại ngữ, ĐHQGHN, Phạm Văn Đồng, Cầu Giấy, Hà Nội, Việt Nam Received 30 November 2017 Revised 15 December 2016; Accepted 25 December 2017 Abstract: The National Foreign Language Project 2020 (Project 2020) has been laying its emphasis on the development of general English language proficiency and English language teaching methods of English language teachers in Vietnamese schools. This article argues that these focuses might overlook an area which is essential for these teachers to use English efficiently in the classrooms: the development of classroom English proficiency. This argument is corroborated by a case study with qualitative data collected from videotaping 113 teachers in their microteaching sessions. It reveals certain limitations in their classroom English competence, especially linguistic and strategic competence. The article concludes by putting forward certain suggestions for Project 2020 as well as future studies to explore other facets of this competence. Keywords: ......... 1. Introduction * Vietnam (equivalent to CEFR B2); and English language teachers at upper-secondary schools to achieve Level 5 on the framework (equivalent to CEFR C1). A wide range of English language teacher training programs with the focus on English language teaching methods have also been offered as well [1-4]. In this context, this article argues that the two areas of training above might be insufficient for these teachers to conduct their English language teaching using English itself as the means of communication and instruction. In other words, the focus on general English as required by the CEFR or the Foreign Language Competence Framework for Vietnam might overlook the development of classroom English competence of Vietnamese teachers from primary to secondary levels. This argument is corroborated by a case study with qualitative The National Foreign Language Project 2020 (hereafter briefly referred to as the Project 2020) has been implemented for more than five years, and so far has created significant and farreaching impacts on English language learning and teaching in Vietnam. As for English language teacher education and training, the project has laid emphasis on the development of general English language proficiency as well as English language teaching methods at all education levels. Specifically, English language teachers at primary and lower-secondary schools are expected to achieve Level 4 on the Foreign Language Competence Framework for _______ * Tel.: 983536788. Email: 1 V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 2 data collected from various videotapes of English language teachers in their microteaching practices. The overall objective is to answer the main research question of: “Which areas of classroom English competence do Vietnamese teachers of English have problems with?” 2. Literature review 2.1. Classroom English According to Raatikainen [5], Hughes, Moate and classroom English encompasses vital expressions and structures for a teacher to properly conduct his or her teaching practices in the target language. Cengage Learning and ETS [6] classifies these expressions and structures into three main categories, namely: - English for classroom management; - English to conduct a lesson; and - English to give assessment and feedback. Hughes et al. [5] offer a more detailed categorization (Table 1); however, there are plenty of similarities between the two perspectives of what classroom English actually involves as can also be seen by Table 1. Table 1. Content areas of classroom English Cengage Learning and ETS [6] Classroom management Lesson conduct Assessment and feedback Hughes et al. [5] Managing the physical environment Managing the learning environment Managing creative classroom activities Progressing through the lesson Giving instructions Using classroom resources Teaching listening, speaking and pronunciation in English Teaching reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar in English Giving oral feedback Giving written feedback f 2.2. Classroom English competence In essence, classroom English is first and foremost English language; therefore, analogies could be drawn between English language competence and classroom English competence. This article adopts a communicative approach to English language competence, a widely-endorsed approach in English language learning and teaching in Vietnam to date [7-10], in which English language learning is to develop communicative competence. According to Canale [11], this includes: (1) discourse competence (i.e., textual knowledge) (2) linguistic competence (i.e., grammar knowledge and lexical knowledge) (3) sociolinguistic competence (i.e., sociocultural knowledge) (4) strategic competence (i.e., metacognitive strategies) It hence follows that English classroom competence also consists of similar aspects, specifically: (1) discourse competence, or the ways teachers select, sequence, arrange words, structures, sentences and utterances in their classroom communication. (2) linguistic competence, or the accuracy and the range of grammar, lexical and pronunciation features and resources demonstrated by the teachers in their classroom communication. (3) sociolinguistic competence, or teachers’ sociocultural knowledge as manifested in their classroom communication. V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 (4) strategic competence, or the coping strategies employed by teachers to repair breakdown in communication in the classroom. 3. The necessity of developing classroom English competence In his discussion of what a teacher should know and be able to do in an English language classroom, Richards [12] mentions the “English language proficiency factor”, or “the languagespecific competencies that a language teacher needs in order to teach effectively” (p.102), as among the most important requirements. He further delineates this requirement with 12 indicators corresponding with these teachers’ abilities: 1. To comprehend texts accurately. 2. To provide good language models. 3. To maintain use of the target language in the classroom. 4. To maintain fluent use of the target. 5. To give explanations and instructions in the target language. 6. To provide examples of words and grammatical structures and give accurate explanations (e.g. of vocabulary and language points). 7. To use appropriate classroom language. 8. To select target-language resources (e.g. newspapers, magazines, internet websites). 9. To monitor his or her own speech and writing for accuracy. 10. To give correct feedback on learner language. 11. To provide input at an appropriate level of difficulty. 12. To provide language-enrichment experiences for learners. Among these indicators, the abilities to maintain the use of the target language in the classroom (3), to give explanations and instructions in the target language (5), and to use appropriate classroom language (7) are most closely related to the English classroom competence discussed in this article. Besides, a 3 juxtaposition of these indicators with Table 1 reveals plenty of similarities between the content areas of classroom English with Richard’s conception of teacher’s English language competence. This close correspondence carries two main implications for this discussion: First, classroom English is significant for English language teachers for it is characterized as part of what these teachers should know and able to do. Second, classroom English is a specific area of English language proficiency that each teacher should develop. In other words, the investment in general English competence as a focus of Project 2020 might not be sufficient for the teachers in their daily teaching practices. Apart from being a required competence, classroom English is also useful for English language teachers and learners in different ways. Hughes et al. [5] suggest the following benefits of classroom English: - Promote communication in English in the classroom: Using English as a means of instruction and communication in the classroom is compatible with the communicative language teaching approach promoted in Vietnam today, in which English is used to perform communicative functions in the classroom, such as managing the classroom, conducting a lesson and giving assessment and feedback. This in turns could have positive effect on the students, as they are not only given a model of using English successfully for communication by the teachers, but also encouraged to use the same language (or “code”) as their teachers’ to communicate in the classroom. - Encourage reflective teaching practices: As teachers are using the target language rather than the first language as a means of instruction, they will need to frequently reflect on the quality of both the means and the message of this instruction to ensure comprehensibility, accuracy, fluency and cohesiveness. This means they are more motivated to fine-tune their own English language as well as classroom activities in order to avoid or repair communication breakdown in 4 V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 the classroom. More careful lesson planning, frequent reflections on classroom practices and continuous professional development might ensue as a result of these reflective classroom practices. - Increase creativity and diversity in classroom activities: As elaborated above, classroom English covers various expressions and language for a wide range of classroom functions and activities (Table 1), some of which promote creative classroom practices. This suggests that a sound competence in classroom English would allow the teachers to explore new activities in their classrooms, from which they might have shied away for the lack of necessary language or confidence to carry out successfully. The discussion so far strongly suggests that developing classroom English competence is not simply a matter of improving language proficiency only, but also involves teachers in a range of reflective, creative and active practices of English language teaching. In this sense, developing classroom English proficiency is closely interrelated with the two focuses of NFLP 2020 as Figure 1 demonstrates. Figure 1. The interrelations between classroom English competence and the two focuses of Project 2020. Despite its important role in achieving the goals of Project 2020 in particular and in developing English language teacher proficiency in general, classroom English remains a relatively new concept and an understudied area in Vietnam. To date, there has been little scholarly discussion on the topic and few courses which specifically aim to develop this competence. In one of the most recent articles to date which investigate the current problems and needs for classroom English among school teachers in Vietnam, Vu [13] studied 488 teachers from various provinces in Northern Vietnam using questionnaires. Asking the participants to translate common classroom expressions and structures from Vietnamese into English, he found out that below a quarter of them could perform daily communicative functions accurately in English, and half of them could not perform certain functions at all. The most common types of mistakes were lexical and grammatical, or aspects of linguistic competence in the communicative competence model characterized above. While his study timely identified the need for developing English language teacher competence in general and their classroom English language competence in particular, I would argue that its implications were considerably limited by certain shortcomings. The first problem is methodological. While questionnaires are useful for a time-efficient collection of data from a big number of participants, they could do little in fully capturing the language in use. Consequently, certain aspects of language proficiency, particularly pronunciation, were overlooked using this tool of data collection. More importantly, only linguistic competence, as opposed to other kinds of communicative competence (i.e., discourse, sociolinguistic and strategic competence), were captured at best using questionnaires. Other concerns about this study are more practical. As the study was conducted in 2014 (i.e., near the beginning of Project 2020), remarkable improvements might have been made as numerous training activities of Project 2020 have been organized. Besides, the introduction of a new series of English textbooks in the past few years might also play a role, since this series puts a stronger emphasis V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 on communicative English language teaching, and hence the use of English as a means of communication. The call for a more recent study to shed light on the current situation and recent improvement over the past few years has therefore become more urgent. 4. Research methods To overcome the shortcomings of Vu’s report, this study takes an opposite approach to data collection and analysis. While Vu focused on quantitative data by reporting the frequencies of mistakes in classroom English, this study takes a predominantly qualitative approach which aims to document specific instances of classroom English in use. The study also avoids prescribing a list of classroom 5 expressions for the teachers to translate for a more authentic English-in-use analysis. The study is also more context-specific than Vu’s study, which was largely paper-based via questionnaires. The main purpose is not to refute the findings in Vu’s report, but to bring another perspective to investigate the topic in question in a more comprehensive manner. To achieve this methodological objective, the study videotaped 113 teachers in their teaching practices from Province X (pseudonym), a province in the North of Vietnam. This province was selected because the teachers came from different geographical areas as well as different educational levels, therefore bringing more diversity to the demographics (Table 2). Table 2. Demographics of the participants Primary (n=31) Lower-secondary (n=43) Upper-secondary (n=39) City 11 19 14 Rural 17 18 20 Remote/ Mountainous 3 6 5 i The main tool of data collection was classroom observation through studying the videotapes of their microteaching sessions. They were part of a training course that aimed at improving their use of the new English textbooks in 2017. In these sessions, these teachers were encouraged to use English as much as possible in front of their students, who were actually role-played by their peers in the training course. While this context might be criticized as inauthentic, I would argue that it actually has certain advantages in relation to the study in question. First, as the teachers were supervised by their peers as well as their trainers during the sessions, they were more motivated to use English as the means of communication. As the study focuses on the problems encountered by these teachers when classroom English was used, this requirement to use English as much as possible could bring out their difficulties in a more exhaustive manner. Second, as the course revolved around the new textbooks, their micro-teaching sessions, together with the classroom English they used, would be more relevant to their future needs. As the new textbooks are more demanding than the previous ones [14] and would encourage further use of English in the classroom, this training course provided useful insights into how relevant their classroom English competence to teaching with the next textbook series. Finally, there is a matter of practical consideration. It is challenging, if not impossible, to collect a wide range of data via videotaping in real classrooms since it would require excessive effort and time, mainly due to cumbersome administrative arrangements with different schools and institutions required. After all the videos were recorded, detailed transcripts were produced to provide a line-byline written record of what the teacher said, as well as how they said it in the classroom. Thematic analysis [15] was then conducted to investigate the use of classroom English 6 V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 according to different aspects of communicative competence with a focus on linguistic competence. Other components of classroom English competence were also covered, albeit a thorough analysis of which might go beyond the limited scope of this article. 5.2. Pronunciation 5. Main findings and discussion /sjuːtəbl/ 5.1. Problems with the linguistic competence of classroom English /’sjuːtəbl/, with the stress on “sjuː”) Table 3 indicates the types and frequencies of linguistic mistakes made by the teachers in their videotapes. As can be seen clearly, each teacher made around 47 mistakes on average during his or her 15-30 minute microteaching session. The most common types of mistakes were pronunciation (mp=32.8), followed by grammar (mg=12.6) and vocabulary (mv=5.8). A closer analysis reveals the most common types of mistakes of each category involved. Word stress: The most common types of pronunciation mistakes was the misplacement or omission of word stress such as those in the following examples: “Okay, so fill in the blank with a suitable word” (Correct pronunciation: “(The answer) is vegetables /vedʒəteibl/, very good, thank you, excellent” (Correct pronunciation: /ˈvedʒtəbl/ with the stress on “vedʒ”. Also note that the silent “e” and “a” remained pronounced by the teacher in this utterance). “Put the words in category (sic.) /kætiəɡəʊri/” (Correct pronunciation: /ˈkætəɡəri /with the stress on “kæ”. Also note that many vowels were also mispronounced by this teacher) Table 3. Types and frequencies of linguistic mistakes n Average (n/113) Grammar 1432 12.6 Vocabulary 655 5.8 Lexis 3,706 32.8 Total 5,341 47.2 u Final consonant sounds: The omission or mispronunciation of final consonant sounds was another common mistake made by the teachers. For instance: “Choose /tʃuː/ the correct answer” (Correct pronunciation: /tʃuːz/ with /z/ as the final consonant sound) “Open your book, page /peɪd/ 48” (Correct pronunciation: /peɪdʒ/ with /dʒ/ as the final consonant sound) “This is Nam’s best /bet/ friend” (Correct pronunciation: /best/ with /st/ as the final consonant cluster sound) “Because /bɪˈkɒ/ it can pollute the air, right?” (Correct pronunciation: /bɪˈkɒz/ with /z/ as the final consonant sound) “Let’s see the result /rɪzʌl/ that you have during the game” (Correct pronunciation: /rɪˈzʌlt/ with /lt/ as the final consonant cluster sound) Pronunciation of consonant sounds: The mispronunciation of consonants, especially stops (/p/, /k/, /t/), fricatives (/s/ /ʃ/) and affricates (/tʃ/, /dʒ/) was also very common as exemplified below: “Enjoy this conversation /ˌkɒnvəˈseɪtʃn/” (Correct pronunciation: /ˌkɒnvəˈseɪʃn/) “Listen to what she /si/ says” (Correct pronunciation: /ʃi/) “Spending too much time /θaɪm/on Facebook is not good” (Correct pronunciation: /taɪm/) V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 As can be seen from the instances above, these pronunciation mistakes could be attributed to the transfer from L1 to L2, where the teacher tended to assimilate pronunciation features in Vietnamese to those in English. Pronunciation features in English that do not exist in Vietnamese language, such as word stress, final consonant sounds and certain consonant sounds became the main sources of mistakes and errors by these teachers. 5.3. Grammar Subject-verb agreement: While verbs were often used in appropriate tenses by these teachers, they were often incompatible with the subjects as these following examples reveal: “We has studied some adjectives about colours” (Correct form: We have studied […]) “Let’s try some activities that benefits to vocabulary” (Correct form: some activities that benefit […]) “He come from England” (Correct form: He comes from England.) Plurals: The next common grammar mistake involve the omission of markedness in English plurals. Note that the plural ending “s” was all left out in these specimen utterances: “Do you have some suggestion?” (Correct form: […] some suggestions.) “Okay, so, we have two, three kind of criteria” (Correct form: […] three kinds […].) “Can you name some popular habits of teenager, and decide whether the habit is good or bad?” (Correct form: […] habits of teenagers […].) As with pronunciation mistakes above, the L1-L2 transfer might also play a significant role in grammar mistakes, as these grammar features are marked in English while they are unmarked in Vietnamese. Since mistakes in pronunciation and grammar accounted for 96% of the mistakes made by the teachers (Table 3), this transfer carries significance implications for the improvement of classroom English competence of teachers in Vietnam. 7 5.4. Lexis While lexical mistakes only made up a small proportion of the total frequencies (Table 3), it should be noted that many of these teachers had previously taken part in a classroom English course which focused on classroom expressions before this study was conducted. Although this training experience might have a certain role in minimizing the lexical errors among this specific group of teachers, mistakes could be identified in all categories of classroom English (Table 1) as the following examples reveal: In terms of classroom management, mistakes were most common in organizing creative classroom activities, such as: “I think I will make you better by inviting you to take part in a small game” (Correct: I think I’d better […], or I think it’s better for us to […]) “Okay, so maybe you can work four or five” (Correct: […] work in groups of four or five) “If the statement number 1 is true, please turn right, turn right to your friend, and you beat your friend to massage his or her back” (Correct: […] and you massage your friend gently …) “Each of you have to say out words or phrases related to our parts of body” (Correct: […] speak out or shout out […]) As for conducting a lesson, mistakes were even more abundant in different types of activities and phases throughout the lesson, such as: “Look on the screen” (Correct: Look at) “Who knows, raise your hand, speak out your voice” (Correct: raise your voice; or speak out loud the answers) “Next word, who raise?” (Correct: raise your hand if you know) “Done the answers?” (Correct: Got the answers?) “Take note the answers on your notebook” (Correct: Copy/Write down the answers in your notebooks) 8 V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 Regarding assessment and feedback, fewer errors were recorded in comparison with the previous categories. It did not mean, however, that these teachers were more competent in performing these functions using English. Indeed, in almost all of the situations where oral feedback was documented during the study, they remained very general, such as “Good”, “Very well” and “Excellent”. This could be attributed to the contextual factor as these sessions were microteaching practices with the students being the teachers themselves. However, when English was used as a means of giving feedback and assessment, it was not error-free as in the following instances: Are you understand enough? (Correct: Do you understand better? or Is it clearer?) Now we’ll move to your duty in your textbook. (Correct: task, exercise, homework etc.) Who wants to add for her answer? (Correct: add to) However, the lack of range and opportunity for more detailed and critical feedback and assessment was a contextual limitation of this study which should be taken into greater consideration in future studies. So far the study concurs with Vu [13] when he pointed out that the grammar and lexical mistakes were abundant among teachers in their use of classroom English. It nevertheless contributes to the literature by giving insights into pronunciation mistakes as well as the types of mistakes which were more prevalent when classroom English was in actual use. Other possible areas to be explored regarding the topic under study include the examination of other aspects of classroom English competence as the following discussion now turns to. 5.5. An overview of other classroom English competences As discussed earlier, this article focuses more on the linguistic component of the classroom English competence. It was selected over other types of communicative competence for its overriding importance in English language teaching. Specifically, the accuracy and range of grammatical, lexical and pronunciation features demonstrated by a teacher can provide helpful models of language use for the students. This is of particular relevance and important to English language teaching and learning in Vietnam as rarely do the students have the chance to communicate in English outside the classroom [9]. Moreover, a thorough analysis of discourse competence, sociolinguistic competence and strategic competence would be much more time, resource and labour demanding given the large number of participants involved. However, a preliminary analysis of the qualitative data suggests the following key themes regarding these competences. Discourse competence: As discourse competence refers to the ways teachers select, sequence, arrange words, structures, sentences and utterances in their classroom, it is interesting to see most teachers actively use linking devices to improve the cohesion of their communication in English. The following examples are a few among many in which teachers demonstrated the use of cohesive devices to sequence utterances and activities in the classrooms: - Today I’ll help you to learn about sports. - First I(‘ll) give you some vocabulary - Now look at this picture - And last, let’s repeat after me However, few teachers paid attention to the larger discourses beyond the single classroom activity and largely relied on the textbooks for structuring the lesson. Only a few, for instance, wrote the lesson outlines on the board, or referred back to the lesson objectives to mark the development and sequence of their lessons. Instead of constructing or reconstructing the texts in their classrooms in a more active and critical manner, most of them followed the prescribed sequence in the book in a chronological order. In this sense, the textbook was not only a discourse-as-text, but also discourse-as-power-relations [16] since it predetermined the ways teachers could select, V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 sequence, arrange activities and sometimes what they could say during the lesson. Sociolinguistic competence: This competence refers to teachers’ sociocultural knowledge as demonstrated in their classroom communication. On the one hand, the majority of the teachers observed managed to select the language and register generally appropriate for a formal classroom context (e.g. by avoiding slangs, taboos, colloquial expressions in their utterances). On the one hand, there were certain concerns about the sociocultural appropriateness of the language they used. First, there tended to be an overemphasis on formal expressions at the cost of more informal ones. Second, the complexity of language could be inappropriate for specific groups of learners. Finally, teacher’s talking time might be too long in certain cases. These problems could be exemplified in the following instruction provided by a teacher in a listening-reading class: Okay, let’s move to the next part. I would like you to work in groups again, but bigger groups. Your group consists of six, six members. I would like you to work in groups to choose a system that you has (sic.) studied before, and find out the activities that are useful for this system. Understand? Okay, for example, in this part, I’m going to give my student a video clip, and they’re going to watch the video clip, for example, about respiratory, like this. […] Okay, we has (sic.) studied about some activities that benefits (sic.) to our parts of our body. Now, I would like you to move another part, that is culture. In this part, we are going to study about some beliefs, some health beliefs between Vietnam and Indonesia. Firstly, I would like you to open your book page 48, part 1. All of you look individually, reading part 1 and find out any new words or phrases or structures that you don’t know, in part 1, okay? I am going to divide our students into groups to find out the similarities, and write down on the poster like this. After that I’m going to give my students some suggestion like this. As can be seen from this example, the teacher repeatedly used formal expressions such 9 as “I would like to”, which were largely unnecessary in this context. In fact, removing these expressions might help to create a more active, casual and friendly atmosphere in the classroom. It could also help reduce the length of her instructions, and hence facilitate students’ comprehension. Besides, using a series of long, complex sentences above could interfere with students’ comprehension. Indeed, the videotape reveals that the teacher used few visual aids and shifts in tone of voice (e.g. sentence stress or pauses) to add to her verbal communication, which might hinder certain groups of weak students in their comprehension. Finally, as the teacher above spoke almost non-stop, there was little meaningful interaction between students and teachers. Instead, the teacher could have raised more questions to check and ensure students’ comprehension and allowed for more frequent turn-taking during these instructions in order to better promote communicative language teaching and learning in the classrooms. Strategic competence encompasses the coping strategies employed by teachers to repair breakdown in communication in the classroom. As indicated in the videos, the most common teacher’s technique for repairing breakdown was to switch back to Vietnamese. The two most frequent circumstances in which these teachers reverted back to Vietnamese included the explicit language instruction of vocabulary items or grammar rules, or the checking of students’ comprehension as in the following examples: […] okay and now answer my question: khi bạn Mai muốn hỏi bạn Tom “thế bạn đã đi đến những nơi đó chưa?” thì bạn Mai hỏi như nào? [i.e., When Mai wants to ask Tom “Have you been to these places?”, what does she ask?]. vậy hôm nay chúng ta sẽ học một thì tương đối phổ biến trong tiếng Anh đó là thì hiện tại hoàn thành, present perfect [i.e., Let’s learn a common tense in English, which is present perfect]. Can you give me the form? Subject … have or has … been … Verb participle. […] Các bạn cho cô biết thì này được dùng để làm 10 V.H. Ha / VNU Journal of Science: Education Research, Vol. 33, No. 4 (2017) 1-11 gì [i.e., Tell me when we use this tense?]. Nói về kinh nghiệm [i.e., To talk about experiences]. What else? Here I have 10 words, so you remember what you have to do? Giờ các bạn bây giờ phải làm gì nhỉ? Các bạn sẽ phải dựa giống như bài 2 vừa rồi các em sẽ phải giải nghĩa cho những từ này. [i.e., What should you do? You do the same as Task 2: You need to explain the meanings of these words] For example, a person who watch (sic.) the TV, do you know, which word? These examples suggest that when the teacher sensed a lack of comprehension among the students (alternatively, it could also be due to their limited classroom English to perform the instructions in English), they would switch to Vietnamese as a resolution to avoid further breakdown. While this is a possible and indeed convenient technique to ensure better understanding within a limited amount of time, their lack of variety in the techniques for correcting communication breakdown might be the limitation in their classroom English competence. Instead of using visual aids, more effective English language or even interacting with students in a more meaningful and communicative way to improve comprehension, these teachers quickly resorted to L1. Indeed, these teachers could have turned these challenging situations of “breakdown” into opportunities for students to communicate actively in the classroom. Certain examples include teachers’ asking students questions to scaffold their knowledge and comprehension, checking their comprehension via questions or graded tasks, or promoting further top-down processing among the students. Nonetheless, giving instructions in Vietnamese became an easy way out that did little to improve communicative competence on both the teacher’ and the students’ sides. 6. Conclusion Conducted years after Vu’s article in 2014, this study deals with a similar topic but contributes to this sparse literature in terms of both methodology and findings. In terms of research method, this study is more qualitative in its enquiry, and provides much richer data in terms of specific instances of classroom English in use. As for its findings, the study also offers a more comprehensive investigation into the topic in question by analyzing the linguistic competence as well as other facets of classroom English competence more thoroughly. Therefore, although it similarly stresses the limitations of classroom English competence among Vietnamese teachers of English today, it offers more specific implications for teacher training in general as well as Project 2020 in particular. To be specific, to improve classroom English competence of these teachers, it is important to address the most problematic areas which have been hindering effective classroom communication in English, especially pronunciation and strategic competence. More importantly, as classroom English is the overlapping area between the two main focuses of Project 2020, this objective should also be integrated into the wide range of existing training courses for teachers currently in process in Vietnam today. References [1] Vietnam. The Government, Decision on the approval of the project entitled “Teaching and learning foreign languages in the national education system, period 2008-2020”, in 1400/QĐ-TTg, V.T. Goverment., Editor 2008, The Prime Minister.: Hanoi. [2] Cục nhà giáo và cán bộ quản lý cơ sở giáo dục, Thực trạng và giải pháp trong quản ly, tổ chức bồi dưỡng giáo viên tiếng Anh phổ thông hướng tới việc thực hiện chương trình, sách giáo khoa mới in Hội thảo đánh giá và đề xuất giải pháp quản lý tổ chức thực hiện công tác bồi dưỡng giáo viên tiếng Anh phổ thông 2016, Bộ Giáo dục và Đào tạo: Hà Nội. p. 1-11. [3] Đề án NNQG 2020 [The National Foreign Language Project 2020], Công tác bồi dưỡng giáo viên dạy môn tiếng Anh phổ thông theo đề án NNQG2020 [English language teacher training within the 2020 Project] in Hội thảo đánh giá và đề xuất giải pháp quản lý tổ chức
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