Vietnamese EFL Teacher Educators' Perspectives of Professional Development Alignment in the Context of the National Language Policy

Year: 2018

Author: Nguyen, Thi Thom Thom

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teachers’ professional development (PD) is viewed as the centre of educational reforms in many countries. As key agents in EFL education in the National Foreign Languages 2020 Project, Vietnamese EFL teacher educators have directly been impacted by current policy of Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and teacher education institutions (TEIs). The EFL teacher educators have been required to undertake a wide range of PD programs to be qualified for their professional roles. At the same time, they have been assigned to delivering PD training for both EFL pre-service and in-service teachers from primary to tertiary levels in every part of the country. Their dual PD engagement has become a burden for themselves and for their institutions, as the top-down national language policy has been interpreted and implemented differently across institutional contexts and educational levels. This presentation outlines research on Vietnamese EFL teacher educators’ perceptions and experiences of PD in the context of educational reforms. This presentation provides a systemic critique of ‘travelling’ policy enactment by analysing a triangular relation among teacher educators’ PD, PD requirements and PD provision at institutional and governmental levels, which is under – researched in EFL contexts. This presentation features a 'mixed-methods' research design in the eight largest regional TEIs in Vietnam, with 144 EFL teacher educators being invited to participate in a survey, 16 EFL teacher educators taking part in a follow-up individual semi-structured interviews. As many as 50 policy documents were analysed, using a normative analytical framework and from a contextual approach. The findings indicated that while PD policy trickled down coherently with teacher educators' PD compliance, Vietnamese EFL teacher educators perceived PD engagement as sustainable part of developing professional identity; and from this stance, PD facilitated teacher educators to be change agents in the context of policy reforms. The presentation further discusses suggestions for empowering teacher educators’ PD, including policy innovation and system-level support. Given the centrality of effective EFL instruction to many contexts, and the important role PD plays in teacher development and student outcomes, this research offers significant insights for policy-makers, EFL institutions, researchers and educators. The research design, particularly the policy analytical framework contributes to the study of PD alignment from both PD providers and PD consumers’ perspectives.