Professional learning support needs of "native English-speaking teachers" in Vietnam: A multiple-case study

Year: 2017

Author: Luong Phan, Nhu Hien

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In an age of globalization, the hegemony of English has been reflected in English language education (ELE) reform policies in Asian countries. Contemporary ELE policies have extensively promoted the recruitment of "native English-speaking teachers" (NETs) in the English language teaching (ELT) workforce. Demand for qualified NETs apparently outstrips the supply (Ruecker & Ives, 2015). However, research has documented concerns that the employment of NETs does not necessarily result in teaching quality. Policies around the employment of NETs may be anti-professional; for example, legitimizing unqualified and inexperienced NETs (Wang & Lin, 2013) and providing inadequate training in professional teaching (Liu, 2008). Noticeably, although professional learning is emphasized in ELE reform policies, the focus has been concentrated on local English teachers in the state ELE sector. There is a paucity of research on professional learning support needs of NETs from these teachers' perspectives. The focus of the present study is on NETs teaching in the setting of Vietnamese Foreign Language Centres (FLCs)- an under-researched non-state sector. The study aims to investigate professional learning support needs of NETs across both public and private FLCs. Employing a multiple case-study research design, policy documentation and semi-structured interviews with 12 TESOL-qualified NETs and 11 educational leaders across public and private FLCs were conducted. Similarities and differences in professional learning support needs of NETs across these settings as well as the gaps between NETs' perceptions and educational leaders' perceptions related to NETs' professional learning support needs emerged from thematic analysis. This cross-sectoral study is the first study to propose a professional learning framework to support NETs in the time of educational change in Vietnam and similar ELT contexts. The study puts forward implications for NETs, policy makers and educational leaders. Insights into better educational leadership practices and policies promoting NETs' professional learning and development are discussed.