Learning EFL in the Vietnamese Classroom in the 21st Century

A major concern of modern Vietnam is how to improve the English competence of students so that they meet requirements for effective communication and employability. As Pennycook (2008: 86) claims, “[English] always comes amid cultural, political, and economic relations” and ‘to teach is to organise people, knowledge and language according to certain moral, cultural and political principles.”[1] While Vietnamese policy for higher education has a triple emphasis on hard skills, soft skills, and proficiency in at least one foreign language (in this case English), reality shows that Vietnamese students are still inadequately trained in English and soft skills. Though the government has made efforts to improve the English proficiency of students through the national curriculum, the ultimate goal for all graduates to use English independently as a medium of communication in studies and at work by 2020 seems difficult to attain. Based on our experience and research, teaching English augmented with applied critical thinking skills can be the solution to improving the level of English competence for effective communication and employability. The EFL programmes we have taught in Vietnam integrate critical thinking elements and are highly regarded by both students and the academic community thanks to their effectiveness in increasing student communicative proficiency. 

[1] Pennycook, A. (2008). Changing practices in global ELT. Exeter 2008 – IATEFL Annual Conference & Exhibition. B. Beaven. Exeter.