In 2015, British Council, Vietnam and Nam Dinh province in the North of Vietnam signed an MOU on the cooperation of English development for the province. The focus of the agreement was professional development for local English teachers, focusing on language proficiency, teaching skills and methodologies in order to ensure quality in the classroom and enhance student learning outcomes.
Last year, as a pilot, the first group of 60 English teachers was trained: 20 primary teachers, 20 lower secondary teachers, and 20 upper secondary teachers. Following the British Council’s new Teaching for Success approach, British Council trainers conducted a needs analysis and baseline study by visiting schools, interviewing teachers in focus groups and observing classes. This led to the bespoke design of a training course which was 100% focused on the needs of the teachers in Nam Dinh province.
The training content included a combination of the British Council’s global teaching methodology course materials – English for Teaching, Certificate in Primary English Language Teaching (CIPELT) and Certificate in Secondary English Language Teaching (CISELT).
The face to face training included workshops on different approaches to teaching listening which really challenged participants’ attitudes to this skill, which is seen as notoriously difficult to teach amongst local teachers in Vietnam. By teaching techniques and sub-skills separately rather than holistically in a loop input way, participants were able to enhance their understanding of how to teach good listening skills to their students. As a result several teachers commented on how they had taken the techniques practiced and started to incorporate them into their own lessons and the positive impact this has had.
The 60 teachers are currently taking two online courses; “Learning ICT” and “Communicative Assessment” to complement their face to face training which was completed in December. Later this year, these teachers will also attend workshops on continuing professional development where they will be introduced to the British Council’s Continuing Professional Development Framework and be set an action research project in order to further enhance quality in the classroom.
Both the timetabling and the nature of the training was designed so that the teachers could immediately apply what they learnt in their class with the emphasis on the practical rather than the theoretical. The fact that teachers attended two classes per week for ten weeks while continuing to teach their regular classes enabled them to try the new techniques out right away.
Feedback from the participants in the pilot course indicated that this approach was highly regarded and differed significantly from previous training in that the British Council training was much more relevant to their teaching contexts. One primary teacher said; "My students are now more eager to learn new things" and a lower secondary teacher stated that "My students can now learn English in a fun atmosphere”.