Primary english language teachers’ engagement in professional development

Abstract: Teachers’ professional development (PD) is viewed as the center of educational reforms

in many countries, and this topic has been widely researched by scholars such as Avalos (2011), DarlingHammond & McLaughlin (2011), Le (2002), and Whitehouse (2011). However, primary English language

teachers (PELTers)’ PD has been under-researched in Vietnamese contexts. This paper outlines a project

researching PELTers’ PD in a period of ongoing educational transformation, initiated by the National Foreign

Languages Project. The authors highlight a ‘mixed methods’ research design with data collected from 68

surveys and five individual semi-structured interviews in a province in North Vietnam. Both the impact of

language policy on Vietnamese PELTers’ PD and their responses to top-down PD requirements and provision

are under investigation. Some initial findings are (i) PELTers’ rationales for PD; (ii) their engagement in

PD forms and topics; (iii) benefits of PD; (iv)their PD need areas; and (v) factors affecting PD engagement.

PELTers’ suggestions for improving PD in their contexts are also discussed. This paper offers significant

insights for EFL researchers, policy-makers, EFL teacher training institutions and other educators.

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and more 
importantly, we need some money to 
cover our travel and accommodation 
expenses because our schools do not 
pay for the lessons/ the time we do 
not teach at schools, but at training 
locations. (Teacher E)
One more suggestion for PD programs is 
about course assessment. Some PELTers (36%) 
thought that there should be considerations 
about assignments and assessments for 
intensive PD courses within a short timeframe. 
They cited the training course on using new 
English textbooks that they had attended the 
previous year as a typical example. The course 
was so demanding with many assignments 
and assessment tools, namely participation, 
online and classroom quizzes, final test, 
micro teaching, observation, school visits 
and teaching practice. They had to cope with 
time management while still having to deal 
with their heavy workload at primary school. 
For these reasons, a few teachers suggested 
replacing micro teaching at training venue 
and/ or teaching practice at school with their 
filmed real teaching at primary school. An 
experienced teacher further explained:
In this way, we do not have to act as 
false students during micro teaching, 
and save us much time, money, and 
efforts on practice teaching at different 
schools. On your part [trainers’ part], 
you do not have to travel a long way 
to the provincial schools to watch and 
assess us. (Teacher B)
We – researchers – feel this suggested 
alternative assessment a feasible one.
As many as 20 out of 25 teachers who 
answered the surveyed question 16, and 
many more of PELTers attended the training 
course recommended that it was high time 
the training rooms were better equipped; 
and learning and training conditions were 
improved. They opined to the fact that the 
rooms need properly-operated projectors and 
good internet access so that trainees could 
watch demo video lessons. Besides, it would 
be much better if they could learn in air-
conditioned training rooms, especially during 
such terribly hot weather.
6. Conclusion 
We have provided an insight of the 
education transformation in Vietnamese 
contexts, addressing the call for English 
language education, English language teacher 
education under the implementation of the 
NFL Project. In particular, we have presented 
part of our large-scaled research project on 
EFL teachers’ PD. 
Within the scope of this paper, we focus on 
PELTer’s experiences and perceptions of PD 
engagement. Albeit preliminary, our findings 
and discussions reveal that PELTers frequently 
participate in PD programs provided by 
MoET and DoET. They are even active in 
undertaking PD programs because they can see 
positive impacts of PD engagement on their 
professional improvements and because they 
have strong personal needs for development. 
With regard to the provision, it seems that 
they benefit much from PD providers who do 
not neglect PELTers’ ‘remote’ work locations. 
The provision aligns with the NFL Project’s 
objectives and from a positive perspective; 
we argue that PD engagement helps raise 
PELTer’s awareness of the current foreign 
language policy and the entailed innovation 
in English language teaching. Despite a range 
of challenges, namely financial and logistical 
support as well as work and time conflicts, 
141VNU Journal of Foreign Studies, Vol.35, No.1 (2019) 131-142
PELTers express their willingness to further 
undertake PD if they have opportunities. They 
wish to attend PD of high quality, practicality 
and relevance. They also mention need-based 
programs that consider their teaching contexts 
and teaching time schedule. The topics of 
their greatest interest are teaching pedagogy 
with real-timed micro-teaching and more 
demonstration delivered by qualified master 
trainers and their peers. 
As we can only provide our initial data 
collection and analysis in a PD program 
in one province, this research tends to have 
limitations regarding restricted time and 
generalisability. In stages that follow, we are 
going to analyse data sources collected from 
varied geographical locations and across 
a range of education levels. This paper; 
therefore, contributes our understanding of 
PD for Vietnamese teachers in general and 
PELTers in particular. Inquiries of our large-
scaled research go beyond a mere description 
of PD contexts, aiming to redefine the way 
EFL teachers’ PD in Vietnam has been 
interpreted to date and seek to inform its future 
trajectories. These inquiries, under the goals 
of the NFL Project, address PD alignment at 
different policy levels and PD stakeholders’ 
perspectives, especially teachers’ voice in 
EFL education and teacher education. 
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Le, V. (2002). Sustainable professional development of 
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Nguyễn Thị Thơm Thơm, Phạm Thị Thanh Thủy
Trường Đại học Ngoại ngữ, ĐHQGHN, Phạm Văn Đồng, Cầu Giấy, Hà Nội, Việt Nam
Tóm tắt: Phát triển chuyên môn (PTCM) cho giáo viên là một trong những nhiệm vụ trọng 
tâm để cải cách giáo dục ở nhiều quốc gia. Chủ đề này thu hút sự quan tâm của nhiều học giả 
như Avalos (2011), Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin (2011), Le (2002) và Whitehouse (2011). 
Tuy vậy, trong bối cảnh triển khai Đề án Ngoại ngữ Quốc gia, việc giáo viên tiếng Anh ở Việt 
Nam, đặc biệt ở bậc tiểu học, tham gia PTCM chưa được nghiên cứu đầy đủ. Chúng tôi sử dụng 
nghiên cứu phương pháp kết hợp tìm hiểu quan điểm và kinh nghiệm tham gia PTCM của giáo 
viên tiếng Anh tiểu học (GVTATH). Chúng tôi tiến hành khảo sát 68 giáo viên và phỏng vấn 05 
giáo viên tại một tỉnh miền bắc Việt Nam. Dữ liệu thu thập được chúng tôi phân tích theo 5 mảng 
chính: (i) lý do GVTATH tham gia PTCM; (ii) các hình thức và chủ đề PTCM của họ; (iii) lợi ích 
của việc PTCM; (iv) các lĩnh vực PTCM GVTATH muốn tham gia; và (v) các yếu tố tác động đến 
việc PTCM của họ. Chúng tôi cũng tìm hiểu một số cách thức PTCM hiệu quả mà GVTATH gợi 
ý. Hy vọng bài viết này sẽ giúp ích cho các nhà nghiên cứu ngoại ngữ, nhà hoạch định chính sách, 
các trường sư phạm và giáo viên tiếng Anh bậc tiểu học.
Từ khóa: phát triển chuyên môn, giáo viên tiếng Anh, giảng dạy tiếng Anh bậc tiểu học

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