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English language teachers training needs at high schools in hanoi = nghiên cứu nhu cầu bồi dưỡng giáo viên tiếng anh của hà nội

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
DEPARTMENT OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES

NGUYEN DANH CHIEN

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHERS’ TRAINING NEEDS
AT HIGH SCHOOLS IN HANOI
(NGHIÊN CỨU NHU CẦU BỒI DƯỠNG GIÁO VIÊN TIẾNG ANH
CỦA HÀ NỘI)

M.A. MINOR THESIS

Field: ELT Methodology
Code: 60 14 10

HANOI, 2010


VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES

DEPARTMENT OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES

NGUYỄN DANH CHIẾN

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHERS’ TRAINING NEEDS
AT HIGH SCHOOLS IN HANOI
(NGHIÊN CỨU NHU CẦU BỒI DƯỠNG GIÁO VIÊN TIẾNG ANH
CỦA HÀ NỘI)

M.A. MINOR THESIS

Field: ELT Methodology
Code: 60 14 10

Supervisor: Dr. Hoàng Xuân Hoa

HANOI, 2010


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

PART I: INTRODUCTION

1

1. Background to the Study

1

2. Aims of the Study and Research Questions

2

3. Significance of the Study

3



4. Scope of the Study

3

5. Methods of the Study

3

6. Design of the Study

4

PART II: DEVELOPMEMT
5
CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW

5

1.1. New Requirements towards English Language Teachers

5

1.1.1. Roles of the Teachers

5

1.1.2. Updating Understanding of CLT

6

1.1.2.1. General Features and Principles of CLT

7

1.1.2.2. Common Classroom Activities Used in CLT

9

1.1.2.2.1. Pairwork and Groupwork

9

1.1.2.2.2. Role Play

9

1.1.2.2.3. Information Gap Activities

10

1.1.2.2.4. Group Discussions

10

1.1.2.2.5. Problem-solving Tasks

11

1.2.3. Roles of Learners
1.2. Teacher Training Needs

11
12

1.2.1. Concept of Training Needs

12

1.2.2. Types of Needs

13

1.2.3. Significance of Studying Teachers’ Training Needs

13

1.2.4. Interrelationship Perceptions, Practice and Training Needs

14


iv

1.2.4.1. Perceptions

14

1.2.4.2. Practice

14

1.3. Previous Studies on Teacher Training Needs

15

1.4. Summary

17

CHAPTER 2: THE RESEARCH

18

2.1. Research Questions

18

2.2. Research Settings

18

2.2.1. English curriculum and textbooks for high schools in Vietnam

18

2.2.2. Recent Training Workshop on Implementing the English Curriculum

19

in Hanoi
2.3. Participants

20

2.4. Data Collection Procedures

20

2.4.1. Sampling

20

2.4.2. Instruments for Data Collection

21

2.4.2.1. Teachers Survey Questionnaire

21

2.4.2.2. Teachers Observation Scheme

21

2.5. Data Analysis Procedures

22

2.5.1. Teachers Questionnaire Data

22

2.5.2. Teachers Observation Data

22

CHAPTER 3 : DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION

23

3.1. Results of the Data Collected by Means of Questionnaire

23

3.1.1. Teachers’ Perceptions of CLT

23

3.1.1.1. Teachers’ perceptions of features and principles of CLT

23

3.1.1.2. Classroom activities used in CLT

24

3.1.1.3. Classroom procedures

25

3.1.1.4. Roles of the communicative language teacher

26

3.1.1.5. Roles of the learner in the CLT learning process

27

3.1.1.6. Teachers’ applicability of CLT to their classroom practices

28


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3.2. Results of the Data Collected by Means of Teachers Observations

29

3.2.2. Using pair and group work activities

30

3.2.3. Conducting fluency-oriented and accuracy-oriented activities

31

3.2.4. Correcting students’ errors and giving feedback

32

3.2.5. Implementing roles of the teacher

33

3.3. Summary

34

CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH FINDINGS

35

4.1. Findings to the Research Question 1

35

4.2. Findings to the Research Question 2

36

4.3. Findings to the Research Question 3

37

4.3.1. Theoretical contents

38

4.3.2. Practical contents

39

4.2. Summary

39

PART III: CONCLUSION

41

1. Concluding remarks

41

2. Limitations of the study

41

3. Suggestions for further study

41

REFERENCES

42

APPRENDICES:
APPRENDIX 1: Survey questionnaire for English language teachers at high
schools in Hanoi
APPRENDIX 2: Teacher observation scheme


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LIST OF TABLES
Table 1. Participants‟ profile
Table 2. Teachers‟ perceptions of features and principles of CLT
Table 3. Teachers‟ perceptions of classroom activities used in CLT
Table 4. Teachers‟ perceptions of classroom procedures
Table 5. Teachers‟ perceptions of the roles of communicative teachers
Table 6. Teachers‟ perceptions of the roles of communicative learners
Table 7. Descriptive statistics for the teacher observations
Table 8. Descriptive statistics for the teacher observations


1

PART I: INTRODUCTION

1. Background to the Study
Nowadays, the role of English as an international language of communication and
the current tendency of the exclusive use of target language in the classroom (England,
1998) have called for re-adjustments in the way of English language teaching and learning.
As a result of the changes, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is well established
as the dominant theoretical model in English language teaching (Thompson, 1996).
Therefore, this approach has been intensively promoted by the Ministry of Education and
Training and has been recently renewed by the introduction of a new English curriculum
innovation which places an emphasis on developing learners‟ communicative competence
in the English language. Following the introduction, a variety of teacher training courses
and workshops on CLT has been held in order to enhance the teachers‟ knowledge about
CLT and to create more favourable conditions for successful teaching to be achieved.
However, despite teacher training efforts, communicative teaching is still
challenging for most of the English language teachers at high schools in Hanoi. They have
found it difficult to acquire the new approach or adapt new methods of teaching because,
like other EL teachers throughout the country, their English proficiency is low, classes are
large, the buildings, furnishings and other facilities are basic, and only low levels of
support can be provided in terms of materials, libraries and advisory services (Le, 1999).
Additionally, although CLT has become more popular, many of the teachers reportedly
advocate traditional methods to language teaching and still play a dominant role in the
majority of classrooms where activities do not seem to be learner-centred. As the
implementers of the new approach, the teachers have found it challenging to develop their
students‟ communicative competence in the target language or to foster the communicative
approach. This is similar to the what Kennedy (1999) claimed that in this process of
change, the teachers have to face many obstacles and a barrier to the implementation of the
MOET‟s innovation that they are required to learn more about their subject areas, to use
textbooks that are becoming more and more difficult, and to use new methods in teaching.
In other words, the teachers need help to tackle a lack of teaching ideas (Goh, 1999) since
they may not have a clear understanding of the underlying principles of the new approach,
which leads to their running out of teaching ideas when developing learning activities for


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their students. Apart from that, many of the teachers have to struggle to move away from
the traditional teaching of rules, patterns and definitions about the language (linguistic
competence) towards teaching students how to communicate genuinely, spontaneously and
meaningfully in the English language (communicative competence). For those teachers
who have moderate proficiency in English, and insufficient understanding of effective
teaching methods and techniques, they have to suffer feelings of inadequacy and insecurity
in their teaching practices.
Obviously, this lack of understandings and the ineffective teaching practices, in
turn, force the teachers to seek any kind of language and teaching methodology
improvement through training workshops or training courses so that they can satisfy the
increasing professional requirements and stay secure in their teaching positions. Moreover,
the intensive changes resulted from the communicative approach and the teachers‟
limitations in teaching in diverse contexts have brought about gaps between their
understandings and use of CLT for classroom practices. This certainly creates urgent needs
for enhancing the teachers‟ teaching, and requires continuous anticipation of training or
retraining needs, e.g. the needs to be further trained in ELT methods.
However, up until now, there has not been any investigation into the Hanoi‟s high
school teachers‟ needs for being retrained in communicative ELT or any full understanding
of the extent to which the teachers‟ perceive the communicative approach. The absence of
studies related to this subject matter is the basic motive for conducting a survey research
into the EL teachers‟ training needs at high schools in Hanoi. Hopefully, the knowledge
and the result of the study will contribute to the better language policy and more effective
English language teaching and learning in Hanoi.

2. Aims of the Study and Research Questions
The study aims to identify the Hanoi‟s high school EL teachers‟ training needs on
communicative language teaching by exploring their perceptions of CLT, their perceived
needs as their desires, and their theory-practice gap that should be filled so as to satisfy
new demands for communicative ELT.
In order to achieve the aims of the study, the research was carried out to answer the
following questions:
(1) What are the EL teachers’ perceptions of CLT?


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(2) What are the methods and techniques the teachers used in their actual
classroom practices?
(3) What contents should be included in future ELT methodology training
workshops?

3. Significance of the Study
The research will be of the theory of ELT management as well as practical
significance for three reasons. First, when completed, the research results will be used as
evidence on the teachers‟ performance, and will show key factors affecting the teaching
quality so that decisions could be made on whether teacher retraining courses should be
organized. Second, the findings of the survey research will be useful for the Hanoi DOET
and its ELT specialists in deciding on the extent to which and how retraining courses
should be organized if they should be. Third, on a larger scale, the research will provide
education administrators and high school principles with suggestions for increasing the
quality of ELT in diverse contexts.

4. Scope of the Study
Within the framework of a minor thesis, the study was limited to exploring Hanoi
high school EL teachers‟ needs for being trained in CLT by identifying the teachers‟
perceptions of CLT theories - the extent to which they know about CLT in order to use it
for classroom practices, and the retraining needs perceived by themselves as their wants or
desires. Therefore, there would probably be a gap or differences between the teachers‟
perceived needs and the needs resulted from the researcher‟s observations of the teachers‟
in-class teaching practices.

5. Methods of the Study
The study is an integrated descriptive-analytical, qualitative and quantitative survey
research. In order to provide sufficient data, information should be collected by a number
of effective methods and a variety of techniques. Nevertheless, within the scope of the
research, the following main techniques are used:
- Teachers survey questionnaire, which was conducted to investigate the English
language teachers‟ perceptions of CLT theories;


4

- Teachers observations, which was employed to find out some of the techniques
and methods the teachers used in their classroom practices in order to identify gaps
between their perceptions and use/implementation of CLT.

6. Design of the Study
The study is composed of three parts, including Introduction, Development, and
Conclusion. Part I, Introduction, presents the background to the study, aims, research
questions, significance, scope, methods, and design of the study. Part II, Development, as
the main developing part of the thesis, consists of three chapters. Chapter One provides a
review of literature relevant CLT and such perspectives as training needs, perceptions, and the
interrelation between teachers‟ perception and practice. Chapter Two gives a general
description of the research with relevant aspects. Chapter Three is a representation of the
research findings and discussion. Part III, Conclusion, is a summary of the main issues
addressed in the research, limitations of the study, and some suggestions for further study.


5

PART II: DEVELOPMEMT

CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW
The purpose of this chapter is to review the literature relevant to the teachers‟ needs
for being retrained in CLT. The chapter consists of three sections. The first section
addresses an overview of CLT requirements towards the teachers such as roles of the
teachers in CLT, understanding of CLT‟s features and principles, and classrooms activities.
The second section provides concepts of needs, perception, and practice.

1.1. New Requirements towards English Language Teachers
As teaching is a constantly evolving process of growth and change, English
language teachers have to constantly look for alternative ways to improve instructional
practices. Along with the promotion of CLT, "an approach to foreign or second language
teaching which emphasizes that the goal of language learning is communicative
competence" (as cited by Aleixo, 2003), the teachers have to satisfy new requirements
towards themselves, such as playing new roles in the classroom, and updating their
understanding of the approach.
1.1.1. Roles of the Teachers
In the traditional methods of language teaching, the teachers are the experts, carry
the responsibility for students learning, and are the most important role in the learning. In
the light of CLT, teachers assume several “new” or “changing” roles in communicative
classrooms. First, the teachers find themselves talking less and listening more- becoming
active facilitators of their students' learning (Larsen-Freeman, 1986). In other words, the
teachers must serve as facilitators of the communication process between all participants in
the classroom, and between these participants and the various activities and texts (Breen
and Candlin, 1980, p.99), which allows students to be in charge of their own learning. For
instance, the teachers promote students while they are in the process of talking or writing.
The students, then, have an increasing sense of confidence in using the target language to
communicate during classroom activities. On some occasions, the teachers have to take
part in the learning-teaching group, becoming independent participants who return to the
positions of students and are willing to understand and share the students‟ difficulties. The
teachers can also be “managers of classroom activities” (Larsen-Freeman, 1986), assuming


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responsibility for establishing situations to promote communication. Richards and Rogers
(1986) draw on Breen and Candlin‟s (1980) introduction to teacher roles, expanding the
scope of teacher roles by adding those of needs analysts, counsellors, and group process
managers. As needs analysts, the teachers take a responsibility for determining and
responding to learner learning needs. They note that the teachers can talk to students
informally and personally though one-to-one sessions in order to know students‟
perception of their learning style and learning goals. By so-doing, the teachers can assess
students' needs and attempt to determine students‟ motivation for studying the language.
Then, the teachers are expected to plan group and individual instruction that responds to
the students‟ needs. Serving as counsellors, the teacher are expected to exemplify effective
communicators, which reflects the restrictions of communicative language teaching and
see the learners as managers of their own learning process. In the role of group process
managers, the teachers are required to acquire less teacher-centred classroom management
skills, and to organize the classroom as a setting for communication and communicative
activities. The teachers can also act as researchers who monitor and investigate what is
going on in the classroom and in their own teaching in order to find out appropriate
methods and teaching techniques for better teaching and learning. Other roles of the
teachers explained by Harmer (1991) that the teachers act as assessors, organizers,
prompters, and as resources. In the role of assessors, the teachers are to assess the
students‟ work. A more difficult role is that of organizers, who organize the classroom as a
setting for communication and communicative activities (Richards & Rodgers, 2001,
p.168), because the success of classroom activities depend much upon good organization
and on the students‟ knowing exactly what they have to do. Being in the role of prompters,
the teachers are required to makes suggestions about how students may proceed in an
activity. Fulfilling the role of resources, the teachers provide a range of useful real
resources to connect with the learner‟s own life experiences. Obviously, roles of the
teachers in the communicative classroom have changed significantly, and is less dominant
and more demanding than in traditional methods, as unpredictability and uncertainty are
continuously present.
1.1.2. Updating Understanding of CLT
Since CLT is a new approach to language teaching, the teachers are required to
understand its features and principles, common classroom activities use in CLT,


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procedures in a CLT classroom, and roles of the learners in order to conduct
communicative teaching.
1.1.2.1. General Features and Principles of CLT
As CLT aims to make communicative competence the goal of language teaching and
develop procedures for the teaching of the four language skills that acknowledge the
interdependence of language and communication (Richard and Rodgers, 2001), it consists
of broad features and principles.
According to Richard and Rodgers (2001), as cited in Littelewood (1981:1), pointed
out that one of the most characteristic features of CLT is that it pays systematic attention to
functional as well as structural aspects of language. In other words, grammar is not ignored
in the CLT classroom, but it is dealt with in relation to the communicative function that
specific grammatical structures perform. This important feature distinguishes CLT from
other traditional approaches to language teaching.
In addition to that, in CLT, meaning is paramount (Finocchiaro and Brumfit, 1983).
According to Larsen-Freeman (1986), meaning is derived from the written words through
an interaction between the reader and the writer, just as oral communication becomes
meaningful through negotiation between the speaker and the listener. Thus, the primary
purpose of using a language is to convey meaning in appropriate ways (Mckay, 2000).
Language learning, then, should encourage learners to use the target language in
appropriate appropriately in a given social context in order to convey meaning.
Another beneficial feature of CLT is that accuracy and fluency are put together in
language learning thanks to its emphasis on meaningful communication as well as
awareness of form. According to Brumfit (1984), a classroom activity may aim either for
accuracy or fluency, a distinction first aided by an accuracy-oriented activity such as
pattern drills, which are usually used in the teaching of a new target item. Additionally,
Brumfit (1984) argued that fluency activities provide opportunities for students to produce
and understand tokens of the language which they may have been made aware of, or even
learnt, during accuracy activities. In the view of these considerations, both accuracyoriented and fluency-oriented activities should be included in the communicative
classroom in order to achieve communicative competence in the target language. Sharing
this view, Long (1991) and Dought (2001, cited in Ellis et al., 2002, p.422) argue that
form-focused instruction, which aims to develop the target language accuracy, combined


8

with meaning-focused instruction, which aims to develop the fluency of the target
language, works better than meaning-focused instruction on its own. In other words, formfocused instruction helps develop learners‟ ability to use the linguistic form in a
communicative task.
Moreover, with regard to error correction in CLT classroom, practitioners of the
communicative approach consider “errors” as “a completely normal phenomenon in the
development of communicative skills” (Littlewood, 1981, p.94). In other words, errors are
unavoidable when learning a language and developing communicative competence.
Larsen-Freeman (1986) claims that errors of form are tolerated as learners can be
successful communicators though they have limited linguistic knowledge, which can mean
that if students make errors during their speaking or presentation, these errors can be
tolerated in order to encourage fluency. But this does not mean that the teacher ignore the
errors but save the errors for later corrective feedback that help the students be aware of the
areas they have to improve. Therefore, explicit error correction should be avoided, because
it tends to make students feel they are criticized, and instead teachers should correct errors
in indirect ways (Doyon, 2000), and because when second language learners make errors,
they are demonstrating part of the natural process of language learning (Harmer, 1999,
p.100). It should be realized that error correction should be kept to a minimum and priority
should be given to the errors that hinder communication, as the aim is to develop learners‟
communicative fluency, and teachers need to have students understand that they can learn
through mistakes so that in a motivating and supportive classroom, students feel
comfortable taking risks and participating positively in the class activities because they
know that they will not be criticized or embarrassed if they make mistakes.
Apart from those features and principles, Nunan‟s (1991) made another recognized
list of five general principles or features of CLT: (1) An emphasis on learning to
communicate through interaction in the target language; (2) The introduction of authentic
texts into the learning situation; (3) The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not
only on language but also on the learning process itself; (4) An enhancement of the
learner‟s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom
learning; and (5) An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activities
outside the classroom. Furthermore, according to Richards & Schmidt (2001), CLT
consists of five notable principles: (1) Learners learn a language through using it to


9

communicate; (2) Authentic and meaningful communication should be the goal of
classroom activities; (3) Fluency and accuracy are both important in language learning; (4)
Communication involves the integration of different language skills; (5) Learning is a
process of creative construction and involves trial and error.
It is unquestionable that, with those features and principles, CLT helps students learn
to communicate through interaction in the target language and create meaning rather than
constructing perfectly grammatical structures or having a native-live pronunciation, and
that learners need to engage in meaningful communication to attain communicative
fluency in English.
1.1.2.2. Common Classroom Activities Used in CLT
Because CLT consists of broad features and principles, there is a wide variety of
activities that can be used in the classroom. Richards & Rodgers (2001) state that the range
of activities compatible with a communicative approach is unlimited, provided that such
activities enable learners to attain the communicative objectives of the curriculum, engage
learners in communication, and require the use of such communicative processes as
information sharing, negotiation of meaning, and interaction. In other words, CLT includes
all possible activities with given situations that can build up as well as boost up the
learner‟s courage to language learning. These activities can be pair and group work, roleplays, information gap, discussions, interviews, and problem-solving tasks that require
negotiation and cooperation between learners, and encourage them to develop their
confidence.
1.1.2.2.1. Pairwork and Groupwork
One of common activities promoted by CLT is pairwork and groupwork. In the
classroom, CLT often takes the form of pair and group work requiring negotiation and
cooperation between learners. According to Doff (1988), pair work is a process in which
the teacher divides the whole class into pairs that work at the same time. Group work is a
process in which „the teachers divide the class into some groups to work together, usually
four or five students in each group (Doff, 1988, p137).
Pair and group work are to give students of different background to join classroom
activities in order to share information and ideas and to negotiate meanings. Working in
pairs, students are encouraged to practise the target language more, which increases their
talking time in the class, and promotes their cooperation. Thus, in pair work and group


10

work activities, interaction occurs with meaningful negotiation and increases the
development of the target language by raising learners‟ awareness of learning processes
(Ellis, 1994).
1.1.2.2.2. Role Play
Harmer (1998) defined "role-play activities are those where students are asked to
imagine that they are in different situations and act accordingly" (p.92), which means
students are given roles to act out by imagining themselves in a situation or playing the
role of someone else, using language relevant to the context. Thus, students are the centre
of the class, and become actors and actresses on the stage. They enjoy their performance
and use the target language as a tool for role-playing. In fact, using role play activities in
class is a special technique to wake up students, especially shy students who should be
made to feel at ease playing in front of the class.
1.1.2.2.3. Information Gap Activities
One type of activity that promotes negotiation is the information-gap task. According
to Lee and Vanpatten (2003), the gap refers to information that one person possesses but
others do not (p.65). Gaps, therefore, create the absolute need to communicate as well as
the need to cooperate. In an information-gap activity, different students are given different
pieces of information, so there is a need to communicate and share information, which is
useful in language learning and teaching. For example, different students in a group are
given different parts of a story or different pictures telling the same story. Then they need
to talk about their part or picture to construct the story. As a result, students practise
English a lot because they need to discuss with their original group members and present
individually in the new group. Another example is that students are given different texts
with similar content but different gaps. In pairs, they have to read, ask, and complete the
gapped texts. In an actual fact, this activity is designed especially for practising
“negotiation for meaning” as it takes efforts to deliver the exact meaning of the
information. Participating in this kind of activities, students can also use and practise such
techniques such as elaboration, clarification, and recast in order to finish the required task.
1.1.2.2.4. Group Discussions
Discussion is a learner-centred activity where ideas and experiences are shared;
involvement and participation are reinforced. This is an activity in which students are
asked to express their own opinions on a topic. There are some types of discussion, such as


11

controversial statements, and debate. With controversial statements, students are given
statements and then in pairs or groups, they are asked to express their opinion for or
against them and give reasons. In terms of debate, students are given a controversial
statement and are put into two different groups representing two opposing sides. After that
they prepare arguments to argue their case. At the end of this type of discussion, there can
be a vote to see who has the most convincing arguments.
1.1.2.2.5. Problem-solving Tasks
With problem-solving tasks, students are given some real-life problems which are
interesting and debatable for the class and need solving. They are divided into groups to do
research after class, discuss the result in the class and ask every group report their
conclusion for the whole class, which means students work out solutions to problems.
Through this activity, students can practise both target language and critical thinking
ability.
Generally speaking, the classroom activities discussed above can be used in all
classes and adapted for any kind of CLT lesson. With the activities, the classroom become
like the world outside the classroom, where students are seen using language
spontaneously and communicatively.
1.2.3. Roles of Learners
In CLT, students can practise every situation in daily life, which is a good way for
them use English as a tool to communicate with others. Because of the changes in the
emphasis of CLT, learners have to change their roles in the communicative classroom.
According to Richards and Rodgers (2001), the emphasis of CLT on the processes of
communication rather than the mastery of language forms leads to different roles for
learners from those found in more traditional second language classrooms. Breen and
Cadlin (1980), cited in Richards and Rodgers (2001, p.166) describe the learner‟s role
within CLT as a negotiator – between the self, the learning process, and the object of
learning, emerges from and interacts with the role of joint negotiator within the group and
within the classroom procedures and activities which the group undertakes. As a
negotiator, therefore, the implication for the learner is that he should contribute as much as
he gains, and thereby learn in an independent way. Richards and Rodgers (2001) show that
„learners are expected to interact primarily with each other, rather than with the teacher,
and correction of errors may be absent or infrequent. Apart from that, the learners should


12

be co-operators in their learning processes rather than individuals, for Richards and
Rodgers (2001) point out that successful communication is an accomplishment jointly
achieved and acknowledged. The learners have to see that unsuccessful communication is
a joint responsibility and not the fault of the individual learner. Apart from those roles, the
learners are considered by Larsen-Freeman (1986) to be communicators who are expected
to engage in negotiating meaning. They, therefore, should try to understand and make
themselves understood if their use of the target language is limited. Additionally, as part of
the learning process, the learners should be an active participant in the learning
activities/tasks, which means that they need to change their role in the learning progress
from passive recipients to active participants and will not be isolated. The learners should
become the centre of the learning process, being responsible for their own learning, their
participation in classroom activities, and their limited English competence in what they
must gain and in using the target language. Moreover, because of the increased
responsibility to participate, students may find they gain confidence in using the target
language in general, and are more responsible managers of their own learning (LarsenFreeman, 1986). It is clear that, since the teachers‟ role is less dominant and more
demanding than in traditional methods, students are seen more responsible managers of
their own learning.
In conclusion, since the communicative approach has created the changes in the way
of teaching and learning, as implementers of the new approach, the teachers are required to
understand, adapt and apply the CLT theories to effective classroom teaching. In other
words, there are needs for training the EL teachers in implementing CLT for more
effective practices.

1.2. Teacher Training Needs
1.2.1. Concept of Training Needs
In fact, any new approach to language teaching requires new understandings and
skills, which creates the needs to train the teachers as the implementers of the approach.
Additionally, if the teachers do not have understanding and skills appropriate to their
teaching, or if they are not skilled enough to do their teaching job, it will becomes difficult
to do it or may even be impossible. With regard to CLT, when CLT came to the level of
practice, teachers often encountered many difficulties (Pham, 2007), and whenever the


13

teachers feel that they do not meet the required standards of teaching communicatively, the
need for training arises. Training based on such needs will then supply the teachers with
the knowledge and skills to do their job properly. Therefore, the training needs can be seen
as the needs to build specific teaching skills, to acquire the theories of the new approach, to
adapt and apply the theories to effective teaching practices.
1.2.2. Types of Needs
The needs can be subjective, i.e., teachers‟ perceived needs as their wants or desires
for enhancing their teaching practices. The needs can also be objective, i.e., professional
requirements for the teachers to conduct successful teaching, because the teaching job
requires teachers to meet certain standards, and to comply with reach certain levels of
expertise or skills in order to do their job properly.
1.2.3. Significance of Studying Teachers’ Training Needs
In the study, the teachers‟ training needs would be identified by assessing their
understanding of CLT (e.g. perceptions), and how they used CLT for classroom teaching
(e.g. practices), which would then help determine whether there was a gap between their
perceptions and practices of CLT and how big the gap was if there was. If there was a gap,
there would be training needs or necessity to fill it by retraining the teachers so that they
could achieve successful teaching under the light of CLT. In other words, studying the
teachers‟ training needs would help identify the teachers' strengths and weaknesses, fill the
gap, update their knowledge and skills, and increase their teaching job satisfaction.
Moreover, in terms of ELT management, the study would show how successful previous
teacher training workshops were and suggest measures that should be taken by the Hanoi
DOET in order to contribute to increasing ELT quality at high schools in Hanoi, and
demonstrate the challenges facing the teachers while they are implement the
communicative based curriculum.
From these points of view, it is noticeable that using CLT for classroom teaching
requires the needs for support/assistance in the aspects of both theory and practice, which
aims at enhancing the teachers‟ knowledge and teaching skills in order to enable the
teachers to conduct more effective English lessons.


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1.2.4. Interrelationship Perceptions, Practice and Training Needs
1.2.4.1. Perceptions
Slavin (1988) defined perceptions as a person‟s interpretation of stimuli that may be
influenced by one‟s mental/emotional state, experience, knowledge, motivations, and other
factors. In the study, EL teachers‟ perceptions referred to their interpretation and
understanding of CLT which is realized as their responses to each of the survey
questionnaire items and questionnaire questions. Through their previous training and
teaching experience, they can reveal their understanding and express their desires or wants
for further training in what they think they have insufficient knowledge about. If the
teachers well perceive the communicative approach or method, they would value it and
view it as important for success. Therefore, identifying how the teachers understand CLT
is one of the ways to get to know the need to develop their appropriate understanding of
the approach in order for them to avoid misconceptions, and the need to apply the theories
of the approach to classroom practices. In other words, the needs for retraining the teachers
will be identified once the teachers‟ perceptions of the communicative approach become
clear.
1.2.4.2. Practice
Ur (1996) considered “practice” as “the rehearsal of certain behaviour with the
objective of consolidating language teaching skills and knowledge in order to improve
performance” (p.19). In the study, the concept “practice” is adopted as the use or
implementation of CLT for teaching practices. Therefore, evaluating the teachers‟
implementation of CLT means assessing how they apply the principles of CLT and
classroom techniques to their classroom teaching practices, how they carry out classroom
activities, and how they play their new roles, which then helps identify the methods the
teachers use. In other words, the knowledge of the teachers‟ performance provides
evidence for whether the teachers need to be retrained, and what they need to be retrained.
In summary, it is necessary to have a sufficient understanding of the teachers'
perceptions of CLT and how they use it for classroom practices in order to indentify the
teacher training needs, which reveals the interrelation among the constructs of perceptions,
practices and needs.


15

1.3. Previous Studies on Teacher Training Needs
Because of the influence of perceptions and practices on needs and the relative
interdependence among these three constructs, teachers‟ needs for being retrained in CLT
have been extensively studied. Following are some major studies on this issue.
In South Korean, Li (1998) carried out a study on the perception of CLT of 18
secondary teachers‟ who were at a training program in Canada and found that difficulties
caused by teachers, such as deficiency in spoken English, lack of training in CLT, few
opportunities for retraining in CLT, and misconceptions about CLT, prevented teachers
from implementing CLT successfully during in-class activities in South Korea. He also
discovered that although the teachers had the theoretical notion of CLT, they had no
practical experiences in terms of methodological issues of CLT.
In Bangladesh, Khaled Mahrnud Rezaul Karim (2004) conducted a research into
teachers' perceptions, attitudes and expectations about CLT in post-secondary education,
surveyed 36 ESF teachers, and examined how they defined CLT and implemented it in
their classrooms. It was found that the teachers had very good understanding of the
communicative activities and the general principles of CLT, and that there were positive
relationships between teachers' perceptions about CLT and their classroom practices. The
study revealed that although there were some discrepancies between teachers' perceptions
and practices, these were not remarkable as these were not causing obstacles in the way of
communicative practices or discouraging teachers from practicing CLT, and that although
EFL teachers thought lack of training in CLT as a major difficulty in adopting CLT in
Bangladesh, it might not be true that they are in serious need of training in CLT or their
lack of training in CLT was posing problem in practicing communicative language
teaching. These teachers only indicated a need for more training in developing and
implementing CLT techniques, which means that their overall need is needs for training in
understanding and developing CLT techniques.
A recent research by Serdar Mehmet Bal (2006) evaluated 20 public primary school
teachers‟ perceptions and practices of CLT in Turkish EFL setting, and revealed the
teachers generally did not apply CLT activities in their EFL classrooms, that they
consumed much time on explicit grammar teaching and reading activities rather than CLT
practices, and that the discrepancy between teachers‟ theoretical perceptions of CLT and


16

their ineffective in-class practices may prevent them from implementing CLT principles in
their classrooms.
Ironically, even the teachers who have been trained in CLT training courses still do
not use CLT for their teaching. In Indonesia, Lamb (1995) conducted a study on the 12
teachers who had attended an in-service teacher training course on CLT and found that the
teachers did not use CLT in their classrooms. Lamb observed the teachers‟ teaching to see
how their teaching had progressed since they attended the training course, and found that
they teachers taught differently from the ideas presented on the course, and very few ideas
presented on the course were taken up in the way anticipated by the course tutors.
In Vietnam, Sullivan (1994) carried out a classroom study, and observed a teacher‟s
lesson in a second year university level English language classroom. Although the
observed teacher described his lesson as communicative, it was considered not to be
communicative, because no pairwork or groupwork activities were conducted, and the
lesson was teacher-centred. Sullivan (1994) concluded that if CLT classroom observation
checklists and schemas were used as indicators of communicative teaching, the
Vietnamese class emerged as mostly uncommunicative since the class was generally
teacher-fronted with whole class responses, and there was little group work, pair work, or
use of authentic materials. Moreover, Le (1999) conducted a research into the degree the
communicative approach fits Vietnamese pedagogical contexts on the basis of an analysis
of Vietnamese learner‟s communicative needs, Vietnamese classroom culture and
discourse, and the constraints on the teacher in teaching English communicatively, and
discovered that although the EL teachers had positive view of the communicative
approach, they feel constrained to implement communicative teaching in their classroom
and found it difficult to use this approach for their pedagogical practice.
To summarize the results of previous research on perceptions of CLT, and actual use
of CLT, it was found that teachers‟ understanding of CLT is different, and that their
classroom teaching was shown not to be communicative under observations. Thus, training
needs for CLT implementation differ in different areas and contexts. Based on the findings
of the studies mentioned above, a comprehension research is needed to identify the Hanoi‟s
high school EL teachers‟ training needs for better communicative EL teaching.


17

1.4. Summary
This chapter has highlighted new requirements towards the teachers while
implementing CLT, which leads to the needs to train and retrain the teachers for more
successful communicative teaching, and has discussed necessary considerations related to
perceptions, practices and training needs.
The literature is a useful source for the research to use for identifying objective and
subjective needs for teacher retraining in the next chapter.


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CHAPTER 2: THE RESEARCH

This chapter presents a general description of the study with relevant aspects including
data collection, data analysis, and discussions.
2.1. Research Questions:
In order to get more information about the teachers‟ training needs, the researcher tended
to find the information necessary to answer the three following questions:
(1) What are the EL teachers’ perceptions of CLT?
(2) What are the techniques and methods the teachers used in their actual
classroom practices?
(3) What contents should be included in ELT methodology retraining courses?

2.2. Research Settings
2.2.1. English curriculum and textbooks for high schools in Vietnam
From 2006 to 2009, MOET introduced a new English curriculum and a set of English
textbooks (i.e. English 10, English 11, and English 12) embodying communicative
principles, which considers the development of students‟ communicative competence in
the target language through the four linguistic skills (e.g. listening, speaking, reading and
writing) the ultimate goal of the language teaching and learning process (Teacher Training
Material: Implementing English Curriculum and Textbooks for Grade 10, 2006, p.39), and
regarding language items such as vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar rules to be
constitutions for promoting the development of learners‟ linguistic skills. In addition to
developing the language skills and accompanying sound system, vocabulary and grammar,
the English curriculum adopts an intercultural communication perspective with an attempt
to educate students into both national and international citizens who are knowledgeable
about the target culture and their own national culture (MOET, 2006). As a result, the
reform of ELT at high schools toward greater emphasis on students‟ ability to use English
for communicative and academic purposes (Le, 2008) has created changes in teaching
methodology as the new curriculum adopts a “learner-centred approach and the
communicative approach with task-based teaching being the central teaching method”
(English 10, Teacher‟s Book, 2006, p.12).


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2.2.2. Recent Training Workshop on Implementing the English Curriculum in
Hanoi
In order to implement the new curriculum, three short in-service teacher training
workshop have been organized by the Hanoi Department of Education and Training
(DOET). These workshops were run mainly by key high school EL teachers who were
trained at short in-service teacher training workshop held by the Ministry of Education and
Training, and by some invited university teachers and textbook writers. The workshop
participants were all of local teachers who were pursuing their teaching careers at high
schools throughout Hanoi. These teachers were requested to attend the workshops of four
to six days in order to update their teaching methods and perceive guidance on the
implementation of the curriculum. The contents of the first training workshop was
comprised of an introduction to the new English curriculum and the textbook “English 10”,
a preliminary review of the implementation of the new English language curriculum,
theories of the communicative approach, getting to know about sequential stages of a
lesson and new lesson plan models, watching VCDs on model teaching practices, some
basic techniques for teaching language skills and linguistic items, and learning about
evaluation and assessment. The second and the third training workshops consisted of
similar contents, but its emphasis was placed on teaching techniques, textbook adaptation,
and sharing teaching ideas and initiatives.
With regard to the perceived effectiveness of the workshops, most of the teachertrainees shared a mutual feeling of positivity about the workshops by giving feedback that
the workshops were useful to some extent in introducing new ideas to them, deepening
their understanding of communicative teaching, techniques for teaching linguistic skills
and knowledge, helping the teachers with textbook and task adaptation as well as the
MOET‟s requirements for implementing the curriculum. However, a considerable number
of teacher-trainees did not feel satisfied with the fact that the workshop contents included
too much of theory while there were few opportunities for them to discuss teaching and
classroom techniques, little time was spend practising and developing the skills necessary
for successful implementation of the workshop ideas, little attention was paid to finding
out solutions to the constraints preventing them from using the communicative approach.
The local teachers also expressed their discontent with the workshop agenda which were
fixed before the workshops and did not consider the teacher-trainees‟ needs before any


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