Literature in Vietnamese tertiary English programs: perspectives and practice
thesisposted on 2017-02-28, 03:02 authored by Truong, Thi My Van
English is now a dominant foreign language in Vietnam and exerts a powerful influence on various aspects of Vietnamese society. With the power and influence of English, Vietnamese learners have changing perceptions about the purposes of language learning. In tertiary English-major programs, the status of literature has been contested and challenged and priority has been given to subjects that directly facilitate learners’ careers such as Business English courses. In this context, the teaching and learning of literature are both at risk and controversial. This study is set in the Vietnamese English as a second language (EFL) context. By investigating teacher and student perspectives on teaching and learning literature in the tertiary English-major program, this study examines the role that literature plays in tertiary ELT in Vietnam. The study analyses the pedagogy used and student responses to this, then looks at the implications for pedagogy and the status of literature in a global economy where English is primarily the language of business. The study follows a qualitative research tradition and consists of a case study of four Vietnamese teachers and 12 students of English in one Vietnamese EFL tertiary program. Data generation included pre-course and post-course in-depth interviews of teachers and students, class observations, the collection of student writing during the courses, textbooks and syllabi of the courses, and the curriculum of the program. Discourse analysis and text analysis were used to interpret the data based on the issues raised in the research questions. The findings of the study show that, despite a recognition of the value of literature by both teachers and language learners, the status of literature in the program was at risk due to institutional constraints and learners’ practical focus on careers using English. The study reveals that the literature class provided many opportunities for communicative language teaching (CLT) and learning, especially via the use of Reader Theatre. However, in terms of critical thinking and deeper text analysis, the use of CLT in the classes in the study was hindered by a number of contextual factors, in particular class size, time limits, inflexible class seating, and teachers’ limited expertise in generating interaction among students. The literature pedagogy fostered in most students an awareness of the value of literature to personal development and a knowledge of culture and language, yet the pedagogy could be improved to be more engaging to learners, to enable them to develop communicative competence, literary competence, critical thinking skills and to broaden perspectives on themselves, the world and the status of English as a global language.