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Vietnam is now on our way to develop, and we are doing our best to catch up with the development of other

countries in the world in all aspects. Because of this feature, English now proves its important role in Vietnam society then never before as it is consider as a tool for Vietnamese people to integrate to the developmental flow of the world. Currently, Vietnamese people no longer simply learn English, but master English. The need to read, write, listen and speak English fluently of Vietnamese people becomes more and more vigorous. However, in a country where English is used as a foreign language, improving these four skills is not a simple task, especially the listening and speaking skill which require the communication and interaction. This is a challenge to both the teachers and learners of English in Vietnam. To conquer this challenge, many new method and approaches have been applied, in terms of teaching and learning English. One of these approaches is the Communicative Approach (CA) which is considered as the suitable approaches to satisfy the demand of improving the listening and speaking skills because it stands out from the rest of language teaching approaches in its emphasis on the communicative role of language for which English is primarily meant( Joseph , 2005) . In this paper, Id like to point out some of my views about the application of this approach in English language teaching in Vietnam context, from the perspective of a teacher of English who is teaching a class of English for communication at a foreign language center in Ho Chi Minh city. Although Vietnam introduced the Communicative language teaching (CLT) onto its school system rather later than its neighbor such as China, Hong Kong, or Thailand (Canh, 2009), we can say that the CA has introduced a new trend to the English language teaching and learning in Vietnam where the Grammar- Translation method used to be the most popular one. Differs from the Grammar Translation method which laid emphasis on the teaching of English through a systematic teaching of grammatical structures of the language (Joseph, 2005), CLT is the approach which instruction integrates the teaching of listening and speaking over various situation (Willbrand & Riecke ,1983). As the Grammar Translation was the traditional and popular method in Vietnam, the application of CLT in Vietnam context automatically faces many challenges. The four factors that are the teachers, the learners, the syllabus and the context are now considered so that we can point out the challenges we are facing now.

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The CA has brought about some challenges to the teachers of English in Vietnam. In CLT, the teachers no longer play the centered role. To some extent, they act as a facilitator and the monitor in the class. Teachers in communicative classroom will find themselves talking less and listen more becoming active facilitators of their students learning( Michael Swan, 1983). Traditionally, the teachers of English in Vietnam get familiar to the Grammar- Translation method from which they receive much training in their study at the university. This is the reason why it is not easy for them to change their methods when they are asked to use the Communicative Approach in their classrooms. This case can be easily seen at the teachers who are teaching at the foreign language centers where they are best supported with good conditions to use CA. These good conditions can be listed as the good teaching equipment, the media, the ideal class size with small number of students, and the disposition of chairs and the tables in the classrooms which assist the students easily make their communication and interaction during the lesson. However, because of being greatly influenced by the traditional method, these teachers of English sometimes incapable of teaching English communicating in their real classroom, and they spend much time explaining abstract grammar rules and guiding their students in choral readings (Hall & Hewings,2001). Thus , in the way that these teachers are acting, it seems that they fail to apply the CA as one of the features of CLT is the emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language (Nunan, 1992). Not only the teacher but also the students are greatly influenced by the Grammar- Translation method that is used in the high school, so it is not easy to change their ways in thinking and studying. They usually feel rude if they interrupt, question, or argue with their teacher and language activities like role play, problem solving tasks, or information gap activities are strange to their cultures of learning (Canh,1999). Also when they study at the foreign centers where the communicative skill is usually the emphasis of the lesson, they rarely take the advantages to the opportunities to take part in the activities created by the teachers in the classroom in order to practice their listening and speaking skill. Moreover, after they finish their classes, they return home and live their real life without any use of English. As a result, they hardly improve their listening and speaking skill in spite of their taking part of the communicative classes at the foreign language center. The uses of the syllabus in the English teaching and learning process in order to develop the Communicative competence of the students also shows many challenges. Currently, in many

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foreign language centers, there are many kinds of English syllabuses that are used to teach the learners with the hope that they can help improving the listening and speaking skill in their learning English. However, it seems that to reach this goal is not easy. As these syllabuses are usually written by foreigners, the differences in culture and society sometimes make the students find it difficult to understand and apply the language they study from the book in real situations. Besides, the use of authentic, from-life materials- one of the most important features of the CA is somewhat very rare as the teachers do not find the sources of these kinds of materials to bring into the classroom. All these things that are mentioned above are just in small scale in the context of teaching and learning English in the center of foreign language where the students and teachers are provided best conditions to apply the CA. Moreover, the students who register to study in the communicative class more or less have a desire or a need to communicate in English and it help the application of CA in the classroom practicable. If we take a more look at the larger scale, we will see that the application of the CA in Vietnam is unrealistic and impracticable in Vietnamese settings (Canh, 1999), especially in the high schools and universities. We can see that in some way the students and the teachers in these schools and university have to face more challenges in their teaching and learning. To the teachers, these challenges are the large size class, the management of the time for every lesson and the most important thing is the lack of teaching materials as well as the teaching aid equipments. On the other hand, the pressures faced by the students are the results of the examination. While the learners at the center of foreign languages may learn English with various purposes, they do not have to worry about whether or not they pass the exams. That the worry to fail the exams is the barrier to prevent the students in high schools and universities from focusing more on the communicative competence because they give their priority to their tests which examine just the reading skill and grammar points. In general, there seems to be many things that should be done in order to make the application of the CA in the Vietnam context successfully. In my personal opinion, a co-operation among the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), the teachers, the learners (the students) is needed. First of all, more policies from the MOET to reform the syllabuses, the examination forms are needed. If the syllabuses are improved in the way that emphasize more on the communicative competence, the students will have more chances to develop this competence which plays the very important role in the modern society. Similarly, whenever the burdens of examination are

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taken away, the students may no longer completely focus on just the grammatical competence, and it is hopefully that they will find it more interested in studying English, especially to improve their listening and speaking skill of English. However, the teachers seemingly play the key role in this cooperation as they are the connections of other factors. The teachers are also those who decide in what ways they use the course books to transmit the knowledge to the students, and they are also the ones who help to attract to make the students more interested in their lessons. Last but not least, the students themselves should be taught to be aware of the importance of the Communicative Competence in their future career so that they can own suitable ways to train themselves in order to own this competence. All these things mentioned above is not easy for us to carry out, however if every of us in the society is aware of our role and our responsibility , everything can be improved step by step, sooner or later, I believe that we can reach our goal.