Tài liệu A case study of vietnamese teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding task- based language teaching

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http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/ Research Commons at the University of Waikato Copyright Statement: The digital copy of this thesis is protected by the Copyright Act 1994 (New Zealand). The thesis may be consulted by you, provided you comply with the provisions of the Act and the following conditions of use:    Any use you make of these documents or images must be for research or private study purposes only, and you may not make them available to any other person. Authors control the copyright of their thesis. You will recognise the author’s right to be identified as the author of the thesis, and due acknowledgement will be made to the author where appropriate. You will obtain the author’s permission before publishing any material from the thesis. ORIENTING TO PEDAGOGICAL INNOVATION A CASE STUDY OF VIETNAMESE TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND PRACTICES REGARDING TASKBASED LANGUAGE TEACHING A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Waikato by NGUYEN GIA VIET _________ 2013 i STATEMENT OF INTELLECTUAL OWNERSHIP This thesis contains no material which has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma in any university. To the best of my knowledge and belief this thesis contains no material previously published by any other persons except where due acknowledgement has been made. Signature: Date: 3 April 2013 ii ABSTRACT Although research into language teacher cognition has become a well-established domain of inquiry for applied linguists over the past few decades, few in-depth studies have explored language teachers’ beliefs regarding task-based language teaching (TBLT). Furthermore, in the context of Vietnam, where TBLT is claimed to be adopted in the current national English curriculum and textbooks, no studies have been carried out to investigate the extent of orientation of the teachers toward TBLT. This qualitative case study aims to occupy such a research space. Following an extensive review of the literature relating to TBLT principles, task characteristics and teachers’ beliefs, an analysis of the mandated textbook was carried out to consider the extent to which it followed the principles and characteristics recommended by TBLT proponents. The study employed a multi-method approach to data collection. Specifically, it has investigated the beliefs and practices of a group of eleven English language teachers in two provincial Vietnamese upper secondary schools. Ten collaborative lesson planning sessions, twenty-two observations of skills lessons, twenty-two stimulated recall sessions of the observed lessons, and two focus group sessions were carried out to collect the data. The data, together with insights of the context, were subject to a procedure of grounded analysis, through which the data from various sources were compared and contrasted to identify significant themes. The data showed that the teachers’ patterns of practices were not related to current TBLT principles and favourable task characteristics. For example, the teachers tended to employ activities that were forms-focused, and conducted classroom activities in a non-communicative fashion. Their beliefs were found to incline to a structure-based approach, where language items were pre-taught before activities could be performed. A wide range of hindering factors were identified as constraining the implementation of TBLT in the context, such as the teachers’ current state of knowledge and beliefs about language teaching, their perceptions of the significant others, and the role of examinations. In light of a sociocultural iii perspective, the teachers’ beliefs in the present study were situated, shaped by their experiences as language learners and language teachers, and their interactions with the contexts in which they worked. Their beliefs were also found to be resistant to change. Teachers’ beliefs and practices in this study were also viewed through the lens of the Theory of Planned Behaviour through which core beliefs were identified to have close relationships to teachers’ behaviours in the classroom. The findings of the present investigation, being a case study, cannot be generalised beyond the context in which the data were collected. Nevertheless, they make an original contribution to academic understanding of teachers’ beliefs and their practices in the context of Vietnam, and in relatable contexts. Drawing on the findings, implications for theory, research, teacher professional development and language teaching policies are offered. iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it" (William Arthur Ward) And yet it is extremely difficult to do so regarding how much support I have received so far during the course of my PhD studies. In fact, my list of acknowledgments could be so long that it cannot be expressed in a number of pages. I would have never had the chance to undertake my PhD studies, and could not have been able to complete this thesis, without the support of many people and organisations. Firstly, thanks are due to MOET Vietnam for their financial support for my four years of study, and specifically to Ms Nguyen Ngoc Lien and Nguyen Thanh Mai for their kind assistance relating to my fees and allowances. More than thanks are due to my chief supervisor, Associate Professor Roger Barnard, for accepting me as his student from the beginning and helping shape my thinking during the process of the study. Appreciation to Roger is not just for his excellent supervision, but also for his, and his wife Yukari’s, kindness in helping me many ways while we are in New Zealand. Thanks are due to Dr James McLellan, my co-supervisor, who has been very patient and conscientious throughout my studies. Although James left the university before my thesis completion, I am extremely grateful for his willingness to continue supervision on my thesis. Gratitude goes to Dr Rosemary de Luca, my other co-supervisor, for getting on board during the difficult time of my studies. Her useful and encouraging feedback on my chapters is highly appreciated. v I owe thanks to the eleven participants, who cannot be named due to the ethical regulations, but what they have done for me is more than help. This thesis, in fact, is part of their work. I also want to express thanks to the staff members and colleagues at the Department of General and Applied Linguistics, University of Waikato, for helping me in many ways. Thanks are due to Dianne Kenning for helping me sort out those administrative issues. Thanks are particularly to Judy Ng for assisting me in validating the data and sharing her opinion on academic work. I also owe thanks to Loi Nguyen for his sharing at the beginning of my PhD studies. Thanks are also to Ai Pham and Thang Truong for reading my chapters and providing me with constructive feedback. Thanks also go to Jenny McGhee, my subject librarian, for her kind and enthusiastic support regarding the formatting of my thesis. My heart-felt appreciation goes to my wife, Dinh Thi Nguyet, and my beloved children, Nguyen Gia Minh and Nguyen Thi Nguyet Tam, for their sacrifices for this thesis to come into being. More than thanks are for their unconditional understanding and support during the hardest times of my writing. Finally, thanks go to all those who have cared for me, including my colleagues at Ha Tinh University, my home friends, and my friends here at the University of Waikato, as well as many other persons who have helped me in various ways during the course of my studies. “I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks” (William Shakespeare) vi TABLE OF CONTENTS STATEMENT OF INTELLECTUAL OWNERSHIP .............................................................. ii ABSTRACT .............................................................................................................................. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ....................................................................................................... v TABLE OF CONTENTS ......................................................................................................... vii LIST OF FIGURES .................................................................................................................. xi LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................................... xii LIST OF APPENDICES ......................................................................................................... xiii 1 2 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................ 1 1.1 Motivation of the study ................................................................................................ 1 1.2 Research aims .............................................................................................................. 3 1.3 Significance of the study .............................................................................................. 4 1.4 Outline of the thesis ...................................................................................................... 6 1.5 Summary ...................................................................................................................... 7 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY ........................................................................................... 8 2.1 Brief account of the socio-cultural and educational context ........................................ 8 2.2 English language learning and teaching in Vietnam ................................................. 13 2.2.1 Before the Economic Reform (‘Đổi mới’)............................................................... 13 2.2.2 After the Economic Reform (1986) ......................................................................... 15 2.3 2.3.1 Previous curriculum ................................................................................................ 18 2.3.2 New curriculum and accompanying textbooks........................................................ 20 2.4 3 Curriculum renovation in Vietnam ........................................................................... 18 2.3.2.1 New curriculum ............................................................................................. 20 2.3.2.2 Production of the English language textbooks ............................................... 22 Teacher education and teacher development ............................................................ 26 2.4.1 Pre-service language teacher education ................................................................... 26 2.4.2 In-service language teacher professional development ........................................... 27 2.5 Context of the study ................................................................................................... 30 2.6 Summary .................................................................................................................... 34 LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................... 36 vii 3.1 Task-based language teaching ................................................................................... 36 3.1.1 3.1.1.1 Communicative language teaching ................................................................ 37 3.1.1.2 Sociocultural Theory...................................................................................... 41 3.1.1.3 Input, output and interaction .......................................................................... 43 3.1.2 3.2 Theoretical basis for task-based language teaching ................................................. 37 What constitutes a task? .......................................................................................... 45 3.1.2.1 Definitions of tasks ........................................................................................ 45 3.1.2.2 Principles of task-based language teaching.................................................... 48 3.1.2.3 Tasks, activities, and exercises ...................................................................... 53 3.1.2.4 Dimensions of task characteristics ................................................................. 57 Teachers’ beliefs ......................................................................................................... 61 3.2.1 Defining teachers’ beliefs ........................................................................................ 61 3.2.2 Teachers’ beliefs in relation to other mental constructs .......................................... 63 3.2.3 Nature of teachers’ beliefs from a sociocultural perspective ................................... 67 3.2.4 Understanding classroom decisions: Theory of Planned Behaviour ....................... 70 3.2.5 Studies of teachers’ beliefs and practices ................................................................ 73 3.2.6 Relationship between beliefs and practices ............................................................. 81 3.3 Studies on teachers’ beliefs regarding communicative language teaching and task- based language teaching ...................................................................................................... 83 3.3.1 Studies on teachers’ beliefs about communicative language teaching .................... 84 3.3.2 Research studies on teachers’ beliefs about task-based language teaching ............. 87 3.4 4 Summary .................................................................................................................... 99 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ................................................................................. 102 4.1 Research paradigms ................................................................................................. 102 4.2 Qualitative research ................................................................................................. 105 4.3 Case studies .............................................................................................................. 108 4.4 Present study ............................................................................................................ 110 4.4.1 Workshop on TBLT .............................................................................................. 110 4.4.2 Preliminary studies ................................................................................................ 113 4.4.3 Sample size, selection, and gaining access ............................................................ 114 4.4.3.1 Samples ........................................................................................................ 114 4.4.3.2 Gaining access ............................................................................................. 115 4.4.3.3 Approaching participants ............................................................................. 116 4.4.4 Participants ............................................................................................................ 117 4.4.5 Ethical issues ......................................................................................................... 119 4.4.6 Methods of data collection .................................................................................... 120 4.4.6.1 Lesson planning sessions ............................................................................. 121 viii 4.4.6.2 Observation .................................................................................................. 123 4.4.6.3 Stimulated recall interviews ......................................................................... 125 4.4.6.4 Focus groups ................................................................................................ 126 4.4.7 Managing and transcribing the data ...................................................................... 128 4.4.8 Data analysis ......................................................................................................... 129 4.4.8.1 Analysing individual cases .......................................................................... 129 4.4.8.2 Analysing cross-case data ............................................................................ 131 4.4.9 4.5 5 6 Validity and reliability........................................................................................... 132 Summary .................................................................................................................. 138 ANALYSIS OF A TEXTBOOK UNIT ........................................................................ 139 5.1 Overview of the textbooks ........................................................................................ 139 5.2 Analysis of one textbook unit ................................................................................... 141 5.3 Additional issues ...................................................................................................... 151 5.4 Summary .................................................................................................................. 152 FINDINGS: VIETNAMESE TEACHERS’ BELIEFS AND PRACTICES REGARDING TASK-BASED LANGUAGE TEACHING .................................................. 154 6.1 Planning for skills lessons ........................................................................................ 156 6.1.1 Retention and omission of textbook activities ....................................................... 157 6.1.2 Adapting activities ................................................................................................. 167 6.1.3 Adding and replacing activities ............................................................................. 173 6.2 Classroom practices ................................................................................................. 183 6.2.1 General conformity of lesson planning data .......................................................... 184 6.2.2 Explicit supplementation of language structures ................................................... 185 6.2.3 Context-free vocabulary teaching .......................................................................... 193 6.2.4 Extent of genuine communication ......................................................................... 198 6.2.5 Corrective feedback ............................................................................................... 205 6.3 Teachers’ beliefs about aspects of language teaching and learning ........................ 210 6.3.1 Structure-based approach to teaching .................................................................... 210 6.3.2 Memorisation approach to teaching vocabulary .................................................... 217 6.3.3 Importance of accuracy ......................................................................................... 222 6.4 Textbook reflection .................................................................................................. 228 6.4.1 Constraints ............................................................................................................. 228 6.4.2 Understanding of tasks .......................................................................................... 237 6.4.3 Attitudes to the textbooks ...................................................................................... 241 6.4.4 Perception of changes ............................................................................................ 245 6.5 Summary of findings ................................................................................................ 248 ix 7 DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS ............................................................................. 254 7.1 7.1.1 Use of textbook activities in planning ................................................................... 254 7.1.2 Teachers’ classroom use of activities .................................................................... 258 7.1.3 Corrective feedback ............................................................................................... 261 7.2 Teachers’ beliefs and TBLT..................................................................................... 264 7.2.1 Beliefs about language and language learning ...................................................... 264 7.2.2 Beliefs about language teaching ............................................................................ 267 7.2.3 Beliefs about the role of memorisation and accuracy ............................................ 270 7.2.4 Knowledge of current pedagogical methodologies ............................................... 272 7.3 Factors that facilitate, or hinder, TBLT implementation ........................................ 274 7.3.1 Facilitative factors ................................................................................................. 274 7.3.2 Hindering factors ................................................................................................... 275 7.4 7.3.2.1 Teachers’ core beliefs .................................................................................. 275 7.3.2.2 Subjective norms.......................................................................................... 277 7.3.2.3 Lack of theoretical understanding ................................................................ 278 7.3.2.4 Public examinations ..................................................................................... 279 7.3.2.5 Perception of students’ proficiency and motivation ..................................... 280 7.3.2.6 Discipline, physical setting, and textbook content ....................................... 281 Nature of teachers’ beliefs, and their relationship with practices ........................... 283 7.4.1 Resistance to change ............................................................................................. 284 7.4.2 Situated nature of teachers’ beliefs ........................................................................ 286 7.4.3 Theoretical relationship between beliefs and practices ......................................... 288 7.5 8 Relevance of teachers’ practices to TBLT ............................................................... 254 Summary .................................................................................................................. 293 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................. 296 8.1 Summary of key points ............................................................................................ 296 8.2 Limitations of the present study .............................................................................. 299 8.3 Implications .............................................................................................................. 301 8.3.1 Implications for theory .......................................................................................... 301 8.3.2 Implications for research ....................................................................................... 304 8.3.3 Implications for teacher education, teacher development, and language policy makers ............................................................................................................................... 305 8.4 Suggestions for further research .............................................................................. 309 REFERENCES ...................................................................................................................... 311 APPENDICES ....................................................................................................................... 329 x LIST OF FIGURES Figure 3.1: Examples of task definitions............................................................... 48 Figure 3.2: The continuum from focus on forms to focus on meaning................. 55 Figure 3.3: Mental constructs of teacher cognition ............................................... 66 Figure 3.4: Sociocultural theoretical domains of genetic analysis ........................ 69 Figure 3.5: Theory of Planned Behaviour ............................................................. 71 Figure 4.1: Initial tree nodes ............................................................................... 131 Figure 5.1:The reading lesson ............................................................................. 143 Figure 5.2: The speaking lesson .......................................................................... 146 Figure 5.3: The listening lesson .......................................................................... 148 Figure 5.4: The writing lesson ............................................................................ 150 Figure 6.1: Teachers’ beliefs about how language should be taught .................. 227 Figure 7.1: Vietnamese teachers’ practices according to Littlewood’s (2004) framework ........................................................................................................... 260 Figure 7.2: Theory of Planned Behaviour (Modified) ........................................ 293 Figure 8.1: Theory of Planned Behaviour (Revisited) ........................................ 307 xi LIST OF TABLES Table 2.1: University entrance examination categories ........................................ 11 Table 2.2: The recycling of themes in the English curriculum ............................. 21 Table 2.3: General objectives of skills for Years 10, 11, and 12 .......................... 23 Table 3.1: Exercise, activity, and task.................................................................. 55 Table 3.2: Dimensions of task characteristics ....................................................... 57 Table 3.3: Foci, contexts and methods used in studies on teachers’ beliefs regarding TBLT .................................................................................................... 88 Table 4.1: Contrasting Positivist and Naturalist Axioms .................................... 104 Table 4.2: Participant teachers' profiles .............................................................. 118 Table 4.3: The lesson planning sessions ............................................................. 122 Table 4.4: The initial coding process .................................................................. 130 Table 4.5: Comparative terms in quantitative and qualitative research .............. 133 Table 5.1: Task characteristics of the reading lesson .......................................... 143 Table 5.2: Task characteristics of the speaking lesson ....................................... 147 Table 5.3: Task characteristics of the listening lesson ........................................ 148 Table 5.4: Task characteristics of the writing lesson .......................................... 150 Table 6.1: Overview of teachers’ planning sessions ........................................... 157 Table 6.2: The activities retained in planning for reading lessons ...................... 158 Table 6.3: Activities retained in planning for listening lessons .......................... 161 Table 6.4: Speaking activities retained by the teachers in planning ................... 162 Table 6.5: Writing activities retained by the teachers in planning ...................... 164 Table 6.6: Types of adapted activities in the teachers’ planning ........................ 167 Table 6.7: Adding activities to the lessons.......................................................... 173 Table 6.8: Replacing activities in lesson planning .............................................. 178 Table 6.9: Activity retention, adaptation, replacement, and omission in classroom practices............................................................................................................... 184 Table 6.10: Number of added activities to classroom lessons ............................ 184 Table 6.11: Summary of findings from lesson planning data ............................. 249 Table 6.12: Summary of findings from observation and stimulated recall data . 250 xii LIST OF APPENDICES Appendix A: Letter of Research Information ..................................................... 330 Appendix B: Teacher Informed Consent ............................................................ 331 Appendix C: Lesson Planning Guidelines .......................................................... 332 Appendix D: Stimulated Recall Guidelines ........................................................ 333 Appendix E: Focus Group Guidelines ................................................................ 334 Appendix F: Snapshot of initial open coding process in Nvivo .......................... 335 Appendix G: Snapshot of the interactive data analysis in Nvivo ........................ 336 Appendix H: Data Sample: Lesson Planning ...................................................... 337 Appendix I: Data Sample: Observation .............................................................. 342 Appendix J: Data Sample: Stimulated Recall ..................................................... 349 Appendix K: Data Sample: Focus Groups .......................................................... 354 Appendix L: Sample of University Entrance Examination papers ..................... 364 Appendix M: Sample of textbook units .............................................................. 371 xiii CHAPTER ONE 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Motivation of the study … teachers in a wide range of settings are being told by curriculum leaders that this is how they should teach, and publishers almost everywhere are describing their new textbooks as task-based. Clearly, whatever task-based approach means, it is ‘a good thing’ (Littlewood, 2004, p. 319) Opening a recently published English language textbook, one will probably find much of it consisting of ‘tasks’. Indeed, there has been growing interest in using tasks for language teaching and learning in the classroom and researching tasks to identify their roles in language acquisition in the last few decades. However, tasks have been understood and implemented in different ways in different parts of the world. In other words, there is no practical consensus of how tasks are interpreted and carried out in the classroom by teachers. For example, a teacher in an Asian country may understand and use the same task in the same textbook in a completely different way from a teacher in a European country. This can be explained in terms of cultural and contextual factors (Burrows, 2008; Littlewood, 2007). However, teachers’ beliefs are likely to have a more prominent role in what they actually do in the classroom (Borg, 2006). Therefore, there is a need to investigate what language teachers think of language tasks in their specific contexts. In other words, how are tasks and task-based language teaching interpreted and implemented in a context-bound setting? Language teachers’ beliefs and their relationships to classroom practices have gained much interest in the past two decades, much of it stimulated by Borg (1998, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2012). Research into teachers’ beliefs has been recognised as important because teachers are regarded as active decision makers 1 whose thinking plays a central role in shaping classroom events (Borg, 2006; Farrell, 2007). Such research helps inform teacher educators and trainers of teachers’ personal constructs that may be useful for designing and conducting teacher education programmes. Understanding language teachers’ beliefs also has considerable implications for language policy makers regarding, for example, the implementation of innovations. In the specific context of Vietnam, this research can helpfully inform curriculum designers when they consider teachers’ capacity for implementing a specific curriculum (Nation & Macalister, 2010). Teachers’ beliefs have been investigated in many contexts in education generally and in language teaching and learning in particular (Barnard & Burns, 2012; Borg, 2003, 2006). However, there have only been a few investigations into teachers’ beliefs regarding task-based language teaching (TBLT) in Asian contexts, where it is claimed that TBLT is facing problems (Adams & Newton, 2009; Littlewood, 2007). In Vietnam, it is claimed that the recently adopted English language curriculum for lower and upper secondary schools is task-based, and the textbooks being used consist of (ostensibly) communicative tasks (MOET, 2006a, 2006c, 2006d). Consequently, the new curriculum requires teachers and learners to accommodate themselves to TBLT in their teaching and learning, and expects teachers to create conditions for task performance in classrooms and learners to independently perform tasks to improve their communicative competence. The motivation for this research study stems from my own experience as a language teacher and teacher trainer. Practising the role of a teacher trainer in both pre-service and in-service programmes has given me the opportunity to observe a variety of teacher behaviours, mostly in lower and upper secondary school contexts. Working as pre-service language teacher trainer, I have observed, for example, that my student teachers sometimes offered ideas which were completely different from input they received in teaching methodology courses (some of my colleagues often commented on these as the students’ misunderstanding of the knowledge). Similarly, when I had the opportunity to observe practising teachers, I noticed that the way a particular teacher taught lessons was manifestly different from workshop input and discussion. There were, 2 I believed, underlying mental constructs that guided such teachers to teach the way they did, which I later referred to as teachers’ beliefs. The motivation became clearer when I had the chance to be involved in a textbook training programme in 2008, which aimed to train teachers to use the new textbook for the final year students (MOET, 2008). Before that, teachers had used English textbooks written for the 10th and 11th grades. One thing that surprised me was that, when asked if they knew what task-based language teaching was, none of the teachers had any ideas. Given that they had used task-based materials before, does this mean that they had done something that they did not know about? Or does this mean that they had not used the materials (i.e., the textbooks) in the way the authors intended? What was actually happening in their classrooms? Referring back to my interest in teachers’ beliefs, I started to wonder what teachers held in their mind about this particular approach and how they made use of the textbooks in their actual classrooms. I was determined, then, to enter into teachers’ minds, concerning the introduction of the approach in the local context. 1.2 Research aims The overall aim of the present study is to explore the extent of orientation in teachers’ beliefs and their practices to the implementation of task-based language teaching among a group of Vietnamese upper-secondary school teachers (N=11). In particular, the study seeks to address the following research questions: 1. What relevance, if any, do the identified characteristics of tasks have for the Vietnamese teachers in their planning for and practices of textbook activities? 2. In what ways do the Vietnamese teachers’ beliefs about language teaching and learning converge with, or diverge from, the principles of TBLT? 3. What factors contribute to the facilitation, or hindrance, of TBLT implementation in the Vietnamese context? 3 4. What can this study contribute to an academic understanding of the nature of the Vietnamese teachers’ beliefs and their relationship with classroom practices? To address these research questions, the study adopts a holistic perspective of research, using a case study approach in collecting and analysing data. 1.3 Significance of the study This research will add to the literature an understanding of language teacher cognition in a context about which little is known, Vietnam. Specifically, it will provide an empirical account of teachers’ beliefs and their practices in a context that has been under-investigated (Creswell, 2008), from a different perspective. First, little research done in Vietnam has to do with teachers’ beliefs, especially dealing with such an important topic as methodological innovation – the implementation of TBLT in the nation-wide school system – while traditional and Confucian educational values are still predominant in this society (Sullivan, 2000). Secondly, most language teacher belief research studies so far have been carried out by non-Vietnamese researchers, who come from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds (e.g., Ellis, 1996; Kramsch & Sullivan, 1996; Lewis & McCook, 2002; Sullivan, 2000) and thus may have insufficient social and cultural knowledge about this particular context. This research study has been carried out by a Vietnamese researcher, who has worked in the context for 12 years. Thus it may be assumed to be more culturally and contextually cognizant. This understanding of the context helps gain better insights into teacher thinking. Furthermore, this study contributes to the academic understanding of the relationship between teachers’ beliefs and practices in light of two theories: Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky, 1978, 1987) and the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991a, 1991b, 2005, 2011). While Sociocultural Theory has been applied, explicitly or implicitly, in various ways to investigate teachers’ beliefs (e.g., Johnson, 2006), no studies, it seems, in the area of language teachers’ beliefs have used the Theory of Planned Behaviour for insightful understanding of teachers’ beliefs and their relationship with classroom practices. By using the two 4 separate, but complementary, theories, it is hoped that teachers’ beliefs and practices in the present study will be illuminated. This research will have implications for teacher education and training, in the sense that it will suggest improvements for practice (Creswell, 2008) in both preservice and in-service programmes. Given that a coherent vision of good teaching and close links to local schools are extremely important for successful teacher education programmes (Creswell, 2008; Zeichner, 1999), this investigation into teacher’s beliefs in the particular setting may contribute to such programmes by providing insights into teacher thinking in relation to classroom practices, as well as having implications for consideration in designing professional development programmes, evaluating and improving teaching and learning materials (Nation & Macalister, 2010). This research may also help inform educational policy makers, and in particular language policy makers, in providing them with information about teachers’ beliefs and practices. This is important regarding innovations, such as the situation in Vietnam, in that by understanding teachers’ beliefs, it is possible to provide teachers with necessary support in order for any innovation to be effectively carried out. This study also has practical implications for not only the participant teachers themselves but also other interested parties in relatable contexts. Teachers’ beliefs are known to be tacit and implicit (Borg, 2006), thus very few teachers are able to articulate what they actually know, believe and do. The results of this study will help to raise awareness of interested teachers about their own cognition, thus help them to reflect on their teaching process and realise their cognitive processes in order to develop themselves in their teaching career. Finally, the study is significant in terms of my personal interest in developing a theoretical understanding of teachers’ beliefs in relation to their practices. Not only does it help me to understand particular teachers’ beliefs, it also provides an avenue of inquiry for me to undertake further research in exploring teachers’ beliefs and practices about various topics in the near future. 5 1.4 Outline of the thesis This thesis comprises eight chapters. Following the present chapter, Chapter Two provides an account of the context in which this study is situated. The chapter describes the educational context and the status of English in Vietnam, followed by the process of English language curricular changes and a description of the teacher education and teacher development in Vietnam. The last section of the chapter describes the specific context in which the present study is situated, providing information about the educational system where the two schools are located, followed by information about the two schools. Chapter Three reviews the literature about the two topics relevant for this study: task-based language teaching and teachers’ beliefs. Section 3.1 reviews relevant literature regarding TBLT. Section 3.2 looks closely at teachers’ beliefs and their corresponding practices. Section 3.3 reviews studies that specifically addressed teachers’ beliefs regarding communicative language teaching and task-based language teaching in the literature to date. This section ends with a statement that identifies the gap in which this study aims to situate itself, resulting in the four central research questions. Chapter Four presents description of the research procedures the present study adopted to answer the research questions. As such, the chapter provides justification of the approach adopted in the present study, followed by a detailed description of the research procedures and a consideration of how warrants were maintained in this particular qualitative research. Chapter Five provides an overview of the textbooks, followed by an analysis of one of the textbook units, which helps to view the textbook in the light of task characteristics, one important aspect of inquiry this research aims to address. Chapter Six presents the findings of the present study. The themes and categories are presented according to the data sources: lesson planning, observed lessons, stimulated recall, and focus groups. 6
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