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Ứng dụng khung tham chiếu châu âu về ngôn ngữ ở bậc đại học ở việt nam nhận thức và phản hồi của giáo viên dạy tiếng anh cơ bản

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HUE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES

LÊ THỊ THANH HẢI

IMPLEMENTING THE COMMON EUROPEAN
FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR LANGUAGES
AT TERTIARY LEVEL IN VIETNAM:
GENERAL ENGLISH TEACHERS' PERCEPTIONS AND RESPONSES

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY THESIS IN THEORY AND
METHODOLOGY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING

HUE, 2019


MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HUE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES


LÊ THỊ THANH HẢI

IMPLEMENTING THE COMMON EUROPEAN
FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR LANGUAGES
AT TERTIARY LEVEL IN VIETNAM:
GENERAL ENGLISH TEACHERS' PERCEPTIONS AND RESPONSES

CODE: 9 14 01 11

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY THESIS IN THEORY AND
METHODOLOGY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING

Supervisor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Thi Hong Nhung

HUE, 2019


BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
ĐẠI HỌC HUẾ
TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC NGOẠI NGỮ

LÊ THỊ THANH HẢI

ỨNG DỤNG KHUNG THAM CHIẾU CHÂU ÂU VỀ NGÔN NGỮ
Ở BẬC ĐẠI HỌC Ở VIỆT NAM: NHẬN THỨC VÀ PHẢN HỒI
CỦA GIÁO VIÊN DẠY TIẾNG ANH CƠ BẢN

MÃ SỐ: 9 14 01 11

LUẬN ÁN TIẾN SĨ
LÝ LUẬN VÀ PHƯƠNG PHÁP DẠY HỌC BỘ MÔN TIẾNG ANH

NGƯỜI HƯỚNG DẪN KHOA HỌC
PGS.TS. PHẠM THỊ HỒNG NHUNG

HUE, NĂM 2019


DECLARATION
I certify that the present dissertation submitted today entitled:
“Implementing the Common European Framework of Reference for
Languages at teriary level in Vietnam: General English teachers’ perceptions
and responses”
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in theory and methodology in English
language teaching, is the result of my own research, and that, to the best of my
knowledge and belief, contains no material which has been accepted for the award
of any other degree in any institute, college, or university, and previously published
or written by another person, except where due reference is made in the text of the
dissertation.

Signature:

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The road to achievement within this Doctoral Program is paved with the
assistance and efforts of the many who worked diligently to assist me, believed in
me and guided me to pursue a personal goal. I acknowledge those who without
hesitation contributed their professional and academic knowledge to this study.
Without these individuals, this would never have been possible.
I would like to acknowledge the forbearance of my supervisor Associate
Professor Doctor Pham Thi Hong Nhung, who provided instruction and feedback to
various steps of the study and to various versions of this dissertation with the
support and words of wisdom. I was exceptionally fortunate to have her as a
mentor for this work. Her encouragement allowed me to continue to grow as a
person and a researcher. She helped me keep things prioritized and in focus.
Without her, this work would not have taken its final shape.
I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to teachers, lecturers and
professors of University of Foreign Languages, Hue University for patiently and
wholeheartedly guiding me through the process required to complete my program of
study. Their support, encouragement, and willingness to serve as academic
committee members were of huge benefit to me. Their knowledge and wisdom
inspired me to broaden my scope of investigation.
I also thank my dear and best friend whom without her support, I would
possibly have not accomplished this personal goal. A special mention also goes to
my colleagues whose understanding, sympathy, and support were invaluable
spiritual strength for me during the process of completing this work. I owe a great
debt to many English teachers at the home university who voluntarily and patiently
answered the questionnaire and took part in the in- depth interviews during the data
collection process of this study.
This journey was made possible through the love and support of my mother,
my husband and children. I would like to express my deep gratitude to my family.
To my husband, for his unconditional love, support, and encouragement. He
encouraged me unfailingly, provided ongoing support and kind words, motivated

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me, and had confidence in me. To my mother whose life demonstrated that honor is
found in hard work and sacrifice. I thank her for loving me unconditionally and for
providing me with encouragement in my educational pursuits. My thanks go to my
children, who are a source of strength to me. Along the way, they constantly made
sacrifices to facilitate me in my endeavors. They were persistent in reminding me of
my desire to complete the journey and motivated me every step of the way. I will be
forever grateful and inspired by their love.

iii


ABSTRACT
The present study investigates teachers’ perceptions of the values of the CEFR, the
perceived readiness and necessity of its application, and the work involved in its
application process. Also, it explores teachers’ responses to the use of the CEFR to
renew the general English curriculum, reflected in how they changed their teaching
activities, adapted the assigned textbooks and modified their assessment practice. The
study was a case study applying the mixed method sequential explanatory model
(Creswell & Clark, 2007). Data were collected from thirty-six GE teachers at a university
in Vietnam by means of a forty-nine-item questionnaire. Eight semi-structured in-depth
interviews were conducted.
The findings revealed that GE teachers were knowledgeable about the CEFR and its
implementation at the research site. Specifically, they highly perceived the values of the
CEFR, its readiness and necessity for application. Their perceptions, however, were not
totally and successfully reflected in their responses. Although GE teachers made great
effort in modifying the CEFR-aligned curriculum, they were dissatisfied with the work
involved in its implementation process. Encountered challenges included time
constraints, incompatible teaching materials, and mismatch between students’ admission
level of proficiency and learning outcome. To deal with the challenges, GE teachers
made adaptations and modifications in the teaching activities, teaching materials and
classroom assessment practice, albeit the activities were merely used as coping strategies.
In particular, teaching activities were changed. There was a lack of adherence to the
assigned textbooks. The CEFR-aligned tests were favored and students’ self and peer
assessments were focused. GE teachers were found to teach “test-taking strategies” and
instant techniques to aid students achieving the required learning outcome. Due to the
limited timeframe, an emphasis on blended learning and learner autonomy was
recognized and started to take hold. From the findings, methodological and pedagogical
implications are made for improvements of the adoption of the CEFR on the
implementation level.

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
CoE

: Council of Europe

CEFR

: The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

CRLs

: Common Reference Levels

FSL

: French as a Second Language

GE

: General English

L1

: First language/ the mother tongue

L2

: Second language

M

: Mean (value)

MOET

: Ministry of Education and Training

NFL

: Vietnam’s National Foreign Languages

QUAN

: Quantitative

QUAL

: Qualitative

SPSS

: Statistical Package for the Social Sciences

S.D

: Standard deviation

v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION .............................................................................................................1
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ........................................................................................... ii
ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................iv
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS .........................................................................................v
TABLE OF CONTENTS ...............................................................................................vi
LIST OF TABLES .........................................................................................................ix
LIST OF FIGURES .........................................................................................................x
CHAPTER 1.INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................1
1.1. Background context of the study .........................................................................1
1.2. Rationale of the study...........................................................................................3
1.3. Purpose of the study and research questions ........................................................6
1.4. Research design overview ....................................................................................7
1.5. Scope of the study ................................................................................................ 8
1.6. Significance of the study ......................................................................................9
1.7. Organization of the study ...................................................................................10
CHAPTER 2.LITERATURE REVIEW ........................................................................12
2.1. Definitions of the key terms ...............................................................................12
2.2. The CEFR in language education ......................................................................13
2.2.1. A sketch of the CEFR: Definition, content, purpose, limitations and
suggestions for good use ............................................................................................... 14
2.2.2. The spread of the CEFR in language education .........................................18
2.3. Teachers’ perceptions and responses .................................................................25
2.3.1. Teachers’ perceptions .................................................................................25
2.3.2. Teachers’ responses ....................................................................................26
2.3.3. The relationship between teachers’ perceptions and teachers’ responses ..27
2.4. The CEFR implementation as change management in English language
education ........................................................................................................................29
2.4.1. Educational change management model ....................................................29
2.4.2. Factors influential to successful educational change management ............31
2.4.3. The implementation of the CEFR in the light of educational change
management ...................................................................................................................34
2.5. Previous studies on the use of the CEFR in English language education ..........40
vi


2.5.1. Previous studies in the world ......................................................................40
2.5.2. Previous studies in Vietnam .......................................................................44
2.6. The conceptual framework .................................................................................48
2.7. Chapter summary ............................................................................................... 49
CHAPTER 3.METHODOLOGY ..................................................................................51
3.1. Research approach and research design ............................................................. 51
3.1.1. Research approach ......................................................................................51
3.1.2. Research design ..........................................................................................54
3.2. Research questions and conceptual framework .................................................56
3.3. Research setting and sample ..............................................................................57
3.3.1. Research setting ..........................................................................................57
3.3.2. Participants..................................................................................................58
3.3.3. Researcher’s role.........................................................................................61
3.4. Data collection methods .....................................................................................61
3.4.1. Data collection instruments ........................................................................61
3.4.2. Data collection procedures .........................................................................67
3.5. Data analysis ......................................................................................................70
3.5.1. The pilot phase ............................................................................................ 71
3.5.2. The official round .......................................................................................72
3.6. Validity ...............................................................................................................74
3.7. Reliability ............................................................................................................76
3.8. Ethical considerations ........................................................................................... 77
3.9. Chapter summary .................................................................................................78
CHAPTER 4.FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION ............................................................ 79
4.1. GE teachers’ perceptions of the CEFR and its implementation ........................79
4.1.1. General results ............................................................................................ 79
4.1.2. GE teachers’ understanding of the values of the CEFR ............................. 80
4.1.3. GE teachers’ perceptions of the CEFR readiness for application ..............82
4.1.4. GE teachers’ attitudes towards the necessity of the CEFR implementation
.......................................................................................................................................85
4.1.5. GE teachers’ dissatisfaction of the work involved in the CEFR
implementation process..................................................................................................89
vii


4.1.6. Summary of the first research question’s findings .....................................95
4.2. GE teachers’ responses to the CEFR implementation .......................................96
4.2.1. General results ............................................................................................ 96
4.2.2. GE teachers’ responses to teaching activities modification .......................96
4.2.3. GE teachers’ responses to teaching materials adaptation .........................103
4.2.4. GE teachers’ responses to classroom assessment renewal .......................108
4.2.5. Summary of the second research question’s findings ..............................113
4.3. Chapter summary .............................................................................................115
CHAPTER 5.CONCLUSIONS ...................................................................................117
5.1. Summary of key findings .................................................................................117
5.1.1. Teachers’ perceptions of the CEFR and its implementation process .......117
5.1.2. GE teachers’ responses to the CEFR implementation ..............................122
5.2. Implications ......................................................................................................125
5.2.1. Implications for teachers and classroom teaching ....................................126
5.2.2. Implications for administrators .................................................................128
5.3. Research contributions .....................................................................................130
5.4. Limitations of the study ...................................................................................131
5.5. Recommendations for further research ............................................................132
LISTS OF AUTHOR’S WORK ..................................................................................134
REFERENCES ............................................................................................................134
APPENDICES .............................................................................................................146
APPENDIX A: The pilot questionnaire ......................................................................147
APPENDIX B1: The official English questionnaire ...................................................156
APPENDIX B2: The official Vietnamese questionnaire .................................................160
APPENDIX C: The pilot interview protocol-Vietnamese version .............................165
APPENDIX D: The oficial interview protocol-Vietnamese version ..........................169
APPENDIX E1: Participant information sheet and consent form-English version ....172
APPENDIX E2: Participant information sheet and consent form -Vietnamese version
.....................................................................................................................................175
APPENDIX F: Sample of interview coding and theming ...........................................178

viii


LIST OF TABLES
Table 3.1.

Demographic data of participants (N=36) .............................................60

Table 3.2.

Summary of the pilot questionnaire ......................................................63

Table 3.3.

Summary of the official questionnaire ..................................................65

Table 3.4.

Timeline for data collection procedure and data analysis .....................68

Table 3.5.

The reliability of the pilot questionnaire and clusters ........................... 72

Table 3.6.

The reliability of the official questionnaire and clusters .......................73

Table 4.1.

General results of the four clusters ........................................................79

Table 4.2.

GE teachers’ perceptions of the CEFR values ......................................80

Table 4.3.

GE teachers’ perceptions of the CEFR readiness for implementation ..82

Table 4.4.

GE teachers’ perceptions of the necessity of the CEFR implementation
...............................................................................................................85

Table 4.5.

GE teachers’ perceptions of the work involved in the CEFR
implementation process .........................................................................89

Table 4.6.

General results of teachers’ responses...................................................96

Table 4.7.

GE teachers’ responses to teaching activities modification ..................97

Table 4.8.

GE teachers’ responses to teaching materials adaptation ....................103

Table 4.9.

GE teachers’ responses to classroom assessment renewal ..................108

ix


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 2.1:

The teacher iceberg (Waters, 2009, p.442) .......................................28

Figure 2.2:

A simplified overview of the change process (Fullan, 2001b, p.51) 30

Figure 2.3:

Eight drivers of change knowledge (Fullan et al., 2005, p.57) .........32

Figure 2.4:

Development stages with the CEFR (Richards, 2013, p.28) ............35

Figure 2.5:

The conceptual framework................................................................ 48

Figure 3.1.

Mixed method sequential explanatory model ...................................55

Figure 3.2.

An adapted model for the present study............................................55

x


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
The present study explores General English (GE) teachers’ perceptions of
and their responses to the CEFR implementation for non-English major students at
a university in Central Vietnam. This chapter serves as an introduction to the thesis.
It introduces the background of the study and statement of the problem, presents the
research purpose and research questions. The chapter also provides an overview of
the research design and describes the organization of the thesis.
1.1. Background context of the study
In the era of globalization and integration, English is more and more
indispensable to the development of any country. It has become the first foreign
language to be taught and a compulsory subject for both undergraduates and
graduates at tertiary level in Vietnam (Vietnamese government, 2008). Nonetheless,
English language education has encountered great difficulties in catching up with
the social need. The heavy reliance on the explicit teaching of grammatical rules
and grammar-based testing which have long characterized English teaching in
Vietnam has been proved to be very resistant to change (Hoang, 2010). As a result,
Vietnam was grouped into “low proficiency” countries in terms of English
(Education First, 2013).
To change the situation, various attempts have been made to reform the
foreign (especially English) language teaching system, among which is the NFL
2020 Project and the adoption of the CEFR. Specifically, in 2008, the Vietnamese
Government launched a national project named “Teaching and learning foreign
languages in the national educational system for the 2008-2020 period”, often
referred to as NFL 2020 Project as a national strategy so as to renovate the foreign
language teaching and learning in the national education system during the period
2008-2020 (Vietnamese government, 2008), now extended to 2025 (Vietnamese
government, 2017). The most significant part of NFL 2020 Project is the adoption

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of the CEFR, a global framework, into Vietnamese local context of language
teaching and learning as a “quick-fix” (Steiner-Khamsi, 2004) solution to
restructure the national foreign language education system.
On the basis of the CEFR, a Vietnamese version of the CEFR was
developed, approved and legitimated by Vietnamese authorities (MOET, 2014a;
MOET, 2014b). It is utilized to set standards for teacher professionalism. It is also
used to set standards for learning outcomes at different levels of education, from
primary to high schools and universities. This adoption of the CEFR as standardbased outcomes and professionalism in Vietnam, underpinned by NFL 2020 Project
has been hoped to bring positive, radical changes in the national foreign language
education system as it is clearly stated in Decision 1400 of the government
(Vietnamese government, 2008). In effect, this has led to the renewal and
modification of language curricula, language teaching materials, as well as testing
and assessment in different levels of educations, for different types of learners and
at different schools, universities and institutions nationwide.
The home university, where this research was conducted, is a regional
university in Central Vietnam. Its non-English major students come from the
Central Highlands and the provinces and cities in the centre of the country.
According to their major field of study, students attend different colleges of the
home university. They vary in terms of social backgrounds, major fields of study
chosen, and English proficiency, but most enter university at the age of 18 years.
Teachers also differ in origin, experiences, qualifications and expertise. MOET
mandated that, as a state-run university, the home university must have its nonEnglish major students achieve CEFR B1 level as one condition for being granted a
university graduation degree. Under the impacts of this innovative national foreign
language (mainly English) policy, in 2012, an official document was issued by the
home university stating that their non-English major students must achieve B1 level
as the prerequisite for their university graduation. Since 2011, curricula for students
at tertiary level of the home university were changed. Not only foreign language
(English) major university students become standardized and CEFR-aligned,

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general English curriculum for university students majoring in subjects other than
English was also modified. A 7-credit general English curriculum was compelled
for non-English major students before their B1 CEFR-aligned examination. In
effect, non-English major students have a total of 105 teacher-led hours of English
classes in their first three semesters, divided into 30-30-45 hours respectively, and
are expected to achieve level B1. Two series of textbooks, English Elements by
Hueber and later on Life by Cengage were chosen as the required teaching materials
for the respective students by the Faculty and University. Detailed syllabi for three
semesters, together with the forms and formats of the final examinations were also
made available. GE teachers at the home university, as implementers, have to bond
learners, materials, teaching practice and assessment altogether so that non-English
major students can achieve the required CEFR-aligned learning outcome B1 within
the given timeframe and curriculum. What GE teachers perceive and how they react
to the situation is worth investigating.
1.2. Rationale of the study
Soon after its publication in 2001, the CEFR has gained attention and respect
not only in Europe but also in the rest of the world (Alderson, 2002; Byrnes, 2007;
Hulstijn, 2007; Tono & Negishi, 2012). The enthusiasm for the document has been
recognized to extend far beyond Europe to Latin America, the Middle East,
Australia and parts of Asia (Byram & Parmenter, 2012). Outside the European
contexts, as a “supranational language education policy” (Little, 2007, p.645), the
CEFR has been observed to have major influences in language policy planning
(Bonnet, 2007; Byrnes, 2007; Little, 2007; Nguyen & Hamid, 2015; Pham, 2012;
2017) especially in countries where English is taught as a foreign language. A
number of Asian countries have witnessed the implementation of the CEFR in
national contexts as an attempt to reform the system of language teaching in the
country. Vietnam is not an exception. However, it has been warned that the success
of this ambitious language policy can be threatened by its unfamiliar and top-down
nature (Little, 2006; 2007; Pham, 2017).

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Firstly, since adapted from the CEFR whose original purpose is not for the
diversified contexts of the world but revolves around Europe, this alien framework
may give rise to paradoxes (Le Van Canh, 2015) if it is not well contextualized
(Pham, 2017). With the remarkable differences in terms of social needs, language
learning and teaching conditions, qualifications of language teachers and
proficiency levels of learners as well as their expectations and purposes, the
appropriateness of the CEFR-aligned framework in Vietnam may be questionable.
Nearly 10 years after its first introduction in Vietnam, the adoption of the CEFR
still faces challenges and obstacles from “limited human resources” (Pham, 2017) to
“deficits in teacher professionalism” (Nguyen & Hamid, 2015). The need for more
research on the CEFR adoption in Vietnam, its impacts on teachers, students and
English language teaching and learning process, its successes and limitations has
never been ceased for the benefits of its future practices.
Secondly, regarding the CEFR implementation in Vietnam, the use of the
CEFR has been recognized in different domains from setting teacher
professionalism standards, setting student learning outcomes, renewing language
curriculum, adapting teaching materials to modifying language assessment practice
(Vietnamese government, 2008). However, the Vietnamese CEFR-aligned
framework has been forwarded to lower levels for implementation without
explanation for its adoption (Pham, 2017) nor consultation with the ultimate
language learners and users. There is also a lack of previous research and pilot use
of this framework in Vietnamese context (Pham, 2012). Up to now, there is no
official document or research evidence about the involvement of teachers and
students in the process of making decisions of applying the CEFR in Vietnam.
When teachers’ perceptions or their students’ need and wants are not taken into
account, it is synonymous that teachers’ ownership of innovation was denied and
the possibility of teachers’ feedback was minimal (Hyland & Wong, 2013).
As such the adoption of the CEFR can be considered to follow the “top
down” approach well reflected in the literature on language planning. Accordingly,
practitioners, especially teachers and learners at the lowest level have no say in this

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policy making. Teachers are only envisioned as implementers of the policy and they
do not play a key role in the centralized language planning processes (Poon, 2000;
Waters, 2009). Therefore, the implementation of the CEFR in Vietnam is likely to
create some mismatches between the adopters, those who sanction the innovation
(government officials) and the implementers (teachers) (Chang, 2007). The need for
research on the field of the national CEFR adoption language policy and issues of
its implementation has emerged.
Thirdly,

within

the

current

context,

the

CEFR-aligned

curriculum

implementation for non-English major students at the home university is very much
concerned. As it is suggested that approximately 200 guided learning hours be
necessary for a language learner to progress from one level of the CEFR to the next
and from 350 to 400 hours of instructions for a learner to achieve B1 Level
(Desveaux, 2013), the CEFR-aligned curriculum within the duration of 105 teacherled hours and the required B1 learning outcome for non-English majors set by MOET
are questionable. Moreover, considering the factors that may lengthen or reduce the
expected time such as learners’ language learning background, intensity of learners’
study, the amount of study/ exposure outside of lesson times (Desveaux, 2013),
MOET’s requirement becomes more challenging for GE teachers and non-English
major students in Vietnam at the moment. Finally, since MOET sets the learning
outcomes for learners independent of curricula and teaching materials, the burden on
the shoulders of state-run universities, teachers and students becomes heavier as they
have to innovate all those related domains to meet the new learning outcome.
Besides, studies have demonstrated that while the key implementers of all
language education policies, teachers did not always do what was told nor did they
always act to maximize policy objectives (Cohen & Ball, 1990; McLaughlin, 1987).
Problems and failure of the implementation phase may thus come from teachers
themselves due to their attitudes and behavior, which were proven to “interact bidimensionally” with each other (Borg, 2009, p.164). Firstly, teachers have been
diagnosed as “resistant to change” (Wang, 2008, p.3) or not willing to actually
implement a teaching innovation despite their positive attitudes towards it

5


(Kennedy, 1999; Keranen, 2008, as cited in Waters, 2009). Secondly, although
teachers’ perceptions and attitudes are not always reflected in what teachers do in
the classroom, they do influence practices (Borg, 2009). The necessity of
understanding teachers’ perceptions of and responses to this language policy
implementation has been obvious. Yet limited research has been found on the issue
under investigation. As the implementation of the CEFR in Vietnam is both
comprehensive and profound (Vietnamese government, 2008), the need for more
research on the CEFR in Vietnam such as its impacts on language education system,
teachers and learners’ attitude and perceptions toward the use of the CEFR, the
effectiveness of such changes in (foreign) language policy, is longed for. For that
reason, the current research is an effort to explore the CEFR implementation from
grass-root level in Vietnam.
1.3. Purpose of the study and research questions
The study aims to explore the perceptions, knowledge and responses of GE
teachers (i.e. teachers who teach English to non-English major students) at the
home university as they become involved in implementing the CEFR for their nonEnglish major university students. Firstly, it seeks to gain an in-depth understanding
of how GE teachers perceive and interpret the current use of the CEFR at tertiary
level. Specifically, it examines the teachers’ perceptions of the CEFR and its values,
its necessity and readiness for application. The study also explores teachers’
understanding and interpretation of the implementation process.
The study also aims to investigate teachers’ responses to the adoption of the
CEFR within their school context, that is what they do in terms of action and what
factors are influential to their response. The findings of the study are hoped to
provide the solid ground on which methodological and pedagogical implications
can be made to supplement GE teachers with methodology, techniques, and
procedures to modify the CEFR-aligned curriculum in order to match theory and
practice, to assist educators and administrators during the process of contextualizing
a global framework in a local English language teaching and learning situation.

6


In particular, this study seeks to answer the following two research questions:
1. What are GE language teachers’ perceptions of the CEFR and its use for
non-English major students at a university in Vietnam?
2. What are GE language teachers’ responses to the use of the CEFR on the
implementation level?
1.4. Research design overview
The current study examines teachers’ perceptions of and responses to the
CEFR implementation for non-English major university students. It adopted the
mixed method sequential explanatory model by Creswell and Clark (2007). The
data collection procedure consisted of two phases, the pilot and the official phases.
The aim of the pilot phase was to test the research instruments and get baseline data
on general English teachers’ perceptions of and responses to implementing the
CEFR for non-English major students. The results of the pilot phase were used to
modify the questionnaire and interview protocol for the official round.
The research setting was a university in Central Vietnam, where the researcher
has been working for more than fifteen years. All English language teachers, who have
been teaching general English for non-English major students of the home university
for more than one semester, were invited to participate in the survey research. Eight of
the teacher participants took part in in-depth interview sessions.
The literature review and theoretical concepts relevant to the research field
were generalized and summarized to build up the conceptual framework for the
present study. Utilizing this information, together with results from the pilot phase,
a forty-nine item questionnaire was made to explore how GE teachers perceived the
CEFR and its implementation, and how they responded to the CEFR-aligned
curriculum implementation regarding their teaching activities, the assigned
textbooks and the classroom assessment practice. For the semi-structured in-depth
interview, an interview protocol consisting of fifteen main questions was sketched
to guide the interview sessions and make sure the validity and consistency of the
data collected.

7


Quantitative data were analyzed via Statistical Package for the Social
Sciences (SPSS) version 20. In determining the reliability of the questionnaire,
Cronbach’s alpha values of the whole questionnaire and sub-clusters were above .70
and ranged from .819 to .873. Descriptive statistics including the mean scores and
standard deviation of each item were generated. After the data of the questionnaire
had been collected and analyzed, the interview sessions were successively carried
out and coded. Qualitative data were then themed, compared and contrasted with
quantitative findings.
After the interpretation of both quantitative and qualitative data, an
integration of both groups of data was made. The findings were presented with
respect to the research questions, the sub-clusters of the questionnaire, and the
emerging themes from the interview sessions. Finally, detailed discussions,
conclusions and pedagogical implications with regard to the conceptual framework
were made and reported.
1.5. Scope of the study
The primary goal of this study is to investigate the status of implementing the
CEFR-aligned curriculum as perceived and responded by GE teachers in nonEnglish major classes at the home university during the school years 2015-2018.
The aspects looked into are how teachers perceived the CEFR and its values, the
necessity and readiness for its application for non-English major students, as well as
the work involved in the CEFR application process. Next, the researcher explores
teachers’ responses to the CEFR-aligned curriculum renewal. Specifically, how GE
teachers modified their teaching activities, how they adapted the assigned
textbooks, and how they changed their classroom assessment practice. The results
of the study, therefore, can be generalized to similar contexts in the same field only.
The generalizations may not necessarily be applicable to other contexts and
situations far different from the present one.
In particular, the present study explores a top-down policy of adopting a
global framework to local contexts without much explanation and piloting (Pham,
2012). The results of the study are from teachers’ perspectives. It does not involve

8


administrators and students during the data collection process. It cannot be
applicable to any policy that goes beyond these bounds.
Secondly, the study focuses on what and how teachers, as key implementers,
perceived and responded during the implementation process. It aims to get insights
into the reality of the CEFR implementation at the home university, whether
teachers encountered any challenges and how they dealt with those difficulties. The
ultimate purpose is to make insightful methodology and pedagogical implications
for GE teachers. There may be some differences in the results and implications if
the implementation process is perceived from the perspectives of administrators or
students. The scope of the present study is, therefore, limited to language education
and methodology for teachers rather than language policy and planning.
Thirdly, the subject of the study is the CEFR-aligned curriculum for nonEnglish major university students whose motivation and language proficiency are
not the same as of language-major students. The timeframe, textbooks, assessment,
and even teaching activities are totally different. Therefore, its results cannot be
generalized to English-major students of the same university.
Finally, the research setting is a regional university in Central Vietnam,
where culture and other socio-economic factors may differ from those of bigger
cities of the country. As a result, while the findings of the study may be applicable
for other regional universities sharing similar backgrounds, the generalizations
should not be made for universities in the North or the South of Vietnam, nor can
they be made for other universities outside Vietnam.
1.6. Significance of the study
This study is of great significance because the data and findings add to the
existing knowledge of top-down implementation policies in foreign language
education. It also provides useful understanding on the impacts of such a policy on
different domains of language teaching methodology, from curriculum renewal,
teaching practice adaptation, to testing and assessment adaptation.
Firstly, since the 1990s, the urge to promote foreign language competency,
especially English, among Vietnamese workforce and citizens has never ceased

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(Nguyen, 2012). Numerous efforts have been made to reform foreign language
teaching and learning in Vietnam, including the adoption of global educational
policies into the local contexts such as the CEFR. Like many other language
educational reforms in Vietnam, the policy is very much top-down, without taking
human resources and facilities at grass-root level into consideration. Researching
and exploring such a policy have thus been significant in providing a better
understanding and valuable lessons especially for MOET and policy makers.
Secondly, the findings of the study are expected to shed light on the
implementation of the CEFR-aligned curriculum for non-English major university
students at tertiary levels. It is expected that the voice and perceptions of teachers
will provide insights into the achievement and drawbacks of the policy, the
advantages and disadvantages during the implementation process, as well as the
challenges faced and lessons gained. The study helps the home University and
respective Faculty re-evaluate the policy, figure out what to do next, what to
maintain, what needs to be improved or changed, what to aid teachers and students,
etc. so that the curriculum implementation becomes more effective and successful.
Above all, the study is beneficial to teachers and non-English major students.
The results of the study provided valuable information to teachers and
administrators. They will be better aware of their roles and importance in the
implementation process. They will know the strengths and weaknesses of the policy
and the CEFR-aligned curriculum for non-English major students; what challenges
they encountered and why they encountered such challenges.
The ultimate purpose of all the afore-mentioned suggestions for changes and
modifications is to ameliorate students’ English proficiency and their learning
outcome. The present study is thus of great help and usefulness for non-English
major students, who need to achieve the CEFR B1 certificate as the precondition for
their university graduation being granted.
1.7. Organization of the study
The present study consists of five chapters.
Chapter One describes the territory of the research by presenting the

10


background context, procedures, the aims and importance, as well as the structure of
the study.
Chapter Two provides a critical review of literature relevant to the CEFR and
its implementation. It addresses theoretical concepts fundamental to the study,
including teachers’ cognition, teachers’ behavior and their mutual relationship.
Next, the chapter discusses the CEFR in language education and its implementation
as change/ innovation. From the theories and studies reviewed, the chapter provides
the conceptual framework of the study.
Chapter Three describes the methodology employed in the present study. It
starts with a description of the research approach and mixed method design of the
study. Next, it presents research questions and research setting. It then describes in
details issues related to data collection and analysis. The chapter ends with our
discussion of the validity, reliability and ethical considerations of the selected
research design.
Chapter Four reports and interprets detailed findings on the basis of data
analysis results. It then presents the findings regarding GE teachers’ perceptions of the
CEFR and its implementation. Specifically, it describes how GE teachers perceived the
values of the CEFR, its readiness for application, the reasons and necessity of
implementing the CEFR for non-English major students, and the work involved in its
application process. Next, the chapter describes GE responses to the CEFR
implementation in three different domains: teaching activities, teaching materials and
classroom assessment. Emerging themes on both GE teachers’ perceptions of and their
responses to the CEFR implementation are also refined and addressed.
Chapter Five summarizes the key findings of the study. Major conclusions
regarding the CEFR and its implementation for non-English major university
students are drawn out. Pedagogical and methodological implications, together with
the study limitations and suggestions for further research are also presented.

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CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter reviews relevant literature and explores factors that contribute

to the success of implementing a language reform policy. Specifically, it critically
reviews the literature on how the CEFR is recommended for use in English
language education, how such a change should be planned and managed for
effective practice and what the current state of implementing the CEFR in Vietnam
is like. The chapter first starts by providing working definitions of the key terms and
then an overview of the CEFR in language education from its definition, purpose,
content, limitations and suggestions for good use, followed by its spread in
language education. The chapter also pinpoints the CEFR implementation as
change management in English language education and emphasizes the role of the
CEFR in innovating English language curriculum. The chapter ends by reviewing
relevant studies in the world and Vietnam with an aim to establish the space for the
present study and the research questions formulated.
2.1. Definitions of the key terms
The following list of definitions assists in understanding the study and its
data. Those terms were used throughout this study and are currently used in the
educational field. Some key terms will also be defined in the coming sections in the
literature review, and in that occurrence sources are cited.
Change. Change is a movement out of a current state, through a transition state, to a
future state. Educational change can involve systematic transformation of the
education system or structural change in organization, policy, programs, courses,
etc. (Fullan, 2001b). Change can be more successful if the concerns of teachers are
considered (Hall & Hold, 1987).
Curriculum. The term curriculum is used here to refer to “the overall plan or
design for a course and how the content for a course is transformed into a blueprint
for teaching and learning which enables the desired learning outcomes to be
achieved” (Richards, 2013, p.6).

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