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Home2023 IssuesMarch 2023The fight over Non-native speakers goes on in Vietnam

The fight over Non-native speakers goes on in Vietnam

In the latest twist in the campaign for expatriate Non-native Engish speaker teachers (Nnests) a paper has been presented at the annual Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) demanding that the requirement for Nnests to have a degree in English Language be dropped, according to vnexpress.

Brian O’Reilly, head of the education & training working group at VBF, and lawyer Nguyen Kim Dung submitted a petition arguing “No additional certificates for language proficiency [should be] required if the teacher is from a non-English speaking country because the English teaching certificate already ensures sufficient English proficiency to teach.”

Since Vietnam began to admit Nnests to work in the country’s booming language school industry in 2021 there has been arguments from both sides on the level of qualifications required.

Currently Native speakers of English, defined as those who have spoken it from birth, need a first degree in any subject and a 4 week course which must be a CELTA or a TESOL or TEFL certificate accredited by government approved bodies. Non-native speakers all need an accepted Language Proficiency certificate showing their level and either State qualified status in English Language teaching or an English language degree or a certificate.

There has been good evidence that proficiency in the target language is key since the advent of the Early Language Learning in Europe Report in 2011 found C1 level in the target language was critical and no learning took place where a teachers language level was below  B2. However, there is no evidence that the Gazette knows of that possession of a 4 week TEFL certificate is an accurate measure of language level.

In reality the fight over Nnests in Vietnam is a fight over teacher supply with Nnest speaker teachers, many of whom are far more qualified than their native speakers peers, offering a new and often cheaper source of workers.

The ability to increase the teacher pipeline and thus force down teachers’ wages offers a way for both business and government of increasing supply and widening participation through the provision of cheaper language courses.

In other words, it’s all about the money. If it was about teacher quality, it is native speaker teachers who would see the qualification threshold rise.

Image courtesy of Library
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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