VIETNAMESE HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHERS’ ATTITUDES, PERCEPTIONS AND EXPERIENCE IN CLIL
III. Findings and discussion 1. Participants’ general information
As mentioned previously, the survey was conducted with the participation of 300 high school teachers of English from different provinces. Their working and living places are illustrated as follows:
Figure 1: The participants’ living and working places
Among 300 teachers participating in the research, nearly half of the teachers (46.3%) have taught English for 3-5 years. Just 4% of the teachers have served in their positions for more than 20 years; the others, namely, novice teachers with under two-year working experience account for 11.7% while the number of teachers with 6-10 years and 11-20 years of English teaching makes up 21.3% and 16.7% respectively. In total, 79.3% of the teachers have been teaching English 3-10 years. This is a good signal to predict that CLIL would be welcomed among the teachers with the first phase of their career development.
In terms of qualifications, a majority of teachers hold a teaching degree with 59.3%
from universities and 40% having M.A while just nearly 1% of them graduated from colleges. The results, however, showed that only 67.3% of the participants rated their English proficiency level at C1. A third of them (32.7%) thought that they needed more time to move from their current level of B2 to C1 level regardless the fact that all teachers
are required to be at C1 level of English proficiency to be qualified for teaching English to high school students after the standards set by the Ministry of Education and Training.
Interestingly, the interview later stated that both of these teachers and their managers were all confident about their ability to deliver English lessons well in their institutions.
When asked if they have ever participated in a CLIL training program, only 9.3% of the teachers said that they have, to some extent, joined a training program but just in one or two days.
In addition, these programs are mostly about teaching Science and Mathematics in English.
However, it is positive to see that 27.7% of the teachers “know something” about CLIL.
Figure 2: The teachers’ knowledge of CLIL
2. High school teachers’ attitudes, perceptions and experience in CLIL
According to the survey, 20.7% of the teachers have experienced in teaching CLIL.
However, the in-depth interview later disclosed that these teachers actually joined in helping the teachers in teaching the subjects. Specially, they helped the subject-teachers either translate the terms from Vietnamese into English or find the suitable reading texts to let the students get to know more about the subjects.
Main task Supporting task
Figure 3: The teachers’ experience in teaching CLIL
KỶ YẾU HỘI THẢO KHOA HỌC QUỐC TẾ DẠY VÀ HỌC NGOẠI NGỮ GẮN VỚI CHUYÊN NGÀNH TRONG BỐI CẢNH HỘI NHẬP QUỐC TẾ: LÍ LUẬN VÀ THỰC TIỄN
Although just a small number of the teachers have known or experienced CLIL, most of them are willing to know more and work with this approach in the future as just 24 out of 300 teachers (8%) stated that they are not willing to join in CLIL work in the future.
Fortunately, the follow-up interview showed that these teachers have taught English for about 20 years; namely, they are familiar to old teaching methods and thus, resist to change.
In the sense of CLIL perceptions, the surveys and interviews searched for the teachers’
opinion on its general benefits, benefits in developing learners’ content and language, teacher requirements, preparation time, CLIL materials, supporting policies, etc. Interestingly, CLIL is regarded neither “very useful” nor “very useless” in the teachers’ view. Answers to the three other options of CLIL general benefits reflected the teachers’ aforementioned understanding of CLIL as 63% of the teachers thought that CLIL is “useful” while 8% of them believed that CLIL is “useless” and 29% of them expressed no idea. In addition, when asked if CLIL helped develop both content and language, nearly 75% of the teachers agreed whereas about one fourth of them either disagreed or did not show their views.
Amazingly, even though 73.7% of the teachers shared the same opinion that CLIL is suitable for every level. They, when asked separately which level CLIL should be for, said differently. In particular, a majority of the teachers (74.3%) thought that CLIL should be applied in pre-school and primary school levels. 55.3% of the teachers was certain of the suitability of CLIL to Higher education and just 24% of the teachers aligned CLIL to secondary levels (including both lower and upper-secondary schools). This result, yet, seems to conflict with the teachers’ attitude when stating the learners’ language proficiency to best obtain CLIL. In that question, they said that in order to work well in CLIL approach, the learners’ language proficiency should be at B1 level. Children at kindergartens and primary schools, conversely, are out of the situation. The subsequent interview helped clarify the participants’ view as follows: “CLIL is suitable for pre-school, primary school and higher education levels as at the first schooling stage, children mostly work with the terms’ definition and concept rather than their content and scope while at higher levels the learners need to be at B1 to better read and understand the content reading texts and lessons”. As a matter of fact, CLIL can be applied to all levels from pre-school to higher education but the application is varied at different levels.
Along with their perceptions and willingness toward CLIL, the teachers also expressed their awareness of requirements related to the implementation of CLIL. They all said that a crucial factor in the success of a CLIL program is the support from the higher levels, namely, the school managers, Department of Education and Training, Ministry of Education and Training as well as other interconnected authorities and the government.
Without the sustaining policies and supports from the higher bodies, the teachers and their self-efforts would not make significant changes in a large scale or “make it a trend” as they responded in the interviews.
Furthermore, 97.3% of the teachers agreed that it took time to prepare a CLIL lesson and 66.3% of the teachers considered a close cooperation between the language and the subject teachers a must for the success of a CLIL lesson. Importantly, there should be an overtime policy for CLIL preparation, teaching and working policy between the language and subject teachers.
With regard to CLIL training and professional development, 60.7% of the teachers held that in order to teach well in CLIL approach, they needed to be trained with language proficiency and teaching methods. More than that, 65.7% of them supposed that knowledge of the subject should be provided to CLIL teachers. These teachers maintained that both language and content teachers could be trained to carry out CLIL lessons but from different perspectives. To be specific, language teachers should be offered short courses with basic knowledge of the subjects and they could work on the early stage of teaching CLIL to help the learners with key concepts and definitions of the subjects. In contrast, the subject teachers should be trained to achieve at least B2 level of language to deliver the subjects in deeper aspects. In the long terms, CLIL should be in charged by the subject teachers as it is more feasible to help subject teachers reach B2 level in their language competency than to train the language teacher to become professionals in the subject fields. Besides, whether starting from either the role of a language teacher or a subject teacher, 60% of the teachers asserted that CLIL teachers should be able to evaluate and develop CLIL materials. Noticeably, in the next question, 56% of the teachers believed that CLIL required new teaching materials regardless the fact that in the previous question they affirmed that CLIL teachers needed to be capable of evaluating and developing CLIL materials. The succeeding interview stated that what the teachers meant in their mind about evaluating and adapting ability is to apply on CLIL materials only.