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Introduction

Teaching background in many countries in Asia is now more and more developed. Many
researchers try their best to find out which are the suitable ways for the teaching and learning
context of their country. In my reflective paper, I focused on Vietnamese context. In Vietnam,
the concern of the Ministry of Education and Training in finding the best way to teach effectively
is very high. So in most of high schools, colleges and universities always find the best way to do
this especially the best one to teach English effectively and successfully. Developed from this
viewpoint, the Communicative Approach is the best choice to find a better perspectives for
teaching English in Viet Nam. In the paper, it is merely put the attention to find out the
advantages and disadvantages in applying CA in Vietnam. And we also put the attention on 5
aspects (1) the learner-center ness perspective (2) the syllabus (3) activities (4) learners and
teachers roles and (5) the error correction in CA.

Communicative Approach with learner-centeredness perspective in the context of Vietnam


At first, CA theory is that we put the learners at the center of our thinking. And to quote
from Barbara L. McCombs & Jo Sue Whisler “It is that the educational system of the future must
embrace a learner-centered perspective to maximize high standards of learning, motivation, and
achievement for all learners.” Barbara L. McCombs & Jo Sue Whisler (1987, preface). Based on
Barbara L. McComs & Jo Sue Whilser, they supposed that in order to improve and gain the best
results in teaching, we must “embrace” a learner-centered perspective to open a new way for
students to maximize their students’ ability effectively. Because in learner-centeredness,
“Learner-centered teaching place the child at the centre of teacher thinking and curriculum
planning” (Cameron, 2005. p.1). It is obvious, from the view of learner-centeredness, teachers of
languages try their best effort to teach students in order that they can manage their own learning.
There is an old proverb which stated: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to
fish and he eats for a lifetime".
Most Vietnamese students express a strong preference for courses based on textbooks
which provide a route map to guide the learning process. Ian Tudor also mentioned like this “Use
of traditional, teacher-centered, book-centered, grammar translation methods with emphasis on
rote memory” (Ian Tudor, 1996, p. 148). (David Nunan,1999, p. 12), however, commented that
“It is also not the case that a learner-centered classroom is one in which the teacher hands over
power, responsibility, and control to the students from day one.” . As his comment, in the
learner-centeredness perspective, “it is usually well into a course before learners are in a position
to make informed choices about what they want to learn”. (David Nunan, 1999, p.12).
Syllabus
As Jack C. Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers stated “The CA in language teaching starts
from a theory of language as communication”. They clearly stated that the main purpose of
language is to communicate each other and through communication, people can understand each
other more. Vietnamese people, however, are taught mostly to communicating through writing
not speaking.
In CA, the syllabus is designed based on the learners’s need to communicate each other.
Through many new regulations of the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam (MOET),
nowadays, many researchers and teachers make their great efforts in improve the syllabus for
communicating purpose. But they still face with many difficulties.
Firstly, syllabus in CA is flexible. It can be changed based on learners’ need to get the
communication with each other. But in Vietnam teaching and learning context, it is not flexible.
The syllabus in Vietnam only focuses on linguistic competence not on communicative
competence. The teachers must teach through the syllabus which is approved by the MOET. And
the given syllabus are general not special for one school. So sometimes it is suitable for this
school but not for other schools And this created great barriers to get the communicative
competence in learning language. Leaning language is a natural process especially learning
language for the communicative purpose. It is a natural acquisition of human beings. So with a
fixed syllabus, the teachers and learners cannot have a flexibility in designing a communicative
syllabus. Moreover, the testing system in Vietnam is typically based on grammar and written
tests not oral or communicative tests. As a result, all teachers in Vietnam are put under the
pressure from the syllabus and testing system and they cannot a chance to maximize their ability
to teach commumication for their students.
Secondly, Class size also takes an important role in CA. To teach communicate
effectively, we only have 15 students or 20 students in a class. But, in Vietnam, a medium class
has 40 or 45 students and this led to the teacher cannot control and care all the whole class. And
they cannot listen all the students’ speaking. Finally, some active students can speak in class a lot
but the other ones are passive and shy and cannot say anthing in class.
Activities
In CA, activities are ver various. According to Littlewood (1981) (Jack C. Richards and
Theodore S. Rodgers, p.166, 2001) “ …. “functional communication activities and “social
interaction activities” as major activity types in Communicative Language Teaching ”. CA
requires us to design many activities through differents tasks to get the result to teach
communicate well. But with the big class size and a fixed syllabus, the teachers has a limitation
in designing different and lively tasks for all students in class.
Teachers and learners roles
As an old Vietnamese proverb said “Không thầy đố mày làm nên” ( if you don’t have
good teacher, you cannot do anything). In this aspect, firstly, it is because of the influence of
Eastern culture. In the past, the teachers took the dominant role and the students must obey what
their teachers said and they only “listen more, speak less”.
In the past, Vietnamese education is dominated by a teacher-centered, book-centered
approach, and an emphasis on repetition, reviewing and rote memory. So in the teaching
progress, the teacher is considered as the “fount of knowledge”, and it is the teacher who decides
which knowledge is to be taught, and the students accept and learn that knowledge (Ginsberg,
1992). In CA, however, the teachers takes the role of a facilitator and in some cases, they are as
“tour guide” to lead their students into communicative activities naturally. In fact, in Vietnam,
many teachers tend to become “the instructors” of students in class but some of them are
successful but some of them are not. The reason is because of their acquisition about CA. They
can “know” CA but they can not “acquire” CA so they can not do it well. Because some of them
don’t have a chance to attend a training course about CA completely. From my experience, for
example, I can design many tasks for my students to promote their communication but if I don’t
know how to control these tasks well, I’ll be failed at once.
Also, in CA, it requires the students must be active not passive. But in my school, from my
viewpoint and experience, some of my students are very passive in learning because of the
Eastern culture. So they are afraid to attend many communicative activities in class. And they
tend listening more and speaking less. And this becomes the big problem in communication.
Furthermore, in some schools in Vietnam, teachers still take the role of controller in the class and
this led to that the students cannot say or express what they want.
The error correction
Many teachers in Vietnam schools pay much attention to accuracy than fluency. And this
make the pressure for students when communicating or speaking in front of the class. The
students are always afraid when listening these word like “No”, “Repeat”, etc. And through a
long time, they don’t want to say or speak something. They are frightened to hear some words
like these from their teachers. Because error correction can demotivate students in their oral
speech. The teacher in CA must know when and how to correct errors. They must know that
communication process is like the development of a child. We must know exactly when to help
the child to grow up and how to do this. And we sometimes must give the students the chance to
correct themselves and each other.

Conclusion
All in all, CA is the heart of communication teaching from Western viewpoint. So when
we apply it in Asian especially in Vietnam, it has some certain difficulties. Teaching a language,
it means that we will teach the culture of that language. In theory, CA is really perfect but in
practice, it depends on the context. If we can analyze the culture context of each country in
applying it, we can get a good result in the near future.

References
Barbara L. McCombs & Jo Sue Whisler (1987). The learner-centered classroom and school.
Jossey-Bass Publishers: New York
Cameron (2005). Children learning a foreign language. In teaching languages to young
learners (8th ed). Cambridge University Press.
David Nunan (1999). Second language teaching & learning. Heinlen and Heinlen Publishers.
Ian Tudor (1996). Learner-centeredness as language education. Cambridge University Press
Ginsberg, E. (1992) Not just a matter of English. HERDSA News 14 (1), 6–8.
Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jack C. Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching
(2nded).Cambridge University Press.