TOL 007: Interview with Teresa X. Nguyen – Teaching English to Vietnamese Learners

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Teresa X. Nguyen has taught English language learners in China, Vietnam, and the United States, working in institutions ranging from small private language schools to public universities. She has also co-authored a textbook with Eric H. Roth, Compelling Conversations – Vietnam: Speaking Exercises for Vietnamese Learners of English, using her expertise and cultural background in helping Vietnamese learners of English become more aware of their development, and more independent in their learning.

In this episode, we discuss her teaching background, characteristics of Vietnamese learners of English, the philosophy behind her book, the writing process itself, and also some teaching experiences that have shaped her as a person in general.

Time Stamped Show Notes

Click on a time stamp to jump directly to that part of the episode.

[1:45] How Teresa got into teaching.
[2:24] Teresa got her Master’s in Linguistics with a TESOL Certificate.
[4:23] Teresa’s different teaching contexts in America, Vietnam, and China.
[7:20] Vietnamese students vs. other students.
[8:30] The English education industry is very big in Vietnam.
[9:38] Teresa’s experience in writing a textbook.
[10:35] For many English language-learning textbooks, the skill sets are separated.
[12:28] The writing process for this particular book.
[12:53] Good questions in a task help propel conversation.
[16:02 ] The type of pronunciation errors that Vietnamese learners make.
[17:00] Awareness is important for improving pronunciation. 
[18:30] Technology has made it so much easier to collaborate when writing a book.
[19:57 ] Fluency-focused: What does that mean for Teresa?
[22:20] Textbook writing helps you reflect on past teaching experiences.
[24:10] “If all fails, we can teach.” Many people say this about the teaching profession, and oh, how wrong they are!
[25:45] Provide your learners with many tools so that they can become autonomous learners.
[26:64] Writing a textbook is one of the most gratifying things a teacher can do.
[26:50] Do not wait and ask for people to collaborate with you. Go out and find them, and go with a concrete game plan.
[28:22] The biggest challenge for Teresa has been making education accessible.
[28:39] Many learners associate learning with the classroom, but learning is much, much more.
[30:10] Ways Teresa encourages learners to learn outside of the classroom using the GroupMe application.
[32:12] Teresa’s advice to new teachers — never assume you know everything.
[34:00] What we can do to continually raise our culturally sensitivity?
[35:19] Activities in class to raise cultural awareness.
[36:00] Teresa talks about her YouTube channel, ESLGarage.

Resources Mentioned

Compelling Conversations – Vietnam: Speaking Exercises for Vietnamese Learners of English (Volume 5) (Teresa X. Nguyen and Eric H. Roth) – This is Teresa’s recent work, which focuses on helping Vietnamese Learners of English, especially in terms of fluent and accurate communication. The chapters are based on themes and help encourage conversation and discussion in the classroom.

Kahoot – A learning application.

GroupMe – Group text messaging.

ESLGarage – Teresa’s YouTube Channel aimed at Vietnamese learners of English.

 

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