The nature of "Englishization" and critical perspectives on its linguistic, sociocultural and pedagogical legitimacy: the case of 1990s-born TESOL trainees in Vietnam

2017-02-17T01:08:54Z (GMT) by Vu, Hai-Ha
The elevating status of English language learning and teaching together with the boom of technology and the media in times of globalization has left major imprints on the culture of young people in Vietnam. In terms of their language, a noteworthy outcome has been “Englishization” – the mixture of Vietnamese and English languages at different linguistic levels among the generation born in the 1990s – the legitimacy of which is often contested on linguistic, sociocultural and pedagogical grounds. To pioneer a critical examination of the issue, this case study foregrounds the English language teacher (TESOL) trainees born during this period since their immediate as well as long-term perceptions and actions towards this English language “invasion” could have significant implications on English language education and language policies in Vietnam across time, space and their language learner-teacher identities. Initiated with a questionnaire survey with 489 English language teacher trainees of this generation, the study focused on semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 15 of them to inquire into their perceptions and practices of “Englishization”, both as current trainees and future trainers. In light of critical pedagogy, both quantitative and qualitative findings have elucidated and justified the multiple dimensions of these language practices. From a structural standpoint, the linguistic nature and legitimacy of “Englishization” could be illuminated via its interrelations with well-established linguistic concepts in the literature. As for the functional dimension, these language creations had been actively deployed for their enrichment and empowerment of voice, pragmatic value, marker of collective identification as well as for certain reasons “ambiguous” to their own users, thereby opening interdisciplinary dialogues for further investigations. Finally, “Englishization” presented the participants with the two sociocultural dilemmas of linguistic nationalism and linguistic standardness, whereby concerns about the “purity” of Vietnamese language and the competence in “standard” Vietnamese and English pervaded. Furthermore, becoming a teacher would also pose another fundamental dilemma as the new “language model” identity they were expected to take on was found to be in conflict with others in the construction of their professional identity. However, a third space was consistently and skilfully negotiated by many to break away from the binaries constituted by these dilemmas, through which “Englishization” could be further legitimized on sociocultural as well as pedagogical grounds. Apart from these findings, the study has also made theoretical and methodological contributions to the literature by deconstructing ubiquitous dichotomies; revisiting and reconceptualising certain key notions of critical pedagogy; as well as justifying and developing a reflexivity framework with specific themes and techniques at different hermeneutic levels. As for pedagogical implications, it embraces a project of engagement, which could significantly pave the way for a project of “empowerment” aspired by critical pedagogues as well as this study.