This study aims to investigate how English as a foreign language is acquired to help Vietnamese teachers and learners of English understand how competence in English develops from the use of language for authentic communicative purposes to the ability to demonstrate academic language in all language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing (Cummins, 1984). Vietnamese learners step up the levels of English by first learning how to perform the language for conversation, and then using English for their academic work. The focus of the study is given to a survey of an experimental group and a control group of high intermediate level students of English at a university in Vietnam. The experimental group received the treatment, which is the familiarization of students to more standardized tasks. The settings for language acquisition range from context-embedded situations to context-reduced ones, and the tasks of language performance move from cognitively undemanding activities to cognitively demanding ones along with the timelines for learning social and academic language. The tasks were collected and analyzed to see whether proficient students, though would require contextual support, would need more cognitively demanding tasks. The results of the study may show that the students in the experimental group perform significantly differently from the ones in the control group, and work out conditions in which EFL Vietnamese learners can acquire basic communication skills and academic language proficiency in terms of receptive and productive skills. Suggestions for the more effective methodology towards EFL Vietnamese learners’ high performance are provided.
Pham Huu Duc, International University-VNU-HCMC, Vietnam.
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