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Class profile
The students are Vietnamese freshmen whose major is economics and business who have
started to attend an advanced program in which the majority of the courses are taught in
English by foreign or Vietnamese professors and the program curriculum, materials,
assessment method are also adapted from that foreign university. This is a compulsory insessional English class preparing them for English skills needed in economic and business
courses in the next terms. (Department of economics, Colorado State University, n.d.)
1.1. Students level
The minimum requirement to admission to the program is 4.5 in IELTS, which is equivalent
to B1 in CEFR level or they may alternatively sit an online reading - listening test and an
interview. (Cambridge English, 2016).Therefore, the lesson is for level B2 CEFR and is
taught at the beginning of the courses.
It should be noted that the students come from various towns and cities and have mixed
background and experience in learning English. Some students focus on the English in high
school and spend huge of effort in both extracurricular classes and selfstudy so that they are
at a very high level (B2-C1 CEFR). Meanwhile, other students only learn English because it
is is a compulsory subject in Vietnamese national curriculum and students usually focus on
practising grammar, vocabulary and reading exercises to pass exams. Thus it is likely that
they have only few classes on productive and receptive skills but a lot on grammar.
However, because all students have taken and pass all exams which include a grammar,
reading and listening test as well as an interview, it is assumed that they have met the
minimum requirement for the level B1 by studying themselves or taking private courses in
preparation for the test.
In addition, students have unbalanced skills, the weakest of which is usually speaking skill.
According to a survey conducted in an urban high-quality secondary school by Nguyen
(2004) cited in (Tran, 2005, p. 19), more than a half of the students interviewed thought that
they could not use English for communication because the listening and speaking skills are
taught the least in their English lessons and students also lack opportunities and
environment to practice this skill. Lessons are usually focused on grammar and reading in
order to help students pass examinations (Van, 2013, p. 16).
1.2. Learning background and experience
Vietnamese students are often described as passive, reticent, traditional and lack of
confidence (Dang, 2006 cited in (Le & Phan, 2013). This may be the result of the grammarbased, textbook-centred and test-focused method, which are popular in Vietnamese formal

English classrooms. It may result in a huge problem in speaking lessons, especially if


communicative method is used.
However, this may no longer be true for all Vietnamese students because they, especially
those in urban areas, are having better access to free English learning resources in the
Internet as well as private classroom where communicative approach is widely adopted.
Students themselves are aware that their traditional learning styles may not be suitable in
English classroom. In a survey conducted in secondary and tertiary institutions in 8 Asian
countries including Vietnam, most students said that they do not want to passively receive
knowledge from teacher (Littlewood, 2000). However, willingness and desire to participate in
speech communication might not lead to actual use of the target language in class.
The reason may be from cultural and educational context in which most students are used to
learning passively and avoid expressing their opinion. Few students are willing to do
differently from the whole class because they would rather to maintain group harmony.
Therefore, the teacher will use more group discussion, or group presentation than classfronted teacher-student interaction, which may help students feel more comfortable to
speak. Besides, as students are used to being spoon-fed and thoroughly instructed by
teachers, lesson will include a large proportion of teacher-led activities and exercises, which
give students useful language and gradual encouragement towards independent and
creative learning.
1.3. Students purpose and motivation
Students purpose and motivation of taking the lesson may be categorized into 3 types, from
shorter to longer term:
1. Students attend the course just because it is compulsory. They may only aim the
pass the examination or get a grade as high as possible.
2. Many students want to improve their English skill to perform better in their coming
academic courses. They may later transfer and complete their undergraduate
degrees or even continue postgraduate study abroad. English skill is especially
important for students studying Economics because this is a constantly changing
field in which latest information available only in English need to be updated.
3. Students study for better job opportunities because English is a requirement for most
jobs in both domestic and foreign labour market, especially well-paid jobs in foreign
businesses and joint ventures. These jobs usually require employees to do research,
attend meetings and do other clerical duty. (Phan, 2009)
Students may have one or a mixture of these motivation because it depends on their longterm and short term plans. The purpose for examination is expected to be the strongest one
(Hoang, 2007b cited in (Van, 2013, p. 16) because students have had a deep-rooted

experience of learning for exam and for teachers assessment, even when they are aware of
long term educational and occupational benefits. Thus, the teacher will use grade and
feedback as a useful tool to encourage students participation: giving bonuses to final score
for good group work, enthusiastic participation, and continuous feedback.
1.4. What students know and what they need to learn
2. Lesson analysis
2.1. Task-based learning (TBL)
Task-based learn focus on meaning. This is suitable for higher level students who have
adequate language to express their ideas, especially in abstract topic like freshman issue.
Besides, students in this course, who have pass the university and the course grammar and
vocabulary- based entrance examination, usually have competent knowledge of those
aspect of English but lack opportunities to practice productive skill. They may find a lesson
focus on form unnecessary, thus prefer a lesson focus on speaking for meaning, in which
they can put those knowledge in practice.
Moreover, this method promotes the kind of skills needed in other academic courses as well
as business environment: group work, making presentation, problem-solving. This will help
students improve both academic and vocational skill, which involve solving problems given
by teacher or employer as a group. EFL learners in academic contexts, particularly
university-level learners, have immediate academic needs, and these needs are a legitimate
real world target for task-based EFL courses. (Ran, 2013)
However, it is argued by Seedhouse (Seedhouse, 1999) that these task may make students
use only specific task-solving linguistic form but fail to encourage students use of language
for discussion, debate or social interaction, the teacher will tackle this disadvantage by
including other kind of activities in pre-task and after-task activities.
Although TBL may creat great opportunities for students to learn, they are expected to be
unfamiliar with this method
2.2. Choice of topic
The topic freshman issue is personally relevant to students in this lesson and is likely to
enhance their interests. As students have just began to start their undergraduate courses,
they are supposed to have an important change in their life and many be struggling to adapt
to them. Many entrant to higher education will not have been adequately prepared for the
type of learning and studying they will encounter. They may be away from home and lack
parental and teacher support. The study skills in school may no longer useful in tertiary
environment. (Cooka & Janet , 1999) This topic is what all students have in common and
they may really want to discuss with each other in order to share their experience, relieve
their feelings or provide support for each other.
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