EduVoice Part 4: How Schools can Assist Teachers with the new National Curriculum

EduVoice with National Geographic is a series of educational interviews with top Educators discussing issues and opportunities in Education. This episode Where Are We Going Next? : Vietnam’s English National Curriculum with Dr. Hieu Nguyen (CEO, IEG Consulting) and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Binh has attracted 600+ people from 20+ countries. They shared their view on

  • The design and roadmap of the new national curriculum of English

  • The challenges for multiple stakeholders across geographies, segments and school models

  • Potential impacts of the new national curriculum on teaching and learning quality from K-12 to college

  • Systemic solutions for school leaders and teachers to cope with challenges


Interviewer: What can schools do to support teachers? And what can teachers do to meet those challenges that have been really clearly outlined?

The first thing is the mindset.

Dr. Hieu: A lot of teachers, even in big cities, have been trained as students in a particular way of teaching language. They focus a lot on technical aspects here like grammar, translation approach, or audio lingual approach. Now they have to switch gears from those methodology towards more Communicative Language Teaching, content based instruction, or, Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. Those will be a challenge for a lot of teachers.

With the new curriculum, or any new initiative, teachers will be the main challenge, and also the main driver for quality in education as well. One of the changes is the introduction of one curriculum, multiple textbooks.

With lots of now available resources, teachers need to be the material curator and researcher in a way where they have to go out there and find relevant materials, equivalent to the level that they are teaching.

I think a school, either a private school or public school, should form a team of teachers who have the capacity to R&D (Research and Development) to really combine materials to create a system of materials from lesson plan to supplementary materials to enriching materials to supplement for all the skill. Because there is no perfect textbook. There is always a gap between every textbook with the proficiency required by the national curriculum. The R&D team needs to view materials as a bank of materials to bridge that gap so that all the teachers in the school can get access to these materials, and co-build more overtime.

We have seen many private schools already release their own version of supplementary textbooks, where they use on top of what the official textbook they use as well. To have that institutional knowledge hard coded into a textbook of the school or even the province will be tremendous, because the capacity of teachers to develop materials is diverse, as diverse as the students ability.

Second, Teacher's Training

In the past, teacher training workshops were usually one off or just once or twice a year. But now it needs to be on-going, consistent and systematic. Every school has to build up a pathway of professional development training with modules for teachers, either internally or with external collaboration. It may take three or four years to train a teacher from pre-service until they can master all the roles that they have to fill in. Some schools I work with have developed online platforms with at least like 30 different modules on top of what the teachers got in their university education.

Third, quality control and quality assurance System

Schools, especially ones with a big school system, need to focus on the Quality control and Quality assurance system. This is a concept from the higher education landscape. But it is time to actually look at how to do a strong, rigorous quality control and quality assurance system where data is collected on a very frequent basis, and have the management team sit down and identify loopholes and blind spots in the quality way our majority of the teachers are struggling with.

We have like, let's say like 20 classes in grade five, why are these five classes of grade five struggling and the other 15 classes of grade five are not struggling at all? With this system in place, schools can come up with data driven decision making backed by rigorous data points. We will help teachers and schools to manage the quality of the whole school so that we can ensure equality and equity in education rather than wait until like the end of the school year exam, or the end of level exam to say “Oh, that is the result”. But that’s too late. So the way we can prevent that is by implementing this type of system.

See the full interview here.