The reception of new language materials: a case study evaluation of an EFL textbook in Vietnamese high schools
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 19:12 authored by Nguyen Minh Tho Le
This thesis is an evaluation of an English as a Foreign Language textbook recently introduced to Vietnamese secondary education. It investigates the textbook's creation for an understanding of why the textbook is the way it is, and its usage in three different case studies, rural, urban, and semi-urban, including explanations of why the textbook is used differently in each context. To capture an understanding of how the textbook was operationalised in the classroom and to what apparent effect, a multi-case research approach was undertaken, collecting data from students, classroom teachers, and head teachers through classroom observations, interviews, and questionnaire surveys. Concurrently, the textbook writers were interviewed about factors shaping the textbook. Following Werner (1979, 1984) and Aoki (1984, 1989, 2005), the textbook evaluation was then undertaken through three complementary lenses: ends-means (formal goals versus actual lessons); situational (users' views of the textbook); and critical approaches (forces influencing the textbook's creation and usage) adapting Shohamy's critical language testing principles (2001). The findings show that despite some success, the achievement of the textbook's apparent aims was challenged by its inadequate learning opportunities, its variable difficulty for students and its lack of relevance to students' interests and needs, across all three cases. Also having an adverse effect to varying degrees in the three contexts were supporting conditions concerning teacher preparedness, testing practices and physical classroom conditions. Importantly, the textbook's effectiveness was ultimately determined by factors rooted in its creation and implementation. It was found that textbook modification, ample classroom resources, assessment reformation, and even teacher preparation were necessary but not sufficient on their own to meet the policy ambitions for the textbook. What is essential is the need to align the underlying political, educational and cultural forces towards on-site textbook users' needs, interests and circumstances.