“It Is Tough to Come Back. Who Am I Now as a Language Teacher?”: The Re-Positioning of Three Vietnamese Teachers of English Language Returning from Overseas Programs

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qualitative research, teacher returnees, teacher education, teacher positioning, study abroad, intercultural teaching


Theoretically grounded in positioning theory, this study aimed to unpack three stories of Vietnamese teachers of English’ transformation of teaching theory and practice due to their international and intercultural overseas experiences. Our ethnography study was centered on those teachers' varying perceptions of what and how to teach. Our examination of the teacher candidates’ written critical reflection and interview was conducted over one year after they returned to teach in Vietnam. Particularly, these teachers’ perceived teaching and learning changes were a possible consequence of their experiences of intercultural engagement in many local settings in their host countries where they had previously stayed before returning. Using positioning and transformative learning as a theoretical lens, the researchers explored how teachers’ transformation was revealed after their return, suggesting that there were themes of positioning, including their modified cognition, awareness, attitudes, and behavior. More specifically, the findings implied that educational nation-level and school-level policy should pay more attention to the local English teachers’ privileges and threats that drive how they navigate their professional careers, considering academic qualifications and personal attributes. While the former was related to implications for teacher education programs (that help them identify teaching philosophy, methodology, and teaching environments), the latter involved teacher characteristics, aspirations, and accumulated capital. 


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Author Biographies

Ngoc Tung Vu, VNU University of Languages and International Studies, Hanoi, Vietnam

Ngoc Tung Vu serves as a lecturer at The University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University in Hanoi, Vietnam. His research interests primarily revolve around intercultural communication in higher education settings, teacher education within Vietnamese and wider Asian contexts, and graduate employability. He has contributed to numerous publications covering diverse topics, with his works appearing in various journals such as the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, TESOL Journal, Australian Journal of Teacher Education, among others.

Hanh Dinh, University at Albany, State University of New York

Dr. Hanh Dinh serves as an adjunct lecturer at the State University of New York at Albany and the assistant director of Multilingual Students Services at Vermont State University. Her research interests include intercultural communication, teacher education, and bilingual education. Her works have been featured in different books and journals such as the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, Languages, Pragmatics and Cognition, among others


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How to Cite

Vu, N. T., & Dinh, H. (2024). “It Is Tough to Come Back. Who Am I Now as a Language Teacher?”: The Re-Positioning of Three Vietnamese Teachers of English Language Returning from Overseas Programs. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 11(1), 13–38. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/1637



Original Manuscript
Received 2023-03-30
Accepted 2023-12-23
Published 2024-01-25