Prof. John Macalister

John Macalister is Professor in Applied Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He has worked in ELT as a teacher, teacher educator, and research-active academic in many parts of the world, including Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Kiribati, Namibia, and New Zealand. His chief interests are in language teaching methodology and language curriculum design, and he has published (with Professor Paul Nation) two books in this field: Language Curriculum Design, and Case Studies in Language Curriculum Design, both with Routledge. The second edition of Language Curriculum Design appeared in early 2020. 

John is also Associate Dean (International) in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and in this role works closely with universities and language education providers in Vietnam.



Teaching reading in Vietnam and beyond


Prof. John Macalister

Vietnam has set itself ambitious targets in education, and in English language learning. Changes will be necessary if these goals are to be achieved. Change will need to happen not just in the curriculum and in assessment, but also in people’s thinking. In terms of reading in English, this means changing what people think reading is, and how we learn to read in a second or foreign language. 

However, I embark on this talk with some trepidation. After all, I am not Vietnamese and have an outsider’s perspective.  And so in this talk I will be drawing on research, and on observations made over the almost 30 years since I first began working in ELT in Southeast Asia.  I will begin by painting a broad picture of approaches to teaching reading in general, and the place of extensive reading (ER) in particular, in the region. What emerges from this is that there are challenges (of course), but there are also examples of successful innovations in the teaching of English, and reading in particular.  I want to draw attention to a growing awareness of the contribution that ER can make to language learning. The talk will end with thoughts about how change can be successfully introduced so that it contributes effectively to the goals relating to English language learning in Vietnam.





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