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Ulster University’s School of Education in Coleraine is delighted to host nine Vietnamese scholarship students as part of a special initiative celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Vietnam. These students are undertaking a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a second or other language (TESOL) to advance language education in the South East Asian nation.

The project is a joint initiative between Ulster University and British Council Vietnam. Ulster University was selected as a UK partner from a wide range of British universities, given the strong reputation and robust nature of the long-standing TESOL programme, and the School of Education’s commitment to enhancing education on a global scale.

The nine scholars were chosen from hundreds of applications from across Vietnam, each demonstrating their strong commitment to the development of language education and to providing learning opportunities within their own communities. Their diverse backgrounds include university lecturers, high-school teachers, and a language school director, representing some of the most underdeveloped regions and cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

The Master of Arts TESOL programme at Ulster University aims to equip these scholars with the skills to become teacher trainers, educational leaders, and government policy makers, and in turn support the future development of English language education in Vietnam.

Hoang Ngo Le Nhat, a high school English teacher from the Khanh Hoa Province in central Vietnam expressed their enthusiasm:

“My current and future contributions to English education will definitely be shaped by this wonderful opportunity over the next two years. Ulster University, thank you for this life-changing opportunity”.

Another scholar, Van An Nguyen – a lecturer at Hue University of Foreign Languages and International Studies exclaimed:

"This is perhaps the greatest news ever in my life, I am deeply honoured to have been selected as one of the nine scholars and words cannot adequately express my gratitude to Ulster University and the British Council.”

Although the scholars will undertake the majority of their studies at distance, as part of their educational journey, the scholars will visit Ulster’s Coleraine campus in June 2024.

During their visit they will participate in various workshops with School of Education staff and meet with staff from the British Council Northern Ireland. Additionally, they will engage in a variety of teaching activities including three days working with INTO at Queen’s University Belfast, gaining valuable insights into how international students are supported by UK universities, work with experienced local lecturers, and share good teaching practice.

The scholars will also volunteer with the Refuge Language initiative in Belfast, an organisation dedicated to empowering refugees and asylum seekers in their integration into Northern Irish society. Rebekah Smyth, Head of the Organisation, said:

“Refuge Language are very excited to welcome this fantastic group of English teachers from Vietnam. Our students will greatly benefit from their unique teaching perspectives, and our staff are looking forward to meeting them. We are sure that these classes will be a memorable experience for all involved.”

Ulster University Lecturer in Education and project lead, Cain Barriskill has been working with the scholarship students since the outset of the project:

"This group of teachers are an amazing collection of people who have already achieved a lot in their careers yet are bursting with ideas and ambitions to develop teaching practice and policy within their country. I can already see a Community of Practice forming, and it is very exciting to join them on their journey.” 

Davide Gilmartin, Senior Academic Manager at British Council Vietnam, has also been delighted with the project to date:

“It has been wonderful to see how much they have achieved, both collectively and as individuals, in their first year of online TESOL Masters study with Ulster University. We are especially keen to see what lessons they will learn from their experiences in Northern Ireland and how this will impact on their teaching practice once back home in Viet Nam and also how the knowledge gained will contribute to the enhancement of English language provision among Viet Nam’s wider ELT community.”  

Gregory Pies, Academic Manager, English Language Programmes at INTO Queen's University Belfast said:

“INTO Queen's University Belfast looks forward to this opportunity to share best practices, demonstrate how INTO prepares international students for university study in the UK, and exchange experiences with other education professionals. This is a collaboration that highlights INTO’s commitment to global educational excellence.”