[BCM212] Reflection – The Rigorous Research

At last, my BCM212 research on language barriers and Vietnamese international undergraduates at UOW has officially been finished. The progress has engraved in my mind the values of good research and good researchers – particularly critical judgement, social responsibility, and flexibility – as well as brushing up on my communications strategy planning skills. Continue reading “[BCM212] Reflection – The Rigorous Research”

[BCM212] Interview – Ideas from an Expert

An engaging conversation satisfied my curiosity about language learning and teaching in Vietnam as a cause of language barriers.

After a week analysing results from the survey and focus group, I have finalised my interview scheduled and met up with Q.N., a Vietnamese Ph.D. student in education at UOW.

Back in Vietname, Q.N. is also an English teacher, having his own English centre while lecturing at a university. He has been abroad for years, in between periods of teaching in our home country, having studied in Europe and now Australia. Altogether, these things build up his solid combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience, which was evident in the way he answered my questions. Continue reading “[BCM212] Interview – Ideas from an Expert”

[BCM212] Focus Group – Hearing from the Other Side of the Conversation

The domestic students’ perspective on the issue of language barriers for internation students and for themselves.

This research has definitely been anything but a smooth ride.

As you could see from my plan and proposal, I initially intended to run a focus group with 6-8 Vietnamese undergrads at UOW, to clarify and explore insights found in the survey. But oh boy did things go out of control…

I sent out around five emails and private messaged another ten people, hoping to recruit at least half of them to the focus group. Yet I had to cancel it, since only one-third of them could participate, and even so, we could not settle for a meeting to run the session.

I thought that part of the plan was left out for good, and as much as I hated it, I was determined to move on over the cancellation and catch up with the rest of my schedule. However, out of some impulse earlier, I had written a back-up plan in case plan A went awry. It was a list of questions exploring the issue from the perspective of domestic students, and fortunately, in one of my BCM212 tutorials, there was just enough time to run a quick 20-minute focus group with the participation of about 10 tute-mates, the majority of which are domestic students. Continue reading “[BCM212] Focus Group – Hearing from the Other Side of the Conversation”

[BCM212] Survey – Some Very First Surprises

Some surprising data from my survey

In the past two weeks, my survey (created using SurveyMonkey) has been circulated via online platforms (Facebook, Twitter and BCM212 Moodle Forum) to recruit participants. Although 32 is a small/tiny number of respondents, most of the answers were highly informative AND surprising. Continue reading “[BCM212] Survey – Some Very First Surprises”

[BCM212] Ready to Roll

And the real battle starts tomorrow

Quick update: the link to my survey is HERE


It’s me again, updating on how far I’ve gotten in answering the question: How do language barriers influence the academic and social life of Vietnamese international undergraduate students at UOW?.

For easier approach, I’ve broken that huge question down to several smaller ones, e.g.

  • What aspects/skills of (Australian) English are the most challenging for students?
  • What challenges students in learning in English at uni?
  • What challenges students in conversing and building social relationships in English in their daily life?

Of course, these are broken even further down into survey, focus group and interview questions. Continue reading “[BCM212] Ready to Roll”

BCM212 Research Proposal: How Language Barriers Influence the Academic and Social Life of Vietnamese International Students at UOW

“Do you know how smart I am in Vietnamese?”

“Yes” – was all I said in my first tutorial at UOW.

Eight months ago, I arrived in Australia, so confident that I would have no trouble with my studies, having had twelve years studying English as a second language. Yet in that tutorial, I was horrified to find myself suddenly unable to utter anything other than a single “yes” for the roll call, seeing how fast and fluent domestic students were. Continue reading “BCM212 Research Proposal: How Language Barriers Influence the Academic and Social Life of Vietnamese International Students at UOW”

How Fireworks Sparked My Curiosity

Dedicated to Grandpa

We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

For years since when I was very little, my family has got a Lunar New Year’s tradition. Close to midnight of New Year’s Eve, Grandpa, Dad, and I (and later on, my little sister) would walk to Hoan Kiem lake (Hanoi), to watch the fireworks show. I would be standing completely still with my neck craning, marveled by the mesmerizing sparkly flowers blooming on the velvety black night sky.

Most parents, and of course, grandparents, would make ooh and ah sounds to kids or playfully clapping the kids’ hands together. But one year, Grandpa, being a former High School teacher in Math who’s extremely keen on natural sciences, decided instead to point at the sky-flowers and explain to me – who was, at that time, a tiny little five-year-old – how each different metals put into firework cannon balls would give off a specific colour when shot up and exploding. Continue reading “How Fireworks Sparked My Curiosity”

Mastering The (Uni)versal Language

Australian English – a Linguistic Challenge for International Students in Australia

Australian English – a Linguistic Challenge for International Students in Australia


The experience of studying abroad is – to international students – supposedly and saliently an active process of self-formation in which the student oscillates between two adaptive strategies known as multiplicity (consciously switching between different selves corresponding to different settings) and hybridity (synthesizing multiple cultural identities into one newly formed self) (Marginson 2012, p.). However, in reality, the experience is hardly fluid, as a great many international students are immediately faced with the dreadful language barriers on their arrival in Australia. Continue reading “Mastering The (Uni)versal Language”