Monday 30 October 2023


Provides a unique platform for sharing cutting-edge developments and best practice in English language teaching, learning and assessment

The British Council, the UK's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations, hosted its annual regional flagship English language testing and assessment conference, New Directions East Asia, and the Future of English exhibition in Hanoi from 27–29 October 2023. This is the first time that the New Directions East Asia conference has returned to a major city, demonstrating the strength and dynamism of engagement between the British Council and Viet Nam on the topic of English language teaching, learning and assessment. The conference and exhibition created a dynamic space in which regional and international policymakers, educational professionals, academics, teachers and assessment practitioners can interact, exchange information and keep abreast of the leading developments in the fields of English teaching, learning and assessment. 

Themed The Future of English Language Assessment in Learning Systems and hosted in partnership with the National Foreign Languages Project (NFLP), the conference looked to the future of assessment as a driver of learning and education system reform. This year the conference was attended by more than 400 participants from over 12 different countries. It was held over two and a half days, started with an open, public plenary on the evening of 27 October in central Hanoi followed by two full days of conference proceedings, which included four plenary sessions, two panel discussions, 36 paper presentations, nine spotlight sessions and one symposium at the British University Vietnam. 

Key speakers and panellists at the New Directions conference included thought leaders and educational experts in the field of English Language Assessment including Dr Huu Nguyen, Director, National Foreign Languages Project, Ministry of Education and Training of Viet Nam and Dr Quynh Nguyen, Director of the Department of Research, Science and Innovation, Viet Nam National University; Professor Barry O’Sullivan OBE, Head of Assessment Research and Development, British Council and other leading international figures in teaching, learning and assessment.   

The Future of English exhibition, held alongside the New Directions conference at the British University Vietnam, featured interactive elements which asked visitors for their views on the future of the English language and showcased key themes from the landmark publication Future of English: Global Perspectives – English in education, English in the workplace, and English in the community. This book is the first publication in a major programme of research and global engagement started by the British Council in 2020. 

Heather Forbes, Regional Exams Director, East Asia, at the British Council, said: 'This year’s New Directions East Asia conference explored questions around what English could look like and how it will be used. We discussed what broader competencies are necessary in a rapidly changing and digitally enabled communication landscape, and how these can be developed and assessed in the future. We also explored the potential changes of language education policy and reform in Vietnam and the wider East Asia region. Additionally, our Future of English exhibition, which is part of the New Directions conference, provided a platform to share global perspectives about the future of English with partners, thought leaders, teachers and learners around the world.'

Donna McGowan, Director, British Council Viet Nam, added: 'Viet Nam has embraced foreign language tests as a core part of its education system following collaboration between the British Council and the country’s National Foreign Languages Project over many years. We are proud that UK assessment expertise has supported the design, evaluation, and implementation of effective language education policies in Viet Nam. We are delighted to have hosted both the New Directions conference and the Future of English exhibition in Viet Nam this year as we celebrate two key milestones – 30 years of our presence here and 50 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Viet Nam – forging new partnerships and reinforcing the bonds between the people of both countries.' 

For more information on New Directions East Asia Conference please visit: 

For more information on The Future of English exhibition please visit:

Notes to Editor

For media inquiries, please contact Thuy Nguyen, Communications Manager, British Council in Viet Nam at

For more information on the New Directions conference, please contact Neil Stead, Project Manager, British Council at

For more information on the Future of English exhibition, please contact Cerys Wright, Interim Exhibitions and Communications Manager, English and Exams, British Council at

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021–22 we reached 650 million people.

About British Council in Viet Nam

The British Council has an established presence in Viet Nam, with a dynamic portfolio spanning the arts and creative industries, education (higher, vocational and non-formal), and English teaching, learning and assessment, delivering a range of academic and professional UK qualifications. We have 370 staff in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City across nine offices and teaching centres. Three young learner language centres were open in 2023, with 10 further centres planned in the coming two years. We have built extensive networks, connections and partnerships between UK and Vietnamese individuals, organisations and institutions across all areas of our work, and with ambitions to further expand these networks.