The Hope Choir members performing at the Launch (left-right: Mr. Nguyen Van Linh, Mr.Tran Quoc Hoan, Ms. Nguyen Thi Trinh). Photo: Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences.

On 13 July 2022, the University of Glasgow in partnership with VNIES (Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences) launched the Teacher Activity Group (TAG) project entitled, Developing Teachers’ Capacities to teach English across modes, media and language boundaries with creative and arts-based resources (January 2022-April 2023). This is an innovative collaborative project led by two research teams from the University of Glasgow (UK) including Dr. Lavinia Hirsu, Dr. Julie McAdam, Prof. Evelyn Arizpe and Dobrochna Futro, and VNIES (Viet Nam) including Nguyen Ngoc Anh, Prof. Le Anh Vinh and Tran My Ngoc, Bui Thi Dien in collaboration with the Departments of Education and Training (DOET) Leaders and English Language Specialists from three provinces: Bac Ninh (Mr. Nguyen Huu Binh, Ms. Nguyen Thi Hai); Quang Ninh (Mr. Nguyen Van Tue, Ms. Bui Thi Ngoc Tuyen); Ninh Thuan (Mr. Nguyen Van Linh, Ms. Le Thuy Ngoc Van)

The project brings together 360 primary and lower secondary teachers, 36 facilitators and 18 local artists to develop innovative creative practices for teaching English. The project is based on a TAGs model (Teacher Activity Groups), developed and tested across a series of other international programmes coordinated by the British Council. TAGs are small communities of practice built on collaboration, peer support and creative resources. 

As part of the current project, teachers and artists will be sharing knowledge, developing new pedagogies and working with pupils in creative ways to support the learning of English in our multilingual contexts. The project builds on expertise drawn from previous collaborations with artists and teachers in Glasgow and Kazakhstan (see our project website for further details).  

Dr Lavinia Hirsu, Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow and Nguyen Ngoc Anh from VNIES opened the event in English and Vietnamese introducing a live performance from three visually impaired artists from the Hope Choir. The Choir performed two songs ‘Nhung co gai tren que huong Quan ho' composed by Pho Duc Phuong (sung by Nguyen Thi Trinh) and ‘I have a dream’ by Abba  (sung by Tran Quoc Hoan and Nguyen Thi Trinh), followed by a medley of three folk songs from Vietnam’s Northern, Central and Southern regions played by Tran Quoc Hoan (monochord-Đàn Bầu) and Nguyen Van Linh (flute-Sáo). The performance inspired participants with their talent, creativity and ability - ultilizing technologies to communicate and connect with the community. 

After this heart-warming bilingual performance, Prof. Le Anh Vinh from VNIES  thanked both teams involved in delivering the project, as well as project artists, facilitators and teachers who attended the launch amidst the very busy examination period. Prof. Vinh briefly introduced the work of the Institute, the progress of the project so far, and expressed his hope that all the beneficiaries of the project: teachers, facilitators artists and students will enjoy the innovative and creative aspects of language learning.  

Next, Davide Guarini Gilmartin introduced the work of the British Council in Viet Nam and situated the ‘Developing Teachers’ Capacities to teach English across modes, media and language boundaries with creative and arts-based resources’ project in the context of the total five current TAGs projects, covering 11 of Vietnam’s 63 provinces, supported by the British Council. Details of the TAG model, teachers’ testimonials and resources are available online

Dr Lavinia Hirsu and Nguyen Ngoc Anh introduced the project teams and representatives from the three DOETs and shared details about the project. Dr Hirsu emphasized the project’s creative, innovative, inclusive and collaborative nature. The expertise of the artists who are joining facilitators and teachers in this project adds a unique dimension to this professional development opportunity. This will ensure that language learning is carried out in schools in connection to local arts, cultural heritage and arts-based practices. The launch event concluded with the main project values that underpin our work: Appreciation, Respect and Courage (ARC). We hope that these values will encourage everyone involved in the project to explore their knowledge, local culture and resources to enrich their teaching and to expand their horizons of creativity and innovation. 

Text by Lavinia Hirsu (University of Glasgow) and Nguyen Ngoc Anh (VNIES)