Author Identifier

Tien Tung Le

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Glenda Campbell-Evans

Second Supervisor

Dr Yvonne Haig

Third Supervisor

Dr Rosemary Allen


English is the global language of business, trade, tourism, technology, science and politics. It is also the official language in many foreign companies (Kam, 2002) and proficiency in English is therefore an advantage for acquiring employment in foreign companies where the working environment is multilingual, professional and highly competitive.

As a dynamic developing country in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has attracted substantial foreign investment since the introduction of Doi Moi or the Renovation policy in 1986. Over the last three decades, a number of foreign companies have established themselves in the country, creating numerous employment opportunities for young Vietnamese people, especially university graduates. These foreign companies originate from a range of countries and English has become the common language for employees who are required to have good communication skills within these workplaces (Roshid & Chowdhury, 2013). While previous studies have investigated employers’ perceptions of graduates’ English proficiency in the fields of manufacturing and engineering in Malaysia and India as well as the employment competencies that business graduates require in Vietnam, little research has investigated the influence of English proficiency on the employability of business graduates from private universities in Vietnam. The aim of this study, therefore, was to explore the influence of English proficiency on the employability of business graduates from private universities in Vietnam who seek employment in foreign companies. To best understand the nature of this phenomenon, qualitative methods were employed to collect data via interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis. Participants included policy makers, private university business undergraduates, business graduates who had sought employment in foreign companies, as well as managers and human resources staff in these companies.

This study found that English proficiency strongly influences the success of business students who graduate from private universities in Vietnam and seek employment in foreign companies. Inconsistent internal triadic relationships between the university course materials, pedagogy and assessment procedures was also found to be an important influence on student success. Finally, the research highlights the external misalignment between student outcomes of English courses at private universities and the requirements of the foreign employers are. Based on the main findings, a number of recommendations have been suggested in relation to policies, universities, language teachers, and future research.

The findings from this study will contribute to understanding the role of English proficiency and its influence on the employability of business graduates from private universities in Vietnam. This information could be used to assist lecturers and other university stakeholders to assess whether English programs in private universities meet the needs of foreign employers and amend them where necessary. Understanding the level of English proficiency required by foreign employers and the methods used to assess graduates’ English proficiency will support private universities and their undergraduate business students to better prepare for future employability in foreign companies. This knowledge will also be valuable for all universities in Vietnam and other Asian countries with a similar culture and English education characteristics. In addition, the findings may inform policies on teaching and learning foreign languages in the Vietnamese national education system.


Paper Location