Narrative Inquiry: A Window to Understand Experiences of Learning English of Vietnamese Children in Canada

  • Hang Thi Thuy Tran University of Alberta
Keywords: Vietnamese newcomer children, learning English, narrative inquiry


First month

Canadian school

daughter Joey


tried a lot

could not understand  teacher

felt bad

did not know what to do

left page blank

remembered moments in Vietnam

good marks


from grade one teacher

Now feels lost

upset and silent

Teacher’s English language

Joey’s Vietnamese language

How to communicate? 


This poem shows my daughter’s experiences as she arrives in Canada without ability of communication in English. Tensions, tears, and loneliness are situated in her English language learning, alongside family, teachers and classmates. My wonders about experiences of immigrant Vietnamese children regarding ESL learning shape my research, which inquires into: (1) How families’ and children’s experiences with social, cultural, and linguistic narratives shape their ESL familial curriculum making; and (2) How children’s interactions with teachers and classmates shape their ESL learning experiences?

I employ narrative inquiry to unfold experiences of Vietnamese children. Narrative inquiry studies experiences as storied phenomena. As an inquiry unfolds, narrative inquirers attend to temporal, social, and place aspects of experience. Field research will be alongside three newly immigrated Vietnamese children and families during their first year at school, with data from research conversations, field notes, journals, and artefacts.

While much research has been done on children’s ESL learning, few studies have focused directly on their voices and understandings.  This research expands understanding on ESL learning of Vietnamese children as a door to embrace diversity, promote equity and assure inclusion in early childhood education. It may echo across that of children from diverse education landscapes.


How to Cite
Tran, H. (2020). Narrative Inquiry: A Window to Understand Experiences of Learning English of Vietnamese Children in Canada. VietTESOL International Convention Proceedings, 58-68. Retrieved from