The first two decades of the 21st century have witnessed implementation of various high-stakes initiatives by both Vietnamese and Japanese governments in the sphere of English language teaching against the backdrop of globalization and digitalization. Emerging around 450 BC when Socrates avowed “the world” to be his homeland, the very notion of global citizenship has evolved, resurged and pervaded universally. To align with this trend of global interconnectedness, Vietnam and Japan have launched numerous comprehensive reforms, some of which are to change the dimensions in higher education using English language. Albeit some discrepancies in approaches and trajectories, both governments share an overtly common goal of laying firm foundations for university graduates to develop indispensable competencies, skills, and values with an eye towards shaping future global citizens. This paper aims to depict comparative contours of English language teaching practice incorporated with the concept of ‘global citizenship’ in Vietnam and Japan, followed by a critical discussion of the large-scale reforms at tertiary level. Based on data garnered from a qualitative method, along with empirical and theoretical analyses, this paper evaluates some potential avenues for curriculum improvements, including diversification of learning activities, incorporating cultural competences, making use of the communicative approach, etc. Meanwhile, many barriers are also uncovered such as inadequate training for teachers on pedagogy for global citizenship education, lack of qualified educators, and a mismatch between the assessment and evaluation system and curriculum, all of which might hinder the practice of global citizenship and values education. The study concludes by putting forward a number of feasible pedagogical and policy implications for key stakeholders in Vietnam and Japan per se.