Guest Posts

English Education in Vietnam – guest post by Rose Perry

Since 2007, Vietnam has become a member of WTO (World Trade Organization). Vietnam is known as a developing country which received 10.2 million US dollars from FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in 2006, the highest amount since 1997. Countless foreign companies was established in Vietnam because of large market with more than 90 million peoples. English is an international language that should be a second language in Vietnam. Compared to other countries in Asean, such as The Philippine and Malaysia, Vietnamese English command need to follow them.

English learning and teaching have been a contention for years in Vietnam as teacher qualifications and assessment methodologies are blamed for students’ failure to use the language in real life. These two issues are a major problem. This is a good signal that people can recognize the issue, then coming up with solutions.

In 2008 Vietnam issued Government Decision 1400, the goal of which is: “To renovate thoroughly the tasks of teaching and learning foreign languages within the national educational system”. Project 2020 of MoET (Ministry of Education and Training) was created in 2010 to implement this national renovation. Under Project 2020 Vietnam wants most of its students to be able to use a foreign language, especially English, confidently in their study, daily communication, and work by 2020.

Followed by The Guardian, more than 80,000 English language teachers in Vietnam’s state schools are expected to be confident, intermediate-level users of English, and to pass a test to prove it, as part of an ambitious initiative by MoET to ensure that all young people leaving school by 2020 have a good grasp of the language. MoET demands that high school teachers reach the framework’s second-highest skill level (C1), while elementary school teachers must achieve the fourth-highest level (B1) and middle school educators the third-highest (B2). The shocking result of the test was that a mere 3-7 percent made the grade. In Ho Chi Minh City, a paltry 15.5 percent of 1,100 teachers passed the test, even though the southern economic hub has some of the country’s highest academic standards. (Followed by statistics of in 2013).

B1, B2, and C1 themselves are not diplomas or certificates, they are just guidelines used to describe language command. Speakers of other languages often take common English tests such as TOEIC, TOEFL, or IELTS and get their scores compared to the framework. In that fashion, Vietnam should design a standardized testing system to assess teachers’ language proficiency like the above tests do. For the time being, TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS or other international equivalents can be utilized pending such a system.

For years Vietnamese schools have focused on English grammar and reading comprehension, so exams have had to be set this way. It is no wonder, then, that pedagogical colleges would train their future teachers in these areas so that they can teach their students to pass the exams. As a result, both students and their teachers are trained to be experts in grammatical structures and vocabulary, but not to utilize these skills as a language. As a result, many students graduated from high school could not basic communicate in English. Thus, the testing format should be transformed to test four skills including reading, listening, speaking and writing that will be the best solution.

Not like in countryside, students merely depend on state schools to learn English. In cities, there are variety choices to learn English. Recent years, we can see English centers grow as mushrooms and the quality upgrade by years. Parents might see how important of English is hence their children would be sent to language centers from the early ages. At centers, methods focus on interaction in English, that means students will learn in active ways such as playing-role games and English camping. There is no better method to learn English but take an English bath daily. Especially, teachers’ quality is a plus at language centers. The teachers have international certificates of English besides holding a pedagogical degree and learning English with native speakers that helps students pronounce correctly as English pronunciation standard. But not many children have an opportunity to study English at centers, that depends on family’s affluence.

Nowadays, the Internet plays a crucial role in studying everything including English. That gives a huge opportunity for everyone no matter where he is, countryside or city, lack of conditions or wealth. There are giant knowledge sources offering for free on the Internet, such as Google and Youtube. All the things people need is merely a proper device can access to the Internet. They can access to Youtube or Google, then search “how to speak like a native speaker”, “how to write an essay” or “how to be good at English pronunciation” and learn English for free of charge. The internet opens a new door of learning for people that enables people take an active choice and arrangement for their future.

Besides two issues should be solved in education system of Vietnam, there are a bright side for studying English for free by the internet. The world is flat for learning knowledge by a huge effect of the internet. The matters are how much your effort is and how your time-management is.

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