Concerns about ineffective English training
  • | PLTP, dtinews | December 17, 2015 08:20 AM

Local education experts have pointed out widespread failures in the teaching of English, explaining the currently poor results among English language students.

Dr. Tran Thi Minh Phuong from the HCM City Social Sciences and Humanity said that poor quality teachers were among the main reasons for the disappointing situation.

Phuong cited the result of a test by the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), which used guidelines from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to check the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills of thousands of teachers in 30 provinces and cities as evidence for her comments.


Poor quality teachers were among the main reasons for the ineffective English training

MoET demands that high school teachers achieve 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% made the grade.

A recent survey of 143 students and a number of English-language teachers at HCM City Teachers' Training University revealed that only around 15 percent of English language teachers give lessons exclusively in English when teaching the subject.

Many English-language teachers also provide poor quality English tests for their students, so they often copy from international tests online which aren't actually related to the lessons being taught. Dr. Phuong noted that students also don't have much time for English due to their heavy coursework from other subjects.

Nguyen Dinh Thanh Lam from Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School in Soc Trang Province said that teachers in mountainous and remote areas have limited chances to improve their English. So only for those who are really like English put the effort in to master the language.

For years Vietnamese schools have focused on English grammar and reading comprehension, and exams and training has been skewed in this direction. As a result, both students and their teachers are barely capable of speaking and understanding English in everyday use.

Vuong Van Cho, former Headmaster of Pham Dinh Ho in HCM City, suggested that teachers should concentrate on their strengths, such as grammar or comprehension rather than trying to teach all the necessary skills to learn a language.

According to Nguyen Si Thu, Head of the MoET’s National Foreign Language 2020 Project, students from Grade 3 to Grade 12 study English for 3 to 4 hours a week, but increasing this would be difficult given normal school timetables.

Most English-language teachers at primary schools are not even full-time staff, which leads to the situation where they are not even paid for by the school and instead rely on additional payments from the children’s parents. MoET is seeking government approval to raise the number of English teachers to 1.7 people per class from a current 1.5, with the government footing the bill for the additional wages incurred by more teachers being employed

The ministry also plans to build five educational testing centres in big cities and provinces, including the Centre for Foreign Languages, to better assess the quality of English teaching.

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