Pupils show little interest in Russian, Chinese or Japanese language
  • | | January 28, 2017 01:50 PM
Statistics from the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) shows that English is still the most popular foreign language at local schools, while only 1% pupils choose to study other languages.

 Students learning Chinese at a primary school in HCM City. 
Only some localities can arrange to organise classes in Russia, German, Japanese, Chinese or Korean in Vietnam. German classes are provided in Hanoi, HCM City and Danang and only 218 pupils in Hanoi and 130 in HCM City study it as a first language.

Russian is being taught for some 1,200 pupils at one secondary school and 12 high schools in 10 cities and provinces.

Chinese attracts some 12,000 pupils from nine cities and provinces, while Japanese is becoming more popular with around 25,000 learners nation-wide.

Many pupils are studying both Chinese and Japanese with one selected as the first language and the other second.

Meanwhile, French still holds a stable place in Vietnam education system with over 42,500 learners from 34 provinces.

And the rest choose English as their first language.

MoET has recently faced with rising opposition from parents and experts when announcing a plan to add Japanese, Chinese and Russian as first languages to elementary schools programs.

The pilot programme will be implemented in Hanoi and be reviewed after a few years and the languages will be introduced to more schools.

Many parents have criticised the plan, particularly unhappy with the decision to make Chinese and Russian mandatory languages, adding that the ministry should invest more in English teaching as many Vietnamese students are unable to communicate with foreigners after years in school.

MoET's former minister, Tran Van Nhung also said that it was necessary to consider the current demand and the benefits it will bring when choosing the first foreign language to study. 

"I think English is still the most important foreign language and we should try to teach it properly before including other languages," Nhung said.

Meanwhile, MoET's minister Phung Xuan Nha, said the government would still focus on enhancing the quality of English teaching but the learning of additional languages should be encouraged.

Vietnam's twelve-year project to improve foreign language teaching and learning by 2020 which cost VND9.4-trillion (USD440.3 million) is falling behind many of its initial targets for 2020.

At a recent seminar chaired by MoET minister Phung Xuan Nha to review the project’s progress and to implement its final phase over the period 2016 to 2020, Nha admitted the shortcomings of the projects.

According to a report from the seminar, the goal of having 100 percent of third graders following a ten-year English program by the year 2020 seems far-fetched, as only 20 percent of third graders currently have access to the programme.

Over 50 percent of grade(? Infant?) school English teachers in Vietnam still fail to meet standards set by the six-level ability framework of Project 2020, which means money and time will have to be spent training these teachers first before grade(?) school students can study in the new English programme.

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