Nguyen Quoc Binh, former Principal of Hanoi-based Viet Duc High School, speaks on the positive side of teaching school pupils the Korean and German languages
Nguyen Quoc Binh, former Principal of Hanoi-based Viet Duc High School— Photo kinhtedothi.vn
Do you support the Ministry of Education and Training’s decision to include the teaching of the Korean and German languages as an official subject in the general school curriculum?
I totally support the Ministry of Education and Training’s decision. As we all know, we are now in the age of globalisation and the English language is very important. Yet, quite many other foreign languages have also become very popular among developing nations and our country has established quite extensive relations with developing countries in many fields, including economics, culture, politics and others. That’s why besides common foreign languages which are being taught in Việt Nam like Chinese, Russian, French and Japanese, we should also include new foreign languages – including Korean, German and others.
Both Germany and South Korea are developed nations and Việt Nam enjoys good relations with them, particularly in the fields of economics, social affairs and diplomacy. So why shouldn't Việt Nam include the teaching of these languages in our general school curriculum?
Of course, some people may say that the Korean and German languages are not really common in many countries in the world. I say that when we have deep knowledge of a second foreign language, it will be very easy for us to learn the third foreign language. For example, if we want to work in Germany, no doubt we should learn German even if we can speak English very well. The same is true for the Korean language.
Do you think the teaching of Korean and German will be welcomed by both pupils and their parents?
The tendency of globalisation has won worldwide support, so if any country has a good national vision and strategy, I’m confident the government of that country will adopt a strategy to teach Korean or German. Adding to that both parents and their children’s general knowledge nowadays is very good. Last but not least, Vietnamese schools now have good infrastructure as well as capable teaching staff.
I don’t deny that in the past few years, Việt Nam didn’t have many people who could teach Korean or German. But in recent years, the Ministry of Education and Training has opened many courses on teaching Korean and German at foreign language universities or colleges.
Can you share with us some of your experiences in teaching German as a foreign language?
Quite a few schools in Hà Nội have taught German as a foreign language. They include the Việt Đức High School; the Trưng Vương, Đống Đa and Chu Văn An secondary schools already teach German as a foreign language. Right now, Korean is the second foreign language in quite a few schools in Hà Nội.
Lessons learned from Việt Đức High School following their decision to teach, first, Japanese and then Korean languages for a few years, showed that good infrastructure is needed before launching the teaching and learning programme.
In 2008, when we first launched the programme, only some 20-30 students registered for the German course. However, the good news is that by the year 2018, more than 100 pupils registered for the course. In the beginning, the pupils had only two classes of German foreign language a week and each class lasted 45 minutes. However, later, the students decided to increase their class hours to between six and eight hours per week. It is very interesting that though German was their second foreign language, their learning results were much better than the first foreign language.
What would you say to parents interested in this?
Right now the teaching of either Korean or German is just in an experimental period. So it is up to the parents to make their own decisions on whether should they let their children learn either the Korean or German languages as a supplementary subject. — VNS
Schools nationwide will pilot the teaching of Korean and German as first foreign languages under a decision freshly issued by the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET).