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Students learn English to pass exams, not to communicate

VietNamNet Bridge - Some provinces have announced that 80 percent of their teachers of English meet national standards. However, the real quality of the teachers remains an unknown.
VietNamNet Bride - Some provinces have announced that 80 percent of their teachers of English meet national standards. However, the real quality of the teachers remains an unknown.


According to Nguyen Minh Tri, deputy director of the Quang Ngai Education and Training Department, 80 percent of foreign language teachers in the province have been certified as meeting national standards.

However, he admitted that it is still questionable if the figure truly reflects the teachers’ capability.

Vietnam has a six-level standard for foreign language teachers at different education levels. General school teachers must meet the standards by 2020 to be able to continue their jobs. Those who cannot meet standards now will have to follow refresher training courses until they can.

Tri said many parents want to know if their children can use foreign language in daily communication and at work in future if they learn at school as requested. And Tri admitted he cannot answer the question.

A representative of the Tay Nguyen University said 47 percent of students could not meet the requirements to finish school last year and 79 percent of them could not meet the requirements on foreign language skills.

Nguyen Thuy Hoang, a parent in Hanoi, said he was sure no student would be able to use English fluently if he only attended the lessons at school. 

Some provinces have announced that 80 percent of their teachers of English meet national standards. However, the real quality of the teachers remains an unknown.

Therefore, Hoang sends his daughter to a foreign language center where the girl can have English lessons with experienced teachers and native speakers.

“I doubt the teaching program applied at general schools can help,” he said.

“I know what students do at English lessons. They just do grammar exercises and practice writing. They don’t have listening and speaking lessons,” he said. “This is because students learn English just to pass exams, not to use English in daily life.”

Deputy director of the Hai Phong City Education and Training Department Vu Van Tra said the teaching of English focuses on practicing writing and reading skills to prepare for exams.

“I think the practice of listening and speaking skills should be the top priority,” he said.

Nguyen Van Trao, vice rector of Hanoi University, agrees with many other educational experts that it is necessary now to upgrade the quality of teachers of English. 

However, he does not think refresher training courses need to be given to 100 percent of teachers.

According to Trao, there are three groups of teachers 1) the ones who oppose reform 2) those who want reform but need guidance and 3) the ones who advocate reform. It would be better to train the third and the second groups.

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