Teaching English at universities: lecturers talk, students keep quiet

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Teaching English at universities: lecturers talk, students keep quiet

VietNamNet Bridge – Foreign language lecturers now still talk too much in teaching hours, while this should be the thing students need to do to ensure the effective teaching of foreign languages.

Foreign language is a compulsory subject at universities. However, this is not the major of students; therefore, they do not spend much time on learning foreign languages. As a result, a lot of students have to go to foreign language centers to repeat learning hours, or buy foreign language certificates to satisfy the requirements set by employers.

University graduates cannot meet standards on foreign languages

Le Duc Han from Phu Tho province finished school two years ago. However, the former student of the Hanoi University for Civil Engineering still cannot find a good job in his trained major, because he could not pass the English exam.

Han said that he began learning English at high school, but he did not spend much time on the subject because he concentrated on three main subjects to prepare for the university entrance exam. The English study was also bad at the university, and he never could pass the English exam.

Nguyen Thi Thuong, a former student of the Hanoi Academy of Journalism and Communication, said that she nearly got nothing in foreign language skills in the four years at the university. In order to fulfill her tasks at the media company, where she is working for, Thuong has to go to the evening foreign language class.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Vinh Hien also said at a conference discussing the implementation of the plan to teach foreign languages at universities, that while universities have made considerable progress in teaching other subjects, they nearly have not made any progress in teaching foreign languages. “A lot of students still cannot use foreign languages after they graduate schools. This year is really a bitter defeat,” he said.

One of the reasons behind this, according to the Ministry of Education and Training MOET is the unreasonable curriculums drawn up by universities which are too heavy in theory. Students simply go to class to learn grammar rules, while they cannot practice the four major skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing.

Dr Nguyen Ngoc Hung from the National Foreign Language Plan by 2020, has pointed out that lecturers now talk too much, while this thing should be done by students. “Only the student-centered teaching method is the effective method,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Duong Bach Nhat from the Duy Tan University has blamed the problem on the different knowledge of input students. He said that it is very difficult to classify students to put them into different classes in order to have reasonable teaching methods.

MOET vows to stop the “foreign language illiteracy”

In order to stop the “foreign language illiteracy”, MOET has initiated the National Foreign Language Plan by 2020. According to Nguyen Le Huong, Deputy Director of the University Education Department of the ministry, the plan strives to make university graduates to have certain qualification in foreign languages.

Under the plan, the graduates of non-foreign language schools need to understand the main ideas of speakers and handle the situations. This will be the minimum requirement on university graduates.

Nevertheless, the ministry has been warned that this would be a very difficult task for schools, especially when they still have poor material facilities and lack standardized lecturers. Hung thinks that in order to do that, it is necessary to set up foreign language faculties at the schools which have good conditions, and develop the network of teachers.

MOET is planning to set up a new group for university entrance exam – A1 (A1 examinees will have to take three exams of mathematics, physics and English), which it hopes with help improve the English skills of students.

Source: Dan Viet

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