Hung, in an interview with Tien Phong newspaper, affirmed that the Government wants to see English taught from the third grade, meaning eight year olds will study English.
VietNamNet Bridge – Retraining 62,000 foreign language teachers is the most urgent task in the foreign language education system, according to Nguyen Ngoc Hung, Former Deputy Director of the International Cooperation Department under the Ministry of Education and Training and Member of the Project’s Secretariat.
Hung noted that the “golden age” for studying foreign languages is between 1-8 years. He added that Vietnam is not well-prepared to help citizens understand that first grade foreign language study would be even better than third grade.
Teaching English in the first grade also cannot be done in Vietnam because qualified teachers are required. Most of Vietnam’s pedagogical universities do not have programs to train primary school teachers.
At the primary school level, students do not learn grammar and vocabulary; they need to learn in a completely different way.
Due to the traditional way of teaching foreign languages, which focuses on teaching vocabulary and grammar, teachers have lost their listening, speaking and pronunciation skills in English.
“If we use these teachers in the new program, it would be a big problem,” Hung argued, elaborating that teacher retraining is now the most important task in the project on teaching English at general schools.
Hung said that retraining programs will begin with the renovation of the university curricula on training teachers.
“We need to train some new 20,000 teachers by 2020,” Hung calculated. “And we plan to propose that primary school instructors must have university degrees.”
Vietnam can also draw upon the 62,000 teachers of secondary and high schools. Teachers who have junior college (3-year) degrees will need one more year to teach English at primary schools.
“If we provide intensive training, we will not have to worry about the lack of teachers,” he proposed.
“If we send all the 62,000 teachers to classes to learn English in the summer, it will take 38 years to retrain all of them,” he estimated. “The best solution is for the Ministry of Education and Training to set standards for English teachers.”
“We will provide online training programs using self-study documents,” he continued. “Instructors can download the materials for use at home.”
Regarding curricula, Hung posited that misconceptions about methodology and curricula have spread. Requirements include A, B or C levels, meaning a certain number of grammar and words.
Hung revealed that most educators in the world consider this method outdated. The highest purpose of learning English is to use English in life, and any curriculum should aim to that purpose.
Hung rejects the idea that Vietnam should purchase the curricula of foreign education organizations, although he admits that they have many advantages in using new teaching methods.
The problem is that the curriculums are not designed specifically for Vietnamese students, while the purpose of the program on teaching English is to produce Vietnamese citizens who can use English proficiently.
“We are calling on leading experts to join in this research and help Vietnamese academics who develop curricula to keep up with the pace of developments in the world,” he concluded.
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