Learning English has become a norm in Vietnam. Everyone thinks that they must speak fluent English in order to get good jobs in this period of globalization.
English language centres have been mushrooming in the past few years to satisfy the increasingly high demand. The centres prove to be the most suitable places to learn English, because they offer classes to all, from university students, who need to practise English, to those who work during the day and can only study English in the evening.
However, English language experts have pointed out that the method of teaching English used by these centres is “problematic”.
Tran Minh, who is working for a trading company, said that though for many months he has been attendinge evening English classes regularly and do his home exercises, his English has not improved much . Especially, he does not feel confident enough to engage in even short conversations.
Hoai Linh, a new university graduate, related that he spent a lot of on classes atlanguage centres, but he still cannot speak English.
“I was taught by different teachers, including English native speakers. However, the problem is that neither Vietnamese nor English native speakers have any pedagogical experience,” Linh said.
Because of the lack of pedagogical experience, the teachers could not show their students an effective way to learn English. During the lessons, the lecturers simply asked questions Which the learners then answered.
“Since learners do not have opportunities to communicate with English native speakers, they do not make any considerable progress after attending the courses,” Linh said.
VietNamNet’s reporters, while surveying the demand for learning English, have found out that among the four most important skills in learning a language (listening, speaking, reading and writing), the demand for learning the speaking and listening skills accounts for 80 percent. However, at English centres nowadays, learners spend most of their time doing grammar exercises, and do not have time for listening and speaking.
A diffident learner will never say more than two words and they are always afraid that that they would day them incorrectly.. As the result, they dare not communicate with others which means that their English becomes even worse.
An experienced English teacher said that when learning Vietnamese, people have to follow the order listening-speaking-reading-writing. Meanwhile, when learning English, people have to follow the reverse order writing-reading-speaking-listening. “This explains why Vietnamese people cannot speak English well,” he concluded.
Vietnamese people from the south tend to speak better English than those from the north. This has been explained by the fact that the living and business environments in the south, especially in HCM City, a busy commercial hub, require people to have good English skills to communicate with foreigners. This has, once again, proved that forlearning English , the most important factor learners should have is a good communication environment.