Analysts agree with the goal but doubt it is attainable.
“It will be a long and thorny path to make English used commonly in Vietnam. Our starting point is too far from the finish,” a high-school teacher in Hanoi said.
He cited an MOET report as saying that 90 percent of students had less than a five score in English from the 2016 national high-school finals and only 8.8 percent students got higher than the average mark.
He said that the students’ real English skills could be even worse than reported.
90 percent of students had less than a five score in English from the 2016 national high-school finals and only 8.8 percent students got higher than the average mark.
“I have to remind you that the statistics only show the students’ reading and writing. If students had been asked to do listening and speaking, the scores would have been lower,” he said.
Ngo Minh Oanh, head of the Education Research Institute, an arm of the HCMC University of Education, cited reasons behind the unsatisfactory exam results, but emphasized that the training curriculum and teaching method are unreasonable.
“The number of English lessons is insufficient and the teaching is ineffective because we focus on teaching grammar and new words,” he said. “While listening and communication skills are very important, we mostly spend time on teaching grammar."
Bui Minh Tuan, a teacher of English in district 7, HCMC, said bad exam results would still be seen in the next few years as a result of the policy.
“The current English teaching method just encourages students to learn words and grammar rules by heart, because this will allow them to pass the exams,” he commented.
Tuan went on to say that 3-4 periods a week are not enough for students to understand, memorize and practice. With just 45 minutes, teachers only have enough time to read new words, show grammar rules and read some paragraphs of texts.
Commenting about the curriculum, a parent, in an email to Phap Luat Viet Nam editorial board, wrote that students learn English like ‘climbing a greasy pole’.
“Students begin learning English at primary school. But when they enter secondary school, they have to repeat lessons from the very beginning. And the same thing happens when they enter high school,” he said.
Oanh said that since the teaching of English at school is ineffective, schools should not undertake the job.
“It would be better to set up independent English centers put under the control of local education departments,” he said.