Last update 4/17/2012 9:22:00 AM (GMT+7)

Students get nothing from 7-years of English learning at general school

VietNamNet Bridge – After spending a lot of time and exertion to learn English at general schools, students still cannot obtain four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Students can read, but cannot understand

Pham Thanh Tam, Headmaster of the Hong Duc High School in Binh Thanh district in HCM City, said that many times he examined the English skills of 12th graders to prepare them for the final exams, and found out that their skills are too bad.

“Students can read text, but they do not understand the content and they cannot summarize the text,” Tam said.

A survey conducted recently by the HCM City Department for Science and Technology has also shown pessimistic results. After finishing secondary school, ninth graders can only speak simple sentences, such as greetings, giving names, while they cannot relate a tale with 100 words as requested by the foreign language teaching program.

How many percentages of students have weak skills in listening and speaking? The answers are 78 percent for students and 70 percent for teachers, 73 percent for management officers and 75 percent of students’ parents.

In late 2011, the reports released by the British Council and Apollo Education Center, show that Vietnamese students ranked the 8th out of the 20 surveyed countries in reading and writing skills, but ranked the 18th in listening and speaking.

Cao Huy Thao, now Headmaster of the Vietnam-Australia High School in Phu Nhuan district in HCM City, former Deputy Headmaster of Luong The Vinh High School in district 1, who spent many years on teaching English, cited many factors that lead to the low quality of English teaching at general school, including the unreasonable curriculums, teaching and learning conditions, unqualified teaching staff and unreasonable assessment method.

Tran Dinh Nguyen Lu, an official of the HCM City Education and Training Department, also said that the curriculums are not really “modern” with low updating levels. Especially, the curriculums have been designed in the way that adults force children to learn according their way of thinking.

Educators said that in teaching foreign languages, students need to practice regularly, which means that teachers should organize various activities during the lessons. In order to do that, the classrooms need to be located separately from other rooms, so that the students’ activities do not affect the nearby classrooms. Besides, the number of students in a class should be low enough to ensure that all of them can practice in the lessons. Especially, teachers themselves need to have good listening and speaking skills.

Meanwhile, general schools all complain that it’s very difficult to find qualified English teachers nowadays. Le Thuy Hoa, Headmaster of the Thai Binh High School, said that the teachers of the schools are all excellent graduates of the Foreign Language University of Education. However, they cannot work as interpreters when the school receives foreign guests.

Hoa said that an international agency has sent officers to the school to help the school improve the English teaching. The officers need an English teacher of the school to help them during the lesson. However, the best teacher of the school said she is not confident enough to take the job.

A recent survey on the qualification of English teaching staff at general schools of Vietnam in accordance with European standards showed surprising results. Only 14 percent of secondary school teachers and 4 percent of high school teachers in Hai Duong province can meet the standards.

The official result for HCM City has not been released, but sources said that only 5 percent of teachers can satisfy the requirements to teach at secondary and high schools.

Source: Phu nu TP HCM