Few students want to learn Russian, Chinese at schools
VietNamNet Bridge - Only one percent of students choose to study Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese or German as their first foreign language. They live mostly in large cities where economic conditions are good and the demand for learning foreign languages is high, according to MOET.

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In Hanoi, 218 students study German as their first foreign language. The figure is 130 in HCMC. 

Russian is being taught to 1,200 students in 10 cities and provinces, including Hanoi, Hai Duong, Hai Phong, Hoa Binh, Thai Nguyen, Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa and Nghe An.

Chinese is taught in nine provinces, 28 secondary and 18 high schools. About 12,000 students are learning the language, mostly as their first foreign language.

Japanese is taught in seven provinces and 32 schools to 25,000 students as their first and second foreign language.

Meanwhile, many cities and provinces still focus on teaching English. MOET has found that students following the 10-year English learning program (Program 2020) have seen their English skills improve considerably, especially in language use capability.

Only one percent of students choose to study Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese or German as their first foreign language.

MOET in 2015 and 2016 announced that it will put Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages into teaching at general schools, which raised debates among the public.

An agreement on a pilot Korean language program at schools in Vietnam from 2016 to 2023 was signed in early 2016 between the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training and the South Korean Embassy in Vietnam, under which, Korean will be the second foreign language to be taught at high schools throughout the country. After the pilot period, Korean may become the first foreign language at Vietnamese high schools.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, former vice rector of the Hanoi Foreign Languages University, said it was not a good idea to urge students to study Russian and Chinese. Ecause of the burden to learn two languages at the same time.

In the last 30 years, Vietnam has been focusing on one foreign language, but Vietnamese students’ English skills are still low. Eight-four percent of students had below 5 (average score) for English on high-school finals.

A high school teacher in Hanoi, agreeing with Hung, said it is nearly an impossible mission for students to learn two foreign languages at the same time, and that MOET is too ambitious with its project to offer many foreign languages at schools.  

Meanwhile, Nguyen Dai Co Viet, a lecturer of Chinese at Hanoi National University, said that it’d be better to respect students’ choices.

“Students need to be given the right to choose to learn foreign languages they want,” he said, adding that more choices would be better for students.

“The people in provinces neighboring China want to learn Chinese to do business with Chinese,” he explained.

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Chi Mai

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