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Teaching and Learning English in Vietnam - Challenges and Opportunities


Generally, learning a foreign language can be a long, grueling process. For Vietnamese students and adults learning the English language, it's even worse. Most Vietnamese learners find it extremely difficult to learn English because there are several disparities between this language and their mother tongue.

As such, any student nursing an ambition as an essay writer may have to spend several years learning and perfecting their command of the English language. So far, English education in Vietnam has not been very successful for several reasons.

Here are some of them:

Too Many Students and Few Qualified Teachers

Vietnam is sorely devoid of expertise in teaching and learning English due to the unavailability of well-trained academics. Language learning requires personal interaction and communication between the teacher and students. Unfortunately, in a class of about fifty students with only one teacher, this is nearly unachievable and impossible for successful outcomes.

In the same vein, a lot of English teachers in Vietnam struggle severely with their command of the language. They often mispronounce words and make avoidable grammatical errors. As such, students end up imitating them and picking up bad grammar habits.

Disparities Between the Two Languages

Vietnamese and English language are very different in terms of intonation and syllabic structures. Vietnamese is a purely tonal language, and as such, students may find it hard to speak English with the correct rhythm, intonation, and stress. When speaking, they may pause between words or partition sentences into unnecessary segments. As such, the end result turns out to be a rhythmless, monosyllabic speech with a heavy Vietnamese accent.

Mode of Education

Vietnam's English education system hasn't received sufficient investment in terms of facility and strategy. Despite the strong focus on learning grammar and writing, conversational practice and communication is lagging behind. As such, most Vietnamese student can ace English tests and write impeccable essays, but few of them can communicate effectively and confidently

There are Several Variants of English

As one of the most popular languages globally, English is spoken as a first or second language in many countries. As a result, each country has its own peculiarities in terms of accents, pronunciation, and figures of speech. The main dialects in English taught in Vietnam are British English and American English, but hardly are there a clear distinction between the two for learners. As such, this can cause some confusion for Vietnamese learners of English.

Opportunities in Teaching and Learning English in Vietnam

Although teaching and learning English in Vietnam is a tad problematic, there are a few opportunities that both teachers and students can explore. Some of these are:

Altering the Educational System

As stated earlier, the English education system in Vietnam poses a challenge to language learning. Since it uses a stiff approach, students may find it difficult to converse in real-time with native speakers. Instead of just focusing on teaching a student how to become a better essay writer, more efforts have been made to improve the results; such as employing more native English teachers and creating more opportunities for students to practice more regularly.

Providing More Qualified Teachers

Currently, Vietnam lacks enough qualified teachers to achieve language targets. As such, school administrators and systems have to consider two options.

First, teachers are required to undertake several English proficiency tests, such as IELTS or TOEFL, and other teaching certificates such as TESOL to ensure the teaching qualities.

Secondly, more efforts and resources should be poured into the training and hiring of English teachers. This way, the ratio of teacher to students will increase, making the learning process easier.

Read more on the Education System in Vietnam

Final Thoughts of Teaching and Learning English in Vietnam

In summary, learning the English language is no walk in the park for Vietnamese students. Thanks to their mother tongue interference and the lack of qualified teachers, they may find it hard to grasp this language fully.
However, with the opportunities listed above, these hurdles can be addressed and removed to create a better learning system for students.


© Written by Kim Pham for

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Monday, 02 October 2023

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