Senior expert of the Ministry of Education and Training's National Foreign Languages Project 2020, Nguyen Lan Trung, speaks to Kinh te&Do Thi (Economic and Urban Affairs) about English teachers.
What are your thoughts on the results of a recent survey saying that up to 51 per cent of Vietnamese teachers teaching English at primary schools, more than 63 per cent at junior secondary schools and over 73 per cent at senior secondary schools, did not meet national teaching standards?
There are two issues here.
Firstly, teacher training used to focus on knowledge but now we focus more on capacity. Many teachers at aged between 45-50 struggle to meet the standards.
Secondly, assessments were also different before. The ministry has changed and applied the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages levels A1, A2, B1, B2, so Vietnamese teachers need time to adapt.
These two reasons explain the high rate of sub-standard teachers recently. However, in reality, the number of qualified English teachers has increased in the last three years.
Teachers who have not met standards are still teaching. How will this affect teaching and learning?
Teachers who have met standards and acquired new teaching methods will produce good results.
Those who have not met standards are still learning.
In recent years, especially in 2014 and 2015, the National Foreign Languages Project 2020 helped train and foster about 40 per cent of the total 70,000 English-language teachers.
One third of these, including the teachers who have not been trained, have had access to programmes, curricula and innovative materials.
I think that basically, the standard has improved from five years ago. Many have changed their views and teaching methods have been improved.
How can the standard of competence to practice English-language teachers be raised as quickly as possible?
The National Foreign Languages Project 2020 will continue organising online training courses and there are also many training materials online.
Other important factors are external and internal motivations. External motivations are the institutions and policies. For example, a teacher who has attended training courses for the fourth time but made no progress should be transferred to another job. Internal motivation is from the teachers' peer pressure to improve while parents and students demand more in teaching. As a result, teachers will see the need to learn and to improve themselves.
Along with training and fostering, how would hiring new English teachers be geared to meet the needs of innovation?
Now we have about 17,000-18,000 primary schools but only 7,000 teachers. To remedy this situation, local authorities have to recruit unofficial foreign language teachers. But no one controls the quality of these teachers' teaching.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Education and Training and local people's committees need to work together to realise employment policies. — VNS