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Queen of Sauce creates English revolution

Update: December, 03/2017 - 09:00
Astonished: American volunteer Sam Nuzes says Hama is a heaven on earth. - Photo giaoducthoidai.vn
Viet Nam News

by Gia Hân 

Đào Thị Hằng, known as the “Queen of Sauce”, is a prominent name on the domestic market with her brand of the product. But she has also become known for her revolutionary teaching methods - banning the use of mobile phones and the internet six days a week while students study her English courses in the isolation of the northern mountains.

This clever woman recently spoke about a confidential project, a village she has built with her co-workers to teach children English and essential life lessons - all conducted in a strict environment with an emphasis on meditation.

Once the highest scoring student at Huế University of Agriculture and Forestry, Hằng rejected overseas scholarships to remain in the country, founding the Leader Talks Education, an English education centre in HCM City, licenserd by the Leader Talks Globe organisation in Britain and Hằng’s Fish Sauce company. 

She also runs Hama Village, an English and meditation centre for children in Đắk Nông Province. But Hằng admits that she herself learned from an excellent woman teacher, who modestly declined to give her name.. 

“Back in 2014, I helped students who had pronunciation difficulties in international schools in HCM City and Bình Dương. After 10 weeks, most students were confident in speaking, but when they got back to their studies, they ended up making the same mistakes,” said Hằng. 

"I was disappointed to think all of our efforts were wasted. It meant that if children went to the city’s English centres, they probably would not be able to communicate properly until they were 40.

"Fortunately, when I was thinking of giving up, I remembered a teacher who once showed me how to deal with the  problem. She compared the children who successfully finished the course as seeds that needed to be placed in an incubator and watered regularly until they became small seedlings. When they are strong plants, they are taken and put in the garden.

"But if planted too early, the seedlings will be affected by the sun, rain, wind, and storms, making it hard for the plants to grow. My students are the same. They are all at the seedling stage and need to be nurtured to ensure the survival rate is 100 per cent,” she said.

Hằng said this was also the way she learned English. She spent almost one year refining her English and elevated her IELTS skills before travelling abroad, like her four brothers and sisters. “After graduating from high schools or universities, all of them spent one to two years studying and focusing on English before they became English teachers.

The advice she was given by her former teacher enlightened her, providing a brighter path for herself and, eventually, her own students.

After thinking carefully about the new teaching method, Hằng decided to move to Gia Nghĩa, the capital of Central Highlands Đắk Nông Province. Fifteen students followed her to the village to live and study together. She named the village Hama, meaning Healthy and Cheerful in ethnic language.

Relaxing: A play hour at Hama Village for students guided by a foreign teacher. - Photo giaoducthoidai.vn
Medicine: Students at Hama village learn about traditional medicine and acupuncture.- Photo giaoducthoidai.vn
Success: Đào Thị Hằng (Centre, pink long dress) and her students at a graduation ceremony in HCM City. - Photo giaoducthoidai.vn

Besides learning English at high intensity, Hằng’s students practise eating and drinking in a healthy way, practise natural agriculture and speak English every day. The phone is only used on Wednesdays so her students can concerntrate on their studies.

Students at Hama study from six months to two years. Some practise their IELTS skill before studying abroad, some study English to become teachers so that they can work abroad or work in foreign companies in Việt Nam. Most have just graduated from high school or university.

After 20 background courses and eight concentrated courses in the strict environment, Hằng observes the progress of her students. “Learning to live and work are essential lessons our ancestors passed down to us. English is a skill that develops wellif these lessons are learned," she said. "Our students learn how to stay focused, stay calm and be aware of what they are doing, while opening their hearts to learn new things, and be ready to love and help other individuals."   

Phones and the internet can help provide information, but at the same time, they cause distraction and waste time and energy. They also cause users to lose their concentration.

“Some of my students were notorious game players, and have successfully gone into rehabilitation and returned to their high score.

Sam Nuzes, a young American volunteer, who has spent a month studying and working with Hama students, said Hama was a heaven on earth, “I am really astonished with what Hằng and her students are achieving here,” he said.

Following Hằng’s method for one to two years, no friends, phone or internet, in a strict environment with the support of meditation, most of her students have passed and become excellent students.

“No happiness can compare to seeing positive feedbacks from their parents and watch them grow mentally and physically well,” she said. VNS