An ‘English community’ takes shape in Việt Nam

February 05, 2017 - 09:00

Thousands of people across the nation, including professionals, have improved and are improving their English language skills via activities organised by the IZI English Community for more than five years now.

We love this: The IZI Community now gather 150 admin volunteer members. Photo Courtesy of IZI English Community
Viet Nam News

By Lê Hương

Thousands of people across the nation, including professionals, have improved and are improving their English language skills via activities organised by the IZI English Community for more than five years now.

“I haven’t attended any other club that has been so helpful and so much fun as IZI,” said Nguyễn Lâm, a financial expert.

Nguyễn Quang Hùng, a teacher, said he found his skills had improved after he’d joined the club’s activities for several months. “People here are so friendly and helpful,” he said

The community has so far been set up in ten cities including Hà Nội, HCM City, Huế, Đà Nẵng, Nha Trang, Cần Thơ and Quy Nhơn.

Since its establishment in March 2011, the community has helped more than 200,000 English learners in the country.

It hosts 60 free English shows each month, including: iziShare to share English lessons; iziTalk to enhance presenting skills; iziIELTS to share IELTS testing skills; izyBreeze to enhance daily English in communications; and iziDiscovery to practise English through actual tourism activities.

Besides the weekly shows, there are special programmes every month with diversified content, like: IZI Capola, a camping event to practise English and living skills; iziStudent, specifically for school students; and The City Inside, which is a culture and tourism project that aims to provide English practice.

“At first, IZI English was just a small community with 40 members,” Trần Gia Thông, the community’s founder told Việt Nam News, “As it became more popular, the number of activities increased, and even more people joined. I have actually quit chatting with friends at free time and weekends to concentrate on the community’s work.”

Thông, who was a Project Manager at FPT Group, resigned his job because he felt he could not do justice to both.

“I remember my father was silent while my mom was obviously worried whenever I visited them in Huế. I felt as if I had taken a huge risk in betting on my dream.”

Thông took the decision to focus on IZI because he believes English can change people’s lives and even change the whole country.

“I had learnt the language for years, yet my English was not fluent enough to communicate with foreign colleagues and partners,” he said.

Get talking: The community’s main audience and participants are students. Photo Courtesy of IZI English Community

The community’s motto for all ages is “Funnier, Easier and More Effective”. As many as 150 admin members have volunteered to work for the IZI English Community throughout the country.

Nguyễn Minh Nguyệt, 23, a graduate from the Đà Nẵng Economics University, who has joined the community’s activities in the central city, said she had felt more comfortable speaking English since.

“I am a bank clerk and I’m very confident about using English now,” she said.

Thông said he wanted to offer the opportunity to improve English skills to those whose livelihood depends on it.

Last August, the programme “English with Huế’s Cyclo Drivers” attracted hundreds of participants.

“Other admin members of the community doubted the feasibility of my project. After many days of running here and there to find a suitable venue, financial support and persuade cyclo drivers to join in, I was extremely happy to see the hall full of weather-beaten cyclo drivers,” Thông said.

“I felt that IZI had done a meaningful thing – sharing English communication skills with people who need the language everyday to earn their living.”

Thông said that he wanted to expand the IZI Community to all 63 cities and provinces of the country and even co-ordinate with Vietnamese students overseas to go beyond the nation’s borders.

But “finance has been a problem for the community”, he said, adding: “I hope that organisations, enterprises and individuals with the same vision will join our mission.

“Together with IZI, I hope to create a new notion of an “English community”, where enthusiastic young people gather to not only enhance their English skills but also develop themselves to build a stronger nation.” — VNS


Teaching and learning: Thông teaches English to clerical staff at companies to fund the IZI community’s activities. Photo Courtesy of IZI English Community