Viet Nam News
by Mai Hiên
Kindergarten teacher Nguyễn Thị Hằng is starting the new year with a lot on her mind.
Although working at a public school in Hà Nội’s Hà Đông District, Hằng has learned she has to meet a new foreign language proficiency level.
She has been told she must reached level two out of six, to be able to understand sentences and structures.
These are new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education and Training.
Although she worked at the kindergarten for the past 10 years, she never needed to use English and her language skills had gotten worse over time, Hằng said.
“Every day, kindergarten teachers contact with children who are learning to speak. The main duty is to take care of them, use a variety of activities and instructional methods to motivate children’s abilities. So I don’t understand why the Ministry of Education and Training set English language requirements for preschool teachers?” she said.
Hằng said she might consider changing her jobs because she didn’t have time to take extra English lessons. Her health was not strong enough to studying a foreign language and working at the same time, she said, adding she normally works between 10-12 hours per day.
According to teacher Nguyễn Cao, the requirement is suitable for secondary and high school teachers as they have to teach and interact with art and scientific documents in English, but not for preschool teachers who take charge of children from two to five years old.
In accordance with the current regulation, Vietnamese is officially taught to children when they are at first grade and English is still the optional subject for students at first and second grade.
Monitoring children’s interactions and nurturing cooperation, teaching alphabet and numeracy along with personal, social and emotional skills occupy most of their time. In an article which was published on giaoduc.net.vn, Cao has questioned the necessity of fulfilling the foreign language requirements if kindergarten teachers didn’t use foreign language in their work.
In the meantime, Nguyễn Thị Mỹ Trinh from the Vietnam Education Science Institute said the demand for obtaining certain foreign language was essential given the country is integrating with the wider world.
Teachers with foreign language proficiency would help improve the quality of kindergarten education as well as their professional skills.
Most of preschool teachers had not been properly trained in foreign languages, she said.
According to the latest statistics of the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), the sector currently has 440,275 managers and preschool teachers, of which 294,655 are preschool teachers.
The number of preschool teachers who reach standard set by the ministry account for 98.7 per cent. Of which, 65.1 per cent of preschool teachers have a college degree or higher. There is a small part, accounting for 33.6 per cent of preschool teachers at the intermediate level.
While many of them could meet the new standards of foreign language ability, some might not, Trinh said. As a result, they had to improve their capacity by learning.
Lê Ái Sơn Hà, headmaster of Mặt Trời Nhỏ kindergarten in HCM City’s Tân Bình District said the demand of mastering foreign language of kindergarten teachers was a must, especially when the MoET intended to include English into preschool’s teaching plans. However, there should be a concrete roadmap so that the teachers could improve their skills.
Since the regulation would be applied in the second semester of 2018-2019, teachers might take every means to obtain the foreign languages certificates. It would be meaningless if they might buy it with an amount of money or ask someone to attend the classes in their names instead of learning by themselves.
For me, I totally agreed with Hà.
It is not easy to teach children to learn their mother tongue. For foreign language it is much more difficult.
I think, it is necessary for kindergarten teachers to have foreign language proficiency as Việt Nam is integrating with the world. It will not only help foster a communicative environment with children but also give them the chance to enhance their knowledge through reading books in foreign languages or exchanging experience with their peers.
To form a reflex to use a foreign language naturally at any age, it is a must to be in contact with that language as much as possible in everyday life. There is a lot of benefit if teachers can use and speak English with children when they are at early ages.
Last but not least, the teachers can communicate with children’ parents especially those from English-speaking countries. — VNS