Here are my temporary conclusions, after more than a month of searching and experimenting, about our English issues:
1. There is a wide gap between reading comprehension and writing skills.
2. This is a wide gap between translating English into Vietnamese and translating from Vietnamese into English.
3. Even people with very high level of writing–translators for newspapers- are stuck with “translated English” and sound awkward.
4. There is considerable difficulty in writing English directly, without the help of a Vietnamese article for translation purposes.
5. There is a weakness in familiarity with everyday English.
6. I also suspect a weakness in multiple choice testing.
I think the main reason is that Vietnamese language has been playing a major role in English teaching. I think Vietnamese language should play NO role in English hours. Everyone should stay with only one language in the English hour–English language.
In English hours, students should be taught to speak, listen, read and write English, without the interference of Vietnamese language.
In other words, we need the “total submersion” method in English education.
And I think we can do that easily, simply by switching methodology. The current teachers can do that. Immediately. Without the need for bureaucracy, plans, calculations, approvals, etc. We just need a group of dedicated teachers.
I would like to hear more from English teachers on these points. And eventually we should have a group of teachers with the same thinking, to explore ways to revolutionize English teaching. Let’s focus on our creative power.
And we need to think about more methods for students to use English in everyday life, more than just a couple of hours a week in the classroom.
We need to think about English as a major component of the national development strategy. As a nation, we need to master English as the main business language, at the same level as Vietnamese business language. The world is a very large reservoir of knowledge, and English is the conduit into that reservoir. We cannot afford to be weak.
Let’s keep all these points in mind as we explore our ways together.
I am thinking about eventually turning these challenges into discussions, so that we can simply “talk” in English, about issues of our lives, our cities and our nation. But I am not sure how to go about it yet. Still thinking. If you have any suggestion, please shoot.
In the meantime, here is our challenge for today:
Chị Kiêm Yến posted this quote by Demosthenes on May 29: “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”
Luke is a 10-yr old boy. And he asks you: “What does that saying mean?”
Please explain it to him.
Have a great time.