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Vietnam lacks teachers to reach language targets

The Ministry of Education and Training in Vietnam has once again expressed concerns that the quality of foreign language instruction in the country is preventing English proficiency goals from being met.

VietnamVietnam's ambitious English proficiency targets suffer from a lack of resources. Photo:

"The parents often care too much about the marks"

The ministry recently revealed that the average English scores over the last three years were below 5.0 on a ten-point scale, with attainment significantly lower outside the major cities.

The Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages in the National Education System 2008-2020 project set targets to drive up the standards of language learning in the country, with English as a particular focus. However, many stakeholders see the targets as over-ambitious and not achievable with the country’s current resources.

“Even after about 10-15 years of learning English, [students] mostly can’t say anything”

“If anyone wants to get a higher salary or go abroad, they need to learn English. All students in Vietnam must study English at school from grade one and do about three lessons per week,” Hieu Nguyen of GrowGreen Vietnam told The PIE News.

English language school English First’s English Proficiency Index currently ranks Vietnam 41st out of 88 countries and regions, between Uruguay and Russia.

“In Vietnam, the parents often care too much about the mark. They just want their children to get good marks and be better than the other kids,” Hieu Nguyen continued.

“At school, 90% of students can’t communicate in English well because they hardly speak English. They just know grammar, reading and tests. Even after about 10-15 years of learning English, they mostly can’t say anything, although they can read well sometimes.”

One of the key issues is the lack of qualified teachers in the country, particularly in state schools.

“Foreign language teachers must guarantee their teaching language proficiency level as two degrees higher than the general standard of school level. Accordingly, the high school teachers need to gain the level of C2 [in order to teach at a B2 level],” noted Thuong Nguyen in her paper Vietnam’s National Foreign Language 2020 Project after 9 years: A Difficult Stage.

Nevertheless, the survey shows that upper secondary school teachers with the level of C2 only constitute a low percentage of 0.1%.

“As such, many students head to training centres for additional tutoring,” the author explained.

“It is very common [to do extra classes], especially in a big city. But teaching English is different from big cities to other provinces,” Thuc Doan Nguyen, the head of the overseas study centres at ILA Vietnam, told The PIE News.

And while English is the main second language in Vietnam, Thuc Doan Nguyen noted that in the cities some people are beginning to learn Japanese and Mandarin.

Outside of the major cities, particularly around the Mekong Delta and the northern mountainous regions, finding teachers continues to be a challenge.

According to the EF English Proficiency Index, English proficiency has improved in the country since 2011 but not enough to meet the 2020 targets.


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4 Responses to Vietnam lacks teachers to reach language targets

  1. I have a Vietnamese friend who is a highly regarded English teacher and speaks good English. I attended his class and the students could recite large lists of vocabulary but hardly hold a conversation. Vietnamese teachers need to provide more language practice to their students rather than just taking the easy option of teaching grammar and vocab.

  2. @Matthew Molloy, it’s definitely true, but one matter you should know is not everyone can access good sources, materials and references to further. Maybe only city inhabitants or born in a “good financial-based” family can.

  3. I am willing to teach there for a good salary and help.
    I have 12 years of professional teaching experience, English language certification, public school credentials for K-6 and for science in 8-12th grades.
    I teach in a World IB School now and have also taught the most difficult environments before.
    I have my college degree and have a background in running companies as a head manager in the USA.
    I have 25+ years experience in Judo (martial arts) and run my own club as wells compete.
    What do you have to offer me?
    I also have experience with the Vietnamese culture and agree with it.
    Want to learn English? Professional business level English also?
    Want to know about doing or running a business in the USA?
    Here I am? Anyone?

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