VietNamNet Bridge – The Hanoi education department initiated program on teaching English to first graders started in 2008. To date, 400 schools have joined the program.
The Ministry of Education and Training decided that English is a learning subject for the students from the third grade. However, the Hanoi Education and Training Department has decided that the first graders would also have two English periods a week, commencing from the 2009-2010 academic year.
The department, in a dispatch to primary schools, suggested that the schools should cooperate with prestigious English centers to organize English teaching programs for their students. The curriculums for reference include DvnEd of the Education and Development of Vietnam (E&D Vietnam), Phonics – Learning Box UK, and the curriculum compiled by Language Link Vietnam.
It is estimated that to date, the first graders of 400 primary schools in Hanoi have been taught English under the program. Though English is just an optional subject to first graders, nearly 100 percent of students have registered for the English learning.
The Hanoi Education and Training Department has reassured the public that the program would help students learn English methodically and efficiently. The teaching quality would be inspected, which will decide whether the teachers can continue working for the program.
However, a lot of parents have complained that they cannot see the benefits of the program.
Nguyen Thi Ngoc P, a parent whose daughter learns English at the Hoang Dieu Primary School, said she feels disappointed when realizing that the daughter’s English skills are not better than the children who do not follow the joint training program.
P said that she has to pay 6 million dong in tuition for the 10-month English learning, the tuition high enough to think that the students would get the best teaching quality.
The mother said she still has to bring the daughter to an English center in Hanoi to improve her English knowledge.
“I told my daughter to stop going to the English class at the school, because I cannot see any improvement in her English. However, she told me that she would have to move to another class, if she does not continue learning English,” P said, adding that she fears that this would affect the daughter’s psychology.
Nguyen Van T, a parent in Dong Da district, said that he is not sure if the English lessons at school are useful to his daughter. T’s daughter not only learns English at school, she also goes to a foreign owned English center in Hanoi.
“Sometimes my daughter complained that the spelling of the teacher at the school and the teacher at the center is quite different. Honestly, I do not know who is right,” T said.
A parent, whose child is now learning English at the Nguyen Trai Primary School in Thanh Xuan district, said she accepts to pay the high tuition of 500,000 dong a month, provided her child can enjoy good teaching service.
However, she said she still cannot see the efficiency of the program.
The mother believes that in principle, every 25 students need one teacher. Meanwhile, at primary schools, a teacher needs to take care for 40-60 students, which makes it impossible to provide good teaching.
Especially, some parents have doubts about the necessity of the English teaching program, believing that it’s too early to teach English to first graders.
First graders have just begun their study, and they still have to work hard with Vietnamese letters and words. Therefore, this would be a burden on them, if they have to learn English at the same time.
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