Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) recently designed their primary English curriculum, switching from an optional two lessons per week to a required four lessons per week. As part of Vietnam’s foreign language program, the Ministry plans to gradually increase the amount of English-learning classes in order to have 70% of third graders and 40% of six graders to be enrolled in a language program by 2015.
Over 100 schools are set to offer a selective variety of English curriculum programs that will be either partially or completely taught by foreign-speaking teachers.
Nguyen Binh Khiem, a primary school in Ho Chi Minh City, runs three English programs. One involves eight English hours per week at a price of VND $50,000 (USD $2.40) a month with Vietnamese teachers or VND $320,000 (USD $15.35) with foreign teachers. Another option is cheaper for less hours: six hours per week costs VND $50,000 (USD $2.40) with a combination of foreign and Vietnamese teachers. The last option is to register students under the Cambridge English curriculum, amounting to US $150 (VND $3,100,000) a month with foreign teachers.
Another primary school, Ky Dung, includes a trial basis curriculum designed by the MoET. Students can learn English for free with Vietnamese teachers but will pay VND $70,000 (USD $3.35) to learn with foreign teachers.
Many parents worry that the Ministry is too autonomous in their decision to make English classes compulsory. Increasing the amount of program options seems to only complicate the issue. In addition to paying extra fees, parents don’t have a good way to discriminate between each program in regards to quality, standards, outcomes, etc.
Unfortunately, these children are actually the guinea pigs for assessing the effectiveness of each program. After the optional courses are complete, students move onto MoET’s national English curriculum or else another intensive national level program. By that time, we’ll have a clearer picture on whether the programs are having a positive impact or not.
Creative Commons Love: United Nations Photo on Flickr