English skills still low despite big money poured into programs

Last update 07:30 | 19/01/2017
VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam has vowed to improve students’ English skills by pouring trillions of dong into English teaching programs, but the majority of university graduates cannot communicate in English.


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The high percentage of students lacking basic and professional English skills is one of the biggest problems of Vietnam’s university education.

A survey conducted of 18 universities in Vietnam found that first-year students can get 220-245 score out of 990 TOEIC scores. This means that students would need 360 teaching hours more, or 480 periods to obtain 450-500 TOEIC score, the minimum score candidates need to be shortlisted by employers.

However, MOET found that schools only arrange 225 English periods for students,  which is not enough for students to practice all four basic skills.

According to MOLISA, Vietnam produces 400,000 university graduates every year, but six out of 10 graduates lack working skills and English skills.

Most graduates cannot communicate in foreign languages because of the lack of basic knowledge about words and sentences.

Vietnam produces 400,000 university graduates every year, but six out of 10 graduates lack working skills and English skills. 

A research project of the World Bank showed that the lack of English skills and soft skills made Vietnamese candidates less attractive at interviews. This is one of the reasons behind the high unemployment rate of bachelor’s degree graduates.

Though Vietnam is aware of the weaknesses and has spent big money to fix the problem, the situation has not improved.

After eight years of implementing the VND9.4 trillion national program on teaching and learning foreign languages in the national educational system in 2008-2020, Vietnam cannot reach its goals.

In 2016, Vietnam had 1.6 million students in third, fourth and fifth grades out of total 7.8 million students (20 percent) could learn English for four periods a week.

The other students had two periods of English each week. It was still far from the goal that 100 percent of third graders could approach the 10-year learning program.

This is partially attributed to the lack of teachers of English. Only 33 percent of secondary school teachers and 26 percent of high school teachers meet standards. The percentage of standard teachers is much lower in some provinces.

Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha admitted before the National Assembly on November 16 that the national program on teaching foreign languages had failed.

In November 2014, the public was stirred up by the letter from a Vietnamese girl in Nepal to the MOET Minister, who was then Pham Vu Luan.

Linh, the girl, commented that the teaching of English in Nepal was not professional, because it did not have much money to buy TVs, cassettes and dictionaries. However, she believed that Nepali students’ English skills were better than Vietnamese, though Nepal is a poor country.

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This entry was posted in Giáo dục - Education, Giáo dục tiếng Anh - English education and tagged by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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