Concerns over low-quality language centres raised

Many experts have raised concerns about the quality of language centres in Vietnam.


Nguyen Tien Dung, chairman of Langmaster English Centre, issued a public apology

The Ministry of Education and Training has issued Circular 31 about operational regulations of computer and language centres to replace Circular 3 issued in 2011. Provincial authorities are responsible for directing departments of education and training to work with localities to inspect the centres.

The departments must publicise the list of all active computer and language centres in the area including commitments about quality, their establishment dates and locations for public monitoring.

Nguyen Lam Giang, regional manager in Southeast Asia of Waikato University from New Zealand, said mostly small and unlicensed language centres were substandard. Giang also said that the authorities often asked the centres to submit their teacher list before issuing licenses. But in reality, many there is a high turnover of teachers employed in these centres.

“Major language centres are very strict when training and hiring teachers. For example, the teachers must have Celta, Tesol or Delta certificates in order to teach English in another country. Small centres don’t have the resources and qualified teachers are not that many and most will work at big centres,” she said.

According to Giang, the authorities face difficulties in management due to the sheer number of language centres in a crowded and large area. The students are confused at the huge amount of information from relatives and the internet.

Le Thi Chinh from Hanoi Foreign Language Specialised School said reputable centres could help students find scholarships to study overseas. The teaching quality at small centres was a big question mark since students can go and leave classes whenever they want.

Lax management will lead to falling standards and scandals and students will be the ones receiving the bad end. For example, recently, Nguyen Tien Dung, chairman of Langmaster English Centre, issued a public apology after it was discovered that the centre had been reproducing teaching programmes and methods from various sources without credit.

Pham Xuan Tien, deputy director of Hanoi Department of Education and Training, also said that they had detected several cases in which the language centres replaced teachers and failed to notify the authorities.

“In principle, the centres must publicise the information about their teachers or they can provide the list to their students only,” he said.

Thanh Huong from Hanoi’s Ba Dinh District, said it took her months to research and test the centres for her children since there were no known official standards.

“First I went to reputable centres and asked them to provide some licenses and teachers’ certificates. Then I tried to take the courses myself to find out about their strong points such as grammar or communication skills and find the most suitable ones for my children,” she said.

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