Despite the debate over the use of Filipino English teachers in Ho Chi Minh City, local education officials have decided to hire them as part of a national English improvement project.
Last weekend, a Vietnamese representative travelled to the Philippines to supervise an exam taken by 53 short-listed Filipino candidates who are trying to get an agreement to teach English in Vietnam.
The applicants earlier made it through a screening and interview process administered by Filipino manpower firms Filsino, Grand, and Jopman, said Tran Thi Thuy Trang, who is working for Vietnamese company AIC tasked with coordinating the project that will cost an estimated US$480 million.
The exam was set to assess the Filipinos’ listening, reading and writing skills, according to a Tuoi Tre journalist who was in Manila with Trang when she oversaw the test on Saturday.
Trang said that test questions had been assessed by English specialists and the exam papers would be sent back to Vietnam for grading by a panel of experts.
“We will recruit them on the basis of their performance on this test,” she further explained.
Cyrel Palmitos, a 33-year-old resident of Cebu City, told the reporter that she had eight years of experience in teaching English to learners from South Korea, China, and Taiwan at several foreign language centers in the Philippines.
Palmitos said that she has a BA in English teaching and sees teaching the language in Vietnam a “good opportunity” to share her knowledge and explore a new culture.
She is currently paid US$300 a month in her home country and hopes that Vietnamese employers will make it to $1,000, a salary she said would help her provide better care for her two children.
Vietnamese educators have cast doubt on the use of Filipinos as English teachers since the Ho Chi Minh City education department announced last year a plan to recruit 100 such instructors for K-12 schools in the 2012-2013 academic year.
The teachers will be paid $2,000 each month to teach at elementary, middle, and high schools chosen by education offices at the district level, the department said.
Dr. Nguyen Thi Kieu Thu, Dean of the English faculty at the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities, then said that it is advisable to learn English with native speakers.
“So great care should be taken in respect to accent, pronunciation, and intonation before hiring teachers from the Philippines. We should avoid using those teachers who are too Filipino in their English,” Dr. Thu said.
The principal of an international school in the city agreed with Dr. Thu, further explaining that English is a second language, not the mother tongue, in the Philippines, so their accent is certainly not as good as British or Australian people.
Vietnamese students will speak English like Filipinos, not native speakers, if they are taught by Filipinos, he warned.
Nguyen Thanh Hai, chief of a district’s education board in the southern commercial hub, said that local schoolsarenot sure about the quality of Filipino English teachers so they will hire them only when their competence has been proven at other educational institutions.
Vietnam wants most of its students to be able to use a foreign language, especially English, confidently in their study, daily communication, and work by 2020 in accordance with the national project.