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Vietnam-US Friendship Association club teaches free English to poor children

Vietnam-US Friendship Association club teaches free English to poor children

Thursday, June 25, 2015, 14:40 GMT+7

A group of students in central Vietnam have voluntarily run a class where they teach poor children English for free.

It has been two months since the HighSky Club under the Vietnam-U.S. Friendship Association in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue opened its English class, which is part of the “English for Free” project intended to help poor and homeless children in the province to communicate in English.

The project is expected to run for three years, from April 2015 to April 2018, with 20 courses.

Each course is planned to last for three months with a total budget of US$100, having a maximum of thirty children per class.

The class is organized along the Huong riverside in Kim Long District in Hue every Tuesday and Friday night and has gathered around 30 students aged 7 to 15.

“Many kids had to quit school to help their parents earn a living, some haven’t even been to school,” Nguyen Cong Son, chairman of the Highsky Club, said. “They sell lottery tickets or peddle for a living.”

“We opened this class in the hope of helping them study English like other children,” Son added.

Besides teaching the children basic knowledge of new words, grammar and pronunciation with topics related to their daily life, around 20 members of the club have also put a focus on tourism by teaching the kids how to greet, give directions and behave toward tourists, as well as knowledge of Hue’s tourist attractions and how to introduce them to visitors.

To create a friendly and joyful atmosphere in the classroom, the HighSky Club often adds songs and games, and holds picnics at local tourist destinations so that students can practice what they have learned.

Son said his club is seeking more volunteers and continuously looking for new teaching methods.

He added that the most important thing the club focuses on is finding the right way to maintain the class in the most sustainable and practical manner, especially by searching for more sponsorship.

French national Gaulthier Marrel, 33, a hotelier in Hue, has been attracted to what the club has done and joined as a teacher of the free English class.

He said he is very happy to take part in such a meaningful activity.

“I found this to be a really great class,” he said. “The kids are fascinated by English and that inspires me for my teaching.”

“I will come more regularly,” he added.

Nguyen Thi Chi, 9, expressed her regret when she had to quit school to peddle to earn money so that she and her mother could afford her father’s illness treatment.

“I really love learning English,” she said.

Chi is the sixth kid in a family of nine.

All of Chi’s sisters also had to quit school and scattered everywhere to earn a living, while her mom deals in scrap.

Her father used to be a cyclo rider and had to retire last year due to tuberculosis caused by overwork.

Chi is one of the class participants from a family whose house used to be nothing other than their boat.

Though the local government has moved them onto land, they still have no stable jobs.

Most of the parents did not go to school, so they desire to send their children to class, yet cannot due to their poverty.

“Teaching them is sometimes quite hard,” said Nguyen Dinh Trieu, a third-year student from the Hue University of Economics, who has been with the class since the beginning.

“However, they study very hard,” Trieu added. “My tiredness fades away when I see them excitedly asking me things.”

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