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Vietnamese man succeeds by turning weakness into strength

Vietnamese man succeeds by turning weakness into strength

Thursday, November 25, 2021, 12:47 GMT+7
Vietnamese man succeeds by turning weakness into strength
Le Dinh Luc works with two colleagues in his company in a meeting. Photo: Nhat Minh / Tuoi Tre

Traveling from the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai to Ho Chi Minh City to enroll in a high school for the gifted under the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City (VNUHCM), Le Dinh Luc found English to be his greatest obstacle.

Because of this, Luc feels a little surprised to find himself an English teacher now, at the age of 29, with two bachelor's degrees and one master’s.

Someone can describe this as a part of his destiny, which led him into a new career that is rather different from what he had expected.

But to people who know Luc well, his story is just a perfect illustration of the old saying: 'luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.'

Culture shock

When Luc first came to Ho Chi Minh City for study, he was shocked to find how expensive the cost of living in the city really was in comparison with his hometown.

“I still remember how extremely uncomfortable it was to live in a rented apartment of eight square meters," Luc recalled.

"I had got used to large spaces in my hometown.

“The cost of living was so high that sometimes my meal only included a few vegetables.

"My biggest asset was one hundred notebooks that I had been given by Gia Lai authorities before."

That was not the worst issue for the teenager then.

Despite being a diligent student in earlier school years, Luc was shocked to find such a substantial difference in his English proficiency and his peers.

“While I struggled to get grade three or five [out of ten] in English, many of my friends scored 8.0 [out of 9.0] on the IELTS test already,” Luc said.

“I became afraid of not being as good a student as I had thought."

Understanding his weakness, Luc tried his best to improve his English level instead of living in fear.

He divided his study time equally between doing math and learning English.

He stayed up late to practice English listening, trying to thoroughly understand English paragraphs in the textbooks.

The learning process was not easy but thanks to his diligence and effective method of learning, Luc was able to keep pace with the class.

After graduating from high school and getting accepted into the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, Luc found himself feeling directionless.

To make things worse, he did not secure a scholarship as expected despite having good marks and a high TOEFL test result.

“I decided to take a gap year at that time,” Luc said, referring to a time when students take a break from academics to discover themselves and consider what kind of education and career they want to pursue, often while traveling.

“Coming back to the university after the gap year, I tried to study to get two degrees at the same time, considering that as a way to say sorry to my parents for my delayed graduation,” Luc recollected.

He also obtained an MBA at an Australian university.

“I intend to go on to pursue the PhD program before returning to my hometown to work for the public authority to satisfy my parents, but I arrived at a turning point in my life,” said Luc.

Discovering a new opportunity

Luc taught English as a tutor in 2016 while he was studying in the master's degree program, running a class in the apartment building where he lived.

To his surprise, Luc found himself happy and excited to teach.

The number of students joining his English class increased thanks to a good reputation.

Considering his new passion as an opportunity, Luc invested more resources and time in it.

He asked some other English teachers to work with him in the hope of building a career from teaching a foreign language.

He launched a center called DOL IELTS Dinh Luc in Ho Chi Minh City to realize his dream.

“I took advantage of my math knowledge to teach English, for example in carving out some formulas of the foreign language and figuring out the key parts of language skills that can help to individualize the learners,” shared Luc.

“I also apply super memory principles in learning vocabulary and pay much more attention to technological solutions because of their benefits."

With such efforts, DOL IELTS Dinh Luc has gained traction among the English learner community over time; however, the COVID-19 pandemic affected Luc’s ability to teach just like many other private educational centers. 

“Because of the unstable situation during the pandemic, the number of our students is not stable," Luc said.

"Sometimes the number decreased 70 percent or even 100 percent during the periods of strict social distancing rules."

For several months in a row, DOL IELTS Dinh Luc lost around VND600-700 million (US$26,470-30,880) monthly while still having to pay salaries for the staff, keep the center’s facilities running, and cover bank loan interest.

“I couldn’t sleep at night though I tried to appear normal before others then,” Luc recalled.

“I was sad to know that my parents were worried for me, as they love me very much.

“I have to take care of my family with a child.”

Refusing to give up, Luc managed to find a solution to the problem.

Given the fact that the pandemic could last for a while, he focuses on investing in developing technological solutions for the website dol.vn.

He asked the teachers to prepare the courses in English to become more suitable for the online environment.

“Fortunately, many learners find this method of learning effective,” said Luc.

"It works for both online and in-person learning."

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Kim Thoa - Cong Nhat / Tuoi Tre News

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