Wrapping up their workday, many Vietnamese laborers at an industrial park are choosing to extend their day by participating in free South Korean and Chinese language classes, conducted right within the industrial zone.
In the dimly lit evenings, a distinct group of workers diverges from the rush to the bus station, heading instead to the foreign language classroom at the Service Center of Thai Nguyen Industrial Zone in Phu Binh District, Thai Nguyen Province.
The classroom, attended by nearly 90 workers and employees from various companies within the industrial zone, was initiated following a recent meeting between Nguyen Thanh Hai, the Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, and the workers.
Special and inspiring classrooms
Upon entering the class, Bui Nguyen Son, a resident of Soc Son District, Hanoi, enthusiastically greets the teacher in Chinese.
His tone is remarkably smooth, a surprise even to himself. As a seasoned worker specializing in aluminum and glass production at the Hyundai Aluminum Vina Joint Stock Company, Bui Nguyen Son could not have envisioned mastering the Chinese language.
While Son's pronunciation, like that of other learners, may not be entirely standard, each participant receives encouragement from their peers when attempting to pronounce or read a sentence in Chinese.
The two-hour class, starting at 5:45 pm and concluding at 7:45 pm, accommodates the workers' need to catch the last bus of the day.
Despite their fatigue from a full day's work, all the students eagerly engage in learning new languages.
"I’ve learned Chinese since I was a child, mainly through songs and films, but I did not understand spoken Chinese.
"So, when I heard about the free Chinese classes offered by the company, I registered immediately," shared Son.
"Being occupied with work all day at the factory, I take advantage of my commute time to review the lessons. Once I am home, it is family time," he added.
Son and his daughter spend 30 minutes every evening revising foreign language lessons.
This not only fosters a closer bond between father and daughter but also allows his daughter to grasp some Chinese phrases.
"We didn't have a chance to learn before, so now, with many coworkers in the class, we all strive to attend the classes regularly," Son shared.
Pham Thi Phuong, an employee at Alutec Vina Company, explained that due to the predominance of South Korean members on the company's management board, many workers have enrolled in the South Korean class.
Additionally, workers hope that learning the language will make their work with South Korean-imported machines more convenient and effective.
Thanks to these free language classes, workers can now comprehend the company's announcements, search for information on the Internet, and learn new words for daily use.
According to Phuong, understanding their bosses' opinions used to be a challenge, but now, with improved language skills, workers can perform their tasks quickly and accurately.
Sustaining the passion
Recognizing the fatigue felt by workers after a long day, teacher Nguyen Thuy Quynh patiently guides learners in pronunciation and correct language usage.
To make the foreign language courses practical and engaging, Quynh, in addition to covering grammar and pronunciation, compiles a set of vocabulary related to the workers' daily tasks and working environment.
This includes terms for various job levels, company divisions, and professional manufacturing fields.
With diligence, learners can read international phonetic transcriptions and grasp new words after just five to 10 classes.
Pronunciation challenges for older learners are addressed through recorded videos demonstrating correct pronunciation and small homework assignments.
Quynh advises her learners to spend some free time each day practicing the language using language-learning apps and browsing social media like TikTok and YouTube to immerse themselves in the language environment.
"At first, learners could only say hello, thank you, or ask about the teacher's health in Chinese. However, after half a month, many can introduce themselves, stating where they live and their hobbies," shared the teacher.
Cao Dao Duy, a 36-year-old manager at Korea Electric Terminal Company, emphasized that since his company is financed by Korean capital, the management expects all staff, including managers and workers, to communicate in Korean.
This facilitates smoother operations within the company.
Given this expectation, the labor union and employees of the company proposed the opening of a foreign language class within the company premises.
They recognized the challenges faced by workers, especially in terms of time constraints, so having the class within the factory would be extremely helpful and convenient.
Learning within the company premises enables workers to attend classes right after finishing their working day without the need to travel elsewhere.
Knowing the required foreign language allows workers to receive guidance directly from company leaders without waiting for translations.
"Despite the high volume of orders at the end of the year, the company's leaders actively manage schedules so that workers still have time for learning after work," shared Duy.
"In fact, this is a long-term investment to improve production efficiency," he added.