Authorities, experts against nurseries teaching foreign languages

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Many nursery schools in Hanoi are advertised themselves as bilingual, although they have not been permitted to teach foreign languages, city authorities said recently.

They added that the lessons are not doing much good for the children, and the whole exercise was a ruse to charge higher fees.

Nguyen Quoc Bao of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training said the city officially has bilingual schools only from junior high level onwards, but advertisements about “high-end bilingual nurseries” are plentiful on the Internet.

Bao said foreign languages are not to included in the curricula at primary and nursery schools, so they can offer foreign languages as extra classes with approval from parents and authorities.

No official criteria exists to rank a nursery school as high-end or international, so schools were promoting themselves to charge high tuition fees, according to the department.

Administrators of the Hoa Tra My Nursery which teaches English through songs, stories, plays and field trips said the Ministry of Education and Training should set up criteria so that schools that meet them met requirements can continue teaching foreign languages to the children.

The school said they had conducted a survey and a hundred percent of the parents wanted their children to start learning foreign languages at the kindergarten stage itself.

Many parents said they want their children to learn a foreign language “for fun” or to “get acquainted with” it, but experts have cautioned that this approach is risky because any language should be learnt seriously and correctly from the beginning.

Children should master their mother tongue before starting the second language, they say.

“A high-quality education is not necessarily an air-conditioned room with high-end tools, a lot of computing and foreign languages,” said Tran Tuan, director of the Hanoi-based Research and Training Center for Community Development under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association.

Tuan said at their age nursery children should be encouraged to discover everything about nature that surrounds them.

Reported by Tue Nguyen

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