More Vietnam provinces look to hire Filipinos to teach English

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Teachers of elementary and secondary schools learn from a foreign teacher at the Eastern International University in the southern province of Binh Duong

Despite the controversy it sparked off, Ho Chi Minh City's plan to hire Filipinos to teach English at elementary and secondary schools has found takers in some neighboring provinces.

Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that educational authorities in Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Ba Ria - Vung Tau have either approved or considered plans to hire Philippine teachers for both students and teachers.

The report came a month after the newspaper said HCMC's plan had drawn mixed opinions, with many saying it was unreasonable when it was announced in October.

Critics had argued that English was not Filipinos' native language, and that the monthly salary of US$2,000 offered to them was good enough to recruit good teachers from any country, not just the Philippines.

But the Binh Duong Department of Education has ignored this, recently sending officials to the Philippines and identifying around 10 teachers to hire.

Duong The Phuong, the department's director, told Tuoi Tre that the province plans to hire 20 Filipino teachers who would start working next year.

They would teach from local academic programs, but with a stress on listening and speaking skills, he said.

They would also work with Vietnamese teachers to improve their skills, he said.

Hiring Filipino teachers is one of the measures his department planned under a VND228.5 billion ($11 million) program to improve English teaching for both students and teachers in the next five years, he said.

But he clarified that this was just an "additional" measure, and that hundreds of local English teachers in the province are receiving training to enhance their skills.

Dong Nai Province also reported that educational authorities identified 24 teachers during a visit to the Philippines, according to Tuoi Tre.

They are waiting for the People's Committee's approval before formally hiring them, though the visit itself had been approved, Phan Dinh Chuong, chief of the Dong Nai education department's office, said.

So their salaries and where they would work have yet to be decided, he said.

Chuong said that in Dong Nai too there are many ongoing programs to improve the skills of local teachers.

Nguyen Thanh Giang, director of the Ba Ria Vung Tau Province Department of Education, said plans to teach foreign languages are being revised, and they include hiring foreign teachers to teach English.

His department had once proposed hiring Filipino teachers, but it was shot down because the administration was not sure about its effectiveness since English is not the native language in the Philippines.

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But, speaking to Tuoi Tre, Giang said Filipinos' English is "surely" better than Vietnamese's because their education is in English. Besides, their salaries would be less than other foreign teachers', he said.

"The department's wish is to hire foreigners to teach children English, because it will be much more effective if students communicate with English-speaking teachers," he said.

Le Hong Son, director of the HCMC Department of Education, also cited financial difficulties when explaining why they chose Filipinos instead of native speakers.

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