*** About the Hello! English Workshops for Vietnamese Teachers of English ***
From January to March I led a series of workshops for teachers. These workshops were for Vietnamese teachers of English. They were from public schools, English centers and teachers who teach privately. They were designed to help them get better at speaking English, to become better teachers and to share knowledge with each other. Teachers were able to improve their English pronunciation and communication skills. Inexperienced teachers learned from experienced teachers. At the end of the workshop series I asked the attendees to share their thoughts on the workshop. Everyone enjoyed the workshop and said they would recommend it.
*** How to make a positive impact ***
What are my reasons for doing this workshop? I have met a lot of Vietnamese teachers of English. Most of them need to get better at English communication skills (specifically pronunciation and speaking). In this part of Vietnam teachers don’t have any (or possibly very little) opportunities for professional development. Public school teachers have training opportunities but teachers who teach privately or at an English center don’t have any training opportunities.
As a teacher, I can make a positive impact on the lives of my students one class at a time. I meet with my students once a week. I can make a much larger positive impact on many more students by training teachers. By improving teachers I can improve the lives of a lot more students.
*** Helping Vietnamese teachers of English ***
Before doing the workshop, I wanted to have a “listening meeting” with Vietnamese teachers of English. I wanted to really listen to what they need. From what they said I could craft a workshop tailored to their needs.
I wanted to make the workshops interactive. I didn’t want the teachers just to sit and listen to someone talk for two hours. I want them to feel comfortable asking questions or sharing their thoughts anytime. They shouldn’t have to raise their hand. I wanted them to just speak their mind. There should be small groups that complete activities, play relevant games or discuss a topic.
I wanted to get 30 teachers to register for the workshop. My plan was to advertise it on Facebook. I did this by creating a digital flyer. I asked everyone to share it on Facebook. Before the workshop you couldn’t go anywhere on Facebook without seeing the digital flyer. It was everywhere! I contacted my teacher friends and asked them to tell their coworkers and friends. I created another flyer and printed it out. I went to the local university and put them up. I went to an English club at that university. Some of the members of that club are studying to be English teachers. They came to the workshop and learned a lot.
The workshop would meet once a week for two hours. Each teacher would get a handout (see below for online versions of the handouts) to follow along at each meeting. We would meet at Vinh Coffee Hub. They have a lot of English events there. They are big supporters of the English learning community.
*** What teachers want to learn ***
I learned a lot from the listening meeting. Many of the teachers asked for help with pronunciation, common English mistakes Vietnamese people make and engaging activities/games for students. We continued talking about their needs when teaching English. These stood out to me:
- How can you make your students fall in love with English?
- How can you get teenagers engaged in lessons?
- How can you get young learners to remember? They forget easily.
- How can you keep your students interested in your lessons?
- What games work well in the classroom that are fun and reinforce what was taught?
- How can you get students to pay attention to the teacher?
- How can you plan and run activities outside the classroom?
- What are some ways to deal with difficult students?
- How can you help shy or quiet students?
- How can you get students to remember vocabulary and grammar that was taught a long time ago?
- What are some interesting homework ideas?
*** Meet my partners, Andrew and Lisha ***
I am a native speaker of English from America. I wanted another foreign native speaker of English as a partner. This partner would help me by planning, organizing and leading the workshop. Two teacher friends of mine helped me. Andrew (an American) and Lisha (a South African). Both of them contributed to this workshop in invaluable ways.
*** Getting teachers engaged with the workshop ***
Many topics were covered during the workshop. Here are some of them:
- Helping students remember English vocabulary
- Teaching exercises that students like
- A discussion on teaching tips to help new and experienced teachers
- Speaking games that students ask to play again and again
- Common pronunciation mistakes of Vietnamese speakers
- How to stress sentences/words, intonation and some rule-breaking cases
- How to speak naturally
- How to improve your pronunciation at home in your free time
- How to teach English through English
- How to encourage children to speak English in and out of the classroom
- Tested classroom activities to practice pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar
To learn more about what we talked about at the workshop, see the online versions of the handouts below.
*** Some things I learned from other teachers ***
I thought this workshop would be a way for the teachers to learn a lot from us. Instead, I learned a lot from the teachers! The teachers were able to learn from each other too. It was a great way for teachers to connect and establish professional relationships. This is really important because teachers don’t get to network with other teachers often. They’re very busy with teaching, their families and personal lives.
I learned some interesting classroom management strategies. For example, if a student does something bad I can give them a yellow card or red card. This is like the penalty system in football. Getting students to speak more English in the classroom is always a challenge. A teacher recommended that I make a new classroom rule. The students must ask for permission to speak Vietnamese. Students should speak with their classmates and the teacher in English. I also learned not to correct the mistakes of students too often. I should group the mistakes and talk about them at the end of the lesson. I shouldn’t interrupt their answer when students make a speaking mistake. They might not want to speak again because they are afraid to speak and/or make a mistake.
*** Online Handouts ***
For each meeting all teachers got a printed handout. The handouts contained valuable information for each meeting. I converted the handouts into online versions that you can learn from.
*** Vietnamese Teachers of English Facebook group ***
I made a Facebook group for Vietnamese teachers of English. It’s not only for the workshop attendees. It’s also for anyone who’s teaching English in Central Vietnam to share knowledge, ask questions and get answers. It’s called English Teachers in Central Vietnam.
*** The future of Hello! English Workshops ***
I definitely want to continue doing these workshops. I want to get as many Vietnamese teachers of English involved as I can. I’d like to partner with universities, high schools, secondary/primary schools and English centers. I would also like to do the workshop in smaller parts of Vietnam. For example, Nam Dan, Tuong Duong and Nghi Loc.
I hope that I inspired other teachers to start workshops of their own. They don’t need permission. All you have to do is choose a topic and pick a time and a place! Don’t forget to make it interactive and engaging. Just like your lessons!