Handout 2 of 5 – English Workshop for Vietnamese Teachers



English Teacher Workshop ~ January 30, 2018

<< Sean’s website to help to you study English:  www.seanlaurence.com >>

Topics –

  • Pronunciation: word stress and question intonation in English
  • How to speak naturally in English and some common mistakes that Vietnamese may have in English communication
  • How to teach English through English and encourage children to speak English

A few things to remember about this workshop –

  • This is an interactive workshop. Ask questions or share your thoughts anytime. This workshop is for your improvement.
  • Share your knowledge with each other. If you have an idea about teaching or speaking English, please share it.
  • Making mistakes is ok. It’s better to make one now instead of in the classroom. Learning from your mistakes is powerful.

Agenda –

8:30-9:00 – Work in two groups. Read the paragraph that you prepared out loud. Andrew and Sean will help you.

9:00-9:40 – Andrew and Sean will talk about word stress, question intonation, how to speak naturally and some common mistakes Vietnamese people make.

9:40-10:00 – Sean will talk about how to teach English through English and encourage children to speak English.

10:00-10:30 – Practice, questions and discussion.


* Word Stress *

Unvoiced versus voiced plural sounds [ KS (parks), TS (cats), PS (groups) vs. DZ (friends), GZ (dogs), SZ (classes) ]

* Question Intonation *

Rising or falling intonation. Rising intonation for yes/no questions. Falling intonation for any other questions.

* How to Speak Naturally *

Listen Carefully – Take the time to listen to yourself speak English. When you are child you learned Vietnamese from your parents and teachers. When speaking English, sometimes you will combine Vietnamese and English together. The sounds of the Vietnamese language are inserted into the English you are speaking. Changing your old speech habits takes time. Listen to native English speakers carefully and copy how they speak.

Vinglish – Sometimes when speaking English, you take some of the principles and rules from Vietnamese and put them into English. English has a different set of rules and principles that is really different than Vietnamese.

  • Wrong: “I’m coming back to my hometown.” / Right: “I’m going to my hometown.” (be careful when using “coming” and “going”)
  • In Vietnamese, if you know the name of a country, then you know the word for that nationality, too. For example, American person, England person or Vietnam person. This isn’t true in English. Country and nationality are different.

Wrong: “My brother is studying in German.” / Right: “My brother is studying in Germany”.

Wrong: “I’m a Vietnamese.” / Right: “I’m Vietnamese.”

  • Say only the city name without the word city. There are some exceptions like New York City or Ho Chi Minh City.

Wrong: “I’m from Hanoi City.” / Right: “I’m from Hanoi.”

Practice with native speakers – Teachers should always be improving themselves. Find an online language partner to video chat with. Use websites like InterPals and My Language Exchange to find a language partner. Set up a schedule to meet with them regularly. Choose a topic to talk with them about before you meet.

Don’t think of yourself as a English learner – Think of yourself as an English SPEAKER! The right attitude can make the difference between failure and success. Stop thinking of yourself as someone who is learning English, and start thinking of yourself as someone who speaks English. It’s a small change, but it will make you feel more confident and help you to use the English you already know more effectively.

Start thinking in English – You need to start thinking in English. If you want to say the word “apple” in English, for example, right now you probably think of the word in Vietnamese, and then try to think of the correct word in English. Instead, try imagining a picture of an apple, and then just think the English word “apple”. Real fluency happens when you stop mentally translating conversations.

* Common Mistakes *

Not knowing that you’re making a mistake – Be aware that you might be making a pronunciation mistake and not know it. For example, say the sentence “It means a lot to me.” Sometimes you will misplace the S sound in the word “means”. You will move it to the word “it”. In your head it sounds like you are saying it correctly but when a native speaker of English listens to you, they can hear your mistake.

Asking questions the right way – Be careful to ask questions correctly. Most questions start with the question word (can, do, does, who, what, etc). For example, “You can speak Vietnamese”. This is not the right way to ask if someone can speak Vietnamese. You should say, Can you speak Vietnamese?”.

How to use the word “meant” – When you make speaking mistakes in English (big or small mistakes), you will often repeat what you just said but without the mistake. Sometimes you can try many times to say the right word or sentence in English. Instead of repeating, you can say “What I meant to say was…” or “I meant…”.

Word Order – Here are 3 examples of word order:

  1. When using more than one adjective before the noun, there is a specific order to the different kinds of adjectives. There are about 10 kinds of adjectives (size, shape, age, etc). This is wrong, “She was wearing a red amazing coat”. This is right, “She was wearing an amazing red coat”.
  2. Almost always the adjective comes before the noun. The adjective is in the wrong place here, “Can you get my hairbrush small?”. The adjective “small” should be before the noun “hairbrush”, like this “Can you get my small hairbrush?”.
  3. One of the words in this sentence is in the wrong place, “What is your number phone?”. It should be “What is your phone number?”. Another example is, “Obama President”. It should be “President Obama”.

* How to Teach English through English *

  • Students shouldn’t write a list of words. They should learn the words in phrases. Get the students to make sentences with the new words. Don’t teach them only the English word for “water”. Teach “Can I have some water please?”.
  • Teach students classroom instructions in English. Always use these instructions in English. For example, “Open your book to page 10”, “Please do exercise 3” or “How do you spell ________?”.
  • Make students ask you questions in English. For example, “Can I have a ruler please?”.
  • Teachers should speak in English first and not use Vietnamese too much.
  • Tell your students to use English first but it’s ok to speak Vietnamese if it is about the lesson.
  • Don’t correct their mistakes too often. Build their confidence when using English.
  • Praise your students when they do something right (find compliments online). Encourage your students. When you encourage a student he will try again, gain more practice and his mistakes will gradually disappear. Students will not want to practice if they are afraid of making mistakes which result in interruptions and corrections.
  • Use examples when teaching grammar. After the teacher makes examples, give the students some time to make examples and write some on the board. Then students can complete the exercise with more confidence.
  • Don’t rely only on PowerPoint slides. Get the students to work in pairs, small groups or speak in front of the class.

* How to Encourage Children to Speak English *

  • Use role-plays (ordering a pizza or buying a movie ticket). Give them some vocabulary to use first. Ask students to write a language script or give them prompts if they are higher level.
  • Teach students about topics that they are interested in. For example, boys can talk about football and girls can talk about pop music. Get them to talk about what they like and teach them language about that.
  • Tell students that it’s ok to make mistakes and encourage them to ask you questions.
  • Let the student be the teacher. You can use this fun activity to get the students to be like the teacher. For example, ask a student to run a game, get other students to follow instructions or copy another student by acting like a robot.
  • Write a script on the board. Get students to model it. Then erase some of the words and try the script with different students. Keep trying until they don’t need to follow the script.
  • Give students a speaking checklist to take home. Each checklist has questions that the student can ask anyone. The student has ask 3 different people the same question and writes their answers.
  • Prepare fun games that use dice or playing cards. For example, the Black Bag Game. Put questions (and some blanks) in a bag. Each student takes out a question from the bag and asks another student. Tell them that if they draw a blank, they are lucky and don’t have to ask a question. Make the lessons fun to foster a love of English.

Feedback ~ What did you learn? What can we do differently next time? What did you find most useful? What did you find least useful? Please answer any of these questions and/or share your thoughts about the workshop. It helps us improve the workshop. You can send me a message on Facebook or email me. My email address is:  laurence.sean@gmail.com