As the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was launched at the end of 2015, Vietnam has started to initiate innovative programs to get ready for new opportunities and challenges head. On one hand, the opportunities include better economic cooperation among 10 Member Countries (Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, and Brunei). The enhanced cooperation is initially shown through the common consent of the participants. About 8 occupations will have freer movement within the regions – engineers, nurses, surveyors, medical and dental practitioners, accountants, and tourism professionals. On the other hand, the challenges are more severe competition in the labor market, particularly in professional qualifications, soft skills and especially foreign languages. One of the first steps in tackling the language barrier problem in AEC is the agreement of the all 10 countries in utilizing English as the language for business.
Fully aware of the importance of improving labor’s competitiveness and employability and having the mutual voice with others in the community, Vietnam implemented the National Foreign Languages 2020 Project as a determined attempt in improving and enhancing English proficiency among Vietnamese citizens. Different groups of ages, especially pupils and students are aimed at with a wide range of activities. Among them, it would be a miss not to mention the WE READ 2015 PROJECT initiated by teachers and students of Hanoi University.
With the objective of enhancing English competence and creating an interactive reading environment for students and teachers, WE READ PROJECT’s activities include reading club with online and offline discussions on books written in English. Normally, reading is a way to broaden our horizon as we live the lives of the characters and take on the unexpected adventure ahead with our imagination. But not everyone is accustomed to this beneficial habit, as we are distracted by so many other forms of entertainment.
Realizing the significance of social media, the project members pay attention to apply Facebook in raising the reading habit among Vietnamese who are undeniably among top users of this social networking site. Via the online platform – the Facebook Page, key messages, inspirational values, and precious quotations are shared to boost the critical reading skill among the audience.
Moreover, another move was made to broaden to influence of the program. A reading aloud contest called WE READ 2015 was held to inspire more people to get exposed to English reading environment.
Participants are among the young generations of Vietnam who will directly encounter more challenges ahead in our globalizing era. Here, the contestants competed with each other to literally raise their voice by reading aloud a piece of literature. Role playing techniques were successfully used by competitors from pupils to students to fully convey the soul, the core, and the message of every written masterpiece.
The contest proved to be a great way to improve English capacity among Vietnamese because it made the boredom from English reading fade away by re-creating the scenes from each page vividly with the voice of the contestants. From that point, greater exposure to English in Vietnamese, especially young citizens, was shown.
That is just one of the positive outcomes of Vietnam’s National Foreign Languages 2020 Project. With the aim of ensuring the sustainability in English learning, more initiatives will be taken to expand the influence of the National Foreign Languages 2020 Project in general and WE READ project in particular.
By Nguyen Thu Thao, ASEAN Correspondent from Vietnam