Dong has always been a good student. When he studies English, he focuses his energy on book learning. Because he is a bit timid and shy, he never dares to speak out publicly, so his written English skills are excellent but his verbal skills are poor. He lacks confidence in speaking with strangers and hesitates to try out his English skills with foreigners or in his classroom.
A few years ago, YWAM Mercy helped open a library at his school. As part of that effort, activities were added to the school day to develop a reading culture. YWAM Mercy also helped teachers organize activities to improve soft-skills of students. One of these activities was English conversation classes with native English speakers.
A group of YWAM Mercy’s donors from Australia visit Vietnam every year. During this time they take the opportunity to help lead these classes, giving the students an opportunity to communicate with native speakers, improving the student’s listening and speaking skills. (Unfortunately because of coronavirus restrictions, they were not able to visit in 2020. These photos were taken before 2020.)
Dong shared that he was excited to know that he would have the opportunity to communicate with native speakers and improve his spoken English skills. When the first Australian team arrived, Dong was still not confident and too timid to communicate much though he really wanted to show what he knew. But thanks to the friendliness of the group and their engaging way of teaching, Dong gradually let go, immersing himself in these special lessons.
By the fourth year the Australian team visited and interacted with the students, Dong had grown to be both a capable and active participant. He enthusiastically took part in all activities, asked the teachers questions, and remained engaged throughout the lesson.
I hope the Australian teachers will come back here again, because after each exchange with them I feel more confident, knowing what I still lack but ready to keep trying. I, like other students, am poor at [verbally] communicating in English, but thanks to these exchanges, I have the motivation to improve my listening and speaking skills.
Dong’s remarkable progress encourages his peers as well as lower-grade students to be brave and take every opportunity to communicate with native English speakers in order to improve their verbal communication skills and their opportunities in the future.