As Army ROTC Cadets in Vietnam, our mission is to teach English to the officers of the Vietnamese Search and Rescue Team in order to increase their knowledge and understanding of the English language. This will enable them to better communicate with other countries in the search and rescue arena.
Our students range in age from 32 years old to 56 years old. We use various arrangements of teaching methods including power point presentations, picture cards, and story-telling to aid in our English teaching efforts. After our first full week of teaching, the Vietnamese students seemed optimistic and enthusiastic about our participation and teaching style.
Cadet Peter Pham, who attends the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and is proficient in Vietnamese, teaches students at the basic level of conversational English.
“One of my major challenges is to not speak in my native language to the students while teaching them,” Pham explained.
He further explained that the reason for not reverting to Vietnamese is to have the students increase their listening skills in English. It also helps them become familiar in the language. Pham said he overcame this challenge by using patience, utilization of technology (pictures) and body language. But occasionally he has used his native language to provide clarification in order to prevent confusion.
One of the challenges for the mid-level students is that they were able to finish the DLI lesson plan very easily, but were not knowledgeable enough to continue onto the advanced CELLT book. A few Cadets had to create lesson plans based off of their students’ weaknesses in an effort to broaden their knowledge and education.
A few of the students have a higher proficiency level of English than the rest of the class. Cadet Brandon Wixo, who is from the University of North Dakota, is teaching one of two higher level groups.
“Teaching the more advanced students presented a real challenge, but at the same time proved very educational for the students and myself,” Wixo said.
He explained the difficulties and the education this way: it is difficult because they ask about American idiom and the complexity of the English language. It is educational because he has learned lots of new things about the Vietnamese culture and current events. He added that one of the most interesting things he has learned is that Vietnamese officers cannot travel outside Vietnam for vacation.