News / Asia

    Free Language School in Vietnam Teaches Generosity

    Pham Thi Trang, right, studies Japanese at a free language school set up by a street vendor in Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 7, 2014.
    Pham Thi Trang, right, studies Japanese at a free language school set up by a street vendor in Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 7, 2014.
    Marianne Brown

    For a few hours most afternoons, you can find 24-year-old Pham Minh Dap selling balloons and children’s toys outside Hoa Binh park in central Hanoi.

    He has worked as a street vendor here for five years, along with roughly 30 of his relatives who come from a poor village of rice farmers in Thanh Hoa province. Each day he makes about $5.

    "Every Sunday morning, I go to Dong Xuan market, I buy the balloons," Pham said. "I bring home and put the air in the balloon and hang it on my bicycle. The customers,  they see and they buy."

    Pham Minh Dap, 24, sells balloons and toys to fund a free language school in Hanoi, Vietnam.Pham Minh Dap, 24, sells balloons and toys to fund a free language school in Hanoi, Vietnam.
    x
    Pham Minh Dap, 24, sells balloons and toys to fund a free language school in Hanoi, Vietnam.
    Pham Minh Dap, 24, sells balloons and toys to fund a free language school in Hanoi, Vietnam.

    Dap has another job, too. Earlier this year, he and his brother set up Stand By You, a language center with volunteer teachers offering free lessons to poor students in Hanoi, a place where education is often seen as a way out of poverty.

    Rent and other expenses add up to around $500, or 10 million dong, each month. Dap contributes around $150 from his earnings as a street vender and private-language tutoring. His brother matches that with money earned from his work as a secretary. The rest comes from friends and a fee of 25-to-50 cents, or 5,000 to 10,000 dong, per class for advanced students.

    Free foreign-language training

    The aim is to help students who would otherwise have no opportunity to learn a foreign language. Most come from agricultural communities and face challenges in covering city rents, food and other expenses.

    It’s "here just for students who don’t have money," Dap said of the free school. "… Their parents are farmers. Farmers are really poor in Vietnam."

    While the percentage of impoverished Vietnamese people has fallen from 58 percent in 1993 to 14.5 percent as of 2008, according to the World Bank, rapid economic growth has contributed to rising inequality in income and opportunities.

    But unemployment among college graduates remains a persistent problem, with one in 10 university graduates unemployed, according to local media.

    Last year, Pham Vu Luan, minister of education and training, blamed their unemployment on universities failing to teach the kinds of skills employers need. 

    Language skills aid employment prospects

    Dap says employers want good language skills.

    "We know that only language can develop this country. We need language [so] students can work with foreigners and they have a good chance to go outside Vietnam and they can come back to help build this country."

    But with language schools charging up to $150 per course, opportunities for poor people are limited. Dap himself is self-taught.

    The original plan was to offer English classes, but the majority of volunteers offered to teach Japanese, so the school now offers both languages, Dap says.

    "Twenty-six Japanese classes are running. … But we only have four rooms, [so] we run from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m." to accommodate them all.

    Volunteers benefit

    Ten volunteers teach at the school. One is university student Ta Khanh Huyen, 20, who is studying Japanese.

    She said she heard about the school through friends who had studied there. She offered to teach Japanese to “give something back,” adding that the environment is sociable and has helped improve her Japanese speaking skills.

    Pham Thi Trang is one of the school's 600 students. The 24-year-old accounting student, whose parents work in a Ha Nam province market, is in her final year of studies.

    She earns about $50 a month from a part-time job and her parents give her another $75, barely enough to get by in the city. She thinks improving her language skills will enhance her earning potential.

    Demand for the school is growing. Around 1,000 people are on a student waiting list and 10 others have offered to teach for free.

    Dap said he hopes to raise money through a crowd-funding campaign to pay for a bigger place so he can open more classes.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora