Mark A. Ashwill Last month, Vietnam wrapped up the annual rite of passage that is the national high school graduation exam. Of the 900,000 graduating high school seniors who took the exam, 750,000 took the one-hour English test, which consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. 63.1 percent of the test takers received below average scores; over half scored 3.4 out of 10 while 543 students scored below 1. The average score of 4.58 was the lowest among nine subjects in the 2020 national high school graduate examination.This lackluster performance set the media alarm bells ringing with screaming headlines like “Vietnamese students perform worst in English in national high school exam.” It was accompanied by much gnashing of teeth, breast-beating, and finger-pointing. A cursory review of related articles in the Vietnamese and English language media and social media outlets confirms this observation with an exclamation point. As if on cue, journalists reached out to me to ask what I think about Vietnamese students’ English proficiency, the reasons for their poor performance, and steps educators should take to improve the situation.There was the same reaction last year when the EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) rankings were announced. Vietnam had dropped to the upper… Read full this story
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