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Unusual classes for students at Tay Bac University

 

An English class at the Foreign Language Faculty Tay Bac University with an Australian volunteer
An English class at the Foreign Language Faculty, Tay Bac University with an Australian volunteer

Education & Times Newspaper – Learning about gender issues, domestic violence prevention and so on have been presentation topics by students from the Foreign Language Faculty, Tay Bac University in their classes recently.

This is the outcome of an initiative called “Integrating knowledge on gender-based violence prevention and response to English programmes at the Foreign Language Faculty, Tay Bac University”, created by lecturer, Dr. Nguyen Thi Huong. 

Little sprouts strive to grow 

“Before the course, I did not have a deep understanding about this issue. After the course, I think it is my responsibility to apply newly gained knowledge and skills to do something that is beneficial to my students.” said Dr. Nguyen Thi Huong. 

Dr. Huong was fortunate to attend an Australia Awards Short Course - Women in Leadership Journey. This course has changed her viewpoint about leadership, where leaders should be pioneers to inspire and lead others. After the course, Dr. Huong has obtained various skills and knowledge on management, gender issues, gender equality, gender-based violence prevention and response, etc. 

As an English lecturer at a university, Dr. Huong recognized that gender issues are new topics for her and her students since they have never been included in their foreign language curricula. She has been involved in developing curricula and general and detailed educational programmes of the university, however, she and her colleagues have never thought about introducing knowledge about gender equality into their English programmes. 

Dr. Huong thought that her project should start from teaching curriculum in order to raise students’ awareness. The right attitude leads to appropriate actions and spread of knowledge on gender equality, gender-based violence prevention, and leadership knowledge and skills to a larger group of students. Given this consideration, Huong initiated a project called “Integrating knowledge on gender-based violence prevention and response to the English programmes of the Foreign Language Faculty, Tay Bac University”.

Dr. Huong was nervous at the beginning of the project because she felt the project’s scope was relatively modest. However, after her presentation in front of fellow participants and experts from Flinders University (Australia), the facilitator of the course, she received positive support and advice which made her more confident with the project. “My small project will help seeds gradually grow to healthy and green spouts, become trees and then a sustainable and growing forest.” said Huong confidently.

Dr Nguyen Thi Huong received a Certificate of Participation in the Australia Awards Short Course
Dr. Nguyen Thi Huong (second from left) received a Certificate of Participation in the Australia Awards Short Course – Women in Leadership Journey

Gender equality – a topic has drawn attention from the young

The year 2018 is the first year that Dr. Nguyen Thi Huong implemented pilot activities in two courses on language skills. Her English-specialized students were required to learn about gender-based violence prevention and response in English. This activity helps them not only improve English proficiency but also accomplish self-study tasks. The students need to read and learn in English, then develop their presentations and report their research in English for mid-term review.

After these classes, Huong sent survey questionnaires to and interviewed students about this new learning activity. All of them were very excited that this practical and essential knowledge was delivered in English.

Another important feature of the project is training and consultation sessions which were organized in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The two-way discussions were conducted between experienced persons and less experienced ones without prejudice to their positions as lecturer and students. The students were comfortable and open in sharing their concerns, emotions and difficulties. They prepared articulate, entertaining presentations and worked in groups effectively. 

With this new knowledge area, Huong was surprised at the students’ response. Each group has worked diligently and found effective and beautiful styles to present and receive high scores, awards and recognition from the lecturer and classmates. 

In all English lessons, Dr. Huong received questions about gender equality, of course in English, such as: Is our understanding correct? How should we respond in this specific case? Is what we learn from the internet correct? Can we collect photos and make a presentation about them? And so on. Some students asked Dr. Huong about cell phone number of professional counsellors so that they could call and ask them directly when she was unable to give an immediate response.

Gender equality and gender-based violence prevention and response have drawn the attention of students. This knowledge is not something out of reach, it comprises daily life issues which are useful to understand. The most important outcome is raising students’ awareness about gender-based violence prevention and response. To Dr. Huong, the students’ involvement in such new issues is a success!

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Dr Nguyen Thi Huong

“I will extend the pilot activities to upcoming classes and in the next few years I will conduct an impact assessment and determine whether these contents are suitable for the teaching curriculum or not.

My goal is integrating this knowledge into our curriculum officially. At first, I introduced the knowledge and skills to English-specialized students in a language class. Then, we will spread these activities to other departments and faculties.” – said Dr. Nguyen Thi Huong.

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Source: The Education and Times Newspaper