09:08 (GMT +7) - Friday 26/05/2017

Vietnam Today

Key requirement

Released at: 08:18, 20/05/2017

Key requirement

Photo: Viet Tuan

Ever-increasing demand for English skills in Vietnam presents huge possibilities for investment in English centers that meet needs.

by Hong Nhung

In the latest research on English language skills among countries and territories worldwide, Vietnam was ranked 31st among 72 countries in the EF English Proficiency Index (EPI), released at the end of last year by EF Education First, a global language training company. The global survey conducted on nearly 1 million adults links English proficiency with income, innovation, and quality of life. Vietnam, which has remained at the medium level, with a score of 54.06 out of 100, follows only Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines in ASEAN and is in seventh position out of the 19 countries in Asia.

The English language skills of Vietnamese people have improved significantly over the last few years, as EF EPI had recorded Vietnam at a low level between 2011 and 2014. English is considered as one of the best tools for Vietnamese people in promoting their careers, and hundreds of local as well as foreign English training centers have opened over the last decade to meet increasing demand among diverse age groups and students, parents, and employers of different stripes.

Boom in openings

Vietnam’s English language training market is growing quickly and seen robust expansion in recent years, evidenced, for example, by the massive openings of Apax English learning centers around the country in only the last two years. Apax English was launched in early 2015 by Apax Holdings, a subsidiary of the Vietnamese Online Education Game JSC (EGroup). In mid-2016, the leading Vietnamese adaptive learning company signed a strategic partnership setting up a joint venture with Chungdahm Learning, a South Korean education group, to create diversified English learning products for the local market.

The company, along with EGroup, is to develop advanced digital learning products that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of students, especially those aged six to 14, according to Mr. Kim Young Hwa, CEO of Chungdahm Learning. Apax Holdings is now operating 36 English training centers with more than 20,000 students being trained by 400 native-speaking teachers in nine cities and provinces, concentrated in the northern market, with 28 locations in Hanoi, Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Thai Binh, Thanh Hoa, and Nghe An, while it has eight branches in Ho Chi Minh City.

While Apax English has been dominating the north, the country’s south has so far been dominated by Vietnam-US Society (VUS) training centers. Founded 20 years ago, VUS is considered a pioneer and leading English training center in Ho Chi Minh City, with eighteen branches. It is the largest English language training name in the country in terms of scale, with more than 200,000 young students ranging from four to 15 years old as well as adults enrolling every year. It took initial steps to penetrate into the northern market by opening its first center in Hanoi last September.

Another long-standing English training center in Vietnam since 1994 is Apollo Education and Training Organization. It was the first 100 per cent foreign-owned English training center in the country and been operating nearly 30 schools in seven major cities. Apollo has a wide range of students, from three to 16 years of age in its Junior program and young professionals from 17 and above in its Apollo 360 program, which provides students with both English skills and soft skills via its exclusive methodology (LETS - Learning English Through Subjects), which follows the latest trend in teaching English, of guiding children to think and learn independently from the teacher.

Different from other English education systems, British Council is also known as the UK’s international organization for cultural and education development and arrived in Vietnam in 199