Overheard: Don't Correct the Teacher


Overheard is our series of snippets/conversations that we have with other travelers and/or locals along the way.

One afternoon in Hanoi, we bumped into a long-time American expat who was in the city on business. While eating our che, she confirmed what we'd long suspected about the education system in SE Asia: it hardly benefits the students.

Both her sons grew up in Danang, on the central coast of Vietnam, and both went to public school. One, Alex Huff, actually became somewhat of an expat hero for his top placement in a Vietnamese storytelling competition, something that sounds as strange as America's penchant for spelling bees.

But despite this boy's ability to speak both perfect English and Vietnamese, he knew well enough to not correct the teacher in his "English" class in school. If he did so, he'd be marked down.

So not only did the school not think creatively enough to use a native speaker's skills to their benefit, but they also forced the student to dumb down his abilities in order to have the teacher "save face."

Talk about a lose, lose.

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