In June of 2014 I was invited on this HTV talk show in Ho Chi Minh City. That’s me, in the coral shirt and black suit.
This segment is about the quality of English education in Vietnam. It’s a very interesting topic (see my post about their national plan for increasing foreign language skills in their student populations for more details – it’s pretty fascinating stuff).
I was invited on to provide the perspective from a Native Speaker’s vantage point. It’s about 20 minutes long and I’m only in a few minutes (sweating and rambling… too many ‘uhhhh’ and ‘ummm’s to even mention!).
Unfortunately, I never got a good transcript of the rest of the interview, so I can only imagine what they’re talking about specifically.
The interviewer is on the left (and, weirdly, attended university at Carbondale in Southern Illinois). The woman is an advisor to the company and an accomplished education figure in the nation. The man on the right is my former boss and head of the company (Compass Education). The white man is me.
Take a gander at that green screen! In the video you can see the hilarious set they projected us on.
At this point, this episode of my summer is more of a novelty than anything else (a few months after this was taped, I left this company). A strange, weird detour through a segment of Vietnamese culture (television and media) that I don’t really have much interaction with on a normal basis.
However, it’s still weird enough that it probably deserves a post.
It’s worth noting that this video is PRE-RELEASE video, before going through step 4 (below). All mass media companies operate under strict State oversight. The process of censorship and approval is interesting:
1. I was provided with a series of questions that I had to write a response to.
2. My answers were vetted and approved, probably.
3. We taped the interview. Our answers are off-the-cuff and different than my vetted answers, they say not to worry.
4. Video and transcript (of English) is reviewed over a period of 45 days.
5. Video is (presumably) approved and aired.
I never saw the final product on TV and none of my neighbors stopped me to take selfies with the famous white guy in their alley, so there goes my chance of international education fame.
And, as anyone here could have told you, voicing these (utterly reasonable) ideas about how to improve the experience is like shouting into a black hole. One English speaker’s opinions on one talk show is absolutely not going to do anything to change that… sad as it is. Still, it was very satisfying to be able to tackle some questions about what I feel are the major deficits in English language education in Vietnam in a semi-professional forum.
On the plus side, I got that suit made in 24 hours and it cost me 40 dollars. BOOM.
Anyway, presented for your amusement. Just another surreal experience in SE Asia.