Written by Her
In the hope of assisting more young people, Mr. Nguyen founded the 'Tea & Talk programme' for students to practice their English with foreign hotel guests. He says, "most Vietnamese students in Huế are as poor as I used to be, therefore they just need to “drink tea and talk” without having to pay. I am thankful to hundreds of guests of the hotel and other people who have registered for the “Tea & Talk Program” to help Huế students improve their English speaking skills so that they can have more opportunities to look for jobs in their future”.
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Upon hearing his story and eager to learn more about Vietnam, we signed up for the programme. We were joined by one English gentleman who was a regular of the programme and the hotel. In total, 10 Vietnamese students attended. They ranged in age from 14 to 34. The group was split so that 1 English speaking guest was paired with a group of 3-4 students. The standard of English among the students was very good as most were studying languages, medicine or international relations. We had fun discussing lots of topics from weather to traffic, cakes to drinking.
Not satisfied with mere clips of conversation, the crew decided they wanted a one-to-one interview with a Westerner. The hotel manager immediately nominated the only western girl in the room! Of course, with the language barrier there was no negotiating the matter. I was told that one of the students was to ask me questions directly relating to my opinion of the Tea & Talk programme, methods of teaching and learning English and my recommendations for the future of the programme! While more than slightly unprepared I did my best to understand the questions posed in broken English and answer as best I could. It was more than a little daunting with the television camera and the hotel manager, iPhone in hand, all hanging on my every word. It was certainly an experience. In the end they seemed entirely happy with my comments and thanked me profusely for ‘helping to make the hotel and the programme very famous’.