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Aiming To Become A Global Educator – Exclusive Interview With Phan Thi Quynh Trang

Teaching and training ESL has always been my passion, and I am dedicated to contributing to the success of others. I am enthusiastic, creative and caring, proficient in theory and practical application, and always strive to provide quality lectures and provide quality care to my students.

During the Covid 19 pandemic, I realized I needed to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. The only option I had at that time was to either lose everything or to continue on the educational career path that I had chosen. However, I had to continue in a completely different direction. And I realized that Technology has made it possible for educators to connect with audiences and share their expertise in seemingly unlimited ways.

Since I have expertise in teaching, I can apply products to teaching and point out the weaknesses of manufacturers. Through my contribution to educational technology units in the country, I discovered that the educational entrepreneur creates positive value change using economic resources named "studying". A new challenge worth taking on is motivating educators to realize their value, stay current, and broaden their horizons for the sustainable development of the educational technology industry. "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Phan Thi Quynh Trang, Edupreneur

What inspired you to become a teacher, your background, and why you believe you have made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

Throughout my childhood, I have always been a child with personality and desire to live differently. Growing up, I worked at a state hospital with my parents' arrangement. Although it was a good job and paid well, I felt suffocated. As a student, I wanted some extra pocket money, so I taught English as a tutor, both to show my parents I was independent, and also English is my best subject. As a result, I went home and taught some neighborhood kids to find joy. Talking to them was relaxing, innocent, and lovely. Then they spoke English in short sentences and simple words. Parents around asked if I could open more classes for them?

At that time, I realized that teaching has been my passion for a long time, I love it, so I do what I can best in a very natural and sincere way. My passion led me to quit my job at the hospital. After 7 years of working in hospitals, I decided to teach professionally. I started with TESOL training and worked hard. I tested the first lessons with my son immediately after the foundation course on TESOL, applied the newly learned techniques and found his delight and excitement. Following that, I applied it to neighbors' students, who are happier, remember the lesson more, and want to come to my house every day to chat in English with me. Teaching has been both a joy and a valuable experience. I understand that my choice was correct at the time. As a non-professional, I must study twice as much as a regular teacher to give learners quality lectures and get effective learning results.

As I expanded my classes and tried to apply my innovation, I wasn't given much support. It was simply because my lessons and methods were different from the traditional teaching context in Vietnam at the time. Students are often encouraged to memorize and rewrite what they have learned, but people often forget the element that arouses interest and passion in children through classroom activities. People might think that it is more like playing than learning... I have always been determined to be patient in my journey and to do my best, so I will never regret my decision. Time has said it all: from 5 students, I have 50, then a larger circle of colleagues, many people want to learn my way, and I am invited to share at workshops. To me, a good teacher is a person who is constantly learning, not afraid to innovate and create.

I am confident that my hard work and dedication to teaching English as a Second Language will pay off, as I strive to make my dreams of living abroad a reality. I am enthusiastic, creative and caring, proficient in theory and practical application. I always strive to provide quality lectures and care to my students.

During the Covid 19 pandemic, I faced another challenge, then I realized I needed to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. And I found that technology has made it possible for educators to connect with audiences and share their expertise in seemingly unlimited ways.

Since I have teaching expertise, I can apply products to teaching and point out manufacturers' weaknesses. My contribution to educational technology companies all over the world (such as Twinkl in UK, Elsa Speak in US, and ClassIn in Vietnam and China) has led me to discover the ability of the educational entrepreneur to create positive value change by using economic resources known as "studying". I know that I can help not only me but my community also. A new challenge worth taking on is motivating educators to realize their value, stay current, and broaden their horizons. This is for the sustainable development of the educational technology industry.

In March 2023, I was recognized as one of the 10 most influential edupreneurs of the year. This was in recognition of my resilience and dedication in the face of the pandemic difficulties. It was a tremendous honor to be recognized for my work, and I was filled with pride and accomplishment. I also became an Executive Contributor for Brainz Magazine, a global digital magazine focusing on exclusive interviews, articles and information on entrepreneurship, personal development, leadership and lifestyle. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the education industry and to the development of other educators, and I hope to keep inspiring other educators around the world.

Could you tell us about the context in which you teach and any particular challenges your school or students face?

With my group of students, the obstacle is not their level of knowledge acquisition, nor their lack of enthusiasm for learning. In fact, teachers and parents themselves use some of the most widely advertised and hyped learning methods. In my opinion, every learning method has its benefits and drawbacks. Learners' wants, needs, and lacks are met by effective methods.

In many English training centers, students and parents are oriented by improving their scores mechanically rather than focusing on their individual characteristics, needs, or learning styles. Since the teaching method and curriculum at the centers emphasize vocabulary review, rote grammar, and exam preparation, but not language use and creation, the focus will be on vocabulary review, rote grammar, and exam preparation. As a result, students lack motivation and inspiration to learn.

It is also limited in the learning conditions of students when English is considered as another subject at school: students are forced to memorize knowledge to prepare for exams, not be able to participate in organized activities due to noise, etc. This greatly restricts students' chances of learning and applying languages.

There is always an exciting, moving and fresh breeze in the classroom when teachers use activities and games. Imitating, changing, attracting, and marketing well is easy to trend. However, it can slow down the creative minds of teachers themselves, sometimes causing personal prejudice in class planning. In reality, there are always contradictions and conflicts. Because you like this activity so much, you imitate it for students. Still, it doesn't solve the class problem by itself.

In addition to my personal influence, I built a community group to help them explain students' progress to parents. As a result of this community's activities, teachers and parents are not only able to exchange information; they are also able to stay up to date about new educational methods as well as better understand how modern educational trends are changing by sharing detailed information from teachers.

Learning new knowledge requires certain silences. Whenever I do community work, I always tell my colleagues I just go from the beginning, ask yourself to find together teaching styles that are comfortable for both teachers and students, since when the why is clear, the how becomes easier.

What is the teaching method you use?

To help students love reading through learning a foreign language, I began my “reading is fun” project in 2017, which uses activities, projects, and task-based learning. The project has been implemented in more than ten provinces across the country. It aims to promote a love of reading with children and develop inspiring storytelling skills among teachers. Over the past 3 years, the project has seen positive results. Surveys show that students have a greater interest in reading and are more engaged in learning. Teachers are also able to create interesting stories that captivate students and help them better understand the material. In addition, I provide workshops for teachers and parents in order to help them experience the approach and learn how to raise the good habits of their children.

The course was created to help students further their knowledge in English but also mathematics, science, and language. It was also designed to help them understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork. We are proud of the positive impact it has had on students and their families.

Teachers (who participated in the course) and parents of students who attended the course praised the project. We are honored to be featured on For Vietnamese Strength – Vietnam Television.

I also use a mix of different teaching methods based on the needs and desires of my students. For example, we often carry out outside learning projects such as traveling to a dinosaur park to learn about the topic. This involves observing and developing knowledge of dinosaur history, collecting pictures and students will produce a final product with a short video directed by them.

Or when learning about animal home, we did a project on Bug hotel. We read the evidence and how they nest, then observed and recorded the steps methodically.

When learning about "Idol", I contacted the famous rock group in Vietnam "The Wall" so my students could come and ask questions and take pictures.

I also include music and sports in my lectures as therapy in the classroom. This is not only for regulating emotions, teaching new knowledge, but also to help students develop multi-skills such as public speaking, performing on stage and mindfulness too.

All of my creativity and innovation in teaching are recorded and shared publicly in my "I love teaching" community group.

Overall, I really like using project-based learning to develop multi-skills and explore deep knowledge in a multi-dimensional way for students. My students develop relatively evenly in all skills. Most of all they are happy with each lesson and often refer to me as the seed of their love of English. I am always thrilled by their progress and I am delighted to see that they have a thirst for knowledge. I am proud to be able to provide them with a positive learning experience and I strive to create an environment where they can learn and grow in a safe and supportive space.

How do you embed global citizenship into your classroom and how do you define success?

My approach to embedding global citizenship in my classroom is based on project-based learning and taking my students out into the field to find answers to big questions. We have held both offline and virtual classes with people from around the world, and these classes have provided us with unique perspectives on global citizenship. To further develop our understanding of global citizenship, we have gone camping with our students to give them a firsthand experience of the outdoors and to help them gain a better understanding of the natural environment. Additionally, we have invited foreign speakers to our classes, so that our students can learn about different cultures, values, and beliefs. Through this approach, we are able to give our students an engaged, dynamic learning experience that helps them to gain a better understanding of global citizenship. To further enhance our students' understanding of global citizenship, we also use technology to create games and create learning platforms with gamification such as Quizizz, Flyer, Quizlet, and other applications like virtual reality in our classroom. This helps to engage our students in a more fun and interactive manner, while still providing them with a meaningful and educational experience. To help my students remain engaged during the pandemic, I have also adopted Classin, a platform for virtual classes. This platform allows me to create an interactive, engaging learning environment for my students, even when they are learning from home. Classin provides me with the tools to help my students collaborate with each other and communicate with foreign speakers in real-time, while still being able to access all the same resources they would have if they were in the classroom. Additionally, Classin's gamification features allow us to add elements of fun and excitement to our lessons, while still providing an educational experience. I'm now following the 7C's of education.

How has your curriculum been integrated with topics related to climate change and the environment to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable education?

As a nature lover, I am aware of the importance of climate and prioritize integrating them into my lessons. My students are involved in many creative learning projects where ingredients are leaves, or firewood, nature-friendly materials. We produced a video calling to save the earth

Here's the link.

I am proud to be one of 10 instructors for the "Environment lab for kids" by ACCB, in conjunction with the YSEALI and US Embassy.

A comprehensive environmental laboratory for children is launched in Vietnam as part of the first environmental laboratory for children. Students engaged in experiential activities in the Environment Lab to raise their awareness and understanding of key environmental issues such as plastic waste, clothing waste, and food waste.

And the happiest part is that I have been a huge inspiration to my son, 9 years old. At the age of 6 years old, he became the youngest student Ambassador of the "Learn – Think – Act" project for Climate Change and Biodiversity (2020). After moving to Canada, we continued with the anti-change project. He conducted a project against climate change, with the theme of food waste, and was inspired by listening and encouraged. He also worked with Sebastian (Director) and Patrick (Public Education Coordinator) of Eco 360 Company. On April 17, he received a letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – the head of the Canadian government.

A surprise birthday gift and a letter of encouragement was given to him by the minister.

Here's the link.

As part of the change maker project, I also contributed some sample lectures on this project to Macmillan publisher. This is a global project to promote innovative teaching and learning ideas, contributed by teachers and students around the world.

Here's the link.

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and visit my website for more info!



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