Mastering a foreign language, particularly English, has become an advantage of job seekers in cities but language competence is even more meaningful to visually-impaired students.
Dang The Lam, Director of Vietnam And Friends (VAF) – a Vietnamese non-governmental organisation dedicated to an inclusive education – said that with English, blind people were expected to be more competitive in the labour market and narrow the gap between them and their peers.
For the last three years, the organisation co-operated with Nguyen Dinh Chieu School in Hanoi to offer English classes for visually-impaired students during lunch time.
The classes not only offered grammar and writing lessons but also focused on communication skills with the support of international and local volunteers, Lam said.
He said that the English classes made blind students more confident to attend high school and higher education as the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School where children with or without disabilities learned together was just a primary and secondary school.
"The classes also aim to help provide students effective tools to find a job in the future as job opportunities for people with disabilities are still narrow," Lam said.
They usually oriented students to jobs which require little mobility such as receptionist and administrative staff, Lam said, noting that such positions usually required English.
However, he said that teaching English for blind students was never easy as the students had to overcome at least two language barriers – one is the barrier between English and Vietnamese and the other is that they could pronounce words but found it difficult to imagine things.
The learning was more difficult to innate blind students.
Trinh Kieu My, 18, who has joined teaching English there voluntarily for almost four months, said that the students' excitement for English motivated "teachers" like her.
"Despite the disability, blind students study seriously," My said.
"Some told me that they want to be a teacher or an interpreter, so they try to learn English well," she said. "Their desire really motivated me."
My said they were short of learning materials for the students.
All the voluntary teachers learned Braille and made handouts manually by themselves, she said, noting that they also cut clothing and paper to make illustrations so that the students could feel different items by hand.
Khanh Van, a visually-impaired student, said with support from volunteers, she was studying for the International English language Testing System (IELTS) so that she could study overseas and became a book translator for the blind.