nov 17,2011 05:33 AM / Published in

Vietnamese turn to Paltalk for English learning

Using the nickname Selena, Mai Linh has been learning English on Paltalk - an Internet service that allows users to communicate via instant messaging, voice and video chat - for six months.

She is among a growing number of Vietnamese who use the free service to improve their English proficiency.

A student in Ho Chi Minh City, Linh is improving her spoken English with the help of online 'teachers' on Paltalk who are either native speakers or Vietnamese living in an English-speaking country.

She first joined the online classes - known as 'rooms' on Paltalk which are set up and operated by volunteer 'teachers' - with a modest knowledge of the language and could not communicate so well in English. But she now speaks decent English after six months.

"I log on to Paltalk to study English whenever I have free time," she says. "The 'teachers' there are always willing to correct me no matter how many times I mispronounce a word."

The Internet chat website is also a 'haunt' for even people with a good English background, like Thu Trang - a 24-year-old graduate in English.

A translator at a newspaper in Hanoi, she manages to find time to sharpen her language skills almost every day.

Trang says her listening, speaking, and pronunciation improve significantly thanks to the interaction she has on Paltalk.

Behind-the-keyboard 'teachers'

Those online classes are offered free of charge by unbelievably devoted 'teachers.'

BacDon, a nickname very familiar to many Vietnamese Paltalk users, have spent most of his time during the last seven years teaching English with the chat tool.

Donald Elwood Degerstrom, his real name, is a retired army officer after many years serving in the US Air Force.

He now works eight hours a week as a sales clerk at a store in the US.

Sig, the nickname of a Vietnamese living in the US for twenty years, wakes up at 6 am every day during the past five years to teach English to his Vietnamese compatriots back home before going to work two hours later.

Luc Chi, a Vietnamese construction worker living in Canada, once taught 16 hours straight just in order not to disappoint his students who had 'queued up' to learn with him.

And there are still many other 'teachers' like Dailynews or Thoangbuon, both of whom are educators in real life.

"We all hope Vietnamese people can speak fluent English," Chi said.

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