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Friday, November 20, 2020, 09:46 (GMT+7)
To enhance foreign language training within the Military

Improving the foreign language knowledge of cadres, officers, and professional service men and women (hereafter cadres and employees) is a both urgent and long-term strategic task. Bringing into play the obtained good results, the entire Military will continue grasping and well executing the guidelines by the Party, the State, the Central Military Commission, and the Ministry of National Defence on foreign language learning to meet the requirements set by the Military build-up and the Homeland protection in the new situation.

Due to the country’s deeper and wider international integration, our Party and State have issued many resolutions and directives on foreign language teaching and learning within the national education system. Grasping our Party and State’s guidelines and clearly understanding the importance of foreign languages to the Military build-up and the Homeland defence in the new situation, over the years, the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Ministry of National Defence (MND) have focused their leadership and direction on improving the foreign language knowledge of cadres and employees within the whole Military. The MND has developed and submitted the Project on “foreign language training within the Military in the period of 2015-2020 and beyond” to the Prime Minister for approval, while releasing the Directive 89/CT-BQP, dated November 9th, 2016 on “a number of urgent tasks to raise the quality of foreign language teaching and learning within military schools.” Grounded on those documents, the General Staff has promulgated a lot of projects and plans on this work. After the Prime Minister had issued the Decision 1659/QĐ-TTg, dated November 19th, 2019 on approving “the National Programme on officials and public servants’ foreign language learning in the period of 2019-2030” (the Programme 1695), the MND released the Directive 105/CT-BQP, dated May 26th, 2020 on “enhancing foreign and ethnic language learning within the Military to meet the task requirements in the new situation” and the Plan 1844/KH-BQP, dated May 27th, 2020 for realising “the National Programme on officials and public servants’ foreign language learning in the period of 2019-2030” within the Military (the Plan 1844).

A foreign language period at the Infantry Officer College No.1

With their resolve and political responsibility, units across the Military have grasped and seriously executed those guidelines, projects and directives by the Government, the CMC, and the MND. In spite of difficulties, foreign language training within the Military has attained good results and produced a positive effect from schools to units. Notably, the awareness and responsibility of all-level party committees, commands, cadres and employees towards foreign language training have been raised. Units have actively formulated and realised plans/projects to improve their staff members’ foreign language knowledge together with proper, practical measures and road maps. A contingent of foreign language teachers within the Military has been developed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Foreign language programmes for all groups of learners have been adjusted and standardised to meet the requirements set by the military-defence task. International cooperation on foreign language training has been promoted. Due regard has been paid to modernising equipment and applying information technology to designing specialised foreign language textbooks and documents. Over the past 5 years, there have been many effective approaches in teaching, studying and using foreign languages at offices and units. Within a number of academies and schools, specialised subjects have been taught in English or Russian, while foreign languages have become one of the compulsory subjects for the graduation exam intended for undergraduate cadets. Academic conferences and dissertations have been presented and defended in foreign languages. Military regions, services and specialised corps have also actively improved their staff members’ foreign language knowledge. Foreign language training courses have been frequently organised within many offices and units. The General Staff has directed the organisation of English and Russian Olympic Contests for cadets from military academies and officer schools. Due attention has also paid to holding foreign language training courses for graduate officers who would attend postgraduate courses or study abroad.

It is clear to see that foreign language training within the entire Military over the years has made impressive progress. Foreign language knowledge and skills of cadres and employees have been raised to make contributions to standardising human resources and improving offices and units’ task performance. However, in the process, there have been several weaknesses from which offices and units should draw lessons, and more importantly they should opportunely work towards remedial measures.

Amidst the trend of globalisation and wider, deeper international integration as well as the massive impacts by the 4th industrial revolution, foreign language training for cadres and employees across the Military becomes more urgent and it should be further promoted to build high-quality human resources and satisfy the requirements of Military build-up and national protection. To well perform this important work, the whole Military should synchronously, drastically adopt several main measures as follows.

First, strengthen all-level party committees and commands’ leadership and direction over foreign language training for cadres and employees. Units across the Military, particularly all-level party committees and commanders should keep grasping the guidelines on foreign language learning, especially the Government’s Programme 1695 and the MND’s Directive 89/CT-BQP, Directive 105/CT-BQP, and Plan 1844. Besides, they should comprehend directions, goals, viewpoints, tasks, and measures relating to foreign language training set by the Government, the CMC, and the MND, while heightening a sense of responsibility to perform this important mission. There is a fact that when party committees and commanders focus their leadership and direction on foreign language training, the quality and effectiveness of this task will be improved. Hence, all-level party committees and commands must exercise closer, more drastic leadership and direction over this task and more closely inspect their affiliated units’ performance of this task. Consideration should be given to well conducting the work of propagation to render all staff members fully aware of the necessity of learning foreign languages to meet the requirements set by international integration, Military build-up and national protection in the new situation. Great value should be attached to disseminating effective approaches and valuable experiences in foreign language training at units across the Military in order to build up staff members’ determination and motivation. In the medium term, units should develop specialised resolutions, projects and plans on foreign language training for their cadres and employees in a detailed, feasible manner, while combining foreign language training with the execution of the CMC’s Resolution 109-NQ/QUTW, dated February 11th, 2019 on “building a contingent of military cadres, particularly at campaign and strategic levels to meet the task requirements in the new situation.” By 2030, 20% - 30% of our cadres will able to work in the international environment. Besides, it is necessary to proactively correctly assess all-level cadres’ foreign language level to design training plans and courses for each period in accordance with each group of cadres. The Department of Schools should continue cooperating with offices and units in counselling and directing the implementation of the MND’s projects and directives, opportunely grasping difficulties and issues, and proposing remedial measures to the Steering Board on the Project 1659 to fulfil the preset goals and requirements. There will be a lot of difficulties in performing the task of foreign language training and it will require the entire Military’s synchronous, drastic, persistent involvement. In the process, it is essential to both encourage all staff members to actively learn foreign languages and prevent the signs of underestimating and avoiding foreign language learning.

Second, review, develop, and perfect mechanisms and policies for encouraging cadres and employees to actively study and use foreign languages when they perform their missions. This is an important measure aimed at both motivating and pressuring our staff members to proactively, actively, self-consciously learn foreign languages to meet their task requirements. Thus, competent offices should quickly supplement and complete mechanisms and policies for foreign language training and learning in accordance with the State’s regulations, the military-defence particularities, and the development trend so as to create and maintain a favourable condition for learning and using foreign languages within the Military. The Department of Personnel Work and the Department of Personnel should collaborate with offices and units in undertaking researches and advising the CMC and the MND on including foreign and ethnic language qualifications in criteria for positions as well as considering them as a criterion for assessing, appointing, arranging and using cadres and employees. At the same time, there should be policies for attracting and recruiting cadres with a high command of foreign languages and good political qualities to work for the Military. Priority should given to Mathematics, Physics, and English (Group A1) in the military entrance exam so as to recruit cadets with good knowledge of English and build a contingent of cadres who will be able to successfully fulfil their task in the international environment. Party committees and commands of offices and units should use the results of foreign language learning as a yardstick for reward, appointment, and promotion. The whole Military should strive to achieve the targets of foreign language training towards 2025 and 2030 set in the Plan 1844 by the MND.   

Third, renew and perfect the foreign language training programmes and synchronously take measures for raising the quality of foreign language teaching and learning within the Military. Functional offices and schools should continue reviewing, developing, completing and standardising the foreign language training programmes in a practical, effective fashion, integrating them into the national education system, and making them relevant to the military particularities and the characteristics of each group of staff members. Great weight should be added to designing specialised foreign and ethnic language training programmes (English, Russian, Chinese, Laos and Khmer) for cadres and employees in accordance with their professions and stationed areas. Emphasis should be placed on improving the foreign and ethnic language knowledge of cadres who are tasked with military diplomacy, mass mobilisation in the areas mainly inhabited by ethnic minorities, and exploitation of modern weapons and technical equipment. The Department of Schools should continue working with schools to formulate plans for foreign language teaching and learning relevant to each school and major. Moreover, it is vital to undertake researches on establishing criteria of foreign language level for cadets and organising international standard foreign language training courses for officers who will be dispatched to study abroad or attend postgraduate courses.

Military schools should promote their core role in implementing the MND’s Plan 1844, Directive 89/CT-BQP, and Directive 105/CT-BQP and teaching foreign languages to cadres across the Military. Priority should be given to developing the Military Science Academy into a top foreign language training centre of the Military and making it capable of reaching international and national standards. To create a breakthrough in foreign language teaching and learning, in the upcoming time, it is important to keep building and developing a pool of foreign language teachers within the Military with standard qualifications and competence. At the same time, due attention should be paid to more drastically renewing the method of foreign language teaching and learning, exam, and assessment. Units and schools should diversify forms of foreign language training, combine professional training with the improvement in using foreign languages and working in the international environment, apply information technology to foreign language teaching and learning, develop online foreign language teaching and learning in accordance with the military conditions. Military schools should keep raising the quality of graduation exam with foreign languages as a compulsory subject. Furthermore, there should be breakthrough measures to build a favourable environment for learning and using foreign languages within schools and units. Great value should be attached to enhancing the efficiency of foreign language clubs and encouraging cadres and employees to self-study foreign languages and especially follow President Ho Chi Minh’s example in foreign language self-study. Due regard should be paid to mobilising resources to modernise facilities, equipment and documents for foreign language teaching and learning to meet the requirements of international integration. Significance should be attached to designing, completing, and standardising foreign language documents and specialised foreign language textbooks, promoting the effectiveness of pieces of software, and creating a digital environment for foreign language teaching and self-studying.

Fourth, maintain and foster cooperation both at home and abroad on foreign language training. Military schools and units should cooperate with one another in exchanging experiences and raising the quality of foreign language training, while working with other educational facilities within the national education system to well perform this task. Currently, the trend of wider and deeper international integration both places pressure on and provides opportunities for training exchange and cooperation; therefore we should take advantage of it to promote international cooperation on foreign language training. In the upcoming time, units and schools should attach great value to enhancing cooperation on foreign language training with other countries’ educational facilities under the regulations set by the State and the MND. Due attention should be paid to organising exchange programmes and scientific workshops with foreign partners in order to improve cadres, teachers and cadets’ foreign language skills, acquire modern knowledge, and approach advanced training models around the world. Offices and units should adhere to the Statutes on dispatching personnel to study abroad. Besides, they should both organise foreign language training courses at home and send their cadres to study overseas so as to improve their staff’s foreign language skills and capacity to work in the international environment and satisfy the requirements set by the military-defence mission.

Acutely aware of the importance of improving cadres’ foreign language knowledge, units across the Military will continue surmounting all difficulties and well implementing the guidelines, projects, directives, and plans by the CMC and the MND on this work to make contributions to building high-calibre human resources and meeting the requirements set by the Military build-up and the Homeland protection in the new situation.

Sr. Lt. Gen. PHAN VAN GIANG, Member of the Party Central Committee

Member of the CMC Standing Board, Chief of the General Staff

Deputy Minister of National Defence

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