The increase in use of IELTS as a second language certificate in Vietnam has been tremendous. As part of the shift towards blended learning, doubled by the influence of Covid-19, IELTS online classrooms have been more ubiquitous.
IELTS virtual classrooms in Vietnam
Learning IELTS at English centers and at schools around Vietnam started a long time ago. This was attributable to the fact that university candidates had been allowed to use their IELTS scores to apply for the University entrance exam without sitting for the English test.
In 2019, almost all centers around Vietnam ran offline IELTS courses, and only very few centers offered online courses, since students and parents prefered the 1-1 interaction that online classrooms failed to compensate for.
Yet, as the Covid-19 took place and students were forced to stay at home, traditional classes were forced to change to a digital platform.
At present, almost every center offers both online and offline courses for students. Leading English centers in Vietnam, such as Ican IELTS or Prep.vn, have managed to build a fully-developed online learning infrastructure, which comprehensively addresses the need for a virtual learning experience.
Types of online courses
It is noticeable that there are different forms of online learning. According to Fordham University, online courses can be basically divided into 3 types:
- Asynchronous Online Courses
Offerings for these courses don’t happen in real time. The time range for finishing course work and tests is offered to students, along with content and assignments. Typically, interaction happens on wikis, blogs, and discussion forums. There is no scheduled class meeting time as a result. Students who have limited time or demanding schedules can learn effectively in asynchronous online learning environments.
- Synchronous Online Courses
The instructor and every student enrolled in these courses must communicate online at the same time. Participants communicate through text, video, or audio chat, which is quite similar to a webinar in certain ways. Students can take a course remotely and engage in real time thanks to synchronous learning settings.
- Hybrid course
Both in-person and online engagement are permitted in hybrid classes, commonly referred to as blended courses. Hybrid classes typically have many in-person meetings over the course of a semester, with computer-based contact available in between.
Cons of online IELTS courses
The problem that all online IELTS classes have to solve is the level of interaction between the courses. Even in synchronous courses, for example, teachers can only see what their students show on the camera, (not mentioning the fact that some students may make excuses to turn off the camera) and thus it is very hard for them to control what is happening in the class.
Furthermore, long exposure to the computer screen can be detrimental to learners’ health. For young learners, spending a two-hour online class may make their eyes drained. They are also easily distracted by means of distractions such as notifications from their Facebook and so on. In addition, this form of online learning may make it hard for old learners, who are not so used to digital platforms.
Last but not least, there can be some technical difficulties that arise in an online class, be it hardware failures or software bugs, which can be very distressing to both teachers and learners.
Pros of online IELTS courses
IELTS online classrooms can be beneficial in a multitude of ways. First, students can learn anywhere, anytime. This contributes to equal education opportunities since students from far-away places can have the opportunities to learn with good teachers in big cities.
Asynchronous online IELTS courses, for example, can allow students to learn when they have free time. Also, since these are recorded lessons, students can pause and rewatch part of the lesson that they do not understand later, and thus, they reap the benefit of learning at their own pace.
Second, online IELTS courses can be cost-effective and time-efficient (given the fact that the tuition fees for the IELTS courses are expensive already). Both teachers and students can save a lot of travel expenses and travel time since they do not have to move to the learning location. This means a lot for students who live 20km away from the institution and concomitantly reduces any accident risk when traveling.
The bottom line
To sum up, the perks of online learning are its accessibility and availability. Yet, whether online IELTS courses can be helpful depends on the self-discipline and autonomy of the learners, together with the stability of the digital platforms.