During our school visits across Vietnam to recruit applicants for the Academic year 2019-2020, Fulbright received lots of questions from students. One question was by far the most popular: “My English is not good, can I still study at Fulbright?”
On his Facebook, Khang A Tua, one of Fulbright’s 54 Co-Design Year students, shared his experience learning English at Fulbright. His thoughts below may help our concerned, potential applicants feel assured that you can study at Fulbright.
“Vietnamese is actually my second language; and even when I was in 10th grade, I still could not listen and speak Vietnamese fluently. However, I still went to class everyday, even gaining some awards.
It was not just by pure luck that I got those awards. It was because I have always considered language as a tool for communication, for people to express what they think. I didn’t need to fully understand every single word in a question. I just needed to understand the main point of the question and convey my thinking in the simplest way possible.
It is the same now with English. I am definitely not fluent in English at this moment of writing; but I don’t feel left behind in my study and my life at Fulbright, where almost everything happens in English.
So, you just have to use language in a way that it is created for: to connect people. It will help simplify your quest in learning a new language.”
Tua’s sharing is also what Pamela Stacey, Director of the College Bridge Program and Learning Support, tells her students. Ms. Stacey believes that as long as a student can convey what they think, even with limited vocabularies or weak grammar, they will still excel in an English-taught academic environment like Fulbright.
That is the reason why even though Fulbright’s program is taught in English, we do not require our students to take the IELTS or TOEFL test when applying to Fulbright. If we were to set a standard for English proficiency, we may miss out on great students.
These students may possess all the qualities that Fulbright is looking for: intellectual curiosity, pioneering spirit, community-minded, committed, and has integrity. They just have less opportunity or access to adequate English language training.
Khang A Tua, a H’Mong ethnic from Mu Cang Chai mountainous district, is that special student. He is well known for leading different social projects to search for, protect and uphold the H’mong culture. And in 2018, he accepted an offer to become one of Fulbright’s 54 Co-Design Year students.
Thus, for those who are still unsure about their English proficiency, do not worry. At Fulbright, there are many support programs that will help you improve your English.
One of those is the College Bridge program, which starts every summer for students whose English may be weaker than that of their peers. This program will prepare students for the academic rigor of Fulbright’s undergraduate curriculum.