Technical English Teacher Education did sound pretty eerie to me at first, as I was in high school deciding on which university I should go for. Earlier that day, my 12th grade teacher-in-charge counseled me to apply for Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education (UTE), either for mechanics or English major. Having a hard time figuring out what to do in future, I ended up tossing paper dices, because neither UTE nor Technical English Teacher Education did ring any bells - totally bizarre. I found myself flabbergasted when, by chance or might it be a destiny, I unfolded a piece of paper with “UTE - Technical English Teacher Education” sketched on, so I enrolled in Technical English Teacher Education major as the dice went out. What an unbeaten path to take!
Life is full of trials and errors, as a saying goes, and I found it awfully true when I passed the entrance exam and officially walked down the hall towards the class as a freshman. Technical English Teacher Education was nothing but such a hellacious piece of academics to break down. This specialization includes 2 parts - English language study and Technical English teaching, which was the most challenging yet interesting enough for me, a corny voluble guy to tackle. Would it be a nightmare yet? I was good at natural subjects, say, math - physics - chemistry, and English was a hobby in high school. There were mistakes galore when I first attempted to work myself out for the first 2 years in college. At that time, I totally soaked into languages, so as to build a linguistic platform for another 2 years of specialized subjects. Every single day dawned in a hurry for a teamwork discussion at school, and it closed when I fell fast asleep in the middle of a midnight discussion online via Skype with teammates. Hardly ever did I fuss about such a tight schedule or over perplexing theories, because learning languages gave me much joy. Guess what, apart from English, I was learning Japanese, too. Omoshiroi huh? (Side fact: To many of my classmates, this subject was a curse, but I aced this language which has come in handy for me in communication with my Japanese boss and colleagues).
Well, I bet my rigmarole thus far has piqued your interest, but it is now time to get down to business. I must confess that learning English is hard, to study a specialized subject in English is even harder - beyond compare! To some extent, Technical English Teacher Education means English used in technical fields, and to my class of 2008, they included English for Computing, Environment, Electricity, Mechanics, and Business. Moreover, I was trained to be a translator/interpreter in these industries as well, how come?!
It eventually paid off, however. Since my graduation in 2012, I have thrown myself in some short-term projects as an interpreter but not as an English teacher like the others. The first one was a software project in computing science sector. Lucky me, because I had acquainted myself with IT terms back in school with a course of Computing, so I wound up easily getting adapted in the job. My first boss was a British guy with an accent of South London, but I worried not, because British accent was de facto on fleek during my student-hood at the Faculty of Foreign Languages (FFL). The following project was in a heavy-industry sector - a steel factory construction project, which involved all of technical subjects I learned at school. No flatter, it was nerve-racking to work, for every meeting was so technically intensive that I could not have done it but for my strong technical background. After a while, the project went bankrupt due to national policy obstacles, I then jumped ships to another construction project and have been working here for 3 years now. Based on that technical background, I have dug into a few industries, and realized that my random choice of education back in high school was a fortune in disguise.
Although Technical English Teacher Education might not be popular, its career opportunity abounds. English is widely required for a job, but compared to general English, Technical English Teacher Education proves to have an edge over. You can speak English fluently, but to translate English in a technical field is another story to tell, which requires both language skills and good knowledge of specialization apart from teaching methodology. Voila, Technical English Teacher Education major in UTE is such one stone that kills both birds. Fairly enough, my career just exemplifies how practical this specialization can be. To prove it better, many of my classmates and other ‘senpai’ that I know are holding fascinating jobs in several high-tech sectors, be it construction, manufacturing, or services as translators, interpreters or even in higher fancier positions, let alone those who even come back to school to pursue higher education and work in universities nationwide and abroad. Personally, I always feel grateful to study in the FFL-UTE. In retrospect, Technical English Teacher Education as an inchoate mass of words for a high-school boy was laden with challenging subjects in school, but it was a good way to start off a career. To sum up, I like to quote the former FFL Dean’s sentences: “Do not look for anything easy, because you will not learn anything from it. Challenge yourself, and you’ll figure out what life holds in store for you!”
NGUYỄN HỒNG PHÚC - Alumnus 2008