5 reasons why every student needs ELA?

5 reasons why every student needs ELA?

In speaking with our parents, we have observed that the forward-thinking families are preparing their children with English Language Arts (ELA).  However, most families don’t understand that there are different “Englishes”.  They mistakenly believe that studying at any of the numerous learning centers for conversational English, IELTS, and TOEFL is good enough.  

In reality, studying only this basic English sets students up for failure in any international college or work environment.  In this article we highlight how English Language Arts is different from more basic English, and why any student preparing for global study or work needs to hone ELA skills.

What is English Language Arts?

Among the different “Englishes”, English Language Arts is defined by the U.S. Common Core as the subject that “asks students to read stories and literature, as well as more complex texts that provide facts and background knowledge in areas such as science and social studies.  Students will be challenged and asked questions that push them to refer back to what they’ve read.  This stresses critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that are required for success in college, career, and life.”

ESL (English as a Second Language) is far more basic and builds basic proficiency.  ESL courses are for students whose first language is not English. However, English Language Arts is the type of English taught in English-speaking countries.  ELA focuses on all areas of language development (including listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, and pronunciation), and ELA often includes instruction on civics, life skills, career pathways, math and culture.

Why does every global student needs English Language Arts?

1. English Language Arts cements a strong foundation for academic reading and writing

ELA classes focus on critical reading, writing and communication skills.  Beginning with phonics instruction in the elementary grades, and proceeding to complex technical concepts in later grades, the mastery of language arts is necessary to meet academic standards.  Periods of silent sustained reading, cursive writing, syntax, thematic writing and vocabulary are all major focal points of elementary lessons.

In contrast, conversational English, which is being taught widely in Vietnam, can get students familiar with vocabulary, grammar, basic reading and writing.  ELA curriculum includes more complicated reading comprehension, such as fiction, poetry and essays. In addition, students begin to foster the 6+1 Writing Traits as the learn to master the nuances and beauty of the English language.  They will engage with different forms of writing, including poetry, expository writing, and creative writing.  

2. English Language Arts sharpens critical thinking

Critical thinking is the essential filter through which we process information so that we do not simply believe everything we read or hear. This ability empowers us to think before we speak or write.  In English Language Arts class, students are encouraged to ask deep, open-ended questions, and exercise high-level critical thinking. Once the transition from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn has been made, a student acquires ELA readings skills, the most powerful of all meta-skills.  Now she can learn exponentially faster.  

English Language Arts enables a student to learn material faster and more effectively.  ELA helps students think critically and abstractly about information. Additionally, communication during class discussions and in essays teaches valuable soft skills that students will carry with them throughout their lives.  How many of us are effective speakers and writers? ELA hones those public speaking and persuasive, analytical writing skills.

3. English Language Arts is necessary to learn other subjects

ELA is taught through context.  Students are instructed to work through multiple subjects and expected to analyze, critique, and synthesize a variety of subjects and themes.  As such, proficiency in the four components of ELA are necessary components of every subject.Regardless of subject matter, students are expected to speak, write, and communicate what they have learned.  They must be able to absorb content from and also express knowledge of other subjects.

English Language Arts guides students to find the themes within texts, then connect it with other texts, theories, and historical events.  Students cultivate skills to handle complex ideas, search for patterns, and interpret information in a wider context. ELA can also develop skills in planning and research as they apply language in fields including history, culture, philosophy, science, and human behavior, among others.  ELA programs offer students and teachers the opportunity to choose texts that stimulate students’ imaginations, challenge their understandings of what is known, and provoke further questions for study.

4. English Language Arts prepares students for college abroad

College-level English is a different beast from English in high school, which requires strong, adaptable, and integrated literacy skills.  Students in college will have fewer exams than in high school, and instead have more papers, research projects, and presentations.

To attain the literacy skills vital for success in college , students must learn to engage with complex print and digital texts written for a variety of purposes, think critically about what they read and hear, articulate their thoughts in a range of spoken and written genres, and communicate collaboratively with others.  Equally important is the ability to integrate these skills in complex tasks, like research projects and presentations, and to transfer this learning to new situations and problems.

As students write, speak and represent, they become authors, presenters, publishers, and researchers as they participate in text creation.  English Language Arts is a crucial component of effective college preparation.

5. Language Arts Is Crucial for a Professional Life Beyond School

The skills and knowledge captured in the English Language Arts are designed to prepare students for life outside the classroom.  They help develop 21st century skills: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical thinking, which are needed for global success in the future life and career.  The study of English Language Arts help students use cogent reasoning and evidence collection skills, and it forms the foundation for all effective communication.

In Vietnam, it is not hard to find a place for studying English.  However, we have found that “English Language Arts” remains a new concept to most parents.  As soon as your child can use everyday conversational English, help her advance her English to prepare for an international academic environment. Challenge her to learn just like a native American student with English Language Arts.


The different “Englishes”

The different “Englishes”

How many English programs are there? How are they different? Are international students taking the same English program with local students? What kind of program should my child take?

In this infographic, we love to give a big picture of many different “Englishes”: ESL (English as a Second Language), EFL (English as a Foreign Language), EAL (English as an Additional Language) and why we at Everest choose ELA (English Language Arts) to prepare students for an international education.

Wait for too long? Click here




What can high school students do to prepare for college abroad?

What can high school students do to prepare for college abroad?

As Vietnamese students are getting more popular around the world, there are more and more opportunities for them to seek for financial aid to study abroad. In the last videos we have emphasized the importance of applying early, but what can high school students do to prepare for college abroad?

In this video, Miss Maria Bibler – a guidance counselor at the International School Ho Chi Minh City – American Academy (ISHCMC AA), will give you some valuable advice to help students find the most suitable school as well as suggest some websites to find financial aid.


Tony: So we touched a little bit how like it’s always helpful to start early and be prepared. What advice do you have for students just entering high schools? What’s the first thing that they should be thinking about?

Maria: I just actually had a couple meetings with all of my grade 9 students and the things we focused on, first of all, just some searching to know who you are and it seems like a really big question.

Tony: Yeah what if I don’t know?

Maria: Exactly! So I start by giving them ten questions just to answer something about themselves, one of the things that they enjoy, how they spend their time, what is their favorite class… It doesn’t have to be a survey, just like when you ask a grade 12 student “What are you gonna do when you graduate?” and it seems like a big question… Just ask someone what are you gonna do in the next one or two year, it could change, don’t worry. You don’t have to feel this panicked when people ask you these questions. Especially luckily for this generation, they’re gonna have multiple careers and you know, they’re getting constantly be studying and learning and gaining new skills so it’s should be less of burdensome questions. It’s really important for them to know who they are and what they want, so start with themselves first, and we do some career exploration related activities.

You know, I always tell them to think of yourself as a learner, your academic profile and of course you know what five family priorities there might be in terms of finance or other things like immigration. And then, look at options that make sense for you. Are you the type of student will be fine if there’s like three hundred students in a classroom and still be able to navigate that? And not that people are not successful in those environments because they are. I myself went to a university there was really big… But yeah, kind of answering those questions for yourself to see what makes sense.

Tony: Fantastic!

Maria: Yeah there’s another really good of free unbiased resource that I like to recommend which is Education USA. So I worked with them a lot admission side of the world, when I came and actually recruited around different parts of Asia. I worked with them very closely when I lived in Mumbai. I’ve not fully partnered with them yet but I know that they have a lot of services. I’m on the list served and I see they offer great great resources, free workshops for all kinds of things from preparing a college essay to navigating what’s a public university and where they offer, what’s a public research or universities to prepared for your visa interview. You know often from the very beginning to the very end there’s just so many resources that I offer. They’re free and again unbiased which I think is very important especially given the climate of Vietnam in the market and in higher education. So usually this is a really good free resource called Roadtrip Nation.

Tony: Roadtrip Nation?

Maria: Yeah, that’s I recommended for students to go through sort of answering very simple questions like what do I enjoy, and what can I keep doing and not get bored of. Just three different questions and it populates a list of interviews of people who made careers out of the same thing.

Tony: Oh that’s pretty cool.

Maria: There’re short interviews less than five minutes each and they can go through… It’s sort of doing informational interviews they’re already done it.

Tony: Yeah, they are done it and organized it for you.

Maria: Yeah, It’s actually an usually freshmen college students doing in that interviews and the interview committee made a career out of that. They can kind of mess with it and go back and change. They’re like “Oh, the set of interviews and people’s professions doesn’t seem like what I want to do, so I can go and change.” So it helps them. I tell them always to start with the career search because that’s important. They need to know and again, the career might change but there’s some key things about what they might want to do will be several of careers and jobs they might have synced to their personalities. So those two pieces I try to integrate: who they are as individuals, you know, maybe you like computers but you are the type of person who likes being with computers and with people and train them, or you are the type of person who likes speaking of computers and just being on your own and developing codes and websites… So depending the type of person you are, environment may be different in terms of what you might want and then we take it to the digging into the college prep stuff. Course standardized testing is one thing that I’m really emphasizing with my students now, now that it’s real and I’m still a little nervous about it.

Tony: Yeah the vast majority are waiting far too long before they start.

Maria: Yes. So to help them create a roadmap for themselves in terms of what is standardized testing going to look like for me based on my situation, what I wanted to do, where I want to go.

Tony: Any parting words of advice?

Maria: The biggest piece is what I said earlier, no matter what access you have of resources, when you start, where’s your national curriculum, it’s really about your own individual personality and what you can bring to wherever you go, you can make the most out of that experience or you could go to an elite university and still not gain as much. A lot of the rankings focus on the input and not as much on the output, and what you hear is not mean the product that came out of that. And I think, if you have been great in the drive to apply to the U.S., it was like a whole you know; it starts in a year nine and ten so you’re already sort of making a lot of strides in that. Then, I think you’ll be fine no matter ready to go.

Tony: Well thank you very much for all the time and for all the advice Maria Bibler.

Financial aid tips and resources for Vietnamese students

Financial aid tips and resources for Vietnamese students

Continue our video series of interviewing with Maria Bibler, a guidance counselor at the International School Ho Chi Minh City – American Academy (ISHCMC AA), we asked about financial aid tips and resources for Vietnamese students.

Maria will give you her valuable advice to apply for scholarships and suggest some websites to help you find out the best ones.

Below are our interview and a transcript that has been edited for clarity.


Tony:  We test a little bit on scholarship and funding from public schools versus private schools, can we dig a little bit more? What are some of the recommendations you have for international students from Vietnam who are cost-sensitive, and need to find some sort of financial aid, what advice would you give them?

Maria:  One, do you research really well, you know. Two, this is something they can totally do that doesn’t require much, so apply early. There is no external factors dictating that so you have total control over that and I feel like that’s something they can easily do. Not easily, needs lots of work, but you know what I mean, they have control over that. Yes, yes. So lots of colleges requires students to apply early for scholarships and even if they don’t it definitely helps when you get admitted earlier within the pool of applicants to be considered for scholarships.

Tony: So does that mean in general in round one?

Maria: Yeah, and applying early is not necessarily early decision but just, you know, applying early action or just applying early for universities that rolling admission.

Tony: Don’t wait until the deadline?

Maria: Exactly!

Tony: Is there a good target month generally that people should be in before?

Maria: I would say you should try to get all your applications in before December like before the year ends, you know. Just try to aim anywhere in November/ December because most deadlines fall between December and January, February and March. The early deadlines will fall as early as October 15 but most of them are in November and December, most early deadlines tend to be between November and December. So I think that’s something they can do that doesn’t require a lot, they’re just doing everything earlier and it’s totally in their control. But then doing a lot of research luckily I feel like Vietnamese students are in demand and a lot of colleges and universities especially come out here to recruit students and have had almost 150 from all over the world majority are on the US. You know a range of universities come to recruit our students and I think they come to Vietnam and do these big fairs because they’re really looking to attract Vietnamese students and they offer scholarships because they want to attract Vietnamese students. Our current graduating class, 25% of them are getting scholarships that vary from as low as 10 thousand to 100 thousand dollars for a degree. So I think Vietnamese students luckily are in a good position, if you have a good academic profile and you apply smart, you know, choose not all the Ivy League’s but make sure your college list is based, if cost is a factor in your decision where you go and definitely be very careful in terms of which colleges you choose. There is money out there you just have to be careful with where you find in research.

Tony: And where’s the best source of information to find out about these scholarships and financial aid available?

Maria: Yeah there are some general sources I recommend but so much if it changes the year to year with colleges like I have spoken with some of the same colleges being lashed in this year and some of them had something that they don’t have anymore or some of them didn’t have something last year but now they have something in term of scholarships. I think with colleges is, honestly, direct admission with the representatives and going to college’s website. It’s probably the best source but it can be very cumbersome. You can’t go to thousands websites so I try to talk to, definitely try to make the most when you go to fairs or when colleges they’re coming here to engage with them and get that information first hand. But there are some resources, CollegeXpress is one of them, which is a good matching for students. I like College Boards websites although they have limited information when it comes to international student scholarship. A lot of scholarship websites are more focused on US citizens and domestic students. There is one specific one called FundingUSSstudy.org and that’s actually a website that’s through the internet of Institute of International Education, which is a non-profit US-based organization and that has a lot of good information specifically for students looking to study in the US, and it’s free so that is always an iceberg. Both of the websites are actually free but FundingUSSstudy.org is a government supported but in a non-profit organization.

Tony: That’s fantastic. We’ll put links to all three of those sites into the video here so that people can follow up on that.

Public vs Private school in the US

Public vs Private school in the US

As a matter of fact, many Vietnamese parents are confused between public school and private school in the U.S. in terms of education quality.  However, the American education system is totally different from Vietnamese.

In this video, Maria Bibler – a guidance counselor at the International School Ho Chi Minh City – American Academy (ISHCMC AA), will have a short discussion with Tony Ngo – Chairman and Co-founder of Everest Education, about the differences between public school and private school.

Below are our interview and a transcript that has been edited for clarity.


Maria:  In the U.S., private school and public school don’t always mean the same thing as they do in Vietnam or in the other parts of the world.

Tony:  So what’s the key distinction?

Maria:  Often time, at least with my experience working in China, students think that public schools have the best education.  However, the quality of education doesn’t necessarily differ between public and private school in the U.S. The education quality isn’t measured based on the size of the institutions or whether it’s  a public or private school. 

I think one of the factors that impact students’ decision is tuition cost.  So if it’s a publicly funded institution, it’s generally a little bit cheaper than a private institution.  However, public universities don’t offer funding to international students because they serve the local population.  That’s basically the main difference.

But if you look at the total costs of attendance, don’t worry whether it’s a public or private school because they could be the same.

Tony:  But generally, have you ever seen any public schools that offer scholarships to international students in any significant way?

Maria:  There are institutions that offer scholarships if they want to attract really qualified international students.

Tony:  Oh, I didn’t know that.  As I know, most of the time students have to pay the out-of-state institution price which is much higher.

Maria:  I think some public universities do offer some funding.  But again, those are not significant ones. The main purpose of these scholarships is to recognize students’ academic performance.

Tony: For The University of California system, which includes several world-class universities, has a huge funding problem.  As a result, tuition has gone up dramatically in the past decade, from a few thousand dollars to 20 or 30 thousand dollars per year.  Unfortunately, whether you’re out of state or out of the country, they’ll charge you a full fare to plug all the other gaps that they have.

Maria:  So the idea behind public universities is that there are some tax dollars that the residents of that state are paying into it which has been reduced over the years.  Well, there is federal funding and state funding that goes into the state institutions. I think the non-resident, including the international students, increased for that reason.

To be continued…

Understand keys of the US college system

Understand keys of the US college system

There is no doubt that the U.S. has a really complex college and university system.  As a result, many parents are confused when they choose schools for their children’s higher education abroad.

In order to provide parents with necessary information about that topic, we’re privileged to have Maria Bibler – a guidance counselor at the International School Ho Chi Minh City – American Academy (ISHCMC), joining us and sharing years of experience with the team.

Before that, Maria was the guidance counselor at Singapore International School in Mumbai, India.  Also, she used to be the Admissions Officer at Ohio State University.  As a result, Maria has many experiences in helping students from all over Asia get into American colleges.

The interview revolves around the college system in the U.S and how it’s different from other countries’ systems.

Below is our interview and a transcript that has been edited for clarity.


Tony: Hi Maria, we’d love to help our students understand a little bit more about the college system in the U.S.  Can you please share some of your thoughts on this topic?

Maria: Yes, of course.  Having many options to choose among can be beneficial and challenging at the same time.  In my opinion, having lots of options and lots of flexibility is one of the hallmarks of the U.S. education system.  There are about 4,000 accredited colleges and universities in America which are classified into different types of schools, such as private and public, large and small,…

Tony: Here is another common question that I get a lot from Vietnamese parents: “How do I choose the school for my kids?”  In Vietnam, the universities are classified into specific majors, such as University of Economics, University of Banking, University of Foreign Trade, etc.  In the U.S, on the other hand, the system is obviously different. How do you advise them on choosing the school?

Maria: There is a common confusion between universities and colleges.  I think most of the world generally follow the pattern of the U.K system, in which a student gets a specific degree when he/she goes to a college.  Whereas in the U.S, a college isn’t necessarily associated with a specific degree. The American system is set up very differently in which one university consists of several colleges.  A college is a smaller institution that typically offers undergraduate degrees. While a university is an institution that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees.

On the contrary, if you’re a part of an American university, you’re able to take classes in different colleges.  For example, if you’re in the College of Arts and Sciences, you can still take a class in the College of Engineering or the College of Humanities.  The system is so flexible that students can get some change if they want to. I think that’s a really big difference.

Tony: We’ve worked with many students whose parents want them to pick the major from the beginning.  And that’s almost opposite to the U.S system in which students are encouraged to explore the multidisciplinary education.  It’s amazing that you figure out the major you’d like to pursue in the freshman year. However, some students wait until the end of their sophomore year before they declare a major.

Maria: I didn’t even officially declare my own major until I was a junior.  To be honest, I took several classes that I wanted. Eventually, they ended up becoming my degrees.  In the beginning, I just wanted to explore. But the more I joined in those classes, the more I realized that they were the majors I wanted to keep pursuing.

Tony: Well, my younger brother changed his major about 5 times.  But now he’s really happy because he has a broad base of education.

Maria: I believe that’s the real beauty of the U.S higher education which attracts a lot of students from all around the world.

To be continued…