Global Foundation team member Becky Clem volunteered to share some of her thoughts as we enter the second week of our Vietnam summer training program.  Becky is a practicing Auditory-Verbal Therapist based in Fort Worth, Texas. She presents and teaches on the regional, state, and national level in the United States about listening and spoken language development in children with hearing loss.

This summer, Becky is teaming with Hillary Ganek to lead training for Vietnamese Level 3 participants in pull-out therapy sessions for classroom children with hearing loss . Here’s Becky in her own words….

We wrapped up the first week of instruction for our Level 3 students, children, and families in the Vietnam summer training program.  Wednesday and Thursday were the first two days of the practicum classroom and therapy pull out sessions.  In a few short days, our students have moved from lessons about colors and teacher directed activities to setting up therapy sessions that maximize audition, use developmentally appropriate activities, and engage children and parents in fun, play-based activities. 

During the first two days of the week, we observed and coached teachers on how to use strategies and involve the parent in the session. We worked with them on using the Integrated Scales of Development to determine what the children needed to learn.  We took the time to role play, show them specifically what to do, and brainstorm with them about what children in Vietnam do at home. They discussed how to develop activities with goals centered around what children do at home – and then use those ideas in therapy.

As Hillary and I exited the first therapy rooms on Friday morning last week, we were filled with pride at what the teacher had improved upon. For example, one of the teachers, with her 4 year old student and the child’s father, had conducted a lesson on colors and flowers using flash cards the previous day.  It resulted in the little girl squirming in her chair and being disinterested in the session.

On Friday, the teacher excitedly told the little girl that  today they would be giving dolls a shower. Her face lit up as the teacher pulled out three different dolls from a bag to use in the activities. Throughout the lesson, the teacher involved the father and the little girl with all of the activities centered around giving the dolls a shower, The little girl used many new words, showed excitement and interest, and actively learned from the activity.  Those types of activities happened in every therapy session on Friday! 

Each of the Vietnamese teachers I worked with shared with me what they learned, how their children cooperated throughout the session, and were engaged in learning. Despite the language barrier, we connected on what it takes to teach children with hearing loss listening and spoken language.  Telling each of them how proud I was of their progress and how much they were helping the children and their families bridged the language and cultural gaps between Vietnamese and English (and there are many gaps!).

At the end of the week, I left the school feeling overwhelmed at the work these teachers and families have committed themselves to for the Level 3 training. Some have traveled great distances to attend the program with great sacrifices away from their families, jobs,  and homes.  Each day, they stay late to work on lesson plans, and have the utmost concern to improve their skills to help the children and their families.  

And so tomorrow we head back to Thuan An Center for the start of Week 2.  It will be another busy week ahead with many activities on the agenda including the start of Level 2 and 3 audiology, hearing tests and hearing aid fitting for young children, and a forum discussion about collaboration between teachers and audiology professionals.  More to come soon!