Over a six-year period, between 2015 and 2021, Voice of Vietnam (VOV) broadcast three different British Council learner radio series (‘Obla Air’, ‘Middleton Hall’, and ‘Merton Mysteries’). It is estimated that more than half a million listeners tuned in to improve their English language skills while enjoying the episodes. The programmes are broadcast on both VOV5 and VOV2. An all-English format is broadcast on the English language channel VOV5 while a bilingual format is broadcast on the Culture and Education channel VOV2. For VOV, the British Council programmes are regarded an essential part of their English language programming. 

“The British Council radio programmes are fascinating and bring new features to foreign language learning programmes on VOV. The programmes are attractive with lively content. Audiences can listen to English native speakers and daily life stories which help gain new experiences and improve listening comprehension skills and vocabulary. During the broadcast of the programmes, VOV receive positive feedback from listeners from different localities via phone, including adults and young listeners. The British Council programmes are praised as useful, attractive and developing a sense of anticipation for each new episode. The British Council English learner radio series can be considered as one of the highlights to attract and retain VOV listeners.” – International Cooperation Department, Voice of Vietnam.

Below, we learn more about the impact that these three radio series have had on two young Vietnamese learners of English.

Nguyen Minh Phuong, from Hanoi, has been listening to British Council radio programmes on VOV for five years. As a high school student, she would listen to the programmes to improve her English skills. At first, she found the level of English quite difficult, but, after one or two months, she gradually got used to it, “I could learn in a very natural way when communicating and some basic grammar”. Phuong says her high school English lessons tended to focus on grammar and writing skills, she wasn’t a confident speaker and felt ‘shy and awkward’ when she had to communicate in English. But after listening to the programmes, her listening improved, and she feels comfortable and relaxed. Phuong’s vocabulary has also improved, and she no longer feels nervous when exposed to English. Phuong says she would recommend listening to the British Council radio programmes to those who want to improve their English vocabulary and listening skills.

“My listening skills improved a lot when listening to the programmes. I am more confident. I used to be quite afraid of listening to English. But after listening to the programmes, I was able to improve this skill. My pronunciation has also improved. I have learnt a lot of useful lessons through the programmes. The best thing is that I have improved my listening and speaking skills.”

Nguyen Viet Hoang, another listener from Hanoi, has been listening to the British Council radio programmes every week on VOV for more than a year. He likes the structure of the 15-minute programmes and finds the comprehension questions help him keep track of the drama storylines. Hoang is comfortable with the level of English in the episodes and has found that his listening skills have improved. Hoang’s a more confident listener and he says he is now able to watch videos in English without subtitles. He says he would definitely recommend listening to the British Council radio programmes as ‘they are entertaining and helpful to enhance English-listening skills’.

“I have gained more confidence in listening to English. The programmes have helped me improve my listening skills. I find it quite easy to listen and understand what the actors and narrators say. I have learned how to extract information from the dialogues. This will help me not only in English examinations, but also in real-life conversations.”

Next steps

Having read about Phuong and Hoang, you might be keen to hear the programmes yourself and develop your own English skills. ‘Merton Mysteries’ continues to be broadcast on VOV2 until January 2022. In addition, Voice of Vietnam plan to rebroadcast all three series from November 2021 on VOV5 and from February 2022 on VOV2. We hope that through the long-term cooperation between British Council and the Voice of Vietnam these LearnEnglish radio series will reach millions of Vietnamese people, both entertaining them and helping them to improve their English.

The show is broadcast on VOV2 (549 mHz AM and 96,5 mHz FM) at 10.15 every Tuesday, repeated at 23.00 on Tuesday and 10.15 and 23.00 every Thursday. 

VOV5, the 24/7 English FM channel (104 mHz FM) broadcast at 07.15 and repeats every two hours a day.