A combination of online learning tools and social networking media is keeping Australia Award scholarship recipients on track with their English language skills as they prepare to undertake post-graduate study in Australia.
Known as Keep Sharp, the online approach towards English language learning was developed by RMIT Vietnam's Centre of English and is part of the pre-departure preparations for recipients of the post-graduate study scholarships offered by the Australian Government.
Keep Sharp combines RMIT Vietnam's online learning platform Blackboard with social networking media and online discussion software such as Skype to help the students prepare for study and life in Australia.
The main focus of the program is to create a supportive virtual environment for practicing and maintaining English language skills, by providing stimulating and relevant topics and stories for scholarship recipients to read, listen and discuss.
Students were able to access Keep Sharp from their hometowns throughout Vietnam, enabling a flexible approach to English language skills development.
Over forty students involved in the Keep Sharp program attended a pre-departure celebration event at the RMIT Vietnam campuses in Hanoi on 13 May and at Saigon South on 15 May.
Student and scholarship recipient Nguyen Hoang Phuong, who is based in Quang Tri, said it was a positive experience to use Keep Sharp as he prepared for his departure.
"It has helped to prepare for my studies in Australia and at the same time helped me maintain my English language skills," said Phuong.
"Learning online is a major part of university study so I am really happy to have a chance to learn more on how to use it before I head to Australia to undertake my Master of Disability Studies."
Keep Sharp was designed by RMIT Vietnam's Pastoral Care officers Keith Gaumont and Paul Williams, Program Coordinator Dan Ruelle, as well as members of the university's Teaching and Learning Unit.
Mr Gaumont said language learning requires constant practice and the program was designed as a means to motivate the maintenance of English language skills as well as to provide access to relevant information for study and life in Australia.
"We're particularly pleased to see the students already studying in Australia actively participate online," Mr Gaumont said.
"They share their experiences and offer useful advice to the students getting ready to leave for Australia."