Reporter: Tell me about this book!
Huy: It tells us about the secrets of the dinosaurs.
Reporter: What’s your favorite dinosaur?
Huy: My favorite is Brachiosaurus.
Reporter: Why do you like it?
Huy: Because it’s very big and it doesn’t eat meat.
|Children read books with teacher's help at Mia Bookhouse. (Photo: VOV)
Books about shapes and dinosaurs are just a few among 1,000 English books available at Mia Bookhouse. On the shelves specially designed for the two-level library are picture books for children from 3 to 8, novels for older children, as well as science, philosophy, and history books. The Bookhouse started as founder Nguyen Thanh Trung’s childhood dream, then became reality after he had his daughter Mia.
“When I was fifteen years old, I just had around 20 books but I would set up a corner and call it ‘Nguyen Thanh Trung’s bookstore’," Trung said, "Later in my life, I travelled to many countries and visited many bookstores, and I could see a lot of parents reading English books to their kids. I always read English books for my daughter, and at one point I thought ‘I have many English books, why not set up a library for everyone?’"
|Founder Nguyen Thanh Trung. (Photo: Mia Bookhouse)
Trung graduated as an Automation major from Hanoi University of Science and Technology, then went to Germany and Australia for higher studies. He used to be a professional photographer, and has travelled to more than 50 countries. Since his daughter was born in 2015, his focus has switched to languages and education.
Mia Bookhouse first opened in January 2020, but was closed shortly after due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the pandemic is under control in Vietnam, the Bookhouse is open every weekend and welcomes readers of all ages.
|A corner of Mia Bookhouse. (Photo: Mia Bookhouse)
There is only one rule – no Vietnamese may be spoken in the house! Students, teachers, and parents must talk to each other in English or whatever foreign languages they are practicing. Based on his personal experience of learning English, Chinese, and German in a real environment, Trung believes creating a similar environment will help children learn foreign languages naturally and effortlessly. His first successful experiment was with his daughter Mia.
“When my daughter was one and a half years old, I started talking to her in English," Trung said, "After three to six months, she began speaking English to me even though she couldn’t speak Vietnamese well. When she was around 3 years old, she could speak English to me 24 hours a day. I believe us human way of learning a language is by listening and repeating again and again. We are doing the same at Mia Bookhouse, and you can see some children who come here are just 3 or 4 years old but are already fluent at English.”
There are teachers and volunteers at Mia Bookhouse who help young readers pick out suitable books, read with them, and play interactive games with them so that they can practice their reading, listening, and speaking skills.
Truong Trung Chinh takes his daughter to Mia Bookhouse every week. He said: “I like this library because it’s very cozy and has a lot of books. The teachers here are very friendly and supportive, they are like my children’s sisters. Before coming to Mia Bookhouse, my daughter was really afraid to speak English. But now, she replies to me immediately every time I ask her in English. For example, if I say ‘have dinner’, she will say ‘yes’ naturally.”
6-year-old Mai Chi from Hanoi is also a regular visitor to Mia Bookhouse. “I love this Bookhouse because it has a lot of interesting books and the teachers play many fun games with me,” she said.
|Mia Bookhouse welcomes readers of all ages. (Photo: Mia Bookhouse)
Seeing the children’s excitement about Mia Bookhouse has become Thanh Trung’s greatest joy, as well. He explains: “I’m very happy to see children read English books and speak English here not because their parents ask them to, but because they want to and are happy to do it.”
Mia Bookhouse has established a second branch in Hanoi at 54 Nguy Nhu Kon Tum street, and both are open on weekends. The Bookhouse plans to start opening during the week, and in the far future expand the model to other localities so that more children can have access to English books and the learning English community among young children can grow bigger and faster.