Susan De La Paz, a professor of special education at the University of Maryland College of Education, was awarded a spot in the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to teach and study in Vietnam during the 2022-2023 academic year.
“For many years, I have hoped for the opportunity to live and work abroad. I am absolutely thrilled to work in Vietnam,” De La Paz said of her selection. “This is truly fantastic!”
De La Paz will begin her work in January 2023 at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education. Her work will focus on improving the literacy skills of students with learning disabilities. While Vietnam boasts an adult literacy rate of approximately 95%, according to The World Bank, rates for those with learning disabilities (LD) are much lower. In addition, most students with LD currently do not complete secondary education due to limitations in appropriate teaching methodology for these students.
Initially, De La Paz will teach a course for preservice teachers about the underlying cognitive and academic difficulties common among students with LD. The course will also focus on evidence-based reading and writing instruction and data-based decision making. This effort, along with providing a seminar for university instructors, will help establish a foundation for effective teaching approaches that enable educators to better address learning differences in students.
In addition to teaching, De La Paz will work in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Vietnam to further their efforts to set up resource classrooms in Ho Chi Minh City public schools. “It is my understanding that private schools are starting to do this, but that it is a new effort for public schools. I’m hoping to be involved with staff training, and potentially to share evidence-based teaching approaches,” explained De La Paz.
Working with two local researchers, she will use a mixed methods research study to better understand the needs of public school teachers implementing strategies to improve literacy outcomes and to determine the effectiveness of their instruction.
“The Vietnamese alphabet has more vowels than the English alphabet, and children learn the letters in the alphabet in different ways than in English, so I am excited to see how much of the approaches that work in English are relevant for Vietnamese. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with new colleagues,” De La Paz said.
De La Paz continues a long tradition of Fulbright scholars and students in the College of Education and the University of Maryland. The Chronicle of Higher Education consistently names the University of Maryland a Top Producing Institution for the Fulbright U.S. Student and Scholar programs.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship program of international educational and cultural exchange. Their program sends American scholars, artists, faculty, and professionals abroad to lecture and/or conduct research in more than 135 countries.