Voice of Cambodian Youths

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is still affecting the schools in Cambodia. The Cambodian youths told me the schools are still closed so I invited another Cambodian youth to write the same topic for me so that they won’t stop learning and practising English.  Let’s hear the Voice of another Cambodian Youth now! 😊  


Topic: What do you think about learning from a foreign volunteer English teacher?

Written by: Tam Breng (23 years old)

From: Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Current residence: Kampong Cham, Cambodia (attending university)

I like learning from volunteer teachers because I want to know new words and speak well. I think that it’s a good language. If I can speak or write well, I will get a good job. Especially nowadays, companies need people who can speak English.

I have had learnt from foreign volunteer English teachers:

– how to pronounce

– listening

– know the vowel

For me, I used to learn English with local teachers. The experience that I had with foreign volunteer English teachers is so different.

The good things about local teachers are as follows:

– They explain in Khmer

– It is easy for me to ask questions

– I feel more intimate with them than foreign English teacher

– It is easy for me to understand

The good things about foreign volunteer English teachers:

– good speech

– speak well

I would like to learn from another foreign volunteer English teacher. Because they can help me write and speak. Especially for me, I think they will give me knowledge.

I want to be a volunteer too because I want to help children in villages, teach them English and I want to see them speak good English and have a good job. I want to help other people who want to speak good English, and I want to contribute to the society.


I met Tam after he moved to Kampong Cham and before I left for the college near Phnom Penh where my second assignment was. I taught him a bit of English and a bit of computer applications, mainly Excel spreadsheet. In return, he took me to the riverside to buy Cambodian pancakes. 😄 I miss the pancakes!! 😄 (Check out the photo of the pancake stall by the riverside here) Even when Tam texts me now, he’ll tell me he misses the pancakes. (Check out our funny moments here.) The pancake stall, according to him, is gone now and that happened before the spread of coronavirus. Hopefully, the owner will return soon and continue to sell pancakes. I like the owner. He recognized me and he always greeted me with a broad smile every time I returned to his stall to buy pancakes.

Tam likes playing keyboard.  Here’s how it sounds:

Somehow, this song (Tian Liang Le天亮了) written by a diva from China (Han Hong 韓紅) spread to Cambodia and became very famous on the internet there. Tam learnt this song on the internet, memorized the melody and practised playing it. Who taught him how to play keyboard? Himself! Impressive, eh? 😊 One day, when I was still in Kampong Cham, he started playing this song and asked me if I knew it. I was very surprised. What do you think? 😊  

He also plays the keyboard during Mass and at some events organised by the church. I think he is quite talented. In fact, he is more willing to speak to me in English than other youths in Kampong Cham.

He wanted to learn as much as he could before I left and I was happy to teach him. But I was a strict teacher. I’d say to him, ‘have you done your homework? What did you do while I was away? Did you finish that spreadsheet?’ 😄 In fact, my French buddy had a language exchange with him before she left Cambodia. That means, Tam had been learning from quite a number of volunteer teachers. 😊

About his article above, I edited it a few times and deleted some sentences because they were either structurally incorrect or redundant. But the corrections didn’t affect the meaning. Like what I did for the other Cambodian youths, I didn’t edit the entire article because I wanted to keep it as original as possible.

So, that’s all for April 2020.  

Let’s see what’s waiting for us in May. 😊

Stay tuned.

Background of the Chinese song Tian Liang Le 天亮了:

I first heard it when I was travelling in Tibet in 2005. I had no idea what that song was about but my soul was captured by her singing. I then bought her CD in Tibet. I later found out that the song was about an accident that happened in a city in China in 1999. What happened was, Chinese families, kids, etc. travelled to that city to enjoy a cable car ride. However, as they were admiring and enjoying the magnificent view inside the cable car, the cable snapped.

When the rescue team came, they found many dead bodies. Among them, there were two that looked particularly strange. The posture of their bodies looked as if they were holding something and were trying to protect it. The rescue team moved the dead bodies away and found a baby, who was very fortunately still alive. It turned out the deceased were the parents of that baby and in that split second as the cable snapped, they used their own bodies to protect their only child (single child policy was still effective in China back then).

When the singer heard this, she reached out to some organisations and adopted that baby. She treats him as if he was her own child. She then wrote this song to commemorate this tragic event.

The title of this song means ‘When dawn comes’.  The song takes the child’s perspective so you will hear her singing the words ‘papa, mama’.

Before you go, I recommend you to check out the articles written by 3 other Cambodian youths:

Samnang Sok

Na Vy Sim (my student)

Sovann Pech

Tam, on his motorbike @Kampong Cham

2 thoughts on “Voice of Cambodian Youths

Leave a Reply