Preserving Vietnamese Language Abroad

For more than 5.3 million overseas Vietnamese, Vietnamese is the soul and pride of the nation. Teaching and learning Vietnamese helps the overseas Vietnamese community to preserve their national cultural identity, maintain a connection with their homeland and country, introduce the Vietnamese language and culture to the world.

Overseas Vietnamese children perform Vietnamese songs in the 10th "Vietnamese cultural space" in Germany. Photo: KT

Vietnamese language connects culture

In the 10th "Vietnamese cultural space" in Germany held at the beginning of August 2022, songs imbued with Vietnamese cultural history were performed by children aged 6, 7.

Le Xuan Dinh, head of the organizing committee of the Vietnamese cultural space, said that the children are the second and third generation born in Germany, but can speak and sing Vietnamese.

This is possible thanks to the Vietnamese community in Germany who are always conscious of preserving their mother tongue.

For many years now, in cities in Germany where Vietnamese communities live, such as Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Vietnamese associations have organized many language classes for overeas Vietnamese children.

Classes are conducted by Vietnamese teachers on a voluntary basis, without salary. Meanwhile, in the states of Berlin, Brandenburg or Saxony, Vietnamese is taught at schools as an elective foreign language. Participating Vietnamese teachers are paid by the state government according to the number of hours they teach.

Sharing the same desire to preserve and promote Vietnamese language, Vietnamese communities in many other countries around the world also regularly open classes to teach Vietnamese for the second and third generations.

In the Polish capital Warsaw, Lac Long Quan Vietnamese School has been associated with many generations of Vietnamese in Eastern Europe.

More than 20 years ago, this school was established with the desire for children born and raised in Poland to learn Vietnamese, understand their mother tongue and preserve Vietnamese culture.

Nguyen Viet Trieu, vice president of the Vietnamese Association in Poland, said that at the beginning of its establishment, the school had only a few dozen students. Up to now, every year, about 180 Vietnamese students between the ages of 6-14 participate in learning Vietnamese.

Since 2018, the school has completed compiling a separate set of textbooks called "I learn Vietnamese" on the basis of references from domestic books to suit students.

During the Covid-19 period, teachers also compiled lesson plans on the E-learning Moodle platform for online teaching.

“After more than 20 years of establishment, the school has acquired a team of teachers and leaders who are enthusiastic in their work, experienced in organizing Vietnamese teaching and learning.

Aware of the importance of language in educating the young generation born and raised abroad, parents, associations and Vietnamese Embassy in Poland always create favorable conditions for preserving Vietnamese language and cultural identity," said Nguyen Viet Trieu.

Students at Lac Long Quan Vietnamese School (Poland). Photo: KT

In Australia, Vietnamese is one of the four most spoken languages besides English. The Australian Government has had many forms of support to help the Vietnamese community maintain their mother tongue, including the system of Vietnamese language schools.

Family is a key factor in preserving the mother tongue. Dr. Tran Hong Van (Charles Sturt University, Australia) has been in charge of the program "Maintaining Vietnamese together" which is broadcast weekly on SBS Vietnamese from October 2021.

This program is designed to provide Vietnamese families in Australia and other countries with information on how to teach Vietnamese to their children, and the benefits of learning Vietnamese.

The program often introduces the example of second-generation children in Australia who speak Vietnamese well, participating in activities to help the community and connecting with their homeland of Vietnam.

The program also integrates content about the beauty and uniqueness of the Vietnamese language, so that listeners know and love the language more.

Preserving the language and the culture

According to the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, teaching Vietnamese to overseas Vietnamese, especially the younger generation, has become a worldwide movement.

The US has about 200 centers and institutions teaching Vietnamese, and Thailand holds 39 classes; Cambodia established 33 schools and classes, Laos has 13 schools and centers for teaching Vietnamese.

Luong Thanh Nghi, vice chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, said that language is an integral part of the culture of each country. Therefore, maintaining the Vietnamese language is maintaining the cultural identity.

Since 2013, the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs has cooperated with the Ministry of Education and Training to organize professional training courses in teaching Vietnamese for overseas Vietnamese teachers. Up to now, nearly 400 teachers have participated and completed the training courses.

The committee also organizes many programs to support textbooks and materials with a total of more than 70,000 primary-level textbooks.

That partly meets the aspirations of Vietnamese expatriates in all five continents, contributing to promoting the movement of teaching and learning Vietnamese abroad.

Determining the importance of preserving the Vietnamese language, on August 3, 2022, Standing Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh signed a Decision approving the project on annual day for honoring the Vietnamese language from 2023 to 2030.

The project was built to raise awareness of the overseas Vietnamese community about the beauty, value and needs of using the Vietnamese language.

It also encourages honors individuals and organizations that have made contributions to preserving and spreading the Vietnamese language; introducing Vietnamese to foreigners.

According to the project, September 8 will become an annual day for honoring the Vietnamese language.

This day aims to raise awareness of the overseas Vietnamese community about the Vietnamese language, honor the beauty and value of the language in the community, and encourage overseas Vietnamese to learn about the language and culture.

(vietnamtimes.org.vn)