A Vietnamese school in Poland, set to celebrate its 15th birthday next year, can be seen as a model for other schools that teach Vietnamese to students of Vietnamese origin in Europe.
Students who go to Lac Long Quan Vietnamese School, located at number 17 Majewskiego Street in Poland’s capital Warsaw, not only learn Vietnamese, but are also educated in Vietnamese art, history, geography, culture, and customs.
The school was founded in 2007 in order to teach the language to Vietnamese children and provide Vietnamese adults working and living abroad with the opportunity to practice speaking their own language.
Students aged 5 to 14 are divided into A0 (equivalent to preschool) and A through E classes which use materials written by the school council.
“Lac Long Quan enrollees include both Vietnamese children and Polish kids of Vietnamese origin,” Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tam, a teacher living in Warsaw, said. “We place an emphasis on listening skills in hopes that our students can communicate fluently with their family members.”
Lac Long Quan teachers are very patient and love working with Vietnamese kids, according to the youngest among the school’s 15 teachers.
“We know that the more caring we are, the faster they learn our mother tongue,” said Le Lan Anh, a law firm employee who teaches at the school.
Parents said the school has created a learning environment perfect for teaching kids, with a combination of studies, extra-curriculum activities, and lots of fun.
Nguyen Hai Lan, a Vietnamese living in Warsaw, sent her kid Nguyen Lan Vy to Lac Long Quan even before she started going to Polish schools.
Vy has studied Vietnamese at Lac Long Quan for three years now and, as Lan said, “is happy at the school.”
“I want my child to learn Vietnamese so that she can understand our family relationships, be willing to speak Vietnamese with her parents and grandparents, and communicate with other Vietnamese in Poland,” Lan said.
Additionally, the school holds festivals and other important events on special occasions like Vietnamese Tet, the country's largest festival which often falls in late January or early February, to remind the students of their origin and cultivate in them a feeling of attachment to their homeland.
Lac Long Quan has recently opened a new branch in Raszyn, 9km south-west of Warsaw, where 10 kids of Vietnamese origin are enrolled, and another in western Poland’s Wrocław City.
It is expected to introduce a third facility soon and a 15th birthday celebration is already planned for next year.
But the school is facing difficulty as it only demands a small tuition fee to ensure its operations.
“We only charge a modest fee in order to lease the campuses and pay our teachers,” Le Xuan Lam, school principal, said.
Vietnamese parents, associations, and the Vietnamese Embassy in Poland have provided aid to maintain the activities of the school so far.
“But what we are concerned most with now is how to improve our teachers’ capabilities and to update the learning and teaching materials to help the school continue functioning well as a place to preserve our mother tongue and culture,” a vice principal said.