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Teaching Vietnamese in Laos, students foster national friendship

Monday, August 24, 2015, 16:32 GMT+7
Teaching Vietnamese in Laos, students foster national friendship
A student teaches the Vietnamese language in a class in Laos.

A group of students from central Vietnam have joined hands to teach Vietnamese in the neighboring country of Laos and helped cement the friendship between the two nations.

The course in Laos’ Xiangkhouang Province is part of the summer volunteer activities of an international volunteer team from Vinh University, located in Vietnam’s Nghe An Province.

Le Minh Giang, chairman of the student union at Vinh University, said the union has organized six courses on the Vietnamese language in Laos.

“After a course, learners know basic words for daily communication,” Giang said.

Nguyen Van Anh, head of the volunteer team, said that since early July this year, 30 volunteers from the university, including six Laotian students, have divided themselves into five teams to visit Xiangkhouang to teach Vietnamese to around 600 students.

Bui Thi Ngoc Anh, from Class K54A2 of the school’s foreign language education faculty, and five members of her group are in charge of a daily class at a center to develop young people in Xiangkhouang.

The students in Anh’s class are Laotian residents, students, officials and civil servants.

Anh, who has two years of experience in her job, said it is not easy to teach the Vietnamese language to Laotians.

“It’s hard to teach Vietnamese to foreigners, and even harder to Laotian people because the two countries’ grammar and pronunciation are absolutely different,” Anh said.

“The Vietnamese language is Latin-based while Lao is a tonal language of the Tai–Kadai language family and influenced by Sanskrit.”

“In teaching, I have to use my body language and gestures along with pronunciation or even drawings on the class board to make it easier for learners to understand,” she added.

With their enthusiasm, the young ‘teachers’ from Nghe An have erased the language barrier between them and their students.

Lay Yang, a volunteer from Laos’ Savannakhet Province, who is also a student at Vinh University, has joined to help with interpretation.

Tuc La Van, 37, a resident of Xiangkhouang, said he went to the class last summer and is very excited to continue this year. Hoang Anh Tu, from Class K53 of Vinh University’s construction faculty, said his team has classes in the morning, afternoon and evening, with nearly 100 students every day.

“The good news is the learners are very excited to learn Vietnamese and absorb it very quickly,” Tu said. “Many of them can listen, read and write basic Vietnamese after one week.”

Besides instructing in class, the volunteer students have also served as ‘goodwill ambassadors’ for the friendship between Vietnam and Laos.

Not only do they help learners get to know about the two countries’ history and traditions through their lessons, but the students have also organized culture, sport, and art performance exchanges, as well as offered consultancy to those Laotian students who want to study at universities in Vietnam.

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