Tough journey to spread Vietnamese language in Russia's Ural mountainous region
Any Vietnamese people who have lived and worked abroad always turn their hearts to the motherland and want their descendants to learn the Vietnamese language.
Participants at the opening ceremony of the class
Acknowledging this aspiration, staff of the Vietnamese General Consulate in Ekaterinburg, the capital city of Russia ’s Sverglovsk province, have joined hands with Vietnamese people’s associations in the Ural mountainous region to open a Vietnamese language class for children from the Vietnamese community in the region.
There are around 800 Vietnamese people living and working in Ekaterinburg city, with dozens of them being school students.
Doan Phan Thuong, an officer at the Vietnamese General Consulate in Ekaterinburg, recalled that during meetings with Overseas Vietnamese (OV) community in the city, mothers had said that their children only speak Russian, and they haven’t figured out how to help their children to practice speaking Vietnamese more often. Many families have even sent their children to Vietnam for several years so that they can pick up their mother language.
Appreciating the OVs’ aspiration, the staff of the Vietnamese General Consulate in Ekaterinburg decided to open a Vietnamese language class in Ural region. However, they faced a number of difficulties regarding the lack of human resources, the management and time arrangement for the class, as well as where to find teachers for the class.
One of the most concerning issues for the organisers was the selection of teachers. Some people suggested to invite teachers from Vietnam, but that would require a lot of expenses. Then they agreed to find teachers right in the heart of the community, and then called for help from students who are fluent in both Russian and Vietnamese. Finally, four teachers were selected from OV university students in the region.
Another problem the organisers faced during the establishment of the class was to find someone to monitor and manage it as the General Consulate can only provide support and consultation for the class. Luckily, Le Thanh Hai and Le Thi Hoai, whose children were among attendees of the class, were willing to act as the head and deputy head of the parent board.
Concerted efforts made by the General Consulate and local OV community were rewarded with the launching of the first-ever Vietnamese language class in Ekaterinburg city in June, 2018.
The opening ceremony drew the participation of the General Consulate’s staff members, representatives of local associations, local children and their parents.
The participants enjoyed jubilant arts performances staged by children and teachers, generating an exciting and joyful atmosphere.
Teaching writing skills to students at the class
The course attracted nearly 30 children, who were divided into two age groups from 6-8 and 9-12 years old. The attendees are taught Vietnamese through the syllabuses compiled by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, which have been designed specifically for overseas Vietnamese.
During the course, they also have exciting opportunities to join group activities such as singing, dancing, and playing Vietnamese folk games. Monthly outdoor trips are also organised to help children practice Vietnamese with each other.
As a teacher at the class, Le Thi Ngoc Bich, a university student in the region, recounted that the first day of class saw mixed feelings among the children. Some were still too shy to answer her questions, others even cried out when their mothers left them at the class.
However, it was heartening that after several minutes, the children’s anxiety was swept away and they became more active and pleased to listen to Bich’s teachings.
They showed a lot of excitement when they were told about Vietnamese fairy tales, some of them were even eager to recap the stories to their classmates.
When the winter of 2018 came, the temperature in Ural region dropped to - 25°C, making parents hesitant to take their children to the class. Many times, there was only five to six children present at the class.
To address the problem, the General Consulate had meetings with the parents to ask for their joint effort to maintain the class. The organisers also plan to help parents to pick up children, and staff of the General Consulate would share part of the expenses.
Gradually, the class has been maintained well and the children have gained remarkable progress in their studying of Vietnamese as they are able to read long Vietnamese sentences as well as their vocabulary being significantly improved. Nhan Dan
For Vietnamese people living and working abroad, just listening to Vietnamese in the foreign land, the nostalgia for their homeland becomes more earnest.
Can Van Kiet and Can Anh Claudine have spent over 20 years teaching Vietnamese to both Vietnamese and French nationals, with the desire to help overseas Vietnamese to preserve their homeland’s language.