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[Xmca-l] Re: Request for advice


The possibility of a local blend of Viet and English is not as detrimental
as it may seem. Singapore for instance, has its own version of English, or
Singlish. It is often unintelligible to someone who has not lived there,
but I have a great fondness for the language and see it as beneficial in
teaching English to students. Some of my local colleagues at the primary
and secondary levels, stress that their students recognize the need to
switch between business English and Singlish. When I taught undergraduate
classes in the local universities, the use of Singlish was often helpful in
translating ideas and concepts from English to the local context. So, in my
biased view, I think that a creole language would be beneficial in many

One possible way to suggest teaching bilingually is perhaps to use examples
of countries that promote bilingual education in the region, such as
Hongkong, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. There are many invaluable
lessons that could be drawn on, and could be really useful in the
Vietnamese context.


On Jan 5, 2016 7:13 PM, "Helena Worthen" <helenaworthen@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi -
> I"m in the midst of compiling responses to my request and therefore
> haven't responded on list.
> There have been a number of comments that suggest that in emulating Top
> 100 universities in their textbooks, syllabi and language (English) lies a
> risk of losing Vietnamese culture. I don't think this is what's going on.
> This project, with its short deadline, centralized leadership, urgency and
> seemingly enthusiastic if nervous commitment on the part of the very young
> faculty, is in itself very Vietnamese. People aren't semi-committed or
> reluctant. Maybe I'm imagining this, and I've only been here 5 months and
> don't speak Vietnamese. The shift to a market economy has released, as
> expected, enormous amounts of energy; everyone is selling something, and so
> far, it's working for a lot of people.
> This excitement IS Vietnamese. As an American, I keep saying to myself,
> "This is how they won the war." Not just one war, either!
> Although the rivers are filthy, the air (in the city) is toxic and leaves
> a dust of particulate on your tongue, and the "library" has almost no
> books. But they're building a new whole library building as we speak. They
> work 7 days a week, dawn to dark.
> I think the risk in emulating Top 100 universities and requiring everyone
> (even the "guards" and the cleaners) to speak English too early is that
> people will create a local blend of Vietnamese and English which will not
> be intelligible beyond Vietnam. Any thoughts on that?
> I'm trying to express the reasons for teaching bi-lingually in words that
> will not offend anyone and will get heard. Thanks to all of you who have
> responded.
> Helena
> Helena Worthen
> helenaworthen@gmail.com
> Vietnam blog: helenaworthen.wordpress.com
> On Jan 6, 2016, at 2:38 AM, Annalisa Aguilar wrote:
> >
> > Hi,
> >
> > If I might pipe up again, I think Carol has synthesized things nicely
> here!
> >
> > What emerges for me from what Carol said about surfaces is this...and is
> perhaps restating what she said (or what she implied):
> >
> > Do the Vietnamese desire to copy the model of the "ideal of the Ivy
> League" because they want to replicate the surface features present, as
> evidence that they too will be a "quality school" in 20 years' time? OR do
> they want to adopt and embody the underlying processes present by which
> these features emerged so that their school culminates in a "quality
> school" ?
> >
> > It seems to me if they value their own culture (which they must), it
> would have to be the latter and not the former, because the former would be
> only a simulacra and by creating a simulacra they would by default give up
> on their own culture, or at least whatever they value about their own
> culture, by supplanting *a notion* of quality rather than quality itself.
> By adopting instead processes of quality (over surface features), they
> would create quality as derived intrinsic to Vietnamese culture, because
> they will use processes identified as "universally" qualified for
> manifesting a quality school (in 20 years time).
> >
> > But then having a feature of many libraries (in the high school, in the
> university, and in the home) is borne of the process of building a library
> collection (and Constitution that safeguards free speech and privacy,
> supposedly), and providing bookshelves and tables and chairs large enough
> (and sturdy enough) to hold all that thinking captured in books!
> >
> > Of course now that so much is digital, what would a library look like in
> 20 years in Vietnam?
> >
> > Would they just have lots of bean bag chairs? and tablets (instead of
> tables)? and headphones with mics?
> >
> > Remember that 70s TV show Love American Style? I thought of that too.
> But in this case: Ivy League University Vietnamese Style.
> >
> > :)
> >
> > Kind regards,
> >
> > Annalisa