The Vietnamese program at ASU launched in the fall of 1991, is the only program devoted to Vietnamese language and culture at the university level in the state of Arizona. The program offers Vietnamese language courses from elementary to advanced level, as well as Vietnamese for heritage speakers and independent study courses.
Vietnamese is the fourth most spoken language in the United States! As such, there are many large Vietnamese communities throughout the country. Unlike the languages in neighboring countries such as China, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, Vietnamese has a unique writing system using the Latin alphabet with diacritical and tone marks so learning Vietnamese is much easier than learning other Asian languages that use scripts.
Learning Vietnamese and the diverse culture of Vietnam with 54 different ethnic groups, students will have the opportunities to explore and examine the economic and social development of Vietnam, one of Southeast Asia’s most culturally rich yet dynamic and rapidly changing countries.
Students of Vietnamese courses offered at ASU will learn a variety of topics including, but not limited to:
- History and geography
- Folk literature (idioms, proverbs, folk tales, folk poetry)
- Pre-modern and modern literature
- Customs and culture
Many students combine their study of Vietnamese with majors or minors in:
- International politics and global studies
- Business and economics
- Pre-law and pre-med
- Engineering and computer science
- History, philosophy, and religious studies
- Southeast Asian, Asian and global south studies
Emerging as the world's 15th-most-populous country and the eighth-most-populous Asian country, Vietnam has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Vietnam is expected to soon reach a population of 1 billion in 2023 with a total of nearly 90 million people who speak Vietnamese as their mother tongue. Besides, there are about 3.5 million people around the world, including about 2.5 million people in the United States. Therefore, students who are fluent in Vietnamese with cultural insights and communication ability increase their qualifications in the field of global business, military and diplomatic services, and non-governmental-organization humanitarian services.
iCourse and oCourse Vietnamese classes
VTN 101 Elementary Vietnamese I helps build basic skills in modern conversational Vietnamese and develop basic reading and writing skills, with special emphasis on pronunciation and spelling.
VTN 102 Elementary Vietnamese II improves speaking, listening, reading, and writing competence through dialogues, reading passages, pattern drills, and grammar and communicative exercises.
VTN 201 Intermediate Vietnamese I extends learners’ vocabulary and develops the four communicative skills. Extensive texts on Vietnamese culture, ads or excerpts from articles taken from Vietnamese newspapers and magazines, and excerpts from videos by native speakers are used to enhance students' reading and listening skills.
VTN 202 Intermediate Vietnamese II is a continuation of 201 with further exploration into authentic Vietnamese materials to enhance the four communicative skills. Vietnamese
- The classes are open for all students no matter if Vietnamese is a foreign language, a second language, or a heritage language to them. The prerequisite for joining VTN 102, VTN 201 and VTN 202 is C or better in the previous class OR visiting university student OR a satisfactory placement test. Fill out placement test request if you need a placement decision and an override to skip a lower level class.
- In all Vietnamese language classes, students will be exposed to different regional variations of Vietnamese including Northern, Central and Southern variations. Students select a weekly meeting time that aligns with their schedules and will then convene in small groups at the chosen time to enhance interaction and collaboration.
Immersion Vietnamese classes
Note: These classes are offered at the Tempe campus.
VTN 321 Advanced Vietnamese and Literature I (G, H)
VTN 322 Advanced Vietnamese and Literature II (G, H)
Advanced Vietnamese and Literature I and II introduce students to more complex grammar and vocabulary using texts from contemporary and folk literature as well as videos on current news, history, and culture. In this course, students will continue to build the four communicative skills, with a focus on academic style. A variety of authentic materials will be used. Discussions will focus on selected cultural topics and literature works.
SLC/VTN 294 Special Topics: Vietnamese for Heritage Speakers (G) is for heritage learners who have been exposed to Vietnamese from their household, relatives, or community and who can understand and hold a conversation in the language. Note: This course is only offered during fall semesters.
This course builds on the language skills students already have in order to expand their written and oral proficiency. Students also explore further Vietnamese culture, customs, and values. Topics include Vietnamese family, Tet, food, gender identities, spiritual life, arts and music, and other elective topics. Course materials are adapted and authentic materials from news, literature, documentaries, songs, and other media.
If you are a heritage speaker of Vietnamese, but you are not so sure if your Vietnamese is good enough for the class, fill out the Placement test request to schedule a placement interview with the instructor.
SLC/VTN 294 Special Topics: Vietnam Beyond The War (Contemporary Vietnam) is a content class conducted in English—no previous knowledge of the Vietnamese language is required. Note: This course is only offered during spring semesters.
‘Vietnam’ is not just the name of a war! Vietnam Beyond the War studies the vibrant changes in Vietnamese society and culture since the war ended in 1975. The course gives a broad overview of different aspects of life in contemporary Vietnam such as urbanization, religion, the role of women, ethnicity, gender issues, or music and entertainment. Class readings and discussion include Vietnamese media, films, stories, and other popular cultural materials. Though the main focus is on contemporary Vietnam, the course also looks at different diaspora Vietnamese communities in various countries around the world.
VTN 499 Individualized Instruction can be a continuation of Advanced II level or a research experience in Vietnamese study. Please contact the professor if you’re interested in taking individualized instruction in the Vietnamese program.
Q: What is the difference between “Vietnamese for heritage speakers” and VTN 201 and 202?
A: Both VTN 294 Vietnamese for Heritage Speakers and VTN 201 Intermediate Vietnamese I have entry requirements as Novice High. However, while VTN 201 and 202 focuses mostly on language skills, VTN 294 emphasizes building reading and writing skills as well as cultural competence. Another main difference is that while VTN 201 is 5 credit hours and fully online, VTN 294 is only 3 credit hours and in person.
Q: Can I do my honors contract in the Vietnamese classes?
A: Yes! Students will discuss with the professor their interests, and initiate a project that aims to utilize the Vietnamese language in their field of study or connect the students with their own heritage.
Q: Can iCourse students meet the instructor?
A: Yes, of course! There are both in-person and virtual office hours. iCourse students are encouraged to participate in the weekly SILC Cafe in Durham Hall on the Tempe campus.
The Vietnamese Language Table (Bàn Tròn Tiếng Việt) is a virtual conversation space for all learners of Vietnamese from institutions across North America and all over the world. The virtual language table offers conversation hours at various proficiency levels for three groups: Beginner group, intermediate group and advanced group. The facilitators develop the levels based on the Vietnamese oral proficiency guidelines (2020-2021) and ACTFL proficiency guidelines 2012. The hosts and facilitators are An Nguyen Sakach (Vietnamese lecturer, Arizona State University), Trang Tran (visiting lecturer, Brown University) and ThuyAnh Nguyen (Vietnamese lecturer, University of Michigan).
The Vietnamese Student Union (VinaSU) strives to serve both Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese students and faculty at Arizona State University through the promotion of cultural projects and events. Volunteer opportunities and field trips are held regularly to help students to adapt and understand American culture and academic life. Additionally, we also organize, celebrate and introduce Vietnamese traditional festivals and holidays. We hope to enrich our campus and become a significant part of the diverse college community.
Vietnamese Students Association at ASU The Vietnamese Student Association at Arizona State University is dedicated to providing opportunities for ASU students and others within the community to learn more about their culture, participate in community service and engage in activities that allows one to embrace the Vietnamese culture. It also provides networking opportunities for members to get to know one another and build long-lasting friendships while developing skills in leadership, cooperation and professionalism.
Southeast Asian American Student Association (SEAASA) strives to promote cultural awareness and understanding of the Southeast Asian cultures at ASU through various social activities, community service, and educational events. SEAASA is an organization directed towards the advocacy for the often underrepresented or misrepresented communities of Southeast Asian Americans. SEAASA aims to instill cultural pride by sharing and immersing its members in the diverse ethnic traditions as well as teach its members the history of Southeast Asian immigration to the United States. Not only does this organization embrace the beauty and diversity of Southeast Asian cultures, but it aims to acknowledge and support the different experiences that Southeast Asian Americans face from their identities as both Southeast Asian and American.
SILC Attaches is a club that brings all languages and cultures from SILC together. People are able to learn about different cultures in a fun way when studying a language. Understanding different cultures is such an important attribute to have, and it is one you can obtain through SILC Attaches. This club creates community events, outreach projects and plans fun get-togethers.
Study abroad in Vietnam
ASU: Exploring Integrated Healthcare in Vietnam and Thailand is an in-depth tour of integrated healthcare delivery in Vietnam and Thailand. Tentative activities include visits to leading universities, hospital or clinic tours and lectures with local healthcare experts, day trips to historic sites, temples, museums and local parks, and amazing beach visits in Hoi An and Pattaya!
GIE: Vietnam: A Country of Historic Resilience Facing a Future of Rising Seas explores economic, political and cultural survival in the face of human and natural challenges, by experiencing a region that has witnessed the rise and fall of civilizations, change and resilience. The student will travel through history and across geographies that include the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
GIE: Projects in Human-Centered Design, EPICS in Vietnam engages students in a year-long, extensive design project working with an international team of interdisciplinary students. Students will learn human-centered design and social innovation through the development of a real-world solution to difficult community challenges. Students will gain cultural and immersion experiences in Da Nang, Vietnam
RMIT University Vietnam is available in fall semester and spring semester. Students can choose between one of two campuses in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi). This program is open to students of any major and is ideal for students seeking courses in fashion, business, and digital media.
For a full list of programs and more details in the program as well as scholarships and grants available, visit the Office of Global Education.
The ability to speak another language opens up more opportunities for scholarships and fellowships. Take a look at our SILC scholarships. ASU also offers an extensive database for you to search through and find the right ones to apply for.
Here is a list of a few scholarships and awards for the Vietnamese language or studying abroad in Vietnam
Following are links to websites that offer language activities, online lessons, and resources for learners of Vietnamese language.
- A glimpse of Vietnam: Online program for learners of Vietnamese to practice listening skills through watching semi-authentic video clips filmed in Vietnam—developed by Lê Phạm Thuý-Kim, Văn Phú Quang, and Nguyễn Thúy Anh.
- Idiomatic expressions and slangs: Introduction of some idomatic expressions and slangs from Sài Gòn with definition and examples of usage - developed by Lê Phạm Thuý-Kim.
- Learning Vietnamese through songs: Online program for learners of Vietnamese to learn Vietnamese through songs developed by Lê Phạm Thuý-Kim.
- Online Vietnamese reading program: Reading program with reading exercise models and a collection of authentic online materials for intermediate and advanced learners developed by Lê Phạm Thuý-Kim.
- Online Vietnamese listening program: Listening program with emphasis on pronunciation and spelling for beginners of Vietnamese developed by Lê Phạm Thuý-Kim
- Bài tập tiếng Viêt online: Online review activities for learners of Vietnamese developed by Center for Applied Linguistics and Vietnamese Language in Hanoi, Vietnam.
- Quick Vietnamese for seven days in country: Online lessons with a series of short conversations for tourists that should be useful in getting around Vietnam and talking to the Vietnamese.
- Spoken Vietnamese for beginners: Interactive resources for Vietnamese language and culture offered by Center for SEA Studies at Northern Illinois University.
- VNSPEAK: Free resources to learn Vietnamese.
Graduation year: 1999
Major: Justice Studies Ph.D. Program
What's your current job and what do you do there?
I'm the director of the Health Office for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Vietnam. From our offices in Hanoi I manage a team of 20 Americans and Vietnamese professionals who work hand in hand with the Vietnamese government to address some of the most challenging health issues and to strengthen the health system. As one of five US government agencies that comprise the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Vietnam, the USAID Health Office manages comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment programs. We have imported anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to provide HIV treatment for more than 50,000 Vietnamese living with HIV and have supported the introduction of methadone to treat heroin addiction and prevent the spread of HIV. The USAID Health Office also manages a strong Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program that works with the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats such as Avian Influenza.
How does language and culture help you succeed in your career?
My language skills were especially important in securing my first work experiences in Vietnam, first with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNICEF and then USAID. When I joined the foreign service I was able to test out of Vietnamese language when many colleagues needed to spend six months at language school in Washington D.C. Beyond that, Vietnam is a complex country with regional and cultural differences from the mountainous Northwestern provinces bordering China to Hanoi in the Red River Delta, Hue and the central provinces to Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta. Speaking Vietnamese is a tremendous benefit when meeting with local leaders and understanding the particular needs of a province, city or village. Being able to carry out a conversation with a provincial department of health colleague or commune health worker builds trust and it often allows me insights into situations not readily understood by foreign colleagues who need to rely on interpretation.
Did you study abroad? If so, can you speak about your experience?
After studying Vietnamese language with Co Le Pham Thuy-Kim for three years at ASU I received a scholarship to attend the Vietnamese Advanced Summer Institute (VASI) in Hanoi in the summer of 1998. For a group of American college students the contrast between American and Vietnamese educational institutions was intense. Used to chilled ASU classrooms, we spent our time studying in an old French colonial building on Pham Ngu Lao street that was formerly the Ecole Française d’Extreme-Orient. The teachers were very dedicated and stressed not just the language, but the importance of history and culture to the development of the language. I still remember one instructor, Mr. Khoi, explaining that the Vietnamese term for country (dat nuoc) was composed of "land" and "water" and the importance of the land and water to the Vietnamese. And culture was equally important to our lessons, with incredible opportunities to learn about Hanoi, local food, Vietnamese opera, and to visit Vietnamese cultural heritage sites like Hue and Ha Long Bay. Based on these experiences at ASU and in Hanoi I received a Fulbright fellowship to research my dissertation in Hanoi throughout 1998 and 1999.
How did ASU and the language program at SILC prepare you for your future?
I wouldn't say that studying Vietnamese prepared me for my future as much as it was one step in a series of decisions that dramatically shaped what I am doing today. In 1994 I started my doctoral program at ASU with every intention of becoming a college professor. Looking through the course catalog one day I saw that ASU offered Vietnamese language and I thought it would be interesting to audit a semester. But the class was so interesting and Co Kim clearly cared about her teaching, so I continued for three years. If I hadn't elected to try Vietnamese; if the course hadn't been interesting; if I hadn't been introduced to Hanoi through VASI, I wouldn't be in Hanoi managing the USAID Vietnam Health Office today.
What was your favorite thing about learning a language?
The reason that I studied Vietnamese at ASU for three years was because we had an interesting group of students and a dedicated professor who spared no effort to make sure the class was enjoyable as well as educational. Lessons covered many aspects of Vietnamese society, culture, history and situations. In my perspective the experiences Co Kim organized in the Vietnamese community were equally as instructive as those in the classroom. From visits to Lee Lee Asian grocery store in Mesa to learn about cooking, to invitations to participate in local Tet festivals in the Vietnamese community, to the end of semester exams which Co Kim hosted in her home (followed by Vietnamese food) the cultural aspects were my favorite.