Owing to student advocacy efforts, Brown University is finally offering Vietnamese language courses this fall. Through their partnership with Brown, Princeton University students now have access to these Vietnamese courses as well.
The beginner and intermediate courses are taught by Trang Tran, a visiting lecturer from Vietnam who just joined the university’s faculty this fall. Prior to teaching at Brown, Tran was an English teacher in Vietnam until she received a Fulbright Scholarship to come to the United States.
There are currently nine students enrolled in the beginner level class and seven in the intermediate level class. According to The Daily Princetonian, two Princeton students attend the intermediate level class on Zoom through their school’s partnership with Brown. Most of these students are Vietnamese heritage speakers who hope to learn more about the language and deepen their connection with Vietnamese culture.
“Students who come to my class really want to come to my class,” Tran told The Brown Daily Herald. She also notes the difference between teaching Vietnamese and teaching English because of the lack of accessibility to Vietnamese-language materials compared to English-language ones. “It’s so hard to find the right textbook for Vietnamese,” Tran said.
The offering of Vietnamese language courses at Brown University is a long time coming. In April 2019, the Southeast Asian Students Initiative at Brown wrote a letter to the university’s Center of Language Studies pushing for the courses. Although the new course offering was supported by students and faculty members, the process of finding an instructor was difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with other uncited reasons. Now, Vietnamese-language students at Brown and Princeton can finally explore the rich Vietnamese culture through the courses offered.