Vietnamese Language Spreads Wings in Austria

The Vietnamese community in Austria conducts practical events to honor the richness of the Vietnamese language and enhance awareness, particularly of the younger generation, of the language.
February 18, 2024 | 15:37

The 'Day for Honoring Vietnamese Language in Vietnamese Communities Abroad' project has received the support and consensus of a large number of Vietnamese people abroad. Efforts to organize Vietnamese classes, or build Vietnamese bookcases to put in the host country's library is the way the Vietnamese community in Austria strongly responded to that spirit.

In December 2023, several Vietnamese books were put on the shelves at the Kinderbücherei der Weltsprachen Library in District 14 of the capital Vienna.

This idea comes from Vietnamese women living and working in Austria. Their initial success had great support from the Vietnamese Embassy and people in the community.

Bringing Vietnamese books to the Austrian libraries

Having become a tradition, national cultural identity has always been preserved by the Vietnamese community in Austria, in addition to integrating well into society, creating values that contribute to the economy and enrich cultural life.

In recent years, the Vietnamese Embassy and the community here have organized many activities to promote traditional culture and preserve the Vietnamese language, aiming to educate the young generation of Vietnamese people in Austria about their roots.

Vietnamese 'spreads wings' in Austria
Vietnamese books at the Kinderbücherei der Weltsprachen Library in District 14 in Vienna.

Sharing with World & Vietnam newspaper, Vietnamese Ambassador to Austria Nguyen Trung Kien affirmed that the establishment of the Day for Honoring Vietnamese Language in Vietnamese Communities Abroad is a correct and timely policy, because Vietnamese is a means of connecting with Vietnamese people everywhere, regardless of their relationships, regions, and generations.

However, according to Ambassador Kien, teaching Vietnamese is facing a big challenge in Austria, especially for the second and third-generations born and raised here. The embassy is always aware that one of the important tasks of community work is to mobilize people to be interested in learning Vietnamese, as well as how to convince people to understand that importance.

The Ambassador shared that Vietnamese people are very patriotic and always worry about preserving the Vietnamese language for the next generation. Some parents try very hard to have their children come to each other's house and speak Vietnamese together. However, some families have not been able to do this.

Vietnamese 'spreads wings' in Austria
Vietnamese language class at the Vietnamese Embassy in Austria.

Grasping that situation, the embassy tried to connect with fellow countrymen, youth associations, students, and especially the Vietnamese Women's Association in Austria, because women are the closest people in raising children and preserving traditional values, including the Vietnamese language.

The Vietnamese Women's Association in Austria hopes that shortly, Vietnamese books will be available in many libraries in other districts, especially the Austrian National Library.

According to them, doing this is not easy and requires effort and coordination from many stakeholders. On the other hand, Ambassador Nguyen Trung Kien said he always supports and is ready to assist in any way possible, because this is a good model and should be replicated for the Vietnamese community in other countries.

Part of everyday life

Along with pursuing the project on Vietnamese bookcases, women in Austria are still particularly interested in organizing Vietnamese language classes for children.

Ngo Bich Thuy, president of the Vietnamese Women's Association in Austria, said that before Covid-19 happened, the association organized a Vietnamese language class at the campus of the Vietnamese Embassy. After participating, Thuy's daughter was very confident in communicating in Vietnamese when she returned to the homeland.

However, classes were interrupted due to the complicated developments of Covid-19. After that, it was difficult to maintain education due to financial difficulties, teachers, and parents' transportation conditions.

In September 2023, through the introduction of the Vietnamese embassy, the association connected with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities to conduct a Vietnamese language teaching and learning program for children and teachers with standard textbooks of Hanoi National University.

Along with encouraging people's access to this free online program, they realize that there is still a need for face-to-face classes to make their children's Vietnamese learning more effective.

Thuy expressed her joy when they have found good teachers and the association will use its funds to pay for teaching costs, while the embassy will support classrooms and books. The association plans to open a Vietnamese class next March, for children under the age of 15, she said.

Besides Vietnamese classes, the association schedules many activities in 2024 such as performing arts at the Lunar New Year community celebration, making banh chung events for children, and introducing and promoting Vietnamese cuisine with 25 countries in Austria.

In particular, the association still maintains and organizes monthly book readings for children in their rooms in the winter, or outdoors combined with picnics on weekends, traditional culinary exchange activities, and folk games on International Children's Day June 1.

Vietnamese women in Austria have been dedicated and patient in preserving their mother tongue and Vietnamese culture in their homeland.

When Thuy's daughter entered first grade, she refused to learn Vietnamese and insisted on only speaking German. But when she took her to a Vietnamese class, she gradually became interested. When she returns home, she also speaks Vietnamese to practice more.

Thuy also joined a group of 10 Vietnamese families and there is a rule that when the children meet each other, they communicate in Vietnamese. Besides, she let her children watch Vietnamese television programs. As a result, they now speak Vietnamese very well.

Not having the same success as Thuy, Nhung, vice president of the association, hopes that shortly her child will be able to speak her native language better. "Even though their father is a foreigner, they still are half Vietnamese. We still use fish sauce in everyday meal."

Married to an Austrian husband, Hai said that learning Vietnamese has been a difficult problem in her family for many years.

She confided that her children are having difficulty figuring out who they are, Austrian or Vietnamese. Therefore, her children must participate in Vietnamese classes, and regular exchanges at home, which will help them practice their mother tongue, as well as understand their origins.

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