Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From a Vietnamese 5 student

As the Vietnamese saying goes, "Uống nước phải nhớ tới nguồn - Ăn quả nhớ kẻ trồng cây," which means "When drinking water, remember its source, when eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree." My Vietnamese Language Programme experience in NUS has been a truly wonderful and enriching one, because of the dedicated, fun and friendly teachers who treat us, the students, as their friends, guiding and supporting us with their hearts and souls, thus I look forward to each and every Vietnamese lesson, as it is the time when I can truly relax, enjoy, joke and laugh with my teachers and classmates through role-plays, hands-on activities and games, and still learn something new. The 'lessons' also include a Vietnamese Food Festival at the teachers' houses and a 'Vietnam Afternoon', where we get to meet, chat, eat and play exciting games with the Vietnamese community in school, all in Vietnamese of course! My passion for Vietnamese ignited further having gone for the Immersion Programme with my classmates, one month of learning; eating; thinking; talking; making new friends; travelling in Vietnamese in Vietnam was simply too short! Without a doubt, all these experiences and teachers' guidance have equipped me with the essential skills to write and communicate in Vietnamese confidently and effectively. :)   

Lee Rui Jun, Vietnamese 5 student, Semester 2, AY 2009/2010

A Vietnamese 4 student's message

Learning Vietnamese has opened a new door for me, helping me make some good friends and understand more about the Vietnamese culture. My Vietnamese has been greatly improved thanks to the careful guidance of four teachers. In the classroom, they are the teachers whom I truly admire and respect. Outside the classroom, they are like my friends. This close bonding has captured my heart and motivated me to learn Vietnamese for the past two and a half year..

Yeh Ze Yang Jared - Vietnamese 4 student, Semester 2, AY 2009/2010

Why Vietnamese?

Honestly, Vietnamese was sort of a ‘substitute’ module I took because I couldn’t take Korean Language which was what I actually wanted. I had zero knowledge about Vietnamese language, Vietnamese culture or simply anything about Vietnam at all. However, I chose it because it was not a very popular language and hence more special. (:

Going through Vietnamese 1, I had learnt a lot about Vietnamese language and culture through the activities we had in class. I enjoyed the module thoroughly; yet I still held on to some hope that I might be able to take Korean the following semester. To my disappointment (now joy), in the following semester, I failed the second time, so I ended up taking Vietnamese 2. However, the more I learnt about the culture, the more I love the language and the whole country itself. The things we learnt in class were practical and really useful especially for my trip to Vietnam. The sense of achievement I felt when being able to communicate with the locals is hard to describe. :D

Now I’m thankful for my failed attempts at taking Korean. If not for that, I would not have been able to discover so much more about Vietnam, not just the language but also the food, music, films and people. :D Learning Vietnamese have been really fun and enjoyable with our passionate teachers. Now I no longer have to hesitate before taking the next level, because Vietnamese lessons are like Pringles, “Once you pop, the fun doesn’t stop!”

Tan Kai Ling, Khuê
Vietnamese  3 student - Semester 1 AY 2010/2011

Vietnamese language is the most enjoyable module that I had ever taken in NUS. The module workload is manageable compared to other language modules in NUS. The teachers are also fun-loving and patient. It is definitely a module where you will enjoy and look forward to every lesson. It is also a door to the Vietnamese World where I get to learn about many interesting aspects of Vietnam. This includes Vietnamese Cuisine, Vietnamese culture and habits etc. The role-plays and skits are also interactive and easy for me to learn.The most appealing portion of the course is that it is only 5 hours of learning in class per week, as compared to other languages which requires at least 6 hours of learning per week. On top of that, there is no exam!

I benefited greatly from the Vietnamese Language module and I hereby recommend it to all my juniors to join the Vietnamese Family in NUS! =D

Ch'ng Xian Yi, Thắng
Vietnamese 3 student - Semester 1 AY 2010/2011

Vietnamese 1 - Semester 2 - AY 2009/2010 Students' Feedback

"Very interesting projects like cooking and travelling. The classes are very interactive and teachers are very helpful and approachable. Weakness: Need to spend time out of curriculum to do such projects and is quite tedious."
~ ~ ~

"Like this module a lot. fun and interactive."

~ ~ ~

"Strengths: the audio files provided were very useful - Activities such as projects etc. were very fun and showed us to the colourful Vietnamese culture."

~ ~ ~

"Strength: the teachers are very friendly, they made the learning environment fun and interesting. The teachers has also put in lots of effort in helping students: such as uploading audio to aid our pronunciation, and also upload words of encouragement. They made us feel very positive towards learning this module. Weakness: I think pace of learning is too fast."

~ ~ ~

"This module has guided the students to an amazing learning atmosphere...I love not only the language but also mainly the country."

~ ~ ~

" Strengths: Enjoy very much in the learning process. Workloads are not so heavy like others language modules. The teachers are very interactive with the students. Very special events held like Cooking project and Travelling Agency project in Vietnam. Weakness: N.A."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vietnamese 1 - Semester 1 - AY 2009/2010 Students' Feedback

"It is a very interesting, fun and interactive module, in which the projects and activities planned help one to practise using the language in practical settings. As it is a language module, the intensity of the module is understandable and appropriately paced."

* * *

"The module incorporates many fun elements such as cooking projects and all, and it introduces us to the Vietnamese culture which is really great! Not too much information is crammed in such that it overloads the students, so I think the content is just great."

* * *

"The course materials are appropriate and the module is made interesting with cooking projects and travel projects. Besides learning the language, we are also exposed to Vietnam's culture and people. All the tutors are very friendly and approachable."

* * *

"This is an interesting module. It different from the other modules I took in NUS."

* * *

"The module is very fun. The workload is just right for a language module. Quite substantial amount is taught within a semester."

Vietnamese 1 - Semester 2 - AY 2008/2009 Students' Feedback

" I get to learn the basics of Vietnamese language which allows me to make basic conversation with Vietnamese. Lesson is interesting and enriching. The cooking project helps me to have a greater understanding in Vietnamese culture and travelling project enables me to find out more about the beautiful places in Vietnam. The projects are enjoyable."

* * *
"LAV1201 is by far, one of the best modules I have taken in NUS. Having taken French level 1 before, I must say that LAV1201 is comparatively much more interactive, informative, and definitely much more of a pleasure to be taking. The teaching methods of the tutors are very different from the usual classes (even other language classes) - including events such as 'An Afternoon with the Vietnamese Students', a cooking project at co Bich's house, role-playing the parts of tour agency and tourists, etc. As such, although there were equally as many practical and oral tests for Vietnamese as for French, never was a lesson (or even test) boring. Meaningful friendships were forged, and creative thinking amongst students were definitely encouraged. I highly applaud the tutors for their methodology and utmost understanding towards students learning a 3rd language. I will definitely proceed on to level 2, and LAV1201 is a course that I will strongly recommend to all my NUS juniors."

* * *

"This module is very interesting to read. It helps me to change mindset about learning a language. All along, I thought that reading a language will be difficult. But this module has proven me otherwise. In fact, learning this module helps to ease the stress my overall academic. This module has non exam which is a good thing. Instead, it spread out the marks through daily workload. This ensures that we are constantly in touch with the topics. In overall, I love this module."

* * *

"Content of the course book is nicely done - uses movies, songs and pictures to help us to relate better to the course - tutors are patient and fun." 

* * *
"Very interesting and fun but at the same time, requires student to put in hard work. My experience in LAV 1201 was a good one. I learnt in an atmosphere well balance with healthy pressure, increasing interest (note, it increases not decreases like other modules!). I think I could perform so much better in this module because of these factors. Co Le is a good coordinator! THIS is what I call learning!

Vietnamese 1 - Semester 1 - AY 2008/2009 Students' Feedback

~ ~ "Vietnamese 1 had been a very very enjoyable module because of the three caring and understanding teachers. They had put in a lot of effort in teaching us and this can be shown by all the activities that they have organised for us. Each lesson had been carefully planned out and I've learnt a lot from the teachers, with extra life skills and knowledge that can never be found in textbooks. This is the most enjoyable module in my entire NUS life till now." ~ ~

* * *
~ ~ "Very interactive lessons were conducted! Has a great insight into the Vietnamese culture. All the tutors were exceptionally passionate and approachable." ~ ~

* * *
~ ~ "The content is very well structured. It's a very good introduction module to the Vietnamese language. The pace is just nice and the teachers have done a very good job! Having 3 tutorials a week also helps to reinforce our knowledge of the language and gives us ample opportunity to practice speaking. The teachers also take the effort to talk to us and know each and every student." ~ ~

* * *
~ ~ "The teachers are very enthusiastic and approachable. The lessons are always full of laughter and fun." ~ ~

Vietnamese Language Programme at the National University of Singapore

Vietnamese is taught as a foreign language at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to Singaporean and international students. Six modules are offered with three different proficiency levels: Elementary (Vietnamese 1 and Vietnamese 2), Intermediate (Vietnamese 3 and Vietnamese 4), and Advanced (Vietnamese 5 and Vietnamese 6). Upon successful completion of Vietnamese 2, Vietnamese 4 or Vietnamese 6, students will be granted a Language Certificate of Proficiency by the Centre for Language Studies at NUS. More information can be found at

If you would like to have more information about Vietnamese language modules, please check this out

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Đậu xanh

Chào các cô! Chào các bn!

Chúng em bốn đi đinh Thầy Minh để nấu ăn trưa. Chúng em là LAV1201 Vit mt sinh viên. Thy Minh sng Bukit Panjang Mayspring. Chúng em ₫ến lúc tám sáng, vào thứ bảy.

Chúng em tên là: Minh Phong, Minh, Minh Hằng và Minh Cưởng

Here is the recipe:
- 125g Green Beans (aka mung beans) – soaked overnight and drained
(In which we forgot to soak it overnight and it takes a long time to cook the beans on that day itself :P)
- 2 Pandan (aka Screw Pine) Leaves, dried ends cut, tied in a knot
- 1.25 litres water
- 50g rock sugar
-1/3 cup sago (small tapioca pearls)

1. Place water, and pandan leaves in a pot and bring to boil.
2. Reduce the fire, add beans and simmer, partially covered, for about 30-50 minutes (or till beans are soft). Add sugar to taste during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.
3.  For the addition of sago, it is after the beans have been partially cooked. (Don’t add too much of sago, since it will cause the soup to be to starchy)
4. Also, keep stirring while waiting for the sago to soften. Otherwise, the sago pearls will aggregate together, causing lumps and will be gooey like. :o

And we have found another way of cooking sago, such that it can retain nice ‘pearl-like’ sagos…

  • Soak tapioca pearls in cold water for 20 minutes. The pearls will expand and turn bright white. Drain.
  • In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. When water boils, turn off heat and add the drained tapioca pearls and stir constantly for 1 1/2 minutes, or until the pearls are translucent with a very small white center. Taste the tapioca, it should be soft but not goopy.
  • Drain the tapioca in fine mesh sieve and run cold water through the sieve to stop the tapioca pearls from cooking further. Swish with your hands to make sure that the pearls at the bottom of the sieve have a chance to cool down. Drain and add to the green bean soup.
The Finished product! :D
Outcome of our green bean soup:
Although Cô Bích says the taste of the soup is sweet enough, the problem lies with the texture of soup. It turns out to be overly-starchy, reason being that too much beans are in the pot! ): Also, over-stirring of the soup will mesh the beans instead. Still, we have learnt our lessons from our experience and have great deal of enjoyment relishing food cooked from other groups!

Hôm nay chùng em vui. 

Gỏi Gà (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)

Chào các cô! Chào các bn! J

Chúng em là LAV1201 Vit mt sinh viên. Nhóm ca chúng em có bn người: Minh Thơ, Minh Tĩên, Minh Hu and Minh Đc. Chúng em đi thy Minh’s nhà vào sáng th by cho cooking project. Thy Minh sng Bukit Panjang Mayspring. Chúng em did gi gà cho cooking project. Chúng em mua all the ingredients in ch, Giant và Cold Storage.

Chicken Salad
            3 pieces 200g chicken breast fillets
            2 tablespoons vegetable oil sea salt
            White pepper use black if that is all you have
            1 cup bean sprout
            1 cup Vietnamese mint leaf
            1 cup Asian basil leaves
            4 cups Chinese cabbages finely shredded
            1 cup carrot peeled and finely julienned
Vietnamese Dressing
            60 ml Lime juice
            60 ml Fish sauce
            1 tablespoon caster sugar
            2 very finely chopped Garlic Cloves optional
            3 finely sliced red Asian shallots or 1/2 red onion
          2 small very finely chopped red chilli

Chicken Salad
·      Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7).
·      Heat a frying pan over a high heat, and while the pan is heating, brush the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
·      Place the chicken skin-side down and sear for 2 minutes, turn and sear for another minute.
·      Put the chicken on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
·      Shred the chicken into thin strips with your hands and place in a large bowl.
·      Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
Vietnamese Dressing
Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

These are the vegetables that we prepared:

Us in action:
Each of us prepared one aspect Minh Thơ sliced carrots, Minh Tĩên plucked the cabbage, Minh Hu cut the shredded chicken, and Minh Đc plucked the basil and mint leaves.
We are supposed to prepare for roughly 10 person but the ingredients we brought was more than enough and we made a big bowl of chicken salad.

Personal reflection:

The preparation took about 1 hr. The actual process isn’t that long actually (most of the time was spent waiting for Cô Bích to dy chúng em how to slice and arrange the ingredients). It was an enjoyable time as we got to know more about each other through this teamwork. While waiting for Cô Bích to come and teach us, we ate some of the chicken we prepared and grabbed a few Vietnamese spring rolls another group had made. Ngon tuyt! But some of us got caught by Cô Bích for secretly eating and got scolded for being greedy.

We also had to prepare the dressing sauce, whose main component is the famous fish sauce much-loved by Vietnamese. The dressing required loads of sugar as well, so that salad would have a delicate sweet-sour taste to it.

-Minh Tiên

This is the first time, I ăn Vietnamese cuisine. It is very delicious and special. Cô Bìch dy chúng em how to differentiate lime and calamansi, Italian basil and Thai basil. And we realized how great a mistake we made in getting out ingredients. Cô Bìch cũng dy chúng em how to make delicious Vietnamese dressing for our gi gà by using fish sauce and sugar.

Chúng em finished nấu our gi gà trước mười hai gì. Sau decorating gi gà, chúng em và các bn đi function hall with all of our Vietnamese đồ ăn. Chúng em get to talk to all Vit mt sinh viên and some of the seniors. It was a very good chance to know more about Vietnamese culture through Vietnamese đồ ăn.

-Minh Hu

I felt that the cooking project really helped all the students become closer. I got the opportunity to chat and joke with classmates, and also see all of us in action, helping out with food preparation. But I was rather clumsy that day and kept knocking into things. I ended up wasting quite a lot of chicken which dropped on the floor. Nevertheless, it was fun! My favorite part of the project was … eating! I love all the desserts the best, especially the banana soup and Cô Lê’s drink! Thanks to everyone for their wonderful dishes!

- Đưc

The most memorable part of the nu ăn experience was making the gi gà dressing. Cô Bìch dy em làm thế nào make the dressing sauce: by mixing cá sauce, sugar, lime juice, some chopped garlic, shallots and chilies. Em added the sugar to the mixture and cô Bìch tried, nhưng sauce là too salty so in the end em added almost ½ the container of sugar. However, our gi gà was still a bit salty in the end. Despite this, em had fun cooking together and interacting with the other tiếng Vit sinh viên. Cô Bìch cũng dy chúng em how to garnish the gi gà using tomatoes and chili as decorations. Sau khi tiếng Vit sinh viên xong nu ăn, chúng em và các bn finally get to eat Vit đô ăn chúng em prepared. Em specially thích the Gi Cun as it has a unique taste. Em mun hc Gi Cun đ nu ăn cho gia đình.

- Minh Thơ

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gỏi Cuốn - Vietnamese Cold Salad Rolls

 Chào các cô! Chào các bạn!

Vào thứ bảy tuần trước, chúng tôi - Minh Hà, Minh Hòa, Minh Dũng và Minh Tâm, gặp ở Bukit Panjang LRT. It was raining heavily when we got there. Thế thì chán quá! We even went to the wrong apartment. Trời ơi! But that did not dampen our spirit at all.  Chúng tôi dến nhà thầy Minh lúc chín giờ sáng để làm Gỏi Cuốn cho lớp nấu ăn Việt.

Upon reaching nhà thầy Minh, cô Bích bắt dầu dạy how to prepare the Gỏi Cuốn, a Vietnamese cold salad roll and decorate the dish using vegetables like chilli and cucumber vì chúng tôi chưa bao giờ nấu món ăn Việt Nam.

We enjoyed wrapping the spring rolls even though it took us a couple of tried before we finally got the hang of it.

Gỏi Cuốn rất dễ làm và đây là recipe với some points to take note:

Rice vermicelli
Vietnamese rice paper
Lettuce, cucumber and carrot (all thinly sliced)
Mint leaves
Thai basil leaves
Bean sprouts
Chinese chives
Chicken breast meat, shredded (Tip: Cô Bích prefers pork belly!)
Tiger shrimps (cooked, peeled and sliced into halves)

Steps to making Gỏi Cuốn:
1. Soak rice vermicelli in cold water for 20 min before putting it into boiling water for another 5 min. (Make sure the vermicelli is soft and springy after boiling and should not be too hard)

2.  Briefly dip a sheet of rice paper into water and see it magically soften. Then, arrange the sliced lettuce, cucumber, carrot, basil leaves, mint leaves, bean sprouts, vermicelli and shredded chicken breast meat onto the rough side of the rice paper.
3. Top with a shelled, cooked tiger shrimp and chive before folding the left and right sides of the rice paper over the filling and then firmly rolling the spring roll away from you to form a neat parcel. (Be careful not to tear the rice paper!!)

4. Serve with fish sauce as a dip.

Gỏi Cuốn chúng tôi làm trông rất đẹp và ngon, phải không?

Chúng tôi làm nhiều Gỏi Cuốn. Chúng tôi cũng dạy các bạn how to wrap the cold salad roll, and tất cả các bạn couldn’t resist eating the cold salad rolls which they made themselves before the actual food tasting session but were unfortunately caught by cô Bích. Oops!

By mười hai giờ, chúng tôi rất đói. We can’t wait to eat!!
Sau đó was the food tasting session. We watched in anticipation, and growling stomachs, as cô Bích tried each and every dish and gave her honest feedback. Once cô Bích had her fill, it was our turn to eat all the delicious food prepared by our beloved teachers as well as our friends. Mmmm.....Yummy!!
Chúng tôi rất mệt nhưng rất vui. Chúng tôi rất thích lớp nấu ăn Việt! It was an enjoyable experience for us!
Cám ơn các cô, especially our master chef cô Bích for teaching us how to làm Gỏi Cuốn.
Chúc các cô và các bạn vui vẻ! Hẹn gặp mọi người ở lớp tiếng Việt nhé!!