Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vietnamese Dinner @ co Bich's Home 25/01/2011

LAV Family Gathering at co Bich's HOME :) Việt 2-Việt 6

Best Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich) in town! yum yum...

Drooling? :P

Found in co Bich's House... (specially for her kids) Cute right? :D

Hôm nay là một ngày bụng no, vui vẻ và hạnh phúc!
Today is a day with full of food, happiness and blessings! :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

A news article about LAV@NUS

Serious fun seekers 
Last updated: 3/30/2009 22:36 
Benjamin Freud from France (C, standing) mimics a car driver at speaking practice last week.
Having a good time and imbibing some exotic culture is par for the course for Vietnamese language students at a Singaporean university.

Dozens of students are gathering in a room and forming small play and discussion groups where everyone speaks Vietnamese only, be they Chinese, French or Vietnamese in some cases.

Some are fluent speakers, while others find it difficult to express their ideas in the language.

Yet the talkfest at the National University of Singapore (NUS)'s Center for Language Studies goes smoothly and is full of laughs.

Practice sessions like this are a frequently held component of the university's Vietnamese language course, whose four teachers are keen to nurture Vietnamese language proficiency and a genuine interest in Vietnam.

Established in 1995, the course, known as LAV@NUS, is for anyone taking Southeast Asian studies, whether from Singapore or other countries via exchange programs.

Six levels, each running for 12 weeks excluding exam time, from basic to advanced are available in the course.
In class, the first thing every student gets from the teacher is a Vietnamese name.

Actually, the students are given a list of Vietnamese names together with their English meanings like Tuyet (Snow), Hai (Sea) and Thang (Victory) for them to choose from.

A little forethought is needed before deciding as the students are known by their chosen names for the rest of the course.

After the naming ritual, the students are taken on a tour of Vietnamese food, drink, scenery, and geography to familiarize them with the country whose language they are learning.

Ho Gia Anh Le, the youngest of the four teachers, frequently takes her students to Vietnamese cafes and restaurants, and is keen to chat with them online too.

Le's reputation for innovative teaching has attracted many people to the course, says LAV@NUS director Thach Ngoc Minh.

A different approach is favored by two of the other teachers, Quynh and Bich, who regularly hold cooking contests at their homes for the students' sake.

First, they make a list of ingredients for the students to buy at the market. After shopping, the students go to the teachers' house and cook up a Vietnamese treat without help.

When everyone is done eating, Quynh or Bich gives marks for the different dishes.

The students also take photographs and write amusing articles about their cooking exploits and post them at, where their self-penned introduction reads, "We are students learning Vietnamese at NUS. We love learning Vietnamese, enjoying Vietnamese dishes and learning about Vietnam."
Nearly all of them get something more than just a good meal from the experience.

"We're glad that this module lets us learn how to prepare traditional Vietnamese food," wrote one student recently after making cha gio (spring rolls) at Bich's house.
"As learning a language also includes learning its culture, country and people, this is a precious opportunity for foreign students like us to learn more about Vietnam."
They also like the camaraderie of the cooking sessions.
One writes: "It was really fun preparing the food. We were like excited little rats (*oops! I mean "chefs") scrambling around in the kitchen."

Through LAV@NUS, the students can even visit Vietnam and its historical places to augment their knowledge.
One such is Wee Siong, a Malaysian student in the university's biology department and known by the Vietnamese name "Quang."
On his trip to Vietnam, Quang spent three weeks learning the language in Ho Chi Minh City and visited Da Lat, Hue and several other places as well.
"Vietnamese culture is so interesting. If I get the chance to go there again, I will ask my friends to come along," he says.

While some students are like Benjamin Freud from France, who is learning Vietnamese for his doctoral thesis on Vietnam under French rule, others seem to have no particular goal as far as the course goes.
Still, it doesn't stop them being enthusiastic students, and the more they learn, the more they love Vietnam, the teachers say.

"I believe teaching the students here means 'raising' them so that they will keep learning Vietnamese long afterwards, as the more they learn, the more they will love Vietnam," Le says.

Reported by Thuc Minh


A Vietnamese version of this article can be accessed here:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Introduction Lecture 14/01/11

Attentive LAV students. :)

Yea, this is the smile you will have for every LAV lesson. :)

Cô Bích, our LAV chef. :)

Presentation by cô Lê.

Sharing & Q&A session by Việt 2-6 students.

Introducing our LAV family and activities.

Exchange contact number before you leave! :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

LAV@NUS is now on blog, Youtube and Twitter!

This is our latest video made by Hương.
LAV@NUS is now on blog, Youtube and Twitter!

The Making of Coconut Candy, Rice Paper & Pop Rice Cake

The simple short clip was especially made for LAV@NUS...

Try them fresh! Go Vietnam!!! :)

Learning Vietnamese transformed my life


- Being truly Singaporean
- Uninterested in travelling and foreign languages
- Enjoy being trapped in a tiny shell of the snail
- Living in a small,small world
- Totally uninterested in foreign cultures

- Being a true global citizen
- Possess a Vietnamese name ( You are able to name yourself! in Vietnamese!)
- Met a bunch of nice Vietnamese people
- Crazy about trying to speak in a different tongue

- Being obsessed with Vietnamese cuisine and Vietnamese Coffee
- Meeting 4 awesome Vietnamese teachers who are really passionate about what they are doing
- Endless laughter and jokes during Vietnamese class
- Learning how to cook Vietnamese Food
- Able to hold a conversation with Taxi drivers in Ho Chi Minh City
- Developing close friendships with my classmates taking Vietnamese!

Deenise Yang , Life Science Student, Vietnamese level 5 ( Semester 2 AY 2009/2010)

Friday, January 14, 2011

LAV@NUS teachers

There are four teachers at the Vietnamese Language Programme (LAV@NUS). We are like a small and happy family. 

Thầy Thạch Ngọc Minh is the Convenor of LAV@NUS. He has been teaching Vietnamese at NUS for 13 years. More information about him can be found at

Cô Phan Thị Ngọc Bích has been living in Singapore for over 10 years. She has been teaching Vietnamese and French. She is the Master Chef of LAV@NUS.

Cô Phạm Như Quỳnh has been teaching Vietnamese in Hà Nội and Singapore for the past 18 years

I am the newest member of the LAV@NUS family. My name is Hồ Gia Anh Lê. I was born in a small village in Central Việt Nam. I went to Hà Nội for my undergraduate study and then to Melbourne for my postgraduate study. I have come a very long way from my village to the current global city of Singapore.

Thank you for visiting our LAV@NUS blog. If you have any questions about LAV@NUS, feel free to email me at

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Movie Appreciation: Pao's Story

Chuyện của Pao
(Pao's Story)

Phim về gì?

Bộ phim này về một người con gái, tên là Pao. Vào đầu phim, mẹ Pao (mẹ gìa) tự tử ở sông. Sau khi mẹ Pao chết, bố Pao trở nên yếu lắm. Vì bố Pao muốn tìm một người đàn bà, tên là Sim, nên Pao đi Sapa để tìm nó cho bố.

Khi Pao được sinh ra, mẹ Pao (mẹ Sim) không chăm sóc cô ấy. Từ khi Pao còn nhỏ, mẹ gìa chăm sóc cô ấy vì mẹ ấy không thể có con. Vào một ngày, Pao đi chơi với Chu--bạn trai Pao. Nhưng ở một chỗ, Pao thấy mẹ gìa với nhau một người đàn ông. Sự thật là đàn ông ấy là bố của Chu. Sau một số ngày, mẹ gìa chết rồi. Pao đi tìm mẹ Sim để đưa mẹ ấy về nhà gặp bố. Nhưng mẹ Sim đã có chồng mới rồi, không thể đi nhà Pao. Khi Pao một mình đi bằng xe buýt về nhà, cô ấy lại thấy mẹ gìa với nhau bố Chu.

Tôi thấy bộ phim này thế nào?

Lúc bắt đầu, tôi thấy bộ phim này rất khó hiểu vì có nhiều quan hệ phức tạp. Với lại các nữ diễn viên trông giống như nhau. Nhưng tôi càng xem càng thấy bộ phim này rất hay. “Chuyện của Pao” rất khác so với các phim khác. Chủ đề của bộ phim không rõ ràng nên chúng tôi phải suy nghĩ. Cuối cùng tôi hiểu chủ đề là mọi người đều có số phận của mình.

Khung cảnh của bộ phim có nhiều núi rất đẹp, tôi thích lắm. Đây là lần đầu tiên tôi xem phim về dân tộc thiểu số. Tôi cũng thích cuộc sống ở làng quê, khác so với cuộc sống ở thành phố. Mặc dù cuộc sống của dân làng không dễ nhưng hình như họ vẫn man nguyện.

As the story takes place in a remote, mountainous area, the life there is a stark contrast to life in Singapore. The villagers have to walk long distances just to get to the market or to pick firewood for cooking. They use horses to get around and rely on simple, primitive tools to get on with their activities.

The people wear their tribal costumes (girls wear scarves around their heads and skirts) everyday, unlike people of many other countries who are increasingly influenced by the West. In Singapore, people only wear their traditional costumes during traditional festivals, but even now, the younger generation is slowly breaking away from this practice. Nevertheless, as mentioned in the film, girls at many places now wear trousers instead of skirts (although Pao chose to keep her tradition). It goes to show that no matter how rural and seemingly cut off from the world a place may be, it is possible that some traditions still change.

One part of the Vietnamese culture very similar to that of the Singapore culture (especially the Chinese) is the importance of wives being able to bear children. Sons are favoured as they help to continue the family line while daughters are needed to help in household chores or to work in the fields as in traditional societies. Like Pao’s stepmother in the show, in our Chinese culture, wives who do not bear children will be looked down upon by their in-laws as they are supposed to be responsible for the continuity of their husbands’ family lines.

I have also noticed that the wife calls her husband “ông”. In Chinese culture, the wife calls her husband “husband”, but nowadays in Singapore, wives usually call their husbands “daddy”.


Movie Appreciation: Pao's Story

Phim về gì?

Ở miền Bắc Việt Nam có một cô gái tên là Pao. Từ nhỏ đến lớn, cô ấy sống ở núi. Gia đình Pao có 5 người, có bố, mẹ già, mẹ Sim, em trai và Pao.

Khi lớn lên, cô Pao bắt đầu bán giày dép ở chợ. Ở đó, cô ấy thường gặp một anh chàng tên là Chú. Sau một số thời gian, Pao và Chú yêu nhau. Có một ngày, khi họ hẹn hò để đi chơi, họ xem được mẹ già với một anh chàng—bố Chú. Pao cảm thấy rất thất vọng và buồn. Sau đó, mẹ già đi chỗ khác với bố Chú để sống với nhau.

Vì bố cô ấy già và luôn bị bệnh nặng, nên cô ấy muốn mẹ Sim về nhà để chăm sóc gia đình. Nhưng sau khi tìm được mẹ Sim, cô ấy được biết mẹ Sim đã kết hôn rồi, nên không thể về nhà với cô ấy. Còn Chú thì đi chỗ khác làm việc.

Cuối cùng, cô ấy khóc một mình vì hết tiền rồi nhưng cuộc sống phải tiếp tục...

Em thấy bộ phim này thế nào?

Em thấy bộ phim này thú vị lắm vì đây là một phim về cuộc sống của những người miền Bắc Việt Nam. Vì Việt Nam và Singapo khác nhau ở văn hóa, nên em rất quan tâm về văn hóa Việt Nam. Sau khi xem phim này, em biết nhiều chứ.

Em thích phim này vì phim này cho em biết nhiều thứ về những người Việt Nam----đồ uống, món ăn Việt Nam và sở thích. Sau khi xem phim này, em thấy rất hạnh phúc vì cuộc sống ở Singapo tốt hơn cuộc sống ở Việt Nam. Với lại, em có thể học được cách nấu món ăn Việt Nam.

Em cũng thích phim này vì các diễn viên không những trông duyên mà còn chăm chỉ, đặc biệt là Pao. Sau xem phim này, em thấy em chắc chắn phải học tập với Pao. Phim này cũng cho em xem được nhiều điểm du lịch như núi, bãi biển và phố cổ, phong cảnh đẹp lắm. Em thấy rất vui vì em có thể thăm quan miễn phí!

Tuy phim này thú vị lắm nhưng quá lâu và phim chất lượng xấu, nên khi em xem em cảm thấy hơi buồn ngủ.

Vietnamese Culture

Through the movie, I understood more about the Vietnamese culture and the differences between the culture of Vietnam and Singapore. Firstly, the lifestyle of tribal village is unique. In Vietnam, tribal groups mostly live on the mountains in huts and cottages. They also rear poultry and grow crops along the rice fields whereas in Singapore, standard of living is higher and locals live in high-rise concrete buildings.

Next is the difference in dressing. Vietnamese tend to wear their traditional wear made by themselves, where cloth is cut, sew and coloured in dyes before wearing, coupled with exquisite embroidery handicraft accessories such as bangles, earrings and necklace. In Singapore, our dress sense is heavily influenced by the western culture, wearing formal wear or t-shirts is a norm.

In the mountains, due to mountainous landscape and limitation of transportation methods, Vietnamese are used to travelling by foot instead of automobiles. On the contrary, people travel on different kinds of automobiles like cars, trains and buses in Singapore.

The Vietnamese’s food also plays a great part in its culture. Herbs are essential and evident in almost all Vietnamese dishes. Unlike in Singapore where food is usually flavoured by artificial flavourings, herbs in Vietnamese dishes are particularly fragrant and refreshing, enhancing the taste and aroma of most Vietnamese dishes.

In addition, Vietnamese children who live on the mountains start to work at a younger age in general. Most of them are poorly educated and can only converse in their native language. Compared to Singapore where education is compulsory for every child, we can see that there is a huge difference in literacy level.

Lastly, most of the tribal people are only equipped with primary skills like farming and fishing. In Singapore, primary skills are not pragmatic. We learn tertiary skills like computing and engineering instead.

Movie Appreciation: When October Comes

(When October Comes)

Phim về gì?     Bộ phim cũ này về một người phụ nữ, tên là Duyên. Chồng của Duyên đã bị giết chết trong chiến tranh. Duyên được biết tin này khi đi thăm chồng. Nhân vật này thật buồn và khóc nhiều lần trong phim. Buồn hơn và đau hơn là Duyên phải báo tin cho gia đình của chồng biết, nhưng mà Duyên không dám. Chỉ có một người nữa được biết chồng Duyên đã hy sinh, là một nhân vật đàn ông tên là Khang. Duyên xin Khang giúp viết và gửi một số thư cho gia đình để mà bố mẹ già, con trai và các bà con nghĩ chồng vẫn còn sống. Đặc biệt là bố chồng, ông ấy hay ho và thấy khó thở và rất yếu. Duyên biết bố chồng rất nhớ con trai nên muốn cho bố hy vọng.

Thấy bộ phim này thế nào? Thích nhân vật nào nhất?     Mình thấy bộ phim này rất buồn. Khi chiến tranh ở Việt Nam, có lẽ có nhiều vợ như Duyên mất chồng. Sau khi xem bộ phim này, mình hiểu được những nỗi đau khổ của những người mà mất người yêu trong chiến tranh một chút nữa. Bộ phim cũ này tuy là phim đen trắng, nhưng vẫn thương tâm và  thú vị. Nhất là nhân vật chính của bộ phim Duyên. Nữ diễn viên Lê Vân đóng vai Duyên. Lê Vân diễn với sự xúc động. Mình thích cảnh Duyên diễn trong kịch nhất.
There are elements of vietnamese culture that are very evident in the film. One is that of the structure of a typical Vietnamese family. In marriage, the wife leaves her family and becomes a part of her husband’s as in the film where we see how Duyen is living with the parents of her husband and is such a devoted daughter-in-law. This familial relation is very important in the storyline – it is her father-in-law whom she lives with that she doesn’t want to disclose the news of the death of his son to because she knows that it would have a big impact on his already ailing health and weak heart. This internal struggle and pain is the main point of tension in the show.

There is some allusion to the spirits of those who have passed on in the show. Duyen believes that she can meet her husband in the market where the dead and the living meetin one day in the tenth monthand she goes there to look for him. The kite which he used to play with but later burned before being conscripted reappears towards the end of the film, adding another element of the spiritual to the show. Although it is debatable whether the scenes of Duyen looking for her husband and the reappearing kite are but allusions to something of deeper meaning, one thing is for sure – the conception of afterlife and the spiritual is not unfamiliar to the Vietnamese audience. The part of Vietnamese culture is used to great effect in film to bring out the sorrow and yearning for her husband that Duyen has experiencing.

These two points are similar to the Southern Chinese (in my case, Hokkien) culture in Singapore. Family has very much a central place in Chinese culture as it does in Vietnamese. This film was produced 20 years ago and I’m sure numerous changes have taken place with regard to the social role and structure of the family in rural Vietnam. And so it has in Singapore, the conception of family is nonetheless similar between the two cultures. The Singaporean Chinese community is also not unacquainted with the idea of afterlife. The traditional belief is that the spirit of the dead still lingers for a certain period of time around the place where it was before death. The Hungry Ghost festival is based on this belief.

Also, we see how Vietnamese culture has been influenced by Southern Chinese culture to some extent in the Vietnamese opera scene where Duyen acts in a play about a husband and wife being separated in war. The performance style is rather similar to the Chinese opera styles we see in Singapore. I find this element in the film – of a play within a play – a very effective means of further exploring the protagonist’s emotions. For the longest time in Singapore, such themes of separation in war and sadness were also explored and portrayed in Chinese opera.

Công (Bryan)
Vietnamese 2, AY2010/11 Semester 2

Monday, January 10, 2011

Welcome to LAV@NUS!

Are you interested in Vietnamese culture?
Do you like making new friends?
Would you like to take up a new language?

If yes, please come to our LAV@NUS Introduction Lecture at 16:00 to 18:00 on 14 January 2011 at LT 14. We will help you open a new window on Vietnam.

See you there!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Birthday Surprise for co Le 25/10/2010

Thắng: "Hey Chi, I just checked Facebook. Today is co Le's birthday leh!
So how? Wanna celebrate for her?"

Chi: "Today ar?! Hmm... so rush! Let's buy a piece of cheese cake,
make a card and sing a birthday song..."

Khuê: "Yea, we shall give her a surprise!
We switch off the light in the classroom and wait for her to come in ok!"

Our birthday card for her...

Fun and happiness are always around us.
It's up to us whether we want to open up our heart and accept them.

A simple gesture/ action of appreciation
can be a great motivation to a dedicated teacher.

Not to forget the fun you create in the classroom,
can make a huge difference in your learning process...

Chi, Thắng, Khuê
Vietnamese 3, AY2010/11 Semester 2

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dinner @ co Bich's house 08/09/2010

Our learning always goes beyond the classroom.
Our connectedness always goes beyond teacher-student relationship.
We are friends, we are a big family! :)

And most importantly,
our stomach always goes full beyond our desire...
as you really can't resist them! Believe me not?!

And most of the time,
Our fun always goes beyond the limit... :D

Chi (Wai Yin)
Vietnamese 3, AY2010/11 Semester 2
Chinese Studies, Year 4

Dare to challenge going ALONE!

 The course fee wasn't cheap, so I felt uneasy to skip classes for travelling.
However, I am able to catch up some day-tours with a local travel agency. :) 

The Immersion Program is never complete without the 9-day-tour travelling all the way up to Central and North of Vietnam. Unfortunately, mine is an incomplete one due to my other commitment in Singapore. :'(

There were just too many enriching experiences (even practising your bargain skill), eye-opening chances, wonderful feelings that are beyond description in words and illustration in pictures. You'd need to experience them yourself!!!

Well, it is always better to go with friends. However, if you are as "lucky" as I was that no other friends join the program, then DARE to Challenge Going ALONE ok!!! You will be surprised how far you can go stepping out of your comfort zone. :)

Chi (Wai Yin)
Vietnamese 3, AY2010/11 Semester 1
Chinese Studies, Year 4