heritage vietnamese in first and second years two case studies

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HERITAGE VIETNAMESE
IN FIRST AND SECOND YEARS
TWO CASE STUDIES
TRI C. TRAN
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE
THE VIETNAMESE PROGRAM AT UC IRVINE
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
 Pre-establishment: Summer courses were offered.
 Program official started in Fall 2000, as part of the East
Asian Languages and Literatures Department (together
with Chinese, Japanese and Korean), with two years of
language offered and one full-time lecturer.
 The third year was added the following year and one
more full-time lecturer was hired.
 Starting Fall 2004, upper-division courses were gradually
added over the next seven years: Introduction to
Vietnamese Literature, Introduction to Vietnamese
Linguistics; Vietnamese Literature in Translation,
Vietnamese Writers’ Works in English.
 One part-time lecturer was hired.
 In Fall 2010, the Vietnamese Program became part of the
Humanities Language Learning Program (together with
Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Russian).
 The third year was cut (2011). Two full-time lecturers
were left. Some upper-division courses were still offered.
 The following year, more cuts were implemented. The
lecturers each had their teaching loads cut down, one to
75% and the other to 50%.
 By the end of the 2011-2012 school year, one lecturer
was laid off.
 In Fall 2012, the Humanities Language Learning Program
was incorporated into the Classics Department (where
Greek and Latin are taught). Russian left the program to
join the newly-formed Department of European
Languages & Studies.
 Currently, only the first and the second years of language
are offered, with a total of six courses per year.
CURRENT VIETNAMESE COURSES
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
 First-year courses: 1A, 1B and 1C, offered in
sequence, one per each quarter.
 Second-year courses: 2A, 2B and 2C, same offering
format.
 No separate language tracks: Non-native and
heritage students take the same courses.
 Placement tests (for first and second years) are
offered by the Testing Center.
 Oral interviews are conducted after placement tests
to ensure proper enrollment.
 All interested students must fill out an online
language background survey. Those who claim to
have no background are exempted from taking a
placement test, but still have to be interviewed
before being authorized to register for a course.
 Students taking courses are generally categorized
into (i) heritage students, (ii) Chinese-Vietnamese
students and (iii) non-Vietnamese students.
 Classes met five days a week in the past. Starting this
Fall, classes will meet 3 days a week (5 units—first
year) and 2 days a week (4 units—second year).
VIETNAMESE CLASSES SPRING 2013
VIETNAMESE 1C & VIETNAMESE 2C
Vietnamese 1C
 Total enrollment: 28
 Non-Vietnamese: 1 (3.5%)
 Chinese-Vietnamese: 4 (14%)
 Vietnamese: 23 (82%)
Vietnamese 2C
 Total enrollment: 18
 Non-Vietnamese: 0
 Chinese-Vietnamese: 1 (5.5%)
 Vietnamese: 17 (94.5%)
WHO ARE OUR HERITAGE STUDENTS?
 Group I: Students who have (almost) zero knowledge
of Vietnamese.
 Group II: Students who can speak some Vietnamese,
but cannot read or write.
 Group III: Students who can speak, read and write
Vietnamese to some extent.
 Group IV: Students who are fluent in Vietnamese
and can read and write rather well.
 Group V: Students who finished high school or
universities in Vietnam.
TEACHING HERITAGE STUDENTS
IN NON-HERITAGE CLASSES
Vietnamese 1C
 Textbook: Designed for non-heritage students.
 Language: Vietnamese mixed with English.
 Teaching Methods: Treating the whole class as nonheritage students; flexible with advanced questions
but not going too far.
 Class work: pairing up students in such a way that
one student is more advanced than his or her
partner.
Classroom situations:
 More advanced students get bored.
 Non-advanced students feel intimidated and/or pressured.
 Test grade discrepancies are considerable.
 Demographic change: More and more “beginners”, thanks to
the filtering process of placement tests and interviews.
Some strategies:
 Making tests challenging for advanced students (especially in
grammar), but at the same time, still doable for non-advanced
students.
 Emphasizing group work rather than individual work.
 Testing oral skill in pairs.
 Using some English to stay connected with non-advanced
students.
 Using a pilot textbook manuscript.
Vietnamese 2C
 Textbook: Designed for non-heritage students.
 Language: Predominantly Vietnamese.
 Students: Ranging from students promoted from the
first year (some still struggling with fluency) to the
ones placed in the second year through a test
(including students fluent in varying degrees and the
completely fluent ones, who have finished high
school or universities in Vietnam).
 Teaching methods: Getting closer to a heritage
approach, teaching language through culture, less
technical than the first year.
 Class work: Class discussion; class presentation
(in pair); pair work
Classroom situations
 There is no way to filter out very advanced
students. If they pass the second-year placement
test, they can legitimately take the second-year
courses.
 Students sitting territorially: the “fluent side” vs.
the “non-fluent side”.
 Students range from non-fluent, relatively fluent
to extremely fluent.
 Test grade discrepancies are considerable.
Some solutions:
 Making tests challenging for advanced students
(especially in grammar), but at the same time, still
doable for non-advanced students.
 In oral presentations, pairing up one fluent student
with one non-fluent student so they can help each
other.
 Pair up one fluent student with one non-fluent
student in pair work.
 Using Vietnamese predominantly in lecturing and
discussion, but with easy structures and simple
vocabulary.
 Using a pilot textbook manuscript.
THE TEXTBOOK SOLUTION
Old textbooks:
 Long (chapters (15/20), dialogues, readings)
 Difficult, overwhelming (grammar)
 Unorganized (vocabulary)
New textbooks:
 Adequate in length (12 chapters, shorter dialogues
and readings)
 Simpler, fundamental grammar
 Organized, focused vocabulary
 Enhanced cultural components
 No separate workbook
OLD TEXTBOOKS
FIRST YEAR
SECOND YEAR
TEXTBOOKS FOR FALL 2013
CURRENT AND FUTURE PLANNING
 Enforcing proper enrollment through (i) Online
language background survey, (ii) Placement tests and
(iii) Oral interviews.
 Boosting enrollments with (i) advertisement in
campus newspaper, (ii) posting fliers and (iii)
promotional video of the whole program.
 Planning to replace two separate placement tests
(paper and pencil) with one test for both first and
second years (online).
 Piloting new textbooks.
 Continuing the hybrid teaching styles with
predominant heritage students in non-heritage
classes!
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