Profile of students: Renard Sexton and Mai Nguyen from our 101 class
Q: Why are you learning Vietnamese?
RS: I’m currently a PhD student at NYU. I wanted to learn to not only be able to communicate with my girlfriend Mai’s family but also learn about the culture and the heritage in general. In fact, we’re going to Vietnam this summer, so we wanted to do some practice.
MN: I’m also a PhD student in Comparative Politics at NYU. My family all speak Vietnamese so I grew up around it. I spoke Vietnamese pretty well until elementary school. Now, I have to think in English and translate to Vietnamese, so I want to get better at naturally speaking Vietnamese. I also wanted to learn the rules of the language, so I’ve enjoyed that aspect of the class. I plan on doing some research in Vietnam, so I wanted to start learning my reading and writing skills.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge for you in learning Vietnamese:
MN:I think the challenges are relearning the words and pronouncing them properly too. I know how the word sounds but I’m still struggling with making it sound without mixing with the English accent. And again, I still formulate my sentences very slowly, and I want to be able to speak more fluently and quicker.
RS: Pronunciation is always tough. I know how it’s supposed to sound in my head, but then getting it to come out the same way is difficult. For example, using your teeth to make the “ư” sound, I can hear it when other people do it, but then reproducing it is going to take some time and practice.
Thank you to Thuan Nguyen for doing these interviews.