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Information Minister Suggests Making English Vietnam's 2nd Official Language

Should English be the country's second official language?

During a symposium on finding solutions for creative Vietnamese startups, Information Minister Nguyen Manh Hung made a remark suggesting that English will become Vietnam's second official language, VOV reports. Hung argued that start-ups in Vietnam need to look towards a globalized future in their long-term vision.

"We're not just talking about start-ups here in Vietnam, but we need to gradually address it against the background of a globalization process. The answer to the globalization question is the English language. I suggest that the Prime Minister announce English as Vietnam's second official language," Hung said in Vietnamese on November 29 in Da Nang, according to the news source.

The remark has spurred a vibrant public response regarding the feasibility and real-world application of the idea. According to the chief editor of the new curriculum for comprehensive education reform, Nguyen Minh Thuyet, making English an official language is inevitable. This sentiment is shared by Hoang Ngoc Vinh, an authority at the Department of Technical and Vocational Education, and Vu Thu Huong, an education expert, Zing reports.

However, Thuyet points out that because the number of English speakers in Vietnam is still modest, ensuring that English is widely used among all citizens will prove a challenge. Thuyet suggests that there should be reform made within the education curriculum as well. 

It's still not clear how the idea would be implemented if approved. Despite the positive popular reception, Hung's suggestion is not without its critics. Hoang Huong, a journalist and deputy director of the Institute for Studies of Society, Economics and Environment (iSee), took to her Facebook page to provide a critical reflection of the decision:

"The problem is that the demands and capabilities of a small group in society are becoming the burden of the rest of the majority. Learning English and being 'global' has become the specialty of the riches, but is draining less-advantaged groups. How many families can afford to spend millions on their children's English education? For most working class people with a modest income in the city and rural workers whose incomes are still below-average, how many people can access this 'global' that is becoming a trend?" Huong writes in Vietnamese.

[Photo via Creative Commons]

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