Many little Vietnamese students at English centres are given an English name, which has brought pleasure to small children, but has not satisfied their parents.
The five-year-old daughter of Thuy Anh in district 11 in Ho Chi Minh City returns home with a radiant face and tells her mother: “Mum, I have got a new name, Ann. All my friends have English names like me.”
After contacting the English centre, where her daughter attends, Anh realizes that foreign teachers give the students English names, making it easier for them to remember their students.
Another parent, who has a 7-year-old daughter following the Cambridge primary curriculum, says her daughter has an English name at her school, and another English name at the foreign language centre. As such, the girl has three names, one Vietnamese and two English.
However, unlike Thuy Anh, who does not like her daughter to be called with an English name, the parent thinks that it would be not a big problem if the girl has some more names and she likes them.
Quynh Vy, 45, in district 5 of HCM City, says that having English names is now in fashion. Even the employees at the yoga centre at Parkson Hung Vuong building also bear English names.
“They call each other Tom, Carmen. It’s so ridiculous,” she says. “Vietnamese people bear foreign names. Do they intend to queen it over other people?”
Thuy Anh strongly protests against naming Vietnamese students with foreign names.
“They have told me that foreign teachers cannot remember all the Vietnamese names and they need some measures to improve the situation,” she says.
“It would be so wonderful if the foreign teachers, at the first lesson, try to make acquaintance with all of their students by trying to remember the Vietnamese names of the students,” Anh confides.
“The image of teachers trying to spell Vietnamese words would help students understand that learning foreign languages also means learning to respect the culture of the countries,” she continues.
“If the teachers successfully spell and remember the difficult Vietnamese names, they can persuade the students to learn foreign languages, which is not easy, but very interesting,” she maintains.
Thuc Quyen, a parent, who has spent many years in the US, also says that all of her foreign friends at the university could pronounce her Vietnamese name, even though it is really difficult even for Vietnamese people.
“No one has tried to give me a foreign name so that they can remember it more easily,” she says.
According to Quyen, the name of every person is the most attractive sound for him or her, and disclaiming a name means rejecting the person and refusing his or her culture.
At the mathematics conference held in India in 2010, where Vietnamese Professor Ngo Bao Chau received the Field Medal, at first, the name of the professor appeared on the conference’s website as “ Ngo Bao Chau”. However, just after 15 minutes, the name was changed into Ngô Bao Châu as it is written in Vietnamese.
Though one mistake still existed, the effort to write the professor’s name in Vietnamese and the introduction of the two nationalities of the professor (Vietnamese and French) shows the respect to the land where the professor was born.
Nguyen Ho Thuy Anh, a senior official of the HCM City Education and Training Department, also thinks that it would be better not to give one more name in English.
“The English teachers come from different countries, but Vietnamese students still can remember their names, why don’t the teachers remember the Vietnamese names, then?” she wonders.