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Photo Credit: Christian Lentz


Vietnamese is not just the national language of Vietnam, with more than 90 million speakers worldwide; it is also the 6th most spoken language in North Carolina homes. Now, Carolina students will once again have the opportunity to earn UNC credit studying Vietnamese, through a pilot project providing synchronous, online instruction through SOAS, University of London.


With generous support from the Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Chief Global Officer Barbara Stephenson, the Carolina Asia Center and the UNC Study Abroad Office have partnered with the UK’s leading institution for the study of African and Asian languages, allowing students to enroll in beginning Vietnamese through real-time, virtual teaching. Through these courses, students will learn the Vietnamese writing and pronunciation systems, read and write basic texts, and engage in conversation on everyday topics. Students will earn 3 hours of UNC credit at no additional cost; the enrollments are made possible with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs and the Chancellor’s Global Education Fund.


SOAS is a great partner for this pilot because of its long and respected history offering less-commonly-taught languages. With instruction in more than 40 languages and leading experts on the linguistics, cultures, politics, and societies of Africa and Asia, SOAS is a highly ranked university in the United Kingdom. The SOAS teaching staff are acclaimed for their pedagogy, and these language courses are designed for English speakers with no prior experience with the Vietnamese language. In Fall 2020, the pilot will support twelve selected students to enroll in Vietnamese Language 1A, and those students will have the opportunity to continue into Vietnamese Language 1B in Spring 2021.


Building on a deeper legacy of teaching on Southeast Asia and responding to recent student calls for more content on the region, UNC is eager to expand its offerings on Southeast Asia again. This pilot program, if successful, aims to demonstrate the viability of Southeast Asian language instruction at UNC-Chapel Hill, providing Carolina students with broader international horizons for their future and reflecting concretely the diversity of North Carolina. By studying Vietnamese, students will gain insights into the rich culture of Vietnam, better understand geopolitics since 1945, and have unmediated access to the economy and society of the world’s 15th largest country by population and a fast-growing market.


Students looking to enroll in this course can find out more and start the application process through the Study Abroad Office. Questions can be directed to Dr. Kevin W. Fogg, associate director of the Carolina Asia Center, at

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