Language Policies in Modern-day Vietnam: Changes, Challenges and Complexities
Vietnam has a population of approximately 87 million, consisting of 54 ethnic groups, among which the Kinh account for 87 per cent of the population, with the rest making up around 11 million people (13 per cent of the total population), who speak about 100 languages (Dinh 2010). Among the 11 million people, more than one million are of Chinese and Khmer descent (Kosonen 2004). Vietnamese, the language of the Kinh group, has been the common language among Vietnamese in the country, at least since 1945. Across all these communities it is estimated that over 100 languages are spoken (Lavoie 2011), although many of these languages did not have writing systems until recently. Ten ethnic languages are used by over one million speakers in each group; and it was regulated by national language policy that users of these languages are entitled to bilingual education. These groups include Tay, Nung, H’mong, Muong, Cham, Khmer and Jrai, among others (Bui 2003). These languages have been put to official use at cultural events as well as being used as media for broadcasts on television and radio news. The Vietnamese Constitution, of 1946 and 1992, stated that all minority groups have the right to maintain their mother tongues in their schooling as well as to use their languages to preserve their ethnic cultures and values.
KeywordsForeign Language Language Policy Minority Language National Language Bilingual Education
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