The Vietnamese Program at ASU launched in the fall of 1991, is the only program devoted to Vietnamese language and culture at the university level in the state of Arizona. The program offers Vietnamese language courses in hybrid mode and independent study courses.  There are many large Vietnamese communities in the US and Vietnamese is the sixth most spoken language in the US. Unlike its neighbors such as Chinese, Thai, Cambodia, and Laos, Vietnam has a unique writing system using the Latin alphabet with diacritical and tone marks so learning Vietnamese is much easier than learning other Asian languages that use scripts.

Learning Vietnamese language and its diverse culture with 54 different ethnic groups, students will have the opportunities to explore and examine the economic and social development of Vietnam, one of Southeast Asia’s most culturally rich yet dynamic and rapidly changing countries.

Students of Vietnamese courses offered at ASU will learn a variety of topics including, but not limited to:

  • history and geography
  • folk literature (idioms, proverbs, folk tales, folk poetry)
  • pre-modern and modern literature
  • religion
  • customs and culture

Many students combine their study of Vietnamese with majors or minors in:

  • international politics and global studies
  • business and economics
  • education
  • pre-law and pre-med
  • engineering and computer science
  • history, philosophy, and religious studies

Emerging as the world's 13th-most-populous country and the eighth-most-populous Asian country, Vietnam has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The Vietnamese language is spoken by over 94 million people in Vietnam and about 3.5 million people around the world, including about 2.5 million people in the United States.  Therefore, students who are fluent in Vietnamese with cultural insights and communication ability increase their qualifications in the field of global business, military and diplomatic services, and non-governmental-organization humanitarian services.

 To learn more about our Vietnamese program at ASU, please contact our academic advisors!

Outreach Programs


Vietnamese Students Association at ASU The Vietnamese Student Association at Arizona State University is dedicated to providing opportunities for ASU students and students around the community to learn more about their culture, participate in community service and engage in activities that allows one to embrace the Vietnamese culture. It also provides networking opportunities for members to get to know one another and build long-lasting friendships while developing skills in leadership, cooperation and professionalism.

The SILC Attaches Club is a club that brings all languages and cultures from SILC together. People are able to learn about different cultures in a fun way when studying a language. Understanding different cultures is such an important attribute to have, and it is one you can obtain through SILC Attaches. This club creates community events, outreach projects, and plans fun get-togethers.  


The Vietnamese communities in Phoenix metropolitan area celebrate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (usually between late January and mid-February) and Mid-Autumn Festival (usually between late August and mid-September) with many events and festivals.


The ability to speak another language opens up more opportunities for scholarships and fellowships. Take a look at our SILC scholarships. ASU also offers an extensive database for you to search through and find the right ones to apply for. 

In the Study Abroad Office, Shira Burns ( oversees applications to programs. Study Abroad’s deadlines for applying for all programs are September 25th for the spring and February 15th for the fall. ASU financial aid is accepted for all programs on Study Abroad’s approved list.

Freeman-ASIA Award (Freeman Awards for Study in Asia) is designed to support U.S.-based undergraduates with demonstrated financial needs who are planning to study overseas in East or Southeast Asia. The program’s goal is to increase the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents with first-hand exposure to and understanding of Asia and its peoples and cultures.

Here is a list of a few scholarships specific for language:

More Vietnamese Resources

Following are links to websites that offer language activities, online lessons, and resources for learners of Vietnamese language.



Alumni Stories

John Eyres

John Eyres

Graduation year: 1999

Major: Justice Studies Ph.D. Program

What's your current job and what do you do there?

I'm the director of the Health Office for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Vietnam.  From our offices in Hanoi I manage a team of 20 Americans and Vietnamese professionals who work hand in hand with the Vietnamese government to address some of the most challenging health issues and to strengthen the health system.  As one of five US government agencies that comprise the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Vietnam, the USAID Health Office manages comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment programs.  We have imported anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to provide HIV treatment for more than 50,000 Vietnamese living with HIV and have supported the introduction of methadone to treat heroin addiction and prevent the spread of HIV.  The USAID Health Office also manages a strong Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program that works with the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats such as Avian Influenza.

How does language and culture help you succeed in your career?

My language skills were especially important in securing my first work experiences in Vietnam, first with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNICEF and then USAID.   When I joined the foreign service I was able to test out of Vietnamese language when many colleagues needed to spend six months at language school in Washington D.C.  Beyond that, Vietnam is a complex country with regional and cultural differences from the mountainous Northwestern provinces bordering China to Hanoi in the Red River Delta, Hue and the central provinces to Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta.  Speaking Vietnamese is a tremendous benefit when meeting with local leaders and understanding the particular needs of a province, city or village.  Being able to carry out a conversation with a provincial department of health colleague or commune health worker builds trust and it often allows me insights into situations not readily understood by foreign colleagues who need to rely on interpretation.

Did you study abroad? If so, can you speak about your experience?

After studying Vietnamese language with Co Le Pham Thuy-Kim for three years at ASU I received a scholarship to attend the Vietnamese Advanced Summer Institute (VASI) in Hanoi in the summer of 1998.  For a group of American college students the contrast between American and Vietnamese educational institutions was intense.  Used to chilled ASU classrooms, we spent our time studying in an old French colonial building on Pham Ngu Lao street that was formerly the Ecole Française d’Extreme-Orient.  The teachers were very dedicated and stressed not just the language, but the importance of history and culture to the development of the language.  I still remember one instructor, Mr. Khoi, explaining that the Vietnamese term for country (dat nuoc) was composed of "land" and "water" and the importance of the land and water to the Vietnamese.  And culture was equally important to our lessons, with incredible opportunities to learn about Hanoi, local food, Vietnamese opera, and to visit Vietnamese cultural heritage sites like Hue and Ha Long Bay.  Based on these experiences at ASU and in Hanoi I received a Fulbright fellowship to research my dissertation in Hanoi throughout 1998 and 1999.

How did ASU and the language program at SILC prepare you for your future?

I wouldn't say that studying Vietnamese prepared me for my future as much as it was one step in a series of decisions that dramatically shaped what I am doing today.  In 1994 I started my doctoral program at ASU with every intention of becoming a college professor.  Looking through the course catalog one day I saw that ASU offered Vietnamese language and I thought it would be interesting to audit a semester.  But the class was so interesting and Co Kim clearly cared about her teaching, so I continued for three years.  If I hadn't elected to try Vietnamese; if the course hadn't been interesting; if I hadn't been introduced to Hanoi through VASI, I wouldn't be in Hanoi managing the USAID Vietnam Health Office today.

What was your favorite thing about learning a language?

The reason that I studied Vietnamese at ASU for three years was because we had an interesting group of students and a dedicated professor who spared no effort to make sure the class was enjoyable as well as educational.  Lessons covered many aspects of Vietnamese society, culture, history and situations.  In my perspective the experiences Co Kim organized in the Vietnamese community were equally as instructive as those in the classroom.  From visits to Lee Lee Asian grocery store in Mesa to learn about cooking, to invitations to participate in local Tet festivals in the Vietnamese community, to the end of semester exams which Co Kim hosted in her home (followed by Vietnamese food) the cultural aspects were my favorite.