Most young people of Vietnamese origin born in Switzerland can speak their native tongue thanks to Vietnamese language courses at the Geneva-based Au Lac Viet School.

The school, established and run by the Friendship Bridge Association (FBA), provides Vietnamese language courses for both overseas Vietnamese and international friends, according to Radio the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) website.

It has a three-month course for both children and adults to attend twice a week.

Most of its students are Vietnamese, Swiss and French, who wish to study the basic grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation as well as learn about Vietnam’s history, culture and traditions, and how to sing Vietnamese folksongs or popular songs written by famous composer Trinh Cong Son.

FBA Chairman Hoang Van Khan, a Vietnamese expatriate who has been residing in Geneva for more than 30 years, said the first Vietnamese language course was held in 2005 with assistance from the Vietnamese Embassy in the headquarters of the Vietnamese Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

The Au Lac Viet School has also participated in organising various events for Vietnamese expatriates, such as the Mid-Autumn and traditional lunar New Year (Tet) festivals.

Mai Linh, 23, a Swiss-fathered student who has studied Vietnamese at the school since September 2012, can now speak Vietnamese rather fluently. “I have two lessons a week so that I can talk with my mom,” she confided.

She added that she is now preparing for a trip to Vietnam to study at a French-teaching school in Hanoi in April 2013.

Tran Ha Linh, a post-graduate of Geneva University, said she is teaching Vietnamese for six adults and they are all studying hard.

Huguette Micard, 64, who is studying at the Au Lac Viet School, said “I was born in Vietnam , and left the country when I was just seven. Even now I still wish to speak Vietnamese”.-VNA