Raising the Status of Sign Language

Quiet Classrooms Full of Learning and Interaction

In a class in Vietnam run with the support of the Nippon Foundation, students communicate animatedly in sign language. The class, which uses sign language—the native language of the deaf people —as the medium for instruction and communication, is playing an important role in enabling deaf students to reach their full academic potential and gain the confidence they will need after graduation to work and become full-fledged members of the society.


During class, the students ask many questions, openly express their opinion about a topic, and are serious and focused on their studies. During breaks, they relax and smiles abound. The classrooms may be quiet, but the students—joking around or discussing a topic—are not. Schooling in the native language of the students has brought them new opportunities to learn as well as to smile and enjoy life.

Photo of a classroom with students in the sign language project at Dong Nai UniversityThe class is part of a project funded by the Nippon Foundation to open university education to deaf people through sign language analysis, teaching, and interpretation. The project got underway in 2000 in Dong Nai, a province of Vietnam an hour’s drive northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Since the project’s inception, the students enrolled in the program have achieved higher average scores than hearing students in Dong Nai Province on a nationwide test for junior high school and high school graduates, and some of the graduates gained admission to a university. These achievements are a testament to the capabilities of the students and the importance to deaf people of being educated in their own native language. Hopes are high that through their activities and work after graduation, the students will help people around Vietnam appreciate that sign language is a bona fide language.

*For more information on the sign language school in Vietnam, click on the link below.
>STORY Sign Language School Changes the Lives of Vietnamese Deaf Students

Photo of a group of students enrolled in the sign language education project for the deaf.