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Lesson Transcript

Giang: Hi, and welcome back to VietnamesePod101.com! I'm Giang.
Jason: And I'm Jason. This is the All About Series, lesson 8 Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Vietnamese Society!
Giang: In this lesson we are going to tell you more about life in Vietnam.
Jason: There are so many interesting aspects of Vietnamese society, it's hard to know where to begin!
Giang: Well, since the title of this lesson is "Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Vietnamese Society," I picked five topics.

Lesson focus

Jason: (laughs) Alright, what are they?
Giang: Major cities and city life, family life in Vietnam, Vietnamese work culture and economy, politics, and generational trends.
Jason: Great! We’ll start with major cities in Vietnam.
Giang: Ok. Let’s talk about the three largest and most developed cities in Vietnam - Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city and Hai Phong
Jason: We have learned that Hanoi is located in the north of Vietnam and is the capital city.
Giang: Yes, Hanoi is the country’s second largest city, in terms of both natural land and population.
Jason: Currently, the total population in Hanoi is nearly 7 million people. Hanoi is the economic, political, cultural and educational center of Vietnam, and the city has undergone strong and rapid urbanization and industrialization.
Giang: Hanoi has a history of 1000 years, and also preserved its traditional and historic beauty. The mix between the past and the present is amazing.
Jason: If Hanoi is a city with a long history then Ho Chi Minh city reflects a different picture.
Giang: Right. Located in the south of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh city is the country’s largest and most densely populated city.
Giang: It’s also the most economically developed city in Vietnam. Its annual GDP per capita was $2,800 in 2010, about 2.4 times higher than the national GDP per capita.
JasonYeah, the rapid growth makes it a modern and dynamic city and one of the top tourist destinations in Vietnam.
Giang: So we’ve given you an overview of Hanoi and HCM city, so now let’s talk about Hai Phong, the country’s third largest city.
Jason: Ok. Where is it located?
Giang: It’s around 100 kilometers northeast of Hanoi, and is the largest port city in northern Vietnam.
Jason: Oh, a port city? It must be important for the economy!
Giang: It is! With its favorable geographical location, Hai Phong has long been the biggest export-import center of northern Vietnam. And it’s famous for Vietnam’s biggest international trade fair center. By the way, it’s my hometown, too.
Jason: Oh, really? I thought you were from Hanoi.
Giang Well, I spent some time in Hanoi but I was born in Hai Phong.
Jason: I see. No wonder you sounded so proud when you talked about it!
Giang: Yeah. The cities we just mentioned are three out of five municipalities of Vietnam. The other two are Da Nang in central Vietnam and Can Tho in the downstream area of the Mekong Delta.
Giang: Ok, we’re going to continue now with the next topic – family life in Vietnam.
Jason: We’ve learned that Vietnam is a community-based and hierarchical society. Are all Vietnamese families extended families?
Giang: Vietnamese people used to live in multi-generational families. The father was the breadwinner and the head of the family. He also had the loudest voice about all aspects of life. But this has changed a lot now.
Jason: I see. So the family structure is mainly a nuclear family now, isn’t it?
Giang: True. And the man and woman are getting to be equal in building and managing their own family.
Jason: How about the family relationship, between the parents and children, for example?
Giang: Young people are becoming more independent from their families. But most of them are still obedient and highly influenced by their parents until they get married.
Jason: So that’s quite different from Western countries. Ok, why don’t we move on to Vietnamese economy and work culture?
Giang: Sure. What can you tell us about it, Jason?
Jason: Okay! The Vietnamese economy is a socialist-oriented market economy. The country’s 2011 GDP per capita only ranked 141st out of 183 countries, according to the IMF. But Vietnam is considered one of the 20 fastest growing economies in the world and the most attractive FDI destination in Southeast Asia.
Giang: Yes, and in terms of work culture, Vietnamese people are generally hardworking.
Jason: But they also have high self-esteem and like to feel they are being respected at work.
Giang: We are also fast learners and creative, but we really value our free time and dislike working overtime.
Jason: Being a workaholic is a common phenomenon in highly developed countries. In Vietnam, there is a word for workaholic, but Vietnamese people only use that word to talk about foreigners. I think that’s pretty interesting!
Giang: Okay, now let’s move onto politics.
Jason: All right. Vietnam is a socialist republic country based on a one-party system. Vietnam’s guiding principle is that the State of Vietnam is the State of Vietnamese people, by the people and for the people. It is led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, and the National Assembly is the executive power. This is in the constitution.
Jason: Who is the head of the state?
Giang: The President of Vietnam is the head of state. The President is elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term.
Jason: Vietnam also has a prime minister too, right?
Giang: Yes, the Prime Minister is also elected by the National Assembly, at the request of the President.
Jason: Who is more powerful?
Giang: The President. He’s the head of state and has the right to recommend the candidate for the Prime Minister’s position.
Jason: Ok, we’re getting to the last topic now...
Giang: …Generational trends.
Giang: As a result of closer integration into the global economy, Vietnam is becoming very responsive to technological advances. More and more people have access to the Internet, and Internet-based services have become increasingly popular, especially since 2010.
Jason: This is the sign that e-commerce is developing, I think.
Giang: You’re right. The increasing popularity of online social networks and the development of e-commerce and online services will be the main trends of Vietnamese society in the coming years.


Jason: Well, now we’ve covered 5 important aspects of Vietnamese society.
Giang: We hope you learned a lot and enjoyed this lesson.
Jason: Yes, and be sure to join us to learn more about Vietnam in the next lesson!
Giang: See you next time!
Jason: Bye for now.