| Teacher Huynh Son Ca uses cai luong (reformed opera) singing to help students better understand literature (Photo: VOV)
Huynh Son Ca is singing a piece of an old song written by Tran Ngoc Thach to help students better understand the Tale of Kieu, an epic poem in Vietnamese written by Nguyen Du and widely regarded as the most significant work in Vietnamese literature. This is the first time the 31-year-old teacher has experimented with singing cai luong in her class, which surprisingly turned out to be a success. The students note down key points from what the teacher sings and easily answer her questions about the dramatic jealousy scene of Hoan Thu in the Tale of Kieu.
Many students in other classes show their interest in Son Ca’s teaching method. Lam Hue Nhu, one of the students, said: "Ms. Ca sings what we learn in class, which helps us better understand the characters in the literature, keeps us more focused and makes the subject more enjoyable and easy to learn."
The video clip, after being posted online, received a plethora of comments and shares. Son Ca’s father is a dan tranh or plucked zither instrumentalist. At an early age, Ca often listened to cải lương and vọng cổ — a Vietnamese song and musical structure used in cải lương and soon fell in love with the genres. The teacher first brought cai luong into Vietnamese folk verses and proverb and later other forms of literature. Ca, who has 7 years of experience teaching by singing, told VOV: "I started singing my lessons after 3 – 4 years of teaching. I began with short pieces like folk verses and proverbs but when teaching the Tale of Kieu, I tried with the whole cai luong verse."
| Students find literature easier to understand thanks to Ms. Ca's unique teaching method (Photo: VOV)
Ms. Ca’s use of cai luong in teaching literature triggers students’ joy in learning. The students often do research on upcoming lessons and like to tell the class what they have learned. Besides music, Ca also uses art in her teaching. She sometimes tells her students to draw the lesson and present what they understand. Ms. Ca’s class is always full of laughter and excitement.
Phan Van Lil, Vice Principal of Vo Thi Hong secondary school said the school administrators strongly encourage creative teaching methods to help students better perceive the lesson without any pressure. Mr. Lil said: "Each teacher applies his/her unique method, but Ms. Ca’s use of cai luong is the first that bring such positive results. The students have shown their interest in learning literature and Ms. Ca keeps exploring new ways to help them better study."
Ms. Ca’s use of cai luong to convey literary knowledge is creative and suits the current policy of reforming education and training, according to the Ca Mau Department of Education and Training.