Nov 16, 2021 / 18:34

Vietnamese popular song about teachers has its English version

The song of “Bui phan” or “Chalkdust” has its English lyrics thanks to the project Bilingual Songs for Kids (Vietnam -United States) who released the English version as a gift to teachers on the occasion of the Vietnamese Teachers’ Day (November 20).

The project Bilingual Songs for Kids has just released a remix of the song “Chalkdust” in Vietnamese and English on online platforms.

The song, which was composed by Le Van Loc with lyrics by Vu Hoang, has been very familiar to many generations of Vietnamese children since it came out in 1982.

According to the representative of the Bilingual Songs for Kids project, through the music video “Chalk Dust”, the authors want to remind parents and students about the imprint that the teachers leave in each person’s life.

The poster of the “Chalkdust” song is provided by the Bilingual Songs for Kids project

According to Hong Dinh, for translating this English version, the members of the group had to spend a lot of effort and time. The “Chalkdust” is tweaked in a more contemporary way by reworking the instrumental track with the acoustic guitar tonewoods and sung by singer Nguyet Ca. The English lyrics are written by two members of the “Bilingual Songs for Kids” project, Vu Chung in Vietnam and Dinh Thu Hong in the US, who are English teachers.

“We have to exchange and discuss with each other about every detail to make the English lyrics of ‘Chalkdust’ song the closest to the original Vietnamese lyrics, but it must still be smooth and moving when sung out loud,” she told The Hanoi Times.

CHALK DUST

When my teacher writes on the board.
Chalkdust flying on the blackboard.
Dust also falls onto his hair.
I love this moment.
His hair looks grayer and grayer,
Colored by chalk dust while giving me knowledge.
When I am grown up
How can I ever forget?
You were my teacher when I was little.

The image of a blackboard and white chalk epitomizes education. However, they are no longer used in modern classrooms but are being replaced by whiteboards and black markers to improve legibility. But they still stand for knowledge transmission.

The images are also symbolic, showing the patience of the teachers. Therefore, when translating and editing, Hong Dinh chose the word “blackboard” instead of  “podium” as in the original Vietnamese.

The image of the white dust of chalk on the teacher’s hair is also beautiful and meaningful. Vietnamese people usually say “white hair” when pointing to the old age and hardness of people in work and life. In the English language, however, the expression is “gray hair”.

“Thus, it requires the sophistication and understanding of these languages of the writers.” Hong Dinh said.

“With this song, Hong Dinh and the members of the Bilingual Songs for Kids project would like to dedicate to all teachers and people working in the field of education a tribute on the occasion of Vietnam Teachers’ Day” she added.

The Chalk Dust is the ninth song translated and released by the project.

Since 2018, the group has successfully written English lyrics for the songs Cho con (For You, My Child) with music by Pham Trong Cau and lyric by Tuan Dung; Canh en tuoi tho  (Swallows for Children) by Pham Tuyen; Chi co mot tren doi (Mom, You’re the Only One to Me) by Truong Quang Luc; Trai dat nay la cua chung minh (This is Our Lovely Earth) by Truong Quang Luc & Dinh Hai, among others.

The songs, after having been performed at some schools, education seminars, and posted on social networks, have received positive responses from children and parents.

The “Chalkdust” 
Singer: Nguyet Ca