100% TAKE THIS CLASS. IF YOU ARE VIETNAMESE, 110% TAKE THIS CLASS.
This was Professor Phan's first year teaching at CU, and this was the first year this class was offered as a global core. Phan is incredibly nice, funny, and approachable.
The lecture: when I was in class, I honestly felt like he was telling me a story about the history of Vietnamese civilization and not just teaching to me. His lectures are incredibly informative and useful. Phan is really an expert in this field (his specialty is linguistics) and it was a pleasure to learn from him.
Weekly discussion submission: disclaimer...I did not do most of the readings. I did not find it completely necessary to do ALL of the readings to do the weekly discussion submission. You just had to read enough to answer the prompt he gave you. These are graded on completeness.
Midterm: objective and fact-based midterm. Photo identification, term identification, etc. Easy if you go to class and take good notes.
2 papers: fair if you go to his OH for his advice. The first paper was short and the second paper was 7 pages max, so doable.
I know most people complained about this class because they did ALL of the readings he assigned (I did not), but I did not find it necessary. You can do well without doing all the readings. In the 2 papers, you will have to rely heavily on the primary readings and cite them, but again if you know what your topic is you can just hone in on what readings you DO need to read completely.
Recitation is USELESS (Shih-han, the TA, was a very nice person but not particularly helpful), but mandatory so just go anyways.
DEFINITELY TAKE THIS CLASS. Phan is the best teacher I've had at Columbia thus far. I am a CS major and Vietnamese, and after taking this class I am actually considering concentrating in East Asian studies. I took this class to fulfill a global core requirement. I will take any class this guy teaches just because I love him so much. If you are Vietnamese like me, you will especially have a lot to gain from this class.
TLDR: 10/10 recommend. Easy. Nice professor.