Vietnam is currently striving to introduce more child-centred approaches to pedagogy. From a western perspective, child-centred education requires teachers to perceive children as capable, active partners in learning and to develop deep understandings of their students, including the variety of ways in which they learn. This paper draws from a study involving interviews with 46 rural vietnamese children about their learning in, and outside of, school. The data provides important insights into cultural perceptions of ‘learning’, and of metacognitive understandings and engagement (‘. How do we learn?’). The paper explores the value of engaging children in thinking about how they learn, and the benefits of teachers scaffolding metacognitive engagement, in order to enhance children’s agency and their active participation in learning. 2012 .