For foreigners who want to live and work in Vietnam, the biggest obstacle is the language barrier. In fact, Vietnamese pronunciation and grammar are very diverse and complex, so foreigners who learn Vietnamese would face many difficulties and awkwardness when communicating. So how is Vietnamese in the eyes of foreigners?

I. When foreigners are learning Vietnamese, we thought it would be not that difficult but it turns out to be unbelievable difficult!

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, they said; it will be amazing and convenient for you in daily life if you can understand the culture and habits of the local people. And understanding the language is the first step to help you successfully enter a foreign country.

Currently, Vietnam is integrating with the global market. Foreign enterprises have been boosting capital investment in Vietnam, resulting in an increasing proportion of foreigners coming to Vietnam to work. Therefore, the demand for foreigners to learn Vietnamese to communicate confidently and conveniently has also increased rapidly.

There is a saying in Vietnam: “The hardships of struggling with a violent storm don’t compare to the hardships of mastering Vietnamese grammar”. So, what problems do foreigners encounter when learning Vietnamese?

1.1 Vietnamese is not commonly used – Learn Vietnamese

Vietnamese language is only used with the Vietnamese community, not popular in the world, so many foreigners before coming to Vietnam have absolutely no access to the language so they do not know where to start learning , how to learn.

1.2 Problems with tones 

Compared to other tonal languages, Vietnamese is the language with the most tones. The nature of Vietnamese consists of 6 tones: horizontal, sharp, deep, asking, tumbling, heavy. The tone will make the meaning of a word change. Because of the complicated tones, listening, and using the correct word is not easy.

A foreigner shared his funny story when speaking Vietnamese: “When I first learned Vietnamese, I didn’t want to try Vietnamese bread, I told the lady: “Tôi muốn mua bánh Mỹ” (which means “I want to buy American bread”) then she laughed and said, “We don’t have bánh Mỹ (American bread), only have bánh mỳ (bread)” … until then I discovered that I use the wrong mark. “

vietnamese tones - learn vietnamese


1.3 Difficulty in word order and punctuation

In Vietnamese,  a change in the position of words or punctuation can make the meaning of the sentence completely different. For example, someone asked you to arrange 5 words “nó, bảo, sao, không, đến” into a meaningful sentence, it sounds simple but actually makes Vietnamese learners so confusing. With only 5 simple words that can be combined into different sentences: 

“Bảo sao nó không đến!”(No wonder why he/she didn’t come), 

“Nó đến, sao không bảo?”(Why don’t you tell me that she/he comes?), “Sao không đến bảo nó?”(Why don’t you come and tell him/her?),…

1.4 Troubles with pronouns

In verbal communication, the personal pronoun is the first element that language users need to choose to establish a relationship between themselves and others. Inappropriate pronouns will promote positive communication. On the contrary, inappropriate pronouns will be judged as rude and impolite. Pronouns in Vietnamese is difficult because it depends on the social position, age, gender of the person to choose the right pronoun. 

In English communication, you simply use “I” and “you”. Meanwhile, Vietnamese people have a lot of pronouns: ông, bà, cô, bác, chú, dì, cha, mẹ, anh, chị, em, etc., so when speaking Vietnamese, foreigners often get confused. Therefore, there are many funny stories when foreigners learning Vietnamese eagerly practice immediately “Cháu chào chị”“Em chào chú”

See more: Vietnamese personal pronouns

II. Advantages when learning Vietnamese in comparison with other languages

In addition to the above difficulties, learning Vietnamese also has advantages in comparison with other languages, not too difficult as many people imagine.

2.1. Vietnamese is a monosyllabic language – Learning vietnamese for foreigner

Different from English, Vietnamese is a monosyllabic language, each word in this language has only 1 rhythm so it is easier to memorize and speak. 

Example: The word “Happy” in English has up to 2 rhythms. But in Vietnamese, all the words only have 1 rhythm. (Có, Cá, Cà, Cả, Bà,….)

Besides, words can also be put together easily in order to create a new word:

Xe + Máy => Xe máy/Motorbike

Xe + Ô tô =? Xe ô tô/Car

Xe + Đạp => Xe đạp/Bike

Advantages when learn Vietnamese

2.2. Vietnamese grammar is fairly simple – Learn Vietnamese 

English grammar is structured by tenses, sentences are made by different rules, but Vietnamese is not the same. Vietnamese grammar is quite simple, mainly when speaking Vietnamese, you just need to put words together. 

  • Vietnamese does not have masculine nor feminine:

French, German and many other languages often divide subjects, verbs by gender, but Vietnamese does not. There will be no masculine or feminine concepts for vocabulary, you just need to memorize each word without having to learn by heart anything else. 

  • Vietnamese does not have article “a” “an” “the”

English has 3 articles “a” “an” “the” with complicated rules that not everyone can remember and uses 100% correctly. However, Vietnamese in fact has no articles, you can speak Vietnamese naturally without having to memorize any rules. 

  • Vietnamese does not have a plural

In English, when you want to say something in the plural form, you must add “s” or “es” but Vietnamese does not. 

Example: “House” in plural would be “Houses”. But in Vietnamese, “Ngôi nhà” in plural also would be “Ngôi nhà” 

  • Vietnamese does not have tenses or different types of verbs. 

Example: If in English, the word “speak” has many different types of verbs such as “Speaks”, “Spoken”, “Speaking”, “Spoke”, in Vietnamese, the word “Nói” always be “Nói” in all situations. 

From the examples above, you can see that learning to speak Vietnamese is not as difficult as many people think.

III. Why should foreigners learn Vietnamese?

More and more foreigners are studying, working and living in Vietnam. However, the language barrier makes them face many inconveniences in work and daily life. 

Learning Vietnamese will help foreigners get more job opportunities, take initiative in daily activities and better integrate into life in Vietnam.

why should foreigners learn vietnamese
Why Should foreigners learn Vietnamese

3.1. Career advantages of people who know Vietnamese

Most foreigners working in Vietnam are often unable to communicate in Vietnamese. However, if you speak Vietnamese, you will undoubtedly be appreciated and prioritized in your work. 

Imagine, when candidates have the same experience and qualifications, the employer will consider other factors, in this case usually the local language. Therefore, knowing Vietnamese will be an advantage to help you find a better job.

If you are a manager, understanding and speaking Vietnamese will help you understand and connect with your employees, colleagues, and partners.

3.2. Learn Vietnamese to be more self-sufficient

Not all Vietnamese speak English, and living in Vietnam without knowing the language would be extremely inconvenient. Many foreigners who do not speak Vietnamese must always rely on and seek assistance from others to shopping or even understand basic information. 

Learning Vietnamese will make it easier to communicate with native speakers and become more involved in your daily life. You can buy, travel, and learn about Vietnamese culture without relying on others.

See more: How to learn vietnamese for beginners

IV. Where do foreigners learn Vietnamese?

Currently, there are many centers and individuals opening Vietnamese classes for foreigners. However, the quantity and information are too much, accompanied by “promising” words about the quality of teaching. You need to be alert enough to select a reputable Vietnamese language center to avoid “spending money and only get worse”.

That’s why the variety of Vietnamese always makes foreigners have a headache. However, the more difficult the more people like to conquer, right?

As one of the leading and highly appreciated units for training quality, Jellyfish Vietnam has had the opportunity to teach Vietnamese and introduce culture to many foreigners living and working in Vietnam.

Vietnamese langguage teaching center – Learning Vietnamese for foreigner

The courses at the center are designed to suit the needs of students from elementary to advanced levels, from normal to express class with flexible time.

With the experience gained over the years, we understand that each individual and business has its own goals when learning Vietnamese. Therefore, we always thoroughly study the specific characteristics of our partners’ work and business lines to design an effective and appropriate training program as well as be highly applicable in their work and daily life.

let’s check out the high quality courses at Jellyfish:

For more information about the Vietnamese Language Program for foreigners, please contact us at the following information:

Jellyfish Education Vietnam – Hotline: 0961.275.006