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Is it important to learn Vietnamese as ESL/EFL teacher in Vietnam

This is a question that comes from one of my YouTube viewers and I am pretty sure many of the prospective teachers were thinking about.

The question is:
Is it important to learn Vietnamese language as English teacher in Vietnam ? where can someone take Vietnamese language course in Vietnam and how long will it take to learn the language?

This is a matter that many may argue on. I will say it is important but not from the teaching point of view.

Teaching ESL procedure doesn’t require the use of the local language and more than that it doesn’t recommend it at all. An ESL teacher is supposed to use only English in the classroom and many Vietnamese language centers ban the use of Vietnamese language during the English language lesson.

So, for teaching purposes, it is not important to learn Vietnamese as ESL teacher in Vietnam.

Personally, sometimes I do use Vietnamese in classroom, for translation purposes when explanation of a vocabulary item is too difficult for the level of the learners or simply for the sake of the entertainment.

However, there is the other side. You don’t only teach English in Vietnam, you also live in Vietnam. So, from this point of view I will say that it is important to learn Vietnamese as ESL teacher in Vietnam.

I wouldn’t go into too many details here but in my opinion the greatest advantage of speaking Vietnamese as ESL teacher in Vietnam is the ability to communicate and make friend with local Vietnamese which is extremely important.

I survived many years in Vietnam without speaking Vietnamese language and I have a perfectly normal life. I have many Vietnamese friends who are able to speak English and we can communicate perfectly well. But, being able to speak Vietnamese language, can and would drastically change your experience in Vietnam.

If you want to learn Vietnamese then you have a couple of options. The first option, which I think is the most convenient, is to find a Vietnamese person who wants to teach you Vietnamese and in exchange you teach him/her English. It shouldn’t be very hard to find this person.

The second option is to find a school that offers a Vietnamese language course. There is a course offered by the University of Social Science and Humanities, it costs somewhere around five millon Vietnamese Dong (VND) per month and it is quite intensive (you have to go to school every day).

How long it takes to learn and speak Vietnamese depends on each individual’s ability of learning a foreign language. In my case, after three months of learning and practicing Vietnamese with my wife, I was able to speak basic Vietnamese with my friends and neighbors. You need to learn vocabulary, as much vocabulary words as you can.


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