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It’s a no-brainer that English speakers (particularly Americans) typically flock to 1 of 2 foreign languages.
Spanish or French. After all, they are *arguably* the easiest languages for English speakers to acquire.
They’re offered in almost every High School, Middle School, and University. Plus native sub-populations are all around us.
But choosing to learn these latin-based languages doesn’t mean other languages aren’t just as important. We live in an increasingly global society, and immigrants have become staples in American communities.
It’s no secret that these foreigners often aren’t met with the nicest greeting when they themselves can’t proficiently speak English. One sub-population that is almost always ignored in cultural discussions and migration support groups are Vietnamese people.
With 77.0 million speakers, Vietnamese is by no means going anywhere but up. Theirs is a culture known for it’s noble yet humble values and their numbers in America have grown exponentially in recent years.
And if you live in one of these regions, all with significant Vietnamese populations, then learning the language might just be your smartest ‘power’ move ever.
- Los Angeles
- Orange County
- San Francisco Bay Area
- San Jose
- San Diego
- Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex
- San Antonio
- New York City
- Washington, D.C.
- New Orleans
- Baton Rouge
- Portland, Oregon
- Oklahoma City
Vietnamese make up the sixth-largest foreign-born group in the U.S.
And aside from the local aspect, Vietnam itself is a beautiful country. If you want to see sights that steal your breathe, Vietnam should be first on your list.
It may seem initially unconventional, but the country is thriving and expected to reach developed status by 2030.
The U.S. receives 80% more Vietnamese immigrants than any other country
If you can’t already tell, this article is geared towards American readers. Vietnamese may be less useful in other nations, but in the U.S., 8 out of 10 immigrants reside here.
The U.S. has the largest Vietnamese population out every single country other than Vietnam itself.
With more than 2,200,000 as of 2017, we overshadow the 3rd and 4th most countries by far.
Despite the fact that Cambodia is literally bordering Vietnam, the country only houses 600,000 Vietnamese residents. And as of June 2019, Japan holds the 4th-most at 371,755.
So when Vietnam engages in foreign business relations, the U.S. is one of its first stops. Just from exchange conversations I’ve personally had with natives, America is considered a beautiful, economically-promising country that Vietnamese are happy to come into contact with.
Many Vietnamese Americans are small business owners
Vietnamese Americans have proven themselves to be an upwardly-mobile group. Many have opened supermarkets, restaurants, bánh mì bakeries, beauty salons, barber shops and auto-repair businesses.
Vietnamese cuisine restaurants have even become frequent occurrences in the states. (You have got to try some phở!)
The population also accounts for 45 to 85 percent of the Gulf Coast’s shrimp business. And 43 percent of nail technicians nation-wide are of Vietnamese descent.
With so many from this community exhibiting entrepreneurial spirits, you’d limit the full potential of services you could receive through broken communication.
Plus if you’re looking to expand your own business connections, then Vietnamese Americans may offer the perfect opportunities for amenity agreements, employee benefits, or recreational packages.
51% of Vietnamese in the U.S. reported as being English proficient (2017)
For the 1 out of every 2 Vietnamese residents that don’t speak English (well), daily life may seem a bit…. exclusive.
They’re only able to communicate with Vietnamese counterparts, which can really limit their social realm. Just in attending recreational locations, shopping, and eating out, they’re constantly met with language barriers.
Meaning that if you, as an employee or business owner can’t at least communicate with them on a basic level, they’ll keep their eyes open for companies that can.
Because no matter how active we may be in foreign business relations, there’s just nothing quite like speaking our native tongue.
And it’s not fair as Americans, for us to expect them to constantly give up such a big piece of their identitiy.
If they’re willing to at least try and learn some English, then we should be attempting to meet them half-way. Efforts like these on an individual level will make a big impact on way this population views you.
Vietnamese Americans send American goods and money back to relatives
Although, there’s much more to learning a language than the business side of it– I can’t ignore the fact that an increased ability to market to different customers almost always leads to more sales.
If you’ve ever tried to sell something of your own, then chances are you’ve missed out on advertising to this sizable group of people.
Any and all language barriers are also marketing barriers. And even if Vietnamese Americans wouldn’t have initially gone with your product, if you share information in the language of their hearts, then they just may be more likely to choose what you’re offering over something strictly advertised in English.
Many Vietnamese residents regularly send remittances back to loved ones in Vietnam. This allows them to maintain close ties with family members while working towards economic prosperity.
In 2013 alone, remittances sent to Vietnam via formal channels totaled $11 billion.
So it seems like this population is more than willing to buy items that resonate with them, all you have to do is make sure that those items are yours.
Vietnam is in need of fluent English teachers
Believe it or not, all students are required to study English in Vietnam. The subject is mandatory for students as young as 9 years.
So Vietnamese youth are taught from early on that English goes hand-in-hand with economic success. As one of my digital language exchange partners put it– it’s the universal language.
And I’ve spoken with multiple students who they themselves have stated that their main motivation for learning English is to make a lot of money.
But what does this have to do with you?
If the entire younger Vietnamese population is learning English, and English speakers learning Vietnamese are nearly nonexistent, then the country is seriously lacking in native speakers to fuel their education system.
While they rely mainly on Vietnamese adults fluent in English, they’re more than happy to have a native speaker provide some “mother tongue” insights.
TEFL jobs are quite popular all around the world but Vietnam is hard to beat with it’s high TEFL salary and low cost of living.
But teaching English can take many forms. According to I-to-I, there are 3 different traditional routes that certified teachers take:
- Find a year-long salaried contract with a large Vietnamese language school.
- Work for yourself and teach private lessons at an hourly rate.
- Take a fully supported short-term TEFL training program, like the Vietnam Internship.
So no matter how you look at it, you could be turning your language skills into serious cash in no time.
It’s 1 of only a few Asian languages that use the Latin alphabet
I don’t know about you, but personally Asian languages have always come across as more….intimidating than other language families. The logographic writing present in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean has always thrown me off.
And then with Khmer’s 74-letter alphabet, Thai’s 32 vowel forms, Laos’ combined letters, and Arabic’s cursive script, most other languages are also quite hard for native English speakers to pick up.
Learning a whole new writing system can take a lot of time which no one who just wants to speak a foreign language as fast as possible wants to deal with.
Latin characters are familiar. We already know most of their sounds and writing comes naturally.
So yes, even though the Vietnamese alphabet contains 29 letters (adding đ, ă, â, ô, ,ư, ơ, ê and subtracting f, j, w and z), and 6 different diacritics (tones) at least you won’t have to learn but so many new sounds.
I find its Latin alphabet to be quite motivating in itself, as it allows me to quickly learn how words are pronounced just from seeing them written.
That’s right, Vietnamese is a very phonetic language— just like Spanish! Once you learn the sounds the letters make, you’ll the pronunciation of every single word you encounter.
The biggest pronunciation confusions I’ve had come from the fact that d sounds like “z” and g sounds like “y” or “z” (depending on the dialect).
But if you just go ahead and learn the alphabet from day 1, you’ll be smooth-sailing to fluency.
Traditional Vietnamese culture revolves around the core values of humanity, community, harmony, and family
Personally, I love Vietnamese culture. The people are so kind and humble; which can be a breathe of fresh air in cut-throat corporate America.
They’re raised to care about one another and live harmoniously with those around them. So they don’t go out looking to start trouble and they find actual contentment in working hard toward a common goal.
Now, this may not be that different from western culture, but we definitely aren’t raised to stress familial ties as much as they are. I find it quite endearing that American residents continue to stay true to their identity and loyal to their relatives in Vietnam.
Even after years in America, many prefer to live in Vietnamese diasporas and only assimilate to the point that ensures economic stability.
Move of them love the U.S. though and are super excited to meet English speakers learning their mother tongue.
As Cultural Atlas puts it, their core values include:
- Filial piety
And their spirit today can best be describe as independent, opportunistic and resilient. Honorable traits if you ask me.
Tourism attractions include lizard fishing, elephant rides, & forbidden palaces
While this one doesn’t focus on a long-term reason for learning the language, you can at least be assured that the nation has tons of exotic attractions if you do ever decide to visit.
I feel like a pretty uniting goal among all aspiring multi-linguists is to eventually visit the country of the language that they’re learning.
And while some other foreign language learners may have to worry about whether or not that time will actually be spent enjoying oneself, Vietnam is known for its thriving tourism industry.
Particularly in cities like Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, and Hue, you’ll find sights like nowhere else in the world. And experiences like nowhere else in the world.
I mean lizard fishing just sounds exciting by the name. Elephant riding is a rare commodity no matter where you travel. And there’s nothing like a forbidden palace to allure your inner royalty.
Hue has a whole forbidden “purple” city to visit, which only costs $7 to explore.
And just by searching up things to do in Vietnam, you’ll receive an array of attractions like islands, beach resorts, tunnels, lakes, and bridges.
The country’s landscape is naturally beautiful, and it’s crime rate is low; an obstacle that typically faces American tourists in other developing countries.
After just online browsing through some of the gorgeous natural wonders in the country, you’ll be dying to brush up your Vietnamese and catch a flight.
You’ll be able to connect with a whole new community!
Isn’t this the real reason behind learning any foreign language? The goal is to communicate with more people. To open up doors to experiences you’d previously been excluded from.
Most aspiring multi-linguists just get a rush in finally reaching the ability to hold a basic conversation in another language. So just imagine fluently speaking another language.
Chances are, up to this point in your life, your interactions with Vietnamese Americans have been very slim. They’re there but can be easy to overlook in favor of English speaking counterparts.
By learning Vietnamese, you unlock the ability to gain inner knowledge into their customs, stories, and traditional entertainment.
You may even find yourself adopting some of their habits and values. And think of how proud you’ll be years later that you chose to learn a language even though it wasn’t as popular as others.
That you didn’t allow “English privilege” to restrict your insights into the world around you. Think of all the friends and life-long connections that are just 1 language barrier away.
If you’re still wondering “why Vietnamese?” then ask yourself “why not Vietnamese?”
You lose absolutely nothing by learning the language. As a matter of fact, you’ll even elevate your job application appeal when prospective employers realize you speak a language that isn’t as popularly learned.
But at the end of the day, all languages open the doors to amazing things, so regardless of what language you end up learning, learn it with all your heart.
So what now?
Learn the language. There are tons of high quality Vietnamese learning resources offered online.
The main resource I’ve found that offers both free and paid options is LanguagePod101, also known as Innovative Learning. The site offers extensive teaching content libraries in typically excluded languages, including Vietnamese, Thai, and Urdu. As well as 31 other languages.
This platform offers a more well-rounded and enjoyable learning experience than Duolingo, by allowing you to focus on topics that actually interest you.
And for a limited-time, with the code HALFPRICE, you can get all their premium plans for 50% off, inluding a 24-month plan for just $2/month. And all new users are also eligible for an exclusive 1-month premium trial for just $1.
If you’re interested in learning how to simplify the language acquisition process through fun, unconventional, budget-friendly methods, then make sure you sign up for your free copy of Everything to know about the “Naturally Simple” approach to language acquisition.
You’ll instantly receive the article’s password, along with a well-rounded understanding of what a “natural approach to language learning” even looks like.
And for a limited time, you’ll also score a 4-week self quarantine (rapid) language learning checklist. A plan that’ll put you in the fast lane to fluency.
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As always, thanks so much for reading and I’ll see in the next one!