52-year-old Choi Byung Joon from the Republic of Korea, who now lives and works in Hanoi, has been learning Vietnamese for 3 years after studying it for a year in Korea.
Choi said, “I think the most difficult thing about Vietnamese is the 6 different tones. They are very strange to Korean people. We find it difficult to up and down the tone when speaking in Vietnamese. There are some Korean people who don’t know how to make the tone, so few Vietnamese people understand what they are saying.”
Mr. Choi finds Vietnamese an interesting language, so he decided to continue studying with a native teacher when he came to Vietnam.
His Vietnamese has been improving steadily thanks to a good study method and lots of practice.
He said, “After I moved to Vietnam, I was taught by a teacher who can speak Korean. Then I realized that I spoke Korean more than Vietnamese when talking with her. Last year, I changed my teacher who can’t speak Korean, and my Vietnamese got better. She pronounces words very clearly and beautifully.”
37-year-old Kim Jin Soo from the Republic of Korea has the same difficulty pronouncing the 6 different tones.
He said, “When I first came to Vietnam, I tried to talk to some Vietnamese people, but they didn’t understand what I was saying, which made me feel ashamed. Recently people have begun to understand me, which makes me very happy.”
Jin Soo shared his method of learning Vietnamese: “In addition to learning Vienamese at a language center, I improve my Vietnamese skills by communicating with Vietnamese people, participating in cultural activities, watching Vietnamese movies, and listening to Vietnamese music.”
Nguyen Thu Hien is a student at the Academy of Journalism and Communication. She has been working as a Vietnamese teacher for 2 years. Most of her students are from Asian countries like China, Korea, and Japan.
Hien said, “It’s a real challenge for me to convey the beauty of the Vietnamese language and help the students use it in daily conversations. In particular, those countries that use pictographic language find it very difficult to write in Vietnamese and match the right tone to each word.”
Hien shared a way to solve her students’ problems: “Patience is my top priority when teaching my students. In each session, I’m always patient in making them learn from their mistakes, and correct every single mistake in their pronunciation. In that way I help them to the best of my ability.”
Learning Vietnamese helps foreigners communicate better when working in Vietnam and discover the beauty in this difficult language.