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Despite Vietnam witnessing rapid economic development with tonnes of foreign investment flowing into the country, English levels in the country remain stagnant.
Antiquity teaching methods coupled with a lack of resources have left many teachers unable to help their students reach the levels of English proficiency that they so desire.
This leaves many foreigners that come to Vietnam wanting to date the local women in a rut.
Without knowing any Vietnamese, communication with a Vietnamese girl things seems to be hopeless.
One of the most common questions that foreigners have is “do I need to speak Vietnamese to date Vietnamese girls?”.
The short answer is no, but you should and here’s why:
Girls That Speak English
I wasn’t able to find official statistics on what percentage of the population speaks English, but based on my experience the average Vietnamese girl that you meet on the street cannot speak anything more than basic English.
Now when I say basic, I mean really basic like:
“Hi, How are you?”
“What is your name?”
“My name is Ngọc”
If I were to go meet 100 girls off the streets, maybe only 10 of those girls will be able to speak a decent amount of English where you can actually have a normal conversation with them.
And this is in the biggest city in all of Vietnam. Imagine what it would be like in a provincial city or even a town.
That number would probably be like 10/1000 girls.
As you can see, by not being able to converse with girls in Vietnamese, you have significantly limited yourself to the pool of women that you can date in Vietnam.
Let’s now look at the types of girls that you could potentially date here in Vietnam that speak at least a decent level of English.
Types of Girls With Decent English
- Pros: Not all pros can speak English, however the ones that work with foreign clientele more often than not can speak English at a decent level to get ideas across.
- Semi-Pros: Again, just like the pro they love to target foreign guys, especially naive foreigners and have multiple foreign boyfriends that don’t reside here in Vietnam.
- Visa Chasers: Your stereotypical green card chaser that dreams of leaving her home behind to start afresh in a new “rich” western country. In her mind, one of the easiest ways to do this is to marry a foreigner.
- Foreign Hunters: These girls just love to date foreign guys and shun the local guys. This could be due to previous bad experiences with the local men or the girl projecting her own insecurities out due to a lack of options with local guys. She could be considered ugly or overweight, or whatnot by local men, thus rendering her inability to get with a local guy. You often see the same thing with self-hating westernized Asian girls that only date white guys exclusively. More often then not, the girl is nowhere near attractive by Asian standards and thus this is a way of her coping with it.
- University Students: This is your typical educated university student that has learned English for a while now, and probably has partaken in some sort of English language exchange or club. They usually can speak good enough English to have a conversation with but are quite self-conscious about it not being good enough. These girls are usually very shy when talking with a foreigner.
- Career Women: Usually girls that are in their late 20s and up. Some of them can speak near advanced levels of English. These girls are usually quite well educated and some even have masters or even PhDs. A lot of these girls have given up on dating with the local men as their age has worked against them and instead target foreign guys. Some of them may even have given up on dating completely and just focus on their careers.
Out of this lot, there are really only two types of Vietnamese girls that would make great girlfriends and wives and be considered “normal” girls by Vietnamese standards. This further reduces the number of girls that you can date unless of course you’re happy with dating pros, semi-pros, visa-chasers, etc.
Now let’s talk about why you should learn Vietnamese.
Why You Should Learn Vietnamese
When you take the effort and time to learn the local language, you are opening yourself up to numerous opportunities here in Vietnam.
Not only will you have access to a much larger pool of women, whom many are considered “normal”, but your overall experience will be greatly enriched and enhanced.
You can now talk with the locals and understand the local culture a lot more.
Locals will be less hesitant to try and rip you off.
In emergencies, you can now ask for help.
Getting your girlfriend’s family to accept you will be a lot easier when they know that you took the time to learn about their culture.
Lastly, let’s not forget the numerous job opportunities that will be available once you have mastered the language.
In fact, that’s how this guy Kyo York, made a name for himself. By simply being a foreigner and being able to speak Vietnamese, his music career took off here in Vietnam.
A lot of foreign men that I spoke with and actually took the time to learn the local language more often than not, fell in love with the country and wanted to either live here or return back.
Guys that didn’t try to learn Vietnamese and understand the local culture and instead thought they were a big shot because they were from a western country ended up hating the country and its people.
They become very cynical and negative and their energy can be felt by those around them.
Now let’s look at the types of girls that you can date when you can speak Vietnamese.
Types of Girls You Can Date When You Speak Vietnamese
When you have put in the effort and learned how to converse in Vietnamese, you can date the following types of girls.
- All of the previous girls mentioned above
- Retail workers: These are usually girls that are working either part-time or full-time. Most of them tend to be 25 and under and are going to university. You know that cutie that is serving you coffee every morning? Well, she falls under this category.
- University girls: Unlike the previous category of university girls, these ones speak little to no English at all. If you try to speak English with them, they will shy away from talking with you, but once you switch over to Vietnamese, they will open up to you.
- Girls working regular jobs: These girls are usually less educated than their career women counterparts. They usually work in an office setting or maybe even in the hospitality industry.
- Girls working in low-level jobs: Your hairstylist, girl that sells food on the streets, etc, falls under this category. Usually, these girls speak next to no English. Without knowing some Vietnamese, you can forget about targeting these girls. Often times these girls are from poorer regions in Vietnam and have come to the big city to make money.
So as you can see, there is a significant chunk of the pie that your missing out on by not at least putting some effort into learning Vietnamese. This was me on my first trip to Vietnam. I spoke practically no Vietnamese at all and lost a lot of opportunities with girls due to the language barrier.
Furthermore this large pool of women contain a much higher percentage of the girls considered “normal” by Vietnamese standards meaning they are much better for long term relationships and marriage.
Trust me, you don’t want to be married to a pro/semi-pro/bar girl working down at Bui Vien or Pasteur street.
When you hear a lot of foreign men complain about Vietnamese women and how they got scammed, the girls that they dated and married usually fell under these categories.
Learning Vietnamese Resources
Now that you know the importance of learning Vietnamese, let’s look at some Vietnamese resources that will help you learn Vietnamese easily.
Here is a list of resources that I compiled to assist you in learning Vietnamese.
This was the first Vietnamese book that I got my hands on and still use to this day from time to time. Unlike some of the other textbooks out there for learning Vietnamese, this book is easy to follow along.
They are a tonne of grammar rules as well that will help you form perfect sentences when speaking with people.
It’s designed for use as a self-study guide and teaches all four language components such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking. There’s also CD’s that you can get separately that will really help you master the pronunciation of words.
I highly recommend this book if you’re going to be staying in the southern parts of Vietnam.
This beginner’s book teaches the northern accent and is quite comprehensive. There’s even included audio files too to help with your listening and speaking comprehension. In addition to teaching Vietnamese, there are a lot of cultural notes spread throughout the book to teach you about the local culture.
Lonely Planet Vietnamese Phrasebook & Dictionary
This easy to use and portable Vietnamese phrasebook is the perfect travel companion when traveling to Vietnam. You will be able to quickly find key phrases and words to help you communicate with locals.
There’s more than plenty of useful vocabulary and phrases to help you navigate the waters of Vietnam. I bought a copy of this book on my first trip to Vietnam and it was invaluable for me.
Pimsleur Vietnamese Conversational Course – Level 1
If your more of an audio person then this program’s for you. There are 16 lessons that cover a range of topics. Each lesson is about 30 minutes long and includes a host of new vocabulary and sentence structures.
Take your Vietnamese listening skills to the next level with this awesome course from pimsleur. This pimsleur Vietnamese language course teaches the northern accent so if you plan on staying in Hanoi or someone up north, it should be your go to material for enhancing your listening and speaking skills.
Duolingo-I wouldn’t recommend duolingo. They give you a bunch of unrelated words and there isn’t really a straight forward plan of learning Vietnamese like learning pronouns, and then grammar, and finally vocabulary and sentences. Instead, your giving random words and everything just looks like a mess.
But hey, its free!
You may also want to consider joining some language exchange websites and seek a local Vietnamese language partner.
I found on these websites that usually someone from Vietnam will contact me shortly after joining, asking to become language exchange partners.
I did this in the past and it helped improve my Vietnamese tremendously.
Just make sure that you’re both on the same page otherwise, the language exchange will end up being one-sided, as it happened to me numerous times in the past.
North or Southern Accent?
This will largely depend on where you intend on making your home base. If you think that you’re going to spend the majority of your time staying up north, then it probably makes more sense to study the northern accent.
If on the other hand, you want to enjoy the warm weather and hospitality in the south all year round, then studying the southern accent would make more sense as you will be better able to understand people there.
For me, I personally prefer staying in Saigon therefore, it makes more sense for me to study the southern accent.
Another thing to consider is that the northern accent is considered the official standard accent in all of Vietnam due to the victory during the Vietnam war fought between the north and the south.
Schools are mandated to be teaching the northern accent to their students despite their being regional differences in the language.
One thing I should mention is that material for learning the southern accent is a lot more sparse compared to the material for learning the northern accent. With that being said, however, you can still find more than enough resources to learn the southern accent if you so wish to.
I would avoid learning the central accent, as it will be pretty much useless anywhere else in Vietnam besides the central region. In fact, people from the central regions have to relearn a different accent when moving to a different region.
Just make sure whatever resource that you are using for learning Vietnamese that you know exactly what accent is being taught, otherwise you may end up with a mixed accent and sound a bit off when speaking with people.
Is Learning Vietnamese Hard?
Vietnamese has six tones and uses the Latin script so if you already know how to use the alphabet, picking up Vietnamese should be a lot quicker for you.
The biggest hurdle you will encounter is the dreaded pronunciation as there are 6 tones that are employed in Vietnamese.
Often times by simply adjusting the way you pronounce a word, it will convey a completely different meaning.
Foreigners, myself included seem to struggle with the Vietnamese tones.
Grammar is pretty basic and follows a formula such as: Subject + Verb + Object
You won’t have too many difficulties with the grammar aspect of Vietnamese.
In my opinion, getting to a basic level of Vietnamese (somewhere with a vocabulary bank of 200-300 words) should not take you more than 3-4 months.
I think the difficulty level of learning Vietnamese has been overblown. With the exception of the tones and pronunciation, everything else is pretty straight forward.
If you take out 20-30 minutes each day and put it towards dedicated study of Vietnamese, within 6 months, you should be at least at an elementary level.
If you’re already here in Vietnam, you can even hire a private tutor for quite cheap.
Most honest and reasonable tutors charge between $8-12 USD / hour. The sketchier ones try to charge $20-25 USD / hour.
While having mastery of Vietnamese is not essential to dating Vietnamese girls, learning Vietnamese has many perks and benefits for you.
- Having a wider range and pool of women to date
- Better job opportunities in Vietnam
- Being able to communicate with locals and enrich yourself in the local culture
- Taking things further with your girlfriend becomes easier
- You’re more independent
- Will get to experience the real Vietnam and not the Vietnam that a lot of foreigners that live in a bubble here experience in D1 and D2
Things become a lot easier once you’re able to communicate with the people living here.
Guys that came to Vietnam in the past and complained about how awful everything was, more often than not never even attempted to learn the local language and culture.
Whereas, other guys that fell in love with the country and made it their second home, took the time and effort to learn Vietnamese.
Now the question is, which one of these guys do you want to be?
To learn more about Vietnamese dating culture, click here.
JacksonAugust 20, 2019 at 12:47 am
So did you date Vietnamese women and then ghost/break up with them?
adminAugust 20, 2019 at 1:55 am
It depends. For girls that I only saw less than a month and wasn’t feeling anything I would just ghost them. No point in wasting each other’s time if I don’t feel were compatible. Sometimes I would get a few that would confront me about it and I would just be straight up honest with them about breaking up. For girls that I saw longer and had mini LTR’s, those I would usually break up with.
Bs. LoveNovember 17, 2019 at 12:41 am
Amen! This is really a good, realistic, honest post. I for myself found learning Vietnamese excruciatingly hard for the first two years, but since then it’s all just been super rewarding. One advice for people wanting to learn is to avoid the aforementioned girls who speak English because they will never accept to speak Vietnamese with you as it threatens their special status as English speakers – to this day this kind of girls still pretend not to understand my Vietnamese when everybody else does.
It’s a long road, but it’s well worth the ride.
A quick note about the Northern accent being the default Vietnamese; it’s not because of the war, it’s just that Vietnam was up there for 3000 years up to about 300 years ago when they started invading the South and mixed with Chams and Khmers. But I think it’s much easier to learn Northern Vietnamese for a foreigner staying up there because here in Saigon it’s just a mix of every possible accent and combination of dictionaries. A work in progress….
adminNovember 18, 2019 at 1:06 am
The first steps are always the hardest. Once you understand the structure and grammar rules, and how the tones work, everything else is smooth sailing from here on out. I don’t bother dating any girls that refuse to speak Vietnamese in Vietnam. 10/10 times they have a princess syndrome and are a headache to deal with.