Learning a language takes some serious dedication. And that’s why you find yourself asking this question of “how long does it take to be fluent in Vietnamese?”.
In this post, I’ll tell you how long it will take you to learn Vietnamese according to the language experts and how you can shorten that process.
According to the US's Foreign Service Institute (FSI), for a native English speaker to be proficient in Vietnamese, it would take approximately 1,110 class hours.
This means that if you dedicate 1 hour every day, 7 days a week to learn Vietnamese, you will be proficient after 40 months (~3 years).
Many people have different opinions about this number. However, most of us are not aiming for being proficient but being fluent, or at least, being able to carry everyday conversations.
When I learn a new language, my aim is to be able to communicate in that language comfortably, mainly in speaking. As a beginner, I would also encourage you to focus more on spoken Vietnamese and always seek for natural phrases that natives use.
Having taught many people Vietnamese, I can see that most of my students can carry basic conversations after 4-6 months and may become fluent after 1 to 1.5 years of learning.
That’s like half the amount of hours estimated by the FSI!
Yes! You can definitely speed up your learning process by doing it smartly.
Here are 5 actions that you as a learner can take to shorten the amount of time to reach your learning goal:
Why do you need a learning goal?
Setting clear goals helps you stay focus and give you the means to overcome procrastination when learning doesn’t seem that “exciting” anymore.
However, many of us often skipped setting goals as we think we know it off the top of our head, simply “to become fluent in Vietnamese”.
But if you want to speed up your learning process by staying on track, and be able to stick with it till the end, that 1-phrase goal setting is just not enough.
If you attach yourself to the goal “to be fluent”, when it takes too long or seems too hard to achieve it, you would feel like a failure and eventually give up on learning.
Therefore, goal setting is more about process planning.
Focus on the process of how you can grow every day to eventually achieve your goal.
To help you define your goal and process, I’ve prepared a few questions for you. Simply prepare a piece of paper and answer the following:
Key Takeaways: Whenever you feel unmotivated, remember why you’re learning Vietnamese, how it would make you feel, what you’ll do with it, and the 3-5 things that you know if you do them every day, you will reach your goals.
What is the 80/20 principle?
If you have not heard about the 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto principle, it states that "roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes".
So how is this related to your Vietnamese learning?
If you apply this principle in learning, it will help you to learn smarter by investing 20% of your time and effort in learning the 80% of the language that you need for you to communicate in Vietnamese comfortably.
What are the 80% essentials of the Vietnamese language?
Below are my suggestions for an effective learning path that you can follow to achieve 80% of the Vietnamese language.
I’ve tried learning Chinese and Italian using mobile applications such as Duolingo. Though it helps my learning more engaging and fun, it doesn’t give me many practical words and phrases that I can use in my daily life. And since I don’t have the opportunity to practice those words, I slowly forget most of them.
What is the better way to learn and use the new language?
The best way to learn new words and practice them at the same time is to use it in your daily routines. You can do it by:
Here’s an example of writing your to-do list in Vietnamese:
Why listening is so important?
Not only because it’s necessary for communications but also helps you to learn natural languages effectively with less effort.
Through listening to a lot to native speakers, you’ll come to recognize the sentence patterns and commonly used words, expressions without forcing yourself to memorize the grammar and vocabulary.
You will also be able to catch some phrases and expressions that are used by the native speakers, copy and use them confidently when creating your own sentences.
You should have some basic knowledge first before practicing your listening. It does not matter if you’re able to understand everything that you hear at first, just try to guess the meaning in the context.
Many language learners started learning on their own, traveled to Vietnam, attempted to make conversations, just to find themselves not being understood at all by the locals.
This happened to many language learners and certainly happened to me when I first went abroad.
The main reason for this is that your pronunciations are probably inaccurate. Your speech may also sound unnatural to the locals' ears since most of the materials teach you written Vietnamese, not spoken Vietnamese.
This is why you may need a language partner who would correct your mistakes from the start.
With a great language partner, you can feel more confident in speaking and be able to have the environment in which you can put everything that you’ve learned into practice.
So what to look for in a language partner?
Your language partner needs to:
Where to find a Vietnamese language partner?