How to not learn Vietnamese

As you have perused Jen Can Jump you may have come across a post written in August 2012 called ‘Bạn có nói tiếng Anh không and other non-useful phrases’ – if not then I hope you don’t because it will show you my true commitment phobic, reneging, quitting character.

It was a blog post written with absolute enthusiasm and intention. Vietnam was to be explored in its fullness; be by its food, culture, people and language.

Fast forward nearly eight months and I can tell you how to say left, right, straight-ahead, any number from 1 to 999 (except any number that includes the numbers 8 or 9, I can never remember those two for some reason) so, ok most numbers from 1 to 777. And, of course I can say hello, goodbye, please, thank you, yes, no, the bill, oi you and a few other titbits.

As with 99.9% of most ideas that I have ever had, I have 100% failed at achieving any so-called realistic goal that I set for myself concerning learning Vietnamese. So, if you want to fail, just like I did, then follow these 5 easy points to a future of self-defeat and non-achievement.

1. Be inherently lazy

Sometimes it is so much more satisfying to do anything other than hard work, and trust me, learning Vietnamese comes under that category.

2. Speak English all of the time and/or point at everything

Gareth and I teach English 7 days a week. When we’ve finished teaching English then we come home and talk to each other, in English. We watch TV, in English, and read our English friend’s Facebook statuses. Even our Vietnamese friends speak to us in, you guessed it, English! And we just, yeah, point at whatever we want.

3. Blame everyone else

It’s obviously not just our fault. Like, you know, every time we try to say these strange sounds with our mouths to a local they either laugh, look confused, repeat the same nonsensical noise over again until it corresponds with something that is actually Vietnamese or think that we are saying something in English anyway.

4. Enjoy your already perfectly well adjusted English speaking life

Because life is good already. Why spoil it with being able to understand even more people…

5. Stop taking lessons

We did have a two-hour weekly lesson with a teacher friend of ours, but we were tired from our busy lives and after lesson 2, when we’d nearly cracked the alphabet, we decided that we just didn’t have time for this anymore.

And if these 5 points didn’t help you already then…

6. Have no interest in learning Vietnamese

It’s not like it’s sexy Italian! Although, when we have tried to learn Italian we’ve never really gotten very far either. Please see point 1.

If you do want to learn a new language, then let me reiterate from my original post; visit Fluent in 3 Months and absorb everything you read on that website. I could regurgitate from their how best you can learn a language but I’ll let Benny tell you directly. He’s the real deal. For example, since I wrote the August blog post Benny has learnt Arabic, in Brazil, up to, he believes, B1 conversational level.

I still dream of being able to speak another language fluently, and I know that one day I will achieve it, but sadly I still lack the characteristics needed to learn a language effectively. I’m working on it though.

So, if at first you don’t succeed, have another nap.



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