Xin chào! So you’re thinking about doing the extraordinary by either starting, fine-tuning, or perfecting your foreign language skills. Well, stop thinking and make it a reality! You’ll find that there is simply no better way to learn a new language than doing so abroad, and there is no country more breathtaking than Vietnam (just take our word for it!). From the solitary mountain passes of Indochina to the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City, get ready for one fast-paced, striking chance to take language courses in Vietnam.
For comprehensive language programs in Vietnam, the two bigger cities are your best bet. Hanoi, the country’s capital, is a city always on the move. An eclectic world full of swerving scooters, lively marketplaces, and the best darn phở you’ve ever had, Hanoi blends Vietnam’s exhausting history of occupation with a progressive vision of tomorrow.
Situated opposite of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City stands along the southern coast close to Cambodia. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is now the economic center of Vietnam, driving commerce and industry for the whole country. The only thing better than Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife is the countless street vendors on every corner. You’ll find haunting war memorials juxtaposed by beaming skyscrapers that make one unique, urban home for all walks of life.
Outside these two major cities, you’ll find fewer language programs, but greater opportunities for complete and utter language immersion. Don’t forget, you’re in Vietnam to learn a language after all, and there is no better way to learn a language than 24/7 exposure. Immersive language programs in Vietnam are typically cheaper and you will be less likely to rely on your native language, which means even more growth. Don’t worry, no matter where you take language courses in Vietnam, know that Netflix IS available throughout the country, phew (but we sure hope you won’t be using it, except to watch movies in Vietnamese!).
Language Programs in Vietnam
Now that you have a little introduction into where you can take language programs in Vietnam, let’s focus on courses themselves. Why do you want to learn a language in Vietnam? What experience are you looking for? What are your expectations? These are all things you should keep in mind when selecting a language program in Vietnam, whether you’re learning Vietnamese or maybe even English or another language.
Immersion language programs in Vietnam focus on taking what you learn in class sessions and applying them to real-life situations. These practice conversations might include something like booking train tickets, ordering lunch, and of course, asking for the coveted WiFi password. This type of language program in Vietnam is a great way to interact with other students and improve your conversational skills.
Similarly, intensive language programs are designed to condense the amount of time it takes to learn a language through rigorous class sessions and cultural immersion (we’re talking five hours a day kind of rigorous). Just because a language program is labeled “intensive” doesn’t mean you’ll be locked up practicing vowels all day and night, however. It simply means you’re committed to learning the language. Intensive language programs in Vietnam also include sightseeing, cultural workshops, and all that fun jazz.
Traditional language programs in Vietnam usually last from just a few weeks up to an entire semester and offer courses in group settings. Group language courses are typically less demanding than intensive programs, but take a bit longer for language acquisition. Therefore, if you’re set on returning fluent in Vietnamese or another new language, it is recommended that you pursue an intensive language program in Vietnam.
If big city programs really aren’t your thing, you can always seek out private tutors in quieter, neighboring cities, like Hai Phong or Can Tho. You’ll get quality one-on-one instruction and greater personal attention with a private tutor. Smaller cities are likely to be more “developing” than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, meaning fewer overall convenience, but we’re guessing you’ll be more excited about making those interpersonal connections than having on-time transit.
Costs & Affordability
Vietnam is a VERY affordable destination, so you won’t have to break the bank to break the norm. Room and board will often be cheaper than in your home country, so you’ll probably be saving money while learning a new language in Vietnam! The average cost of a coke is $0.40 and a motorboat taxi is usually under $4, meaning you can treat yo self on a daily basis.
Language programs in Vietnam’s larger cities will likely include accommodation and transportation from the airport, with additional opportunities for group excursions. On the other hand, smaller cities may require some greater preparation and research on your end, like coordinating housing and transport. Even with Vietnam’s favorable exchange rate, there are still plenty of ways you can make language study even cheaper through fundraising opportunities and scholarships.
Accommodation & Visas
Now it’s time for the nitty-gritty details. We recommend you pay attention to this section since this is where you’ll be able to answer the majority of your parents’ insistent questioning regarding your time abroad.
Again, you’ll have more accommodation options with language programs based in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, including residence halls on-campus, off-campus apartments, and the option to arrange your own housing if you have something really specific in mind. Staying on or near your language school in Vietnam will make getting to your classes easier and will make meeting other local and international students more convenient, since you’ll probably be sharing a room.
Many language programs in Vietnam, especially the intensive ones, include homestays, meaning you will get even more language practice and experience Vietnam in an unparalleled light. If you can do a homestay, DO IT! There is truly no better way to experience a new culture and master a language abroad; you’ll be dreaming in Vietnamese in no time!
Attending language programs in Vietnam requires a student visa; however, you can arrange it after you’re already there! For anyone who has ever dealt with lengthy visa applications and consulate approval, Vietnam is a dream come true. You can enter Vietnam on a tourist visa and then apply for a student visa at the immigration offices in Hanoi, Da Nang, or Ho Chi Minh City. Just make sure you have your proof of study from your language school in Vietnam and a couple passport photos handy. Most language programs in Vietnam will help students through the visa process too, so don’t get discouraged! Just make sure to clarify with your advisor beforehand and always double check visa requirements with your designated Vietnamese embassy.
Benefits & Challenges
Being an international student in Vietnam has a ton of perks. As mentioned, the exchange rate will be extremely favorable if you’re coming from the Western part of the world. But even more important, the Vietnamese people are first-rate friendly and especially welcoming toward language students. Many locals are curious and speak, or are learning English, making it mutually beneficial to engage in meaningful exchanges at every turn.
Vietnam’s history is long, complicated, and often heart-wrenching, so be prepared to explore more than the country’s pretty landscapes. Also, just so you know, petty crime is common in the two bigger cities and foreigners are a common target. We trust you’ll be fine though, even without a fanny pack.
If you are serious about learning a new language, then a language program in Vietnam is absolutely what you should be doing. You’ll leave feeling confident in your language skills and all the added personal growth, lifelong friendships, and unforgettable experiences WILL make every second trying to distinguish between all those verb tenses worth it. Vietnam is a gracious country and it’s ready to teach, so don’t keep it waiting too long.