How do Vietnamese people react when a foreigner speaking Vietnamese?

There are many reasons why people laugh when they hear a foreigner speaking Vietnamese?

There are three main reasons VLS really want to share with you.

Number 1: Vietnamese is not a popular language.

Unlike English, the international language, Vietnamese is not as popular. Vietnamese is mainly spoken by the indigeous people of Vietnam.

Even though, we do see an increase in the number of students, travelers, professionals, business men and women coming to Vietnam from different countries, the number of people who actually learn Vietnamese and use Vietnamese to communicate with the people here in Vietnam is relatively small.

It’s very normal for one to expect a foreigner in Vietnam to either speak little Vietnamese or none at all.

One day you randomly come up to a person on the street and start speaking Vietnamese to them, that’s going to throw them off.

When you’re trying to improve your communication skills, you’d really want people to listen to you or pay attention to you. By them laughing or smiling, they are paying attention to you. They’re listening to you.

So, that’s a very good starting point, right?

Number 2: Mispronunciation

When learning a new language, especially a tonal language like Vietnamese, mistakes are inevitable.

Certain words sound very similar but they mean different things. So sometimes a mispronounced word change the meaning of the sentence into something very silly or very funny.

And we, humans, typically laugh at anything that sounds or looks funny or silly. However, that doesn’t mean we’re laughing at the speakers.

It’s very normal for humans to feel embarrassed when you make mistakes. So in this situation, a little giggle [or] a small laugh can help alleviate the tension, lightening up the mood.

It’s just a way for us to tell you that it’s okay to make mistakes. There’s nothing serious.

You are hilarious. You’d had a good laugh. And now it’s time for us to work on your pronunciation.

Number 3: Admiration and Appreciation

Not that many foreigners speak Vietnamese, so we find it to be very amazing, very phenomenal that you guys actually put in the time and effort to learn Vietnamese which is a very difficult language.

That smile, that giggle, that laugh is just really us showing our admiration and our appreciation.

Language is the gateway to people’s hearts. So whenever we hear someone speaking Vietnamese, the distance between us seems to be shortened or even disappear. In response, we typically smile or laugh to show our desire to connect, our desire to be friends. Because smile and laughter themselves are social behaviors. They carry profound social functions. So people tend to laugh more, tend to smile more around the people who they know, who they are fond of.  When we laugh, we smile, we giggle, it’s just really us showing you that we’re really fond of you; we really want to be around you; we really want to be friends with you.

And one last thing we really want to share with you is that we find someone who speaks a language different from their own to be very attractive, very charming. So next time when you speak Vietnamese to a local person, pay closer attention to the way he or she looks at you; The way he or she smile, laugh and respond to you. You’ll find them to be more loving and friendly.

Obviously, we cannot cover all the reasons and perspectives, so please feel free to share your story and point of view with us.


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