LPLE #8: Impressed by Vietnamese Who Practice English

Jesse shares another story about his experience visiting Vietnam and is impressed by how local Vietnamese try to practice English with foreigners. Andrew wonders how foreigners might feel about random locals coming up to foreign travelers to practice speaking English.

TRANSCRIPT

Intro [Jesse]: Hi everyone. My name is Jesse Robbins, and welcome to LPLE from Dialogue FM. We're the podcast that lets you practice listening in English. We speak English slowly and clearly so that you can follow along and understand native English speakers more easily. I'm excited to help you improve your English listening skills, as well as help you learn new vocabulary, grammar, and idioms commonly heard and conversation among native English speakers. If you want to practice listening in English, then we invite you to join our conversation.

Jesse: Hi, Andrew.

Andrew: Hey, Jesse.

Jesse: Another interesting story about Vietnam. Remember, I was there for two-and-a-half weeks, and during this trip to Vietnam I actually had the chance to visit another province. Now, when most people think about going to Vietnam they think about going to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, maybe even Ha Long Bay. You visited those places didn't you?

Andrew: I did. You took me around and played tour guide. Thank you!

Jesse: During this particular trip I spent one week in a province called Dong Thap. It's about a three-and-a-half hour to four-hour bus ride southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

Andrew: Okay, so in the south of the country.

Jesse: Yeah. I was there for one week and it was a very fun experience. The city itself where I was in, which is called Cao Lanh, is a pretty small but rapidly developing city. It's small compared to, of course, Ho Chi Minh City. But, you start to see a lot of commercial businesses starting to grow.

Andrew: That's good.

Jesse: Yeah. Exactly, there's big hotels, there's stores that sell lots of computer peripherals and whatnot, there's...it's a rapidly growing city, which is really exciting. And, the people were so welcoming. That's not to say that other parts of Vietnam aren't. I'm sure they are. In this city we had the chance to meet college students at the local university; and, these students are practicing English. And, because there's not a lot of foreigners that come into the city or province in general, they are so excited to meet us.

Andrew: That's great that they had a chance to speak with people who were native speakers.

Jesse: There was one afternoon I walked around the lake--there's a popular lake there. It's not as big as our Green Lake, right, in terms of size, but it is still made for a pleasant walk around the lake. And, multiple times as I walked around the lake I was stopped by local Vietnamese just because they wanted to say "hi" and ask where I'm from.

Andrew: Do you think that was because they recognized that you were foreign to Vietnam and that you probably spoke English? Do you think it was an opportunity for them to practice their language skills?

Jesse: It's a combination of both. I think it's a combination of, one, I'm a foreigner, more specifically, I am an atypical-looking foreigner...

Andrew: ...Meaning you don't look like a white American.

Jesse: Correct. Now, in Vietnam, it was very hot, so I tanned very quickly. I got darker skin very quickly, so any chance of me looking even remotely American or European was gone. So, there was an element of 'I'm a foreigner' but there's also a sense of 'I'm a strange-looking foreigner.'

Andrew: You felt like you looked unique?

Jesse: Very much so. And, that's not a bad thing; it's fine. I kind of expected it at this point. And then there's also the element of them wanting to practice their English, which is also fine. So, that leads me to another story I wanted to talk to you about. It's not just about how friendly the local residents of the city were. It's not how welcoming the university students were for us. There's one common theme I've noticed that makes me admire people studying the English language in general. The Vietnamese I met work so hard to find a way to practice English. They find every opportunity they can, and they are not shy about it.

Andrew: Does this make them rude or did they interrupt your other events or conversations?

Jesse: Not at all. So, they were really respectful. Now, you know, maybe one could say that it might be rude of them to yell "hello" when I'm just trying to have a peaceful walk around the lake, but they don't know I'm trying to have a peaceful walk around the lake.

Andrew: They reached out and introduce themselves and engaged in a conversation from scratch without any introduction

Jesse: Exactly, and I admire that. I admire that tenacity. I admire that enthusiasm. I admire that dedication. And, I admire that energy from them. When learning a foreign language, one of the biggest challenges I think we as Americans have is we are so afraid of making a mistake we don't want to try to practice our Spanish that we learned for one year because we're somehow embarrassed by it. Whereas these students who have been practicing English for, of course, over one year but who have never left Vietnam in their life let alone seen many foreigners in their city...

Andrew: ...Were completely ready to walk up to a stranger and start speaking in their new language.

Jesse: Exactly, and I truly admire that. So, for many foreigners who are unfamiliar with traveling in a country like Vietnam where people are working so hard to practice English because they know that English is going to provide them with an economic opportunity.

Andrew: Right. It gives them a better jobs. It gives them access to opportunities they wouldn't have if they don't speak the language of business, which is usually English.

Jesse: Right. If you're a foreigner who goes to this kind of country and you're not familiar with that kind of mentality, of course it could seem pretty rude or disruptive to your schedule because maybe you're just trying to enjoy the scenery or take some photos, you just want time to yourself. I want to encourage people listening to this, you know, as you, you in the audience, as you practice English by listening to this podcast and as you introduce yourself to foreigners and say "hello" just know that there are many people who admire what you're doing because what you're doing is not easy at all

Andrew: Agreed!

Outro [Jesse]: Thank you for listening to this episode of LPLE, Let's Practice Listening in English, from Dialog.FM. Subscribe to LPLE on iTunes to hear the latest episodes, or listen to past episodes on our website, Dialog.FM. That's d-i-a-l-o-g-dot-f-m. If you have questions or comments about English, or if you would like for us to use a word, grammar, or idiom in our conversation so you can learn how to use it correctly, we would love to hear from you on Twitter at @dialogdotfm or Facebook at facebook.com/dialogFM