Questions-are you guys ok communicating with Vietnamese people?

I have been living here two year. While there's no doubt that the country itself is relaxing, peaceful with nice weather, often I face communicating with Vietnamese is bit of challenge. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean communication with my Vietnamese colleagues in work place  who are mostly fluent in English.  I just mean that it is because lack of language proficiency each other outside office.
I have a driver. He is a good guy but whenever I or my ask him to go new place, he never understand. For example, when I tell him, Crescent Mall, he doesn't understand. It took two weeks that he get used to the word. It still happen with new places.
When I take a taxi, same thing happen. Saigon Pearl.. They don't understand many times for example. Often I got ended up wrong place when I tell them where to go in my little Vietnamese, which is often frustrating when I am late for a meeting with my client.
My wife often got troubles with Vietnamese maid when communicating. What to do..how to do..and etc etc.. The other day she put my expensive suit trousers into washing machine due to lack of understanding. It was really annoying as it was my wife's birthday present.
Living in a villa is quite nice but when there's blackout, Internet problem, paying bills, problem with local neighbors....just another few of occasions.

I even seriously think I may be considering do some business to help expats like me on this matter.

What are your experiences?

I found more people understood me when I tried the local language.
Perhaps a thought.

Mickeyshin :

I have been living here two year. While there's no doubt that the country itself is relaxing, peaceful with nice weather, often I face communicating with Vietnamese is bit of challenge. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean communication with my Vietnamese colleagues in work place  who are mostly fluent in English.  I just mean that it is because lack of language proficiency each other outside office.
I have a driver. He is a good guy but whenever I or my ask him to go new place, he never understand. For example, when I tell him, Crescent Mall, he doesn't understand. It took two weeks that he get used to the word. It still happen with new places.
When I take a taxi, same thing happen. Saigon Pearl.. They don't understand many times for example. Often I got ended up wrong place when I tell them where to go in my little Vietnamese, which is often frustrating when I am late for a meeting with my client.
My wife often got troubles with Vietnamese maid when communicating. What to do..how to do..and etc etc.. The other day she put my expensive suit trousers into washing machine due to lack of understanding. It was really annoying as it was my wife's birthday present.
Living in a villa is quite nice but when there's blackout, Internet problem, paying bills, problem with local neighbors....just another few of occasions.

I even seriously think I may be considering do some business to help expats like me on this matter.

What are your experiences?

Part of your problem may lie in your English speaking ability.  South Koreans learn the American system while most of the rest of the world learn the British system.  The first time I heard a Vietnamese tell me a dump truck was a "lorry", I was like, what the hell is a lorry?  So on top of two different English systems, you probably have a heavy accent because English isn't your native language.

Coupled with English not a native language with the local Vietnamese, it's tricky communicating with a third-party language that neither person is fluent in.

Mickeyshin :

I even seriously think I may be considering do some business to help expats like me on this matter.

I had an idea once - an English speaking only taxi company.  I would just hire native speakers but charge an arm and a leg; we'd be competing with those unscrupulous taxi scammer but hey, at least we're upfront about our fees.  No need to rig meters or drive around aimlessly to rack up the fares.  We'd just tell you upfront it'll be $100 to go from the airport to wherever.

You'd be like: oh thank you, an honest face! I could take a local taxi for say 400,000 VND ($20) but then... "you go where? Sai Gone Perm?".

Whereas here's what you get for your $100:  "Hey what's up man, welcome to the English speaking taxi.  My name's Joe, where can I take you today?  Saigon Pearl, you mean the apartment complex by the river?  Oh sure, we can go there.  I estimate it'll be 1 hour in this traffic.  Are you in a hurry?  blah blah blah..... So where are you from?  South Korea?  Oh yah, what part? Busan eh? Never been there myself...so what's it like...blah..blah.  Oh will you look at that...we're here at Saigon Pearl Apartments already.  Guess time just flies on by when you're having fun meeting new people".

So get me a magnetic "English Speaking Taxi" sign to slap on the side of your car, kick your driver out, give me a call, and I'll drive around town picking up tourists for $100 a pop....until the cops catch me driving without a taxi permit.  But hey, I figured the penalty isn't much since unlicensed taxis are already rampant (in Hồ Chí Minh City as well as Hà Nội) and they prey on foreigners who can't speak the local language.  :lol:

I'm being facetious....

.

jimbream :

... and the drivers mostly beam and give me a - "Yet,yet,yet".

Good audio to visual transcribing!  The ending "S" sound is particularly hard on the Vietnamese tongue.  In the Vietnamese language, there is no focus on annunciating the ending sounds.  They usually rely on the accenting marks for word pitches.  Because no word in the Vietnamese language ends with an "S" sound, they don't know how to pronounce it and instead substitute it with the "t" sound.

Hi Tran Hung Dao, thanks for your reply. You may be partly right although my accent is not that strong as your stereo type of Korean.

Your example of English speaking taxi driver is a good one as long as you can set the right pricing and control of service quality, which is a bit tricky but can do hire right people and train properly This biz model has already put into place in Seoul called 'Excellent taxi'-black cab. It starts at twice higher fee and end up with as 80-150% higher as normal taxi depending on distance. They speak at least some English but more importantly their service quality is much better. Firstly they are required to have experience of driving over 10 years without accident, credentialed by government. Bigger and nicer car...different attitudes in nicer uniform. I have never heard or read  about cheating or ripping off story so far.

What do you think about helping expats over the phone for their communication with Vietnamese people?

Korean English (pronounciation) is not good.
Vietnamese taxi English is extremely poor.
Add the two, it is a wonder, you got to where you wanted.
Just use your smartphone and show them in google map!!
It works for me.

hELLnoi you re smart and right. But I just wonder whether many expats living and traveling in Vietnam need urgent language assistance service, not only for taxi occasion but many other occasions..

Your thought?

1. Know what you want done.
2. Translate your instructions into Vietnamese.
3. Get your employees to explain to you what they understand from your instructions.
Dont forget that the house help you get are not familiar with your possessions or how to use a simple household appliance.
At the end of the day, it is how you give your instructions and how your employees understand what your instructions are.
It is often that your employees try to please you by indicating they know EXACTLY what you are asking!
They are not well verse in English and yesyes before you can complete your instructions.

Vietnamese people ask me why I don't learn to speak Vietnamese. My response is this: Even though you speak fluent Vietnamese how many times do you have to explain it more than once and in more ways than one and then still don't get the result you asked for? Based on that actual indisputable undeniable truthful fact then what frigin chance do I have??  As they say 2-- slim and none!!

Mickeyshin,

When I first came to Vietnam, I went through the exact experiences.  So, I invested time and money into learning Vietnamese and, although my Vietnamese is far from perfect, the problems went away.  Americans have a saying, "If you can't beat them, join them."

I don't get in a taxi unless I already know where I'm going, and how to get there. If I don't know, I check the smartphone and study and learn until I do know. When I get in the taxi, instead of stating my final destination, I just point the way I want to go. This serves two functions: First, I'll get there, and Second, I'll pay only the amount it really costs to get there, because I already know I went the best (shortest) way.

Wild_1, do you care to comment about this? :D

Hey man, I thought I knew where I was going.  So, like you normally do, I took control of the taxi.  However, once we got close to the destination, I couldn't recognize that right turn, into your area.  The taxi driver seized that opportunity to rack up my fare.  Fortunately, I got out of paying any of that.  But, I had to pay for the fare from where the guy dropped me off to your place...

Moral of the story is you must always know exactly where you are going, if you don't want to be taken for a ride, by a Saigon taxi.

Although you guys are focusing on communicating with taxi drivers, I read Mickeyshin's other posts and have concluded that he's doing marketing research for an idea he has.  This is what I think he's thinking:

A call-center or a multi-lingual translation center where foreigners/tourist can call to get help when having trouble communicating with a foreigner.

Say you're a tourist in Nha Trang and can't speak a word of Vietnamese.  You go up to a vendor and want to ask a few questions.  The vendor responds and you're like "what"?  So you reach in your phone and call the 1-800-trans-late-4-me (whatever, that's just a US marketing phone number example) to speak to someone.  You say, Hi, I need a Vietnamese translator to 1) translate what this vendor just said to me and 2) tell this vendor I want to ask what this item does.

The tourist then hands the phone to the vendor, and the vendor talks to the online translator, the online translator hands the phone back to the tourist to explain in English what just occured.

It's kinda like a magician conjuring/summoning up a translator to stand beside you.

Maybe call it "Translator 2 Go" service.  To open an account and get a 24/7 (or as the Vietnamese would say "24/24") service, you register via credit card and any usage is tracked and billed to your account.

Neat idea huh?

Hi Tran Hung Dao, you are close :) I wanted to know how other people think...however so far the survey result doesn't show much positive sign :(

It's a good idea...Can it in anyway be turned in to an APP which you could market? Just thinking about electronic translators...but I have no idea how good they are with Vietnamese to other languages... and "other" languages to Vietnamese.
If it could be done, there is the one up cost of software and little upkeep ???? maybe, I don't know what the costs would be, its way out of my league ...

Just attempting to think outside of the square so  :) don't shoot me down.

Tran Hung Dao,

That is exactly what I have been doing:  my foreign friends travel and call me on almost anything, directions or negotiations.  To us, the phones are way smarter than they have ever been, and certain apps are can't-live-without.

However, you must get at least a person for each region of Vietnam (north, central and south).  They call it Vietnamese, however, the language and customs are vastly different. 

Nowadays, there are more and more people who can speak and understand Vietnamese in all 3 areas.  However, that number is still relatively low.  So, you might want to take that into account.

Mickeyshin :

Hi Tran Hung Dao, you are close :) I wanted to know how other people think...however so far the survey result doesn't show much positive sign :(

That is because you are asking the wrong questions!
:joking:

Hi Mickey, I rarely have trouble although i speak only a few words. Here's a simple solution type the location on your phone and show it. Luckily VN language also uses English alphabets.

hELLnoi :

Korean English (pronounciation) is not good.
Vietnamese taxi English is extremely poor.
Add the two, it is a wonder, you got to where you wanted.
Just use your smartphone and show them in google map!!
It works for me.

Agree with you Peter, I used to work at Samsung (as an agent) and cant understand my boss, his pronunciation is hard to understand.

Wild_1 :

Tran Hung Dao,

That is exactly what I have been doing:  my foreign friends travel and call me on almost anything, directions or negotiations.  To us, the phones are way smarter than they have ever been, and certain apps are can't-live-without.

However, you must get at least a person for each region of Vietnam (north, central and south).  They call it Vietnamese, however, the language and customs are vastly different. 

Nowadays, there are more and more people who can speak and understand Vietnamese in all 3 areas.  However, that number is still relatively low.  So, you might want to take that into account.

Yah, But to start off in Việt Nam, just need a northern and central accent because we already have you for the southern accent translator.  You got experience already so why not make some money off it eh?  What do you say Mickeyshin?  Wanna bankroll this company?

Banks are falling all over themselves trying to find business to lend to.  I think they'll drool over this business plan.

.

hELLnoi :
Mickeyshin :

Hi Tran Hung Dao, you are close :) I wanted to know how other people think...however so far the survey result doesn't show much positive sign :(

That is because you are asking the wrong questions!
:joking:

So what is the right question then?

Tran Hung Dao :
Wild_1 :

Tran Hung Dao,

That is exactly what I have been doing:  my foreign friends travel and call me on almost anything, directions or negotiations.  To us, the phones are way smarter than they have ever been, and certain apps are can't-live-without.

However, you must get at least a person for each region of Vietnam (north, central and south).  They call it Vietnamese, however, the language and customs are vastly different. 

Nowadays, there are more and more people who can speak and understand Vietnamese in all 3 areas.  However, that number is still relatively low.  So, you might want to take that into account.

Yah, But to start off in Việt Nam, just need a northern and central accent because we already have you for the southern accent translator.  You got experience already so why not make some money off it eh?  What do you say Mickeyshin?  Wanna bankroll this company?

Banks are falling all over themselves trying to find business to lend to.  I think they'll drool over this business plan.

Now you re talking!  But well I am not that confident myself on this yet as market doesn't agree much so far... Need more research and study...

If I were to work on this project of yours, and old Mickeyshin were to call in with questions like the ones on the OP, I would have asked him, "What the hell are you doing with a maid that you can't even talk to?  Is she French?"

I have absolutely no problem communicating with the locals in Vietnam. My Vietnamese is so good, every time I call the wife's family, who have been listening to me for nearly 30 years, they think some Chinese guy has got a wrong number.

Oh, and the wife still shakes her head, gives me that blank stare, and goes: "hunh" when I try things like: Cân Thơ gao trăng nươc, Ai đi đen đo long muôn trong vê

(She really cracks up at my pronounciation of 'long')..

Lirelou, that is "long KHONG muon ve"!!!

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