Vietnamese Lessons - 2018

History of the Vietnamese Language

About 3,000 years ago, communities of Mon-Khmer and Tay people merged in the northern Red River and Ma River Deltas. These two groups developed a shared language, known as Viet-Muong. This language was composed of two main dialects. Lowlanders spoke what was known as the “City” dialect, while people in midland and mountain regions spoke the “Highlanders” dialect.

About 60 percent of modern Vietnamese words are of Chinese origin. Many basic words, like geographical terms, were adopted from mono-tonal Mon-Khmer languages, while tonality came from Tai. In Vietnamese, each syllable has one of six tones. These tones completely alter the meaning of the word. Furthermore there are 11 distinct vowel sounds. Vietnamese is a complicated language, which, not surprisingly, has a complicated past.

History of Apax Leaders Learning Vietnamese

About eight weeks ago,  teachers and staff members, ventured to the Apax Leaders SNA Center. Here they started the often challenging, but always rewarding, journey of learning Vietnamese. The small and intimate classes cover everything from the alphabet to food and drinks. Let’s face facts, Google Translate and strenuous body language will get you adequately and safely through most situations in Ho Chi Minh. However, you can’t deny that it still helps to be able to decline sugar and have a chat with the staff at your center in Vietnamese.

One of the enjoyable aspects of the Apax Leaders Vietnamese classes is the bonding and camaraderie. Learning Vietnamese, it turns out, is the great equalizer among Apax Leaders. Even the biggest ego is deflated, trying to pronounce “nh,” “ng,” and “kh.”  Additionally the lively classes taught by knowledgeable instructors gives a nice weekly respite from teaching and prepping.


The website ExpatInfoDesk makes a great point in advising all of us who love to roam far from home.  “If you are able to attempt conversation with the local [Vietnamese] people you will have a much better chance of integrating and feeling more at home in [Vietnam]. Intercultural specialists throughout the world all agree that gaining an understanding of your host country’s language will also enable you to better understand the culture and customs of the people. Furthermore, learning a foreign language will give you more confidence and help you to feel more at home.” Learning a Foreign Language

Apax Magazine Vietnamese Lessons

As we have all chosen to make Vietnam our home for a spell, we might as well settle in and get comfortable. The Apax Magazine found under the “For Teachers” tab on the TeachatAPAX website includes a short Vietnamese lesson in each issue. Check out back issues of the magazine and get prepared to join the next round of Vietnamese lessons.

Some of the reasons why some Apax Leaders teachers took classes:

“Want to be able to communicate more whilst living here.”“Basic communication.”“To be able to engage in basic conversation with locals and to be able to order food!”“I wanted to be able to communicate a bit with Vietnamese people and I wanted to be able to read a menu properly.”

Some of the key takeaways from the Vietnamese Lessons that teachers have expressed:

“How difficult the language is. How much practice it would take to perfect.”“Need to spend more time learning the sounds and tones.”“Tone is critical! Be confident and try and use Vietnamese as much as you can.”“Fun, informative!”“I have absolutely loved it. It has encouraged me to continue with it once the classes have finished!”“Really enjoyable and helped to gain more confidence in trying to speak the language!”


Take theoretical physicist and philosopher Albert Einstein’s advice on being a lifelong learner, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Keep growing and learn Vietnamese with Apax Leaders!!!!


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