Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Learning French in Hanoi


Today I completed my final oral french exam and, pending results, I will be able to move up to level 2 - very exciting! I had my final written exam on Monday and will collect my results on Friday. I have now been studying at L'Espace, a French language school, for 6 months and have really enjoyed it. The learning style is very academic and quite serious but I am not that bothered. I have learnt a lot in 6 months and feel I have a good handle on what Celine calls, the basics. With the so called basics sorted my learning can hopefully grow exponentially (studying permitted), especially if I moved to France.

L'Espace is a great way to learn French in Hanoi. The facilities are great with big classrooms and a library. The centre has ongoing events and best of all the prices are extremely reasonable. I pay about $75 US for a 3 month course. There are three 1 and half hour lessons a week or what equates to a couple of bucks a lesson. I mean seriously, how good is that! In Oz or the UK or anywhere for that matter learning a language can be costly so I am very thankful for this opportunity while in Hanoi.

Many of the people I know, English teachers as well as students are now going to L'Espace to learn French. I am still the only foreigner in my class which is good because a lot of questions are thrown my way. The issue is when the questions are related to my nationality for I have been living a lie for 6 months now. In my first class, 6 months ago, when asked my nationality I thought for some stupid reason he meant what language. I responded English and didn't understand my mistake until a few lessons later whereby everyone thought I was English. A little embarrassed to admit my mistake I thought it a much easier solution to pretend I was English, and so I did. As the only foreigner the teacher loved to compare Vietnamese culture to mine so I was often subjected to his tough line of questioning; What is the weather like in England?, what food do you eat? what is the eating culture? what sport do you watch?. All these questions I was on top of but when quizzed about university and what time of the year they start and finish I could only think of how and when it happens in Australia, which I can assure you is very different in the UK. The teacher and the class were surprised that the main university holidays were over January/February and not around July as in France. I assured them I was correct.

I was hoping my second course, starting 3 months ago, would allow me to start a fresh as an Aussie through and through but to my dismay, no, as I had the same teachers. Shit! So on with the facade I went learning French in Vietnam by pretending to be English. It was fun and when asked to present myself today in my final exam I had a little smile as I recounted my practiced speech; I am English, I live in London, I like football and fish and chips. I almost believed it myself.

I may take a break from the lessons for a while. I think 3 more months of being an Englishman would drive me crazy :).

5 comments:

  1. Hi, Dan. Nice blog you have going here. I am thinking about coming to Hanoi next year to do a CELTA course, then perhaps stick around for some teaching experience.
    Two questions. How is finding accomodation and what kind of prices are we looking at?
    And as I am learning French and hope to move there one day, is there a large enoughy French community to encourage language learning, etc.

    Thanks!

    Donny

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  2. Hi Donny,

    Finding accommodation is very easy. We found places either through word of mouth or through rental agencies. We paid $300 Aussie a month for a one bedroom place and later paid $800 a month for a 5 bedroom house.

    There is a French community but I wouldn't say it is a big one. Most Vietnamese don't speak French and there isn't a great deal of interest to learn French so you would need to make the effort to continue learning.

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  3. Hi,
    I'm wondering what language the class was in? I speak only English, but fancy a couple of weeks French class while I travel....
    Cheers

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  4. Dan I want to come to teach english or french, what is the visa I should apply for ? Is it different if I open a school ? JacquesDoassans@me.com

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  5. Hi, I am going to Hanoi in a month on a three-month visa and am interested in studying French, but wondering if there are courses shorter than three months. I would like to travel also through out the country.

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