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 :).


  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.



  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.

  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....

  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 ?

  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.