Special community encourages Vietnamese youth to learn foreign languages

Vietnamese youths talk with foreign friends during a meeting of the Saigon BlaBla Language Exchange at a local coffee shop. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Members of a language group in Vietnam have been spending their leisure time in local coffee shops on learning foreign languages.

The BlaBla Language Exchange (BLE) started out as a group of 30 members in Hanoi, who set up the team to help each other in their acquisition of the French language.

The group was founded by Florian Ziegler, a French teacher, in February 2016, and has now become a large community with a variety of local and foreign members.

Several BLE platforms were then established in Ho Chi Minh City, the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang, Switzerland’s Zurich City, and many other cities across the world.

According to Ziegler, the community offers opportunities for foreigners and local people to connect and exchange knowledge in terms of culture and lifestyle.

In each country, local youths with passion for learning foreign languages are chosen to manage the groups, the French teacher stated.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the BLE often organizes their meetings in a friendly and casual environment at local coffee shops.

During a gathering at Bon Café in District 1 in the middle of June, nearly 30 members had already arrived at the location an hour earlier than the prearranged time.

Several national flags of corresponding languages were put on each table, before participants picked a language and started socializing with each other at their corners.

A total of ten language groups were offered at the meeting, namely Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Russian.

Learning for integration

According to Tu Anh, 24, a member of the Saigon BlaBla Language Exchange management team, about 150 to 170 participants, mainly young people, attend their regular meetings.

English, Chinese, French, and German are the four most popular languages among members of the Saigon BLE, Anh elaborated.

Man Tan Phat, 22, considered the group a helpful place to sharpen his English and spoken Japanese.

“Foreign languages are necessary in the era of international integration. Aside from learning a language, we are able to know more about different cultures and enhance our confidence in communicating with international friends,” Phat said.

Members are able to learn new vocabulary, adjust their accent while talking with native speakers, Nguyen Hoai To Nhu, 22, elaborated.

Meanwhile, Barry James, a teacher from the United Kingdom, often comes to the BLE gatherings to learn Vietnamese.

Frequent interaction with native speakers is an effective approach to acquiring a new language, James stated.