My Experience Of Working In Vietnam as A Foreigner : Non-Vietnamese Speaker's Challenge
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Vietnam’s software industry is rapidly growing, and it has become a hub for tech startups, outsourcing companies, and big corporations alike. As someone who doesn’t speak Vietnamese fluently, I’ve had my fair share of challenges working in this industry. From miscommunications and cultural differences to navigating the job market as a foreigner, being a non-Vietnamese speaker in Vietnam’s software scene has been quite an adventure. In today’s blog post, I’ll be sharing my experiences and insights about this unique journey - so buckle up and join me on this ride!
I arrived in Vietnam about 5 years ago to work in the software industry. Prior to coming to Vietnam, I had worked in the software industry in Japan for a couole of years. I was excited to come to Vietnam and contribute to the country’s growing software industry.
However, I quickly realized that my lack of Vietnamese language skills was a major barrier to success in my new environment. In Vietnam, almost all business is conducted in Vietnamese. While there are some English speakers in the software industry, they are mostly concentrated in management and executive positions. For folks like me who are working in more technical roles, there is little opportunity to use English on a daily basis.
This has been a frustrating experience at times, but I’ve also found it to be an interesting challenge. I’m slowly learning Vietnamese and have been able to communicate effectively with my colleagues by using a mix of English, Vietnamese, and body language. Working in Vietnam has given me a unique perspective on the global software industry and has taught me a lot about working effectively in cross-cultural environments.
If you want to know why I wanted to challenge working in Vietnam, please check on my video, too:)
Experiences as a Non-Vietnamese Speaker in the Software Industry #
For starters, it can be challenging to communicate with colleague. Moreover, most of the customers are Japanese, so it’s sometimes difficult to switch the English, Japanese and Vietnamese inside my head. This is compounded by the fact that many software companies in Vietnam are still relatively new and don’t have established systems and processes in place for handling communication across language barriers.
There have been times when I’ve felt left out or excluded because I couldn’t understand what was being said in Vietnamese. Other times, I’ve had difficulty conveying my ideas because I wasn’t able to use the right technical terms in English. And occasionally, I’ve made embarrassing mistakes because I misheard or misunderstood something that was said.
But despite the challenges, working in Vietnam’s software industry has been a generally positive experience for me. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some interesting projects, meet some great people, and learn a lot about Vietnamese culture and business practices. I’m glad I made the decision to come here and am optimistic about the future of Vietnam’s software industry.
Technical Challenges of Working on a Cultural Divide #
Working in Vietnam’s software industry as a non-Vietnamese speaker can be challenging from a technical standpoint. While there are many resources available in English, the language of communication within the workplace is Vietnamese. This can make it difficult to understand project requirements, communicate with teammates, and participate in meetings.
Especially the time when discussing something technical, it is not easy to understand each other by English. Becasue English is not a mother tangue for Vietnames collegues and me. Additionally, the use of online collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Slack can be frustrating when team members are not able to understand each other.
Tips for Learning Vietnamese #
I can say it’s not must skill to speak Vietnames fluently when working in Vietnamese IT industries. But it’s absolutely better to be able to communicate in Vietnamese. For those who want to study Vietnamese, let me share my way to study Vietnamese.
- Listen to Vietnamese music: This will help you get used to the sound and rhythm of the language.
- Watch Vietnamese Youtubers: This will improve your listening skills and get used to native Vietnamese conversation.
- Find a tutor or practice partner: Speaking and practicing with a native speaker is one of the best ways to learn a new language.
- Use apps and online resources: There are many great resources available online and in app stores that can help you learn Vietnamese.(I am using Duolingo app)
- Be patient and persistent: Learning a new language takes time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately.
- Create a flashcard for Vietnamese: This will stack your Vietnamese vocablary day by day
Understanding Local Work Culture #
As a foreigner working in Vietnam’s software industry, it’s important to take the time to understand the local work culture. Though there may be some cultural differences, there are also many similarities. Here are some things to keep in mind:
-Vietnamese people generally place a high value on family and community. This means that work is often secondary to personal relationships. As such, it’s important to build strong relationships with your colleagues.
-There is a hierarchy in most Vietnamese workplaces. It’s important to respect those who are in positions of authority.
-Face plays an important role in Vietnamese culture. This means that saving face and avoiding conflict are highly valued. As such, direct communication style may not be seen as constructive criticism but rather as confrontational. Keep this in mind when providing feedback to colleagues.
-Vietnamese workplaces tend to be more relaxed than those in other countries. There is less emphasis on punctuality and formalities such as dress code. However, this doesn’t mean that work isn’t taken seriously – it’s just a different way of doing things.
-Seniority exists in Vietnamese culture like Japanese. It’s very important to respect older people. If you get older, it’s important to flexible enough to understand & accept Vietnamese culture.
Despite the initial language and culture barriers, I have learned that with a little perseverance and dedication even foreign non-Vietnamese speaking software engineers can succeed within Vietnam’s software industry. With more effort to bridge the gap between cultures and better communication tools, there is no reason why anyone should be turned away from achieving their dream of making a career within this ever growing field. My experiences as a non-Vietnamese speaker in Vietnam’s Software Industry has been both rewarding yet challenging but ultimately worthwhile.
About me #
I hope this post is informative to you:) For someone who doesn’t know me, here is the summary about me:)
- I started my IT career without any CS background
- I have a couple of years of working experiences as software developer (mainly mobile & web) in Japan
- I got tired of the life in Japan and moved to Vietnam, Da Nang
- I love to create the mobile apps, Youtube videos and share the life in Vietnam
- I hope I can create the space to connect devs all over the world:)
For more details, I am waiting for you on my Youtube channels:)