Guide: How Long Does It Take to Learn Vietnamese?

Discover how long it takes to learn Vietnamese. Find out the average time to achieve different proficiency levels in Vietnamese.


Learning a new language is a journey filled with excitement, challenges, and personal growth. When it comes to learning Vietnamese, a language with a unique structure and tonal intricacies, the question of how long it takes to become proficient is a common one. While the answer can vary widely depending on individual factors, motivation, and learning approaches, understanding the nuances of learning Vietnamese sheds light on this captivating linguistic endeavor.

Complexity of the Vietnamese Language

Vietnamese, characterized by its six distinct tones and varying pronunciations, presents a unique challenge for learners. Tones play a pivotal role in conveying meaning, and mastering them demands practice and precision. Moreover, the grammar and sentence structure differ significantly from English and other Western languages, requiring learners to adjust their thinking patterns. These linguistic complexities contribute to the perception that learning Vietnamese is a formidable task.

Factors Affecting Learning Duration

Several factors influence the time it takes to learn Vietnamese:

  • Prior Language Experience: Individuals with experience in learning tonal languages might find Vietnamese easier to grasp due to their familiarity with tone-related nuances.
  • Learning Environment: Immersion in a Vietnamese-speaking environment accelerates language acquisition, as constant exposure to native speakers aids in improving listening and speaking skills.
  • Learning Methodology: Choosing the right learning resources, such as textbooks, language apps, and online courses, tailored to your learning style can significantly impact the speed of progress.
  • Frequency of Practice: Consistency is key. Regular practice, whether through self-study, classes, or conversations, is essential for gradual improvement.
  • Personal Motivation: The more motivated and passionate you are about learning Vietnamese, the more likely you are to invest time and effort into mastering it.

Average Learning Timeline

Realistically, becoming proficient in Vietnamese requires a significant commitment of time and effort. For travelers seeking basic communication skills, a few months of dedicated practice can yield enough proficiency to navigate daily interactions. However, to achieve higher levels of fluency, such as conversing comfortably, reading, and writing, a timeframe of one to two years of consistent study is more realistic. Achieving near-native proficiency can take several years of immersion and advanced language learning strategies.

The Joy of the Journey:

The time it takes to learn Vietnamese is not merely a matter of weeks or months; it's a continuous process of growth and discovery. While the language's complexities might seem daunting, the journey itself is immensely rewarding. Learning Vietnamese allows you to connect with a rich culture, engage in deeper conversations, and build meaningful relationships with native speakers.

How Many Hours of Study are Required?

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the United States is known for its language learning programs and estimates the time required to achieve proficiency in various languages, including Vietnamese. The FSI has created a list of language categories that are grouped based on the language's difficulty level for English speakers. Vietnamese is categorized as a Category IV language, which is considered to be "hard" for English speakers due to its linguistic differences.

According to the FSI, here are the estimated hours of study required to reach different proficiency levels in Vietnamese:

  1. Speaking and Reading: Approximately 44 weeks or 1100-1200 class hours
  2. Speaking Only: Approximately 36 weeks or 900-1000 class hours

These estimates are based on full-time intensive language training, assuming around 25 hours of study per week. It's important to note that individual learning rates may vary, and the estimates provided by the FSI are based on their specific language programs. Here's a breakdown of proficiency levels and the corresponding hours of study for each:

  1. Professional Working Proficiency: This level generally corresponds to being able to communicate effectively in most everyday situations, as well as in some work-related contexts. It requires around 44 weeks or 1100-1200 class hours of study.
  2. Limited Working Proficiency: This level is characterized by the ability to handle basic conversational situations and understand simple written materials. It requires around 36 weeks or 900-1000 class hours of study.

It's important to keep in mind that these estimates are for FSI's language programs, which are intensive and immersive. Factors such as prior language learning experience, individual aptitude, the quality of instruction, and the amount of time dedicated to practice can all impact the time it takes to reach proficiency. For self-learners or those using different learning methods, the timeline may vary. Consistent practice, exposure to the language through media and interactions, and a strong motivation to learn can all contribute to faster progress.


In conclusion, the duration required to learn Vietnamese depends on various factors, including the learner's background, dedication, learning environment, and chosen approach. While the language's intricate tones and grammatical structure might present challenges, the rewards of language proficiency are well worth the effort. Embracing the journey with patience, determination, and an appreciation for the culture will lead to a fulfilling experience of learning the beautiful Vietnamese language.

Why learn Vietnamese online with us?
Check out the top 5 reasons people take online Vietnamese lessons with us...
Free trial lessons
Builds confidence
Personal to you
Flexible lesson times
Experienced teachers

Find your online Vietnamese tutor now.
Top Online Vietnamese Tutors
Sessions : 993
 99% Positive
Sessions : 637
 99% Positive
Sessions : 15
 100% Positive
Sessions : 6
 100% Positive
Sessions : 4
 100% Positive
Tra My
Sessions : 1
 Not Rated
Sessions : 1
 Not Rated
Sessions : 0
 Not Rated

Looking for a better way to learn Vietnamese online?

Regular conversation with native Vietnamese speakers is the key to real fluency. There's no better way to build confidence, develop comprehension skills, and achieve natural pronunciation with an authentic accent. Rated Excellent on Trustpilot, our classes are fun, effective and guaranteed to get you talking.

Enjoy live interactive lessons with a personal language tutor on Skype, Zoom or Teams. We've helped thousands of students learn a new language online and we can help you too.

A very effective language learning tool delivering one to one tuition by putting you in direct touch with native speakers worldwide.
I needed a more intensive approach, and luckily I came across Verbalplanet. This service provided the framework and the means for an incredible learning experience.

John Reese - Learning Italian

Award winning language training that's worth talking about. Find a language tutor anywhere in the world then arrange a mutually convenient time to have your lessons.

Get Started Today
Bring Learning Vietnamese to Life

Native teachers

Great pricing

Ultimate flexibility

© 2020