You have followed your language lessons diligently, carried out your exercises with seriousness, and you now feel ready to move from theory to practice and try your new skills in a different setting?
You have learned a language some time ago and are looking for opportunities to dive back into it without necessarily having to take lessons again?
However, travel opportunities are becoming more than rare in this period of international COVID, and it is difficult to look outwards to satisfy your desires for discussions in foreign languages…
Fortunately, Saigon has the advantage of being a relatively cosmopolitan city, bringing together nationalities from all over the planet! The key, then, is to find the best places or events to practice your second or more language. And l’Atelier is happy to guide you in your quest!
Where to speak French outside of class in Saigon?
To practice French outside the classroom, you will have several choices in Saigon.
First of all, and it seems the most obvious, but you can go to one of the countless French or French-owned restaurants in the city. Very often, especially in the most upscale French restaurants (but not only), the menus are indicated in French, and the staff can also be French, or at least the boss. Ask to have an interlocutor who speaks French, and thus, you can place your orders in the language of Molière, and why not negotiate a digestif 😉 La Ch’tite cuisine, Cocotte, les 3 Gourmands, la Villa, le Corto , La Raffinerie … are all restaurants where you should be able to exchange a few words of French.
Then, to improve your reading level while keeping you informed of local life, get lost in the articles in the Petit Journal d’Ho Chi Minh. You will find there articles and dossiers on topics specific to Vietnam, as well as cultural agendas to find ideas for your free time.
If you are a professional and / or you already have a good level of French, you can turn to two well-known event organizers: the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) on the one hand, and the Union des Français de l’Etranger (UFE) on the other hand.
Among the events organized by the CCI throughout the year (at the rate of more than one weekly event on average!), you will find the traditional ones: back-to-school cocktail, Christmas evening, arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau … or in a more formal way, job forums and countless afterworks to boost your professional (or friends) network.
As for UFE, wine evenings are also offered, as are the traditional Pot des Français (once a month), as well as UFE Avenir networking events.
Finally, to enjoy the French language in an even more relaxed setting, you can attend the performances of the improvisation troupe the X’inpromptus, which generally perform in bars in District 2 (including the Wam for example). .. and why not even join them!
Where to speak English outside of class in Saigon?
If you are a movie buff but don’t like to stay indoors, then Saigon Outcast‘s weekly screenings are for you! Every Thursday, it’s the perfect opportunity to strengthen your vocabulary by watching and listening to works of the 7th art in English (most of the time, but often with subtitles), and why not to discuss about the film with the other spectators at the end of the screening!
As for reading, we recommend the online newspaper Saigoneer, which will tell you everything you need to know about the news in the city of Saigon, all in English, with a calendar of events not to be missed!
We also mentioned in our article “Where to read in Saigon” the events organized by the American Center, in direct connection with the United States consulate. On their Facebook page, you will find posts detailing the events of their agenda: conferences, forums, screenings, and many more!
Finally, you can join one of the many expat groups on Facebook or online, such as Internations.org for even more international cultural events!
Where to speak other languages?
Practice German in Saigon:
Favorite place for Germanophiles, the Goethe Institute will be your main reference when it comes to German cultural life. Consult their agenda here.
Practice other languages:
The first event you can attend to immerse yourself in an international culture and why not exchange a few words with speakers from all over the world, is the Ho Chi Minh City International Food Festival. Held in November for a limited time each year, the event attracts around 70 exhibitors and 150,000 visitors! Find more information here.
If you don’t have the patience to wait or if you missed this event but you want to exchange in a language less common in Saigon, such as Spanish, Italian, Russian or other, two groups organize very regular meeting events focused on foreign languages: BlaBla Saigon and Mundo Lingo.
Everything is done in these meetings to put you at ease and guide you to the right people, with nametags showing the languages spoken or flags indicating which table speaks which language…
Among their recurring gatherings, Blabla Saigon gathers every Thursday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Midori Café, and as for Mundo Lingo, it is at Rogue rue Pasteur that you will have to go every Tuesday, from 7 p.m.
With these two weekly international meetings, you have no more excuses for not practicing a foreign language!