Aside from being able to stay safe and spend more quality time with family members, the movement restrictions caused by the global pandemic have resulted in people turning into acquiring new things, looking for productive hobbies like making arts and crafts, cooking and baking, playing instruments, practicing mindfulness, and learning foreign languages.
If you’re in Vietnam, especially in locked-down cities and provinces, you probably have bumped into posts on your social media newsfeed of someone looking for language teachers, or locals who can teach them basic Vietnamese words.
Students, teachers, office workers, millennials, boomers — people naturally crave something to fill their minds and (longer) days. While it’s true that Vietnamese are learning foreign languages to get better jobs and to get into bigger circles, the presence of expats, especially teachers, in the country makes it more relevant and useful for the locals to be familiar with other languages apart from their own. Not to mention foreign online content platforms like Netflix produces Korean, Thai, Spanish, and of course, English content among others.
In a recent study by WordTips, where they translated relevant search terms for each country and looked into yearly Google search data to discover the most studied languages around the world, it was revealed that in over 98 countries, people are trying to learn English — including Vietnam with 13.66% yearly searches per 1,000 internet users. The neighboring countries of Thailand (44.28%), Cambodia (1.5%), and Malaysia (5.34%) also have English as the top language their citizens want to learn.
In the Asia and Oceania continent, English is the most popular language in 14 of the 26 countries.
“Learning a second language is more popular on this continent, with more Google searches being made here than anywhere else. The top three countries for language learning are Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan,” reads their report.
However, their research added it shouldn’t be assumed that the most-searched language to learn in each country is representative of the whole nation. With that, they also presented the second most popular language search. “For example, French only appears in Africa as a most popular search but is also sought-after in Canada, Portugal, and Bosnia, among other places, as an alternative language to learn.”
According to the second set of data, Polish, Indonesian, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese are popular, which didn’t appear in the initial set. In fact, the Taiwanese government is campaigning to encourage immigrants to teach their native languages to their children.
And here’s a quick trivia, there are over 80,000 children with dual Vietnamese-Taiwanese citizenship in Taiwan, and schools have been teaching Vietnamese since 2018, making the Vietnamese language the second most popular language in Taiwan with 1.23% yearly searches per 1,000 internet users.
As for Vietnam’s second most popular language, Chinese came in with 3.23%.
The WorldTips data was based on a year-long research - from May 2020 to May 2021 - on Google’s Keyword Planner to find the number of searches for ‘learn x language’ in every country.