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Pronunciation Problems for Vietnamese Learning English One day, I went to a bank in Ho Chi Minh City to open an account. I asked the reception in English and she responded nicely with a Vietnamese accent. I was pleased that she could respond in English, but her accent was hard to understand. Afterward, I was sent to another desk with someone thought to speak English very well. I spoke with her and told her what I wanted, again she was having a hard time finding English sentence to respond with me. Although she was very well learnt in English, she was not so confident to use English because of her pronunciation. Afterward I told her to speak Vietnamese instead and she got upset. This kind of thing happened quite often to me when I was in Viet Nam. Even though most young Vietnamese have learnt English very well, their pronunciation is often not so clear. This is one of the problem of Vietnamese learning English. Since the opening of its doors to the world in 1986, English has become a vital and mandatory communication language in Vietnam due to many English-speaking foreigners from across Asia, Australia, America and Europe started coming to invest in Vietnam. This has motivated the people of Vietnam to learn English to communication among their counterparts. As a result the English language programs were made mandatory beginning with the secondary schools and subsequently the high schools and finally university (Education in Vietnam, World Bank). Since English is one of the core subjects at school, more and more schools are teaching English to their pupils and English centers can be found popular in any cities in Vietnam, especially big cities. Despite of this, not so much emphasis was put in to teach pronunciation, most of the programs were heavy on grammar and writing skills, but not so much in oral communication skill. Like learners elsewhere in the world, Vietnamese learners encounter great difficulties in learning English pronunciation for several reasons. Firstly, the English sound system has several sounds foreign to Vietnamese speakers. Secondly, the way English speakers pronounce the ending sounds is completely different from the one deeply rooted in Vietnamese speakers, making it more difficult for them to achieve appropriate English pronunciation. Many of my foreign friends have commented that they have a hard time understand when communicated with some of the Vietnamese because their pronunciation was not clear. Let us take a look at some of the problems closely. Vietnamese speakers often get confused between /s/ and /z/. They replace /s/ for /z/, so that a word such as peas is pronounced as peace. Another problem that many speakers encounter is the redundancy of the /s/ sound. As mentioned above, the /s/ and /z/ sounds do not occur at the final position in Vietnamese words, but very often for English words. Consequently, Vietnamese often add the /s/ sound in both adjectives and non count nouns. For example, instead of saying very good, many speakers say very goods, and a lot of money turns out sounding like a lot of moneys. Another problem for Vietnamese learners encounter is the /n/ sound and /l/ sound, especially for those who live in the north of Vietnam, whose often cannot distinguish the differences between them in their mother tongue. They usually find themselves confused between the /n/ sound and /l/ sound. Thus, when they speak English, they always make mistakes with these sounds. A few examples of this is that they say /low/ for the word ‘no’ or /line/ for ‘nine’, or they may say /snowni/ for the word ‘slowly’. Vietnamese learners encounter another common problem of pronunciation is with the /p/ versus /f/ and /b/. In Vietnamese language, the voiceless stop /p/ does not occur in initial places of words. As such, Vietnamese speakers can substitute a voiced stop /b/ or a voiceless fricative /f/ for /p/. Examples of this are that the word ‘pool’ may sound like ‘fool’, and ‘pop’ may sound like ‘bop’. In conclusion, Vietnamese learners of English comes across various pronunciation problems is the obstacle for those who teaches English in Vietnam. These problems can simply be resolved with a lot of practice of listening and speaking, where the teacher can correct them when it occurs. Teaching English in Vietnam may comes with challenges such as these pronunciation problems, but it a great joy to be able to help people to communicate with each other in English.