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Language Learning Stories
interview with Lingo Dada

Language Learning Stories
interview with Lingo Dada

Welcome back to Language Learning Stories.


Language Learning Stories with Lingo Dada.

My guest today is a very special one – my husband Nathan aka Lingo Dada.

Nathan has always been interested in languages (even before he married me!) since he was young. He is a fantastic partner in language learning crime! His story is a great profile, as I think it shows that we all have different motivations for language learning and that being ‘fluent’ or ‘proficient’ doesn’t have to be the end goal. Sometimes it’s just about having fun and learning new words to make connections with people.

Thank you Lingo Dada!

1. How did you first get interested in learning Vietnamese?

My first language learning started in high school.  I did 6 months of Indonesian, and 3 and a half years of French.  I really enjoyed learning French.

I now work in an area of Melbourne that has a large Vietnamese population.  We all go out for Vietnamese lunches and I would hear the guys sitting outside the cafe, playing games and drinking their coffee.   I would listen to them and try to pick any words out, but being a tonal language, initially, I couldn’t pick out any words.  I decided I wanted to be able to talk to people around the streets, and especially when ordering my coffee and/or banh mi, I’d like to be able to do it in Vietnamese.
My first trip to Vietnam was for our honeymoon.  I think this trip really sparked my interest to learn more about the language.


2. You will be heading off with Lingo Mama and Lingo Bubba in November to Vietnam on a language learning trip – what do you hope to achieve language wise?

I can’t wait for the trip to Vietnam.  I have done two courses so far.  I did a short course through CAE in the city initially and that got me interested.  I then decided to do a longer focused course to attempt to increase my skills.

This will be my first Vietnamese course in Vietnam.  I think I’d really like to learn some more conversational type phrases.  How to talk to people a the cafe, how to order food/items at the market.  At the moment, my Vietnamese is very basic.  I can say hello, introduce myself, and ask their name.  I would love to be able to ask a few more questions to learn about the people in the community, and hopefully, understand their answers to my questions.

3. What motivates you to learn Vietnamese?

My love of Vietnam as a country, and having Lingo Mama that can speak such good Vietnamese motivates me to learn more.  I hate having to ask Lingo Mama all the time what people are saying when we travel around Vietnam.  I’d love to be able to speak to the locals like she can.  I also think it is a great tool for me to have at work, being in such a high Vietnamese population.  It would definitely help me at work being able to speak Vietnamese.

4. In your 20s and travelling through Europe – you made a pact to yourself to learn some of the languages of each country you visited. Tell us about that!

My first trip overseas was when I was 22.  I went to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.  I had been told it was polite to learn some very basic words when going to another country.  I learnt how to say hello and thank you (and “too expensive” for mainly Asian countries where bargaining is accepted).  In my mid 20’s I moved to London to live for 2 years and travelled all over Europe.  I kept the same theory of learning phrases in the language of each country I went to.  I would generally learn phrases such as greetings, please, thank you, how to order a beer, how to say my name is, and count from 1 -10.  I used the Lonely Planet a lot for the basic phrases and would learn the phrases on the train travelling from one country to another.

For numbers, I would practice saying the numbers whilst doing sudoku.  I went to and learnt these basics for Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Croatia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Turkey. I think it did make a difference showing the people that you took the time to learn something about their country and their language.

5. What language hopes do you have for Lingo Bubba?

I hope Lingo Bubba has an interest in learning languages and can find a language that she loves and wants to learn.  Having Lingo Mama being so linguistic and reading and singing to her in Chinese and Vietnamese, I have a feeling she may choose one of these to learn, but I’m sure she will take up whatever she loves best.

6. Vietnam in November will be your second language trip with the Lingo family – how did you enjoy Taiwan? What was the most surprising thing about the country for you?

Lingo Language trip to Taiwan was my first experience.  I didn’t participate in language study in Taiwan, but I did attempt to learn my usual phrases, so whilst going around town with Lingo Bubba, we could attempt to speak to the locals. Lingo Mama would head off to her class in the morning, and Lingo Bubba and I would plan out fun activities in the city for the day.  It was a bit daunting heading out by ourselves without being able to speak Mandarin Chinese, but we found it quite easy to get around.

I really enjoyed Taiwan, it wasn’t what I was expecting.  I was expecting similar to China – the hustle and bustle, and the craziness, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was very different.  I was surprised too with the amount of elderly Taiwanese people that spoke such good English – I really didn’t expect that.

Lingo Mama – check out Lingo Dada’s blog post of his perspectives of Taipei.


7. What are your language plans/focus for the future?

I know Lingo Mama has grand plans for travelling the world learning languages with our family which I think is great.  I think I’d like to pick up my French again, and maybe even attempt Mandarin Chinese one day.  I definitely want to continue with my Vietnamese in the future.  I hear there are exams similar to what Lingo Mama took for her Chinese study (HSK), in Vietnamese.  Maybe one day I might decide to take the Vietnamese Exams. I think it would be a good way to keep up the language study, and continually improve.

Would you like to go to Vietnam this November?

We are running our first language learning trip to Ho Chi Minh City and you’re invited! It will be a relaxed combination of Vietnamese language learning and general exploration of the city, its culture and especially its food!

All the details about the trip are here – we’d love to have you!

A huge thank you to Lingo Dada for this interview!

Read all of my other Language Learning Stories interviews here.

Please leave any questions or comments for Lingo Dada below! Have you also spent time learning phrases especially for travel? Which languages and which phrases did you focus on?

We’d love to hear from you.


Until next time,

Lingo Mama (and Lingo Dada!)


Penelope Wilson

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