My Vietnamese Still Sucks

My Vietnamese doesn’t seem to be improving at all and I’m a little frustrated and disheartened by that. My kids are definitely picking it up and it’s so cute to hear them utter little VN phrases to their playmates. Even though I have plenty of interactions with my cousins, I usually stay pretty quiet because I’m so self-conscious about my poor vocabulary. Sometimes my cousins will say entire sentences in which I don’t comprehend a single word. Tom isn’t self-conscious about his limited vocabulary so he’ll participate in the conversation more, which is what I need to do. It would be helpful if my cousins dumbed it down more. Once one of my cousins was trying to ask me if the boy had any adverse reactions to honey. I had forgotten the word for “honey” and to my inept ear it sounded like he was saying “the face of a bee.” I was confused and thought maybe he was asking if the boy was allergic to bee stings and responded that I didn’t know because he had never been stung by a bee before. My cousin got frustrated and kept saying what I thought was “the face of a bee” over and over again in progressively louder tones before it finally clicked and I asked if he meant the yellow stuff that bees make. It’s helpful to try to find another way to describe what you’re trying to say, not saying the same word louder. I don’t really blame him though; he’s just not used to speaking with such an unproficient speaker. I’m more frustrated with myself because my strategy of squinting really hard and looking confused when people talk isn’t working. Maybe fluency takes longer than a month and a half?

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A former corporate attorney who is now happily retired and does whatever she wants.

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