Vietnamese policemen are learning to speak English


Over the years, Vietnam has received a significant amount of expats coming in to work and live here. Due to the traffic situation in Vietnam, most also rent and buy motorbikes during their stay here to commute around the cities.

And just like Vietnamese locals, foreigners cannot avoid making mistakes while on the roads and being pulled by traffic policemen. However, with English language proficiency differences being the main barrier in communication between local police and foreigners, most cases of violations cannot be fairly resolved.

For this reason, the management of Da Nang city, home to a large number of foreigners, have decided to help the city’s policemen improve their English skills to deal with situations that involve foreigners.


Da Nang sees an increase in violations of the law by foreigners


In recent years, Da Nang has seen a significant increase in the population of foreigners into the city. In 2019, the number of foreigners reporting temporary residency in the city amounted to over 3.6 million people, out of which 50% were Korean citizens and 19% were Chinese citizens, according to Công an thành phố Hồ Chí Minh.

Da Nang
Image credit: @reiwa360

Also in the same year of 2019, the Da Nang Police Department reported 697 foreigners committing offenses against local laws. The number and scale of violations by foreigners are also rising. However, due to their lack of English skills, local policemen encountered many difficulties in dealing with law-breaking foreigners.

Some foreigners would cite their language barrier to get off the hook, while local police officers couldn’t explain the situations clearly to help foreign law-breakers understand the gravity of their actions.


Da Nang policemen will be trained in English, Chinese, and Korean skills


Da Nang Police Department and Da Nang Foreign Language University will cooperate to develop language classes for over 2,000 police officers who usually deal with foreigners, such as traffic police, immigration police, investigation police, and local police. They will be learning English, Chinese, and Korean in the foreseeable future.

Vietnamese traffic policeTraffic policemen handing out masks to commuters
Image credit: Yêu Cảnh Sát Giao Thông

For the moment, Da Nang has only 38 police officers professionally trained in English skills, while the rest are not used to speaking English due to lack of practice.

After joining the language classes, which will be sponsored by the Da Nang People’s Committee, police officers will attend 3 classes per week for 4 months. The total tuition expenses are estimated to be around VND14.17 billion, equivalent to USD600,000.


Road safety operations launched across the country


This program comes in an important time when Vietnam has recently announced its nationwide road safety operations.

During these operations, drivers of any vehicle, be it a car or motorbike, can be asked to stop by the police for a vehicle license check or a breath alcohol test.

Vietnamese traffic police
A local commuter pulled over for a roadside check
Image credit:
Yêu Cảnh Sát Giao Thông

Since foreigners also make up a large number of motorists in Vietnam, they will also be pulled for a roadside vehicle check.

To maintain transparency and fairness, police officers need to be able to communicate clearly with any commuters they deal with. This way, no commuter can get off the hook because of a language barrier, or be fined due to miscommunications because they can’t understand or defend themselves in Vietnamese.


A summary of Vietnam’s motorcycle and car driving laws


Vietnamese traffic offenses
Motorcycle traffic offenses and penalties in Vietnam, as of 15th May 2020
Image credit: The Smart Local Vietnam

Motorcyclists must wear a helmet properly at all times, and bring their valid insurance certificate, vehicle registration, and driving license with them onto the vehicle. Other universally common driving laws that also apply in Vietnam include driving within the speed limit, signaling turns, not running traffic lights, and avoiding drink driving, among others.

Vietnamese traffic offenses
Car traffic offenses and penalties in Vietnam, as of 15th May 2020
Image credit: The Smart Local Vietnam 

Car drivers must likewise drive with a valid insurance certificate, vehicle registration, and driving license, and obey traffic lights, lane markers, and speed limits, among other laws.


Overcoming language barriers with foreign residents


Foreigners constitute a huge portion of urban residents in Vietnam’s big cities. Just like local residents, they also need to keep updated with certain local regulations, including newly introduced laws. It’s important to ensure that we’re all aligned on local rules and regulations, no matter who and where we are.

In order to keep our roads safe, our police officers who are in charge of public security must be able to help the public by communicating the laws clearly. If more police officers can communicate effectively with foreigners, more of them will be aware of the requirements set by local authorities and road safety will be improved.

Also check out:


Cover image adapted from: Yêu Cảnh Sát Giao Thông

Enjoying The Smart Local Vietnam? Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for more stories like this.