Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam and has large numbers of speakers around the world due to immigration. Vietnamese was originally written with a modified set of Chinese characters, but has been written with a Latin-based orthography introduced by Catholic missionaries during the 17th century. Vietnamese is a tonal language, which means that changing the pitch when pronouncing a word can change the meaning of that word. This can be a challenge to English speakers. Vietnamese speakers in Australia came initially as refugees in the mid-1970s; however family connections and skilled migration are responsible for more recent significant growth in the community. This has resulted in learners of Vietnamese being of diverse backgrounds, with their proficiency in Vietnamese and English varying accordingly. Language maintenance is nonetheless important within the community, and many after-hours language programs have been established. Vietnamese is also taught in a number of government schools as well as tertiary institutions.
Number of people in Australia who speak this language at home: 233,388 (ABS Census Data, 2011)
Language Category: Asian Languages
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