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Learning the language

  • UsTwo

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2010
    Posts: 70

    Has anybody spent the time to learn Vietnamese - the full language, rather than just a few phrases?
    If so, what method did you use?

    #1 Posted: 11/5/2010 - 13:59

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  • KazAussie

    Joined Travelfish
    18th July, 2009
    Posts: 221

    Nope, thought about doing it but as a tonal language it was just too tough. The other thing is the intonations change from the north to the south of the country. I did an internet search and was able to locate a couple of half decent on-line learning applications - I was just no good at it :-)

    #2 Posted: 11/5/2010 - 14:55

  • BanhMi

    Joined Travelfish
    5th April, 2010
    Posts: 12

    In preparation for my trip to Vietnam, I have checked out a Pimsleur audio CD set from my local library and try to listen to it daily for about a half hour. There's a lot of repetition of words and phrases and it does a good job of imprinting the sound of the language in your brain. I wont know for sure about the quality of my pronunciation until I get there, but it ensures that the first time I hear the language wont be when I step off the airplane.
    As far as learning a language in its entirety, it is a lifelong process (I have been speaking spanish for about ten years, and still feel like I have a lot to learn). There are, of course, many online resources and CD-ROMS like the Compass Stone, but I would say that besides actually going to the country and immersing yourself in the language, you cant beat several hours a week in a classroom with a good teacher.

    #3 Posted: 12/5/2010 - 01:11

  • violets

    Joined Travelfish
    6th July, 2009
    Posts: 151
    Total reviews: 28

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    I did do a beginners course but found I couldn't get any further courses, because there's not much call for it outside of Vietnam. You might try a private tutor.

    It is a difficult language to learn, the tones and complicated vowel combinations make it very difficult. I think you need regular practice with a native speaker.

    #4 Posted: 13/5/2010 - 21:00

  • neosho

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2008
    Posts: 386

    I'm going on my 5th year in Thailand. I now live in Ubon. I say "How are you today?" and they look at my girlfriend and say "What did the farang say?". It's all tones. She says I speak "farang Thai". Sounds the same to me, but I guess it's not. Unless you are going to spend a lot of time there, just learn key phrases and charades. LOL

    #5 Posted: 13/5/2010 - 21:59

  • saigonmobile

    Joined Travelfish
    7th June, 2010
    Posts: 3

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    You can learn some basic sentences

    #6 Posted: 8/6/2010 - 11:07


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6956
    Total reviews: 10

    As mentioned here, learning to speak tonal languages is a challenge when you've had no exposure to them. I speak passable Thai, but it is a constant learning process. I learned German much faster. Of course, I was a lot younger then...

    #7 Posted: 8/6/2010 - 17:19

  • svendj

    Joined Travelfish
    30th April, 2010
    Location Belgium
    Posts: 196
    Places visited:
    At least 32

    indeed best way to learn it is to get a private tutor. another good option which helped me a lot was watching movies on HBO with Vietnamese subtitles.
    As I speak acceptable thai I was thinking that vietnamese was going to be more difficult but it's not as they use the same alphabet as we use only with tones on it.
    Start with the basics like (hello, can i buy this, how much is it, ...) and then everytime you are at a place and want to now something just ask to the people and write it down in your cellphone or something, that worked fine for me

    #8 Posted: 9/6/2010 - 15:36

  • travellings-

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    23rd March, 2010
    Location Vietnam
    Posts: 679
    Total reviews: 11
    Places visited:
    At least 87

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    I live in Hanoi and have had 10 private lessons so far - my pronunciation is better than it was of course but still far from good! You need to throw all the rules you know about languages out of the window and start again. I think private lessons are the way to go but even with that I agree you're going to have a hard time learning it unless you are in the country and talking to locals (and as the last person said, there are usually plenty of students around wanting to talk to you) - I thought I could say a few key phrases e.g. how are you, but then I'd ask someone and they'd have no idea what I was talking about! It requires a lot of trial and error but is great when you get something right!

    #9 Posted: 10/6/2010 - 11:15

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