Given the tonal nature of the language a CD might be more helpful than any book!
Not an easy language at all to pick up from a book. There are some websites around that do spoken Vietnamese. Might be worth visiting. Make a mistake with the tones and most won't even understand what you are on about, even in the context of the situation. i.e (simply put) Ga... station. Gà ...chicken. Even such mundane words such as 'thank you'.. Cám ơn (Gahm uhn) seem to be pronounced 3 different ways!! I've settled on cam urn in Saigon!
http://wikitravel.org/en/Vietnamese_phrasebook for a bit of insight. Have fun!
Edit: For some reason TF doesn't like all forms of Vietnamese writing The 2nd word of Cám ơn has come out incorrect. You'll just have to have look it up onliine for the correct spelling.
#2 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90
Thanks for that ive had a quick look on the net and found a few good sights, there is also a CD available made by collins. I think these will be great for learning the basics which is all im really intersted in, as im only in vietnam for 1 month. Do you think a pictionary would be a good idea for any tricky questions, i.e. if i want to ask for a spoon, i could show them the picture. or is this abit obnoxious. what do you think?
Unless you are really going off the beaten tourist trail the basics will be fine. Most people who work with tourists tend to know more than a fair smattering of English anyway.
I've been here 15 months and the amount of Vietnamese I'm required to know or use is very small. It is a bit of a hindrance in some ways in that most of the people I know (mainly Vietnamese) want to improve their English skills...! They tend to speak English to me. My reading ability of the language is way in front of my spoken Vietnamese.
Do not underestimate the part that tones play in the language. I have a friend who even after many years learning and actually living here for nearly 2 years now, still says his biggest problem with being understood has been tonal.
Actually you're more liable to need a pictionary for a knife than a spoon as the concept of using a knife to cut meat is alien to the Vietnamese. Alongside any chopsticks provided usually you'll find a fork and a spoon next to them. At things like food stalls you might have problems but nothing that a bit of pointing usually cannot sort.
#4 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90
I've found travelling round asia the LP phrasebook has been ok. You get the jist and locals will correct you anyway. But a simple hello in the local language always goes down well as does a thank you.
However, while the phrasebook is a good starting point asking people is usually taken well too and then you can hear the pronunciation too.
Learing a new language is always fun, I do most on the bus journeys about the place.
#6 Hannett has been a member since 9/2/2011. Posts: 1