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Top 7 tips to remember words when learning Vietnamese

Top 7 tips to remember words when learning Vietnamese

The secret of learning a foreign language well lies in the ability to create special “mantra” for yourself. Or it can be said to create a key chain by yourself to remember difficult content more easily.

It can be said that with learning Vietnamese, regular pronunciation practice is indispensable to help you speak more confidently.

Vietnamese is the national and official language in Vietnam. It is natively spoken by about 85% of the Vietnamese population and by more than 4 million Vietnamese people who are living permanently in other countries such as the United States, France, China, Japan, and Australia.

Similar to Thai, Cantonese, or Mandarin, Vietnamese is a tonal language. It has 6 tones with 5 tone marks which are important to define the meaning of a word.

7 Tips for Learning Vietnamese:

1. Watch Vietnamese movies-

It doesn’t have to be Ben Affleck in a film about the Vietnam War for you to get interested in learning some Vietnamese. Vietcetera on Netflix has a huge selection of contemporary and classic films from Vietnam, many available with subtitles or English dubbing so you can still understand what’s going on.

I recommend watching one of them just to get a taste of Vietnamese culture and see some characters using the language you are trying to learn. If you’re looking for some images, this is also just a great place to begin.

2. Get yourself surrounded by it-

At least once per day, try listening (subtitles on) to Vietnamese music available online (YouTube), or even better talk radio or TV shows with subtitles in both languages; if not with pauses for pauses, then overlapped with English at least. I used news broadcasts like Thoi Bao Moi (Vietnamese & English).

There are several popular programs that come on every morning at 8am Hanoi time that will teach you new words and give you interesting cultural tidbits.

Do an online search to find these or any other Vietnamese radio shows and TV programs in English and Vietnamese to keep yourself occupied while cooking, commuting, doing chores around the house etc. The key here is: watch/listen every day!

3. Memorize popular sayings-

Every language has idioms that cannot be translated literally into another language (sort of like reverse puns) such as “raining cats and dogs”, “elephant in the room” etc… These expressions will help make your conversations more natural when speaking with native speakers or can serve as a great conversation starter when interacting with children because they are easily memorable. I’ve included some popular ones below:

So voi nhau cua ban “fighting with each other”

Cay la rang rang, chu chay manh manh “crack the whip and the grass will grow again”

Nguoi co don, vo te seo “my boat is still in harbor but yours has sailed away”

Soi soan bam phui… Hit the nail on its head!

4. Watch cartoons-

Earlier I said to watch movies in Vietnamese with subtitles in both languages, but TV shows are a great way to actually get used to hearing the language spoken naturally. When watching a show for younger children, try not to focus too much on reading since they speak at a much faster rate than adults do. The Vietnamese pop group “TV Girl” has done a great job creating cartoons with Vietnamese subtitles as well as English.

The videos below are from an awesome TV show called “Chao Ve Va Doi” which I highly recommend for those interested in learning Vietnamese. The characters speak at a pretty good pace and the fun music will keep you focused on trying to understand what is going on.

You can watch this show, or any other children’s cartoon shows, online here: For older folks who may not be up for late night subtitled cartoons, YouTube also has some Vietnamese dubbed cartoons that you can find by searching for them (I’ve included one below). There are also hilarious music videos with Vietnamese lyrics at the bottom of this page.

5. Talk to everyone in Vietnamese-

If you are taking a class, whether online or traditional classroom setting, make sure to use it any chance you get! If you’re struggling with knowing how to form sentences in your head, try starting out by talking about simple subjects like your family, pets or things that are always available to talk about such as the weather or what is going on that day.

If you are not in a formal language program then see who around you will let you practice your skills and just go for it! The syllabic writing system and availability of resources makes the Vietnamese language very accessible and really fun to study so take advantage while learning.

Anytime I wasn’t at class or busy with work, I just went out and started talking to random people in Vietnamese. Sure it was scary sometimes but mostly really fun! The more you practice the better you’ll get so just jump right in, even if you feel like no one will understand you…

I’ve included below a conversation that I would have with people on random days out and about which shows how basic language skills can be applied to everyday life. For fun, if asked where your favorite place is, instead of naming your favorite country/city name one of Vietnam’s popular tourist destinations (like Hoi An or Da Lat) as an example.

6. Watch YouTube clips-

YouTube has great resources for learning languages nowadays including its video subtitles feature that allows you to choose from a variety of languages (simply right click the video and select the ones you would like). You can also see clips of Vietnamese TV shows or music videos. Here are some great clips for Vietnamese learners:

‘Chao Ve Va Doi’ Clip 1- This is an awesome children’s clip. The show was created by popular pop group “TV Girl” and has many songs about numbers, colors/fruit names etc… It also includes cute dance moves! The speaker starts off slow but get progressively faster.

‘Chao Ve Va Doi’ Clip 2- More songs from “TV Girl”. Some of these include clothing items in both English and Vietnamese which makes it fun to learn new vocabulary words.

‘Chao Ve Va Doi’ Clip 3- Even more songs from “TV Girl”. This clip is a good review of what was previously taught.

7. Listen to music-

I mentioned this in my previous post on learning Vietnamese, but music is an awesome tool for language learning. The best part is that once you can understand some lyrics then they will forever be stuck in your head so you won’t have to exert any energy listening to whole songs or albums trying to pick up words along the way! Here are some recommendations for Vietnamese artists:

“Tung Duong”, “Tam Linh” and “Phuong Thanh”- These three groups/singers perform similar types (pop ballads etc…), Anh Tuyet”, “Luu Bich”, and “Nhat Thuong” are some popular artists with great songs. The first song (“Tung Duong”) has a great example of Vietnamese rapping.

A video with some popular songs sung by Vietnamese American Rapper “Suboi” (warning: some songs contain strong language).