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10 tips for you to learn Vietnamese

Learning a new language can be a daunting task but with the right approach, it doesn't have to be. Vietnamese is a language full of nuances and complexities that can take some time to master. However, if you break the process down into smaller steps, it can become much less intimidating. Here are 10 steps to help learn Vietnamese in an organized and efficient way.

1. Choose the accent

You need to pick up the accent you want to learn Vietnamese. In Vietnam, there are 3 accents for you to choose: northern, central and southern Vietnamese. The easiest and official accent is northern Vietnamese, central and southern Vietnamese can be quite difficult for the beginner, although southern Vietnamese is obviously more commonly spoken around Ho Chi Minh city and the south.

2. Begin with the common things,

Common phrases and questions are the next points on your Vietnamese journey. It’s not just to help you to communicate with the locals but it also makes it easier to practice every day.

3. It will better to have someone to guide you and correct your mistakes.

When you learn new language it can be difficult to realize or notice when you make mistakes. Having someone knowledgeable in the language to point them out can be invaluable. Language exchange partners are usually fairly easy to find for Vietnamese, and tutors are not expensive. If you already live in Vietnam it can be even easier to find a friend who is willing to help point out your mistakes. You may be surprised at how much this can speed up your acquisition of the language. There are also many language learning communities online that are very willing to help. We have a small Facebook group where we are happy to answer any questions that you might have about the language.

4. The alphabet and tones are very important

The alphabet and tones are the most important and some of the most difficult things you will have to learn to become fluent in Vietnamese. Learning just to hear tones and to distinguish them from each other can be very difficult for western language speakers. Without a lot of practice, it can easily take in excess of 6 months to learn just this. However, with practice and focus it is a skill that can be picked up easily. This skill is much easier to practice if you have a language exchange partner or a tutor to help you.

5. Pronunciation is another skill that needs a lot of practice.

Intonation is very important in the Vietnamese language. Hearing the tones is only half the battle, now you need to be able to pronounce them. Tones are occasionally used in English, but in a very different manner. You will find it difficult to unlearn old habits and deliberately pronounce the intonation for each word that you speak. Again, this is a point where having a language exchange partner or tutor can help a lot.

On this point one important thing to remember is to speak slowly. Usually when you learn a new language, you tend to want to speak at the speed of your native language. But speaking slowly is the key to communication. When you speak slowly, the people you are talking to can understand you more, it also helps you to not make mistakes.

6. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Learning a new language is a difficult thing to do.

Many people who learn a new language don’t want to speak, because they afraid of make mistakes or embarrass themselves in a language they don’t know. But if without making mistakes you will have difficulty understanding what you need to practice or improve. Just speak.

7. Immerse yourself in the Vietnamese language.

There is plenty of free material online that can help you with this, we ourselves have Vietnamese blog articles with English translations to make them easy to communicate and many free podcast episodes that you can find here.

8. Practice.

You need to practice. It doesn’t matter what you learn if you forget it in a month. Just a little bit of practice can go a long way. It would be best to practice at least a little every day if you can, but an hour or two every week can be enough. People are busy and it can be difficult to find the time. But without practice you will find that you spend more time learning the same vocabulary and grammar over and over again than you do using it.

9. Be patient.

Learning a language takes time. Any app that says you’ll be fluent in just one month by practicing just five minutes a day is lying to you. Any tutor that says you will be fluent in a couple of months with just one hour a week probably just doesn’t want to scare you away. But there is no magic to learning a language. It takes time, patience and practice. The more time you commit to learning a language the faster you will be able to use it. You can learn basic questions and phrases in a month quite easily. With a lot of practice each day/week you can learn to hear the tones and to pronounce the words reasonably well in about a month. To have a conversation in Vietnamese will take longer, and needs to be a long term commitment. If you’re curious about exactly how long it might take we have this article on the subject.

10. Take a course.

We’ve added this as the last point because many people don’t want to, or don’t have the money to spend on a course. Taking a course is not necessary to learn a language. If you follow the other points in this article you will absolutely make consistent progress, although it may be difficult to see at first. We also try to make sure our blog posts and articles don’t just become an advert for our own services.

But. This can be an important step that will make your progress both more consistent and structured. A well-designed course will have set goals and steps that usually include all the information that you will need before moving onto the next point in your journey. There are many places where you can find a course that is suitable for you.

We offer an online self-study course for beginners which is perfect for giving people the structure and resources to help you progress on your own, and we offer both online and offline tutoring services. Feel free to send us a message if you have any questions.

Learning a new language is very rewarding, it can open up new experiences and opportunities. Vietnamese specifically is an interesting and satisfying language that is worth your time to learn.

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