Vietnamese is considered hard to learn when it comes to tones, pronouns, and vocabulary. Vietnamese is a tonal language, so changing the tone when speaking the language can completely change the meaning of the phrases. In today’s lesson, I am going to give you some suggestions for how to speak Vietnamese from scratch.
Pronounce Vietnamese Tones Clearly
There are six tones in the Vietnamese language:
- High rising tone
- High broken tone
- Mid-level tone
- Low rising tone
- Low falling tone
- Heavy tone
Check out my previous article about 6 Vietnamese tones and how to pronounce them correctly with sample audios. I suggest that you play the audios and repeat what you hear.
Pronouncing these tones clearly helps listeners understand you better and avoid potential misunderstanding. For example, when you go to a coffee shop in Vietnam, you wanted to order pineapple juice. In Vietnamese, the phrase for pineapple juice is ‘nước dứa’, pronounced with a high rising tone. Unfortunately, you pronounced the phrase with a low falling tone. You were so surprised when the waiter brought you a chopped coconut with a straw. This happened because you actually ordered coconut juice (‘nước dừa’) in Vietnamese.
Learn How Native Speakers Actually Speak
Vietnamese native speakers often remove the pronouns when they talk with friends or younger people in daily conversation. So, for example, you can ask your friend ‘Ăn phở không?’ (Do you want to eat Pho?) instead of asking in a full sentence ‘Bạn ăn phở không?’.
Vietnamese idioms and slang words are used very often. By adding some common idioms or slang phrases, you will amaze the locals. They will often be either surprised or laugh because they did not expect you to know Vietnamese that much. There are fun Vietnamese phrases you can start with, such as ‘chán như con gián’ (it’s boring as hell), ‘trăm phần trăm’ (bottom-up, used when you drink with friends).
Although Vietnamese has tones, the tones remain the same even when you ask a question or make an affirmative statement. In other words, the intonation does not change. You can change your voice pitch to show your emotion. For example, a middle voice pitch can show that you are calm. When you want to get someone’s attention, you can speak at a high pitch, such as saying ’em ơi!’ with a loud and high voice in a beer garden to catch the waitresses’ attention. This is totally fine in Vietnamese culture.
Learn Most Common And Relevant Vietnamese Words
When you have a number of Vietnamese vocabulary on your hand, you can give more information in a sentence when communicating with local people. However, even your Vietnamese grammar is not correct, and people can still guess your meaning.
It depends on what you use Vietnamese for to learn relevant words. For example, the basic and relevant phrases for traveling in Vietnam could be how to say hello, thank you, and how to order coffee in Vietnamese. If you want to speak Vietnamese with your local lover, learn more Vietnamese love sentences.
Below is the list of common Vietnamese phrases you can start learning:
- How to say hello & other Vietnamese greetings
- How to say thank you in Vietnamese
- Vietnamese numbers
- Ask directions in Vietnamese
- Vietnamese questions
- Vietnamese adjectives
- How to order food & drink
- Emergency Vietnamese phases
How to learn Vietnamese vocabulary? Bring a printed Vietnamese-English dictionary with you! If you find it inconvenient, you can download the Vocly app and the Simply Learn Vietnamese app. Vocly teaches you just words and phrases, while Simply Learn Vietnamese teaches you common sentences as well. Both apps have audio recorded by native speakers so you can learn how to pronounce the phrases and sentences correctly.
Practice Speaking Vietnamese With Vietnamese People Regularly
A language is a tool that helps you communicate with other people. Because of that, I recommend you to practice the language with local speakers as much as you can. You do not need to be in Vietnam to find a Vietnamese person. With the internet and social media development, you can easily make friends with Vietnamese people in Vietnam or other countries. Instead of texting with your friends, offer them a call sometimes, so you can speak Vietnamese.
It is the best way to learn the language when you speak Vietnamese with Vietnamese speakers. At the same time, they can give you more insights into the culture and correct your pronunciation. When you hear them saying Vietnamese, you can get familiar with the tones and the speed.
Kindly note that there are different dialects in the Vietnamese language. When you speak to a speaker from the South of Vietnam, you will likely learn the Southern Vietnamese accent. This might cause you a bit of difficulty when you speak Vietnamese with a person from Northern Vietnam. There is no standard Vietnamese dialect, so it depends on where you want to stay in the country to learn a specific accent. With the Simply Learn app, you can learn both Northern Vietnamese and Southern Vietnamese.
Speak Vietnamese On Your Own With These Applications
It is fun to ask Google Assistant to do something for you in Vietnamese. If it can understand you when you speak Vietnamese, that will be perfect! To add Vietnamese as the language for Google Assistant, follow this guide. You can speak from simple to more complex sentences such as ‘Mấy giờ rồi?’ (What is the time?), ‘Món ăn Việt Nam’ (Vietnamese food).
Unfortunately, Apple Siri doesn’t support Vietnamese yet. Luckily, you can still install Google Assistant on your iPhone or iPad.
The Ling App is a language learning app with lessons designed by native Vietnamese speakers. It teaches you Vietnamese words, phrases, sentence structure, the Vietnamese alphabet, and everyday conversations. There are 200 Vietnamese lessons divided into 50 units with various topics. In addition, you can check your pronunciation with the Speaking games in each unit. The app will show how well you pronounced a word or sentence and which words you mispronounced.
Not only translating your voice, text, and images from English to Vietnamese and vice versa, Translate Me can also help you in learning Vietnamese. The app uses voice recognition to recognize your voice. You can speak Vietnamese and see if the app can understand and show you the right text of what you said. In addition, the app is so convenient for you when traveling in Vietnam when your Vietnamese skills are not good enough. The app can translate what you speak in English (or other languages) and what Vietnamese speakers say in real-time. The language barrier no longer exists if you have the Translate Me app.
I hope you can make fast progress in learning Vietnamese with the mentioned tips. If you have any questions or suggestions for the next topic, feel free to leave your comment below.