How to learn Vietnamese

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This language is not easy, but will open a lot of doors if you can speak at least a few words.

The Vietnamese language.

Vietnamese is spoken by more than 100 million people worldwide, with the majority, 90 million plus speaking it as their first language.

Vietnamese (Vietnamese: tiếng Việt )  is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam and is now the country’s official and national language. With about 90 million native speakers, it is by far the most spoken Austroasiatic language, at least seven times more used than Khmer, the next most spoken Austroasiatic language.

It is the Vietnamese (Kinh) people’s native language, as well as a second or first language for other ethnic groups in Vietnam. Vietnamese speakers can also be found in other parts of Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia as a result of emigration”. Source, Wikipedia.

Why bother?

When you have the opportunity to travel, it is much more memorable if you get to experience life as a native. With your Vietnamese skills, you may engage in general conversation, cultural exchanges, and request suggestions with anybody you meet. 

Learning Vietnamese is kind of a running joke among the Vietnamese expat community. It is something that everyone considers. The majority of people attempt it. Only a few people are successful. And it’s not hard to see why.

To begin with, many Vietnamese city people speak English, to the point where you may not need to know a single Vietnamese word to get by. Or you know enough to buy a beer. (Bia)

Second, Vietnamese ican be a difficult language to learn. So many people abandon trying to learn after realizing they still can’t have a basic conversation after months of study.

With that stated, learning Vietnamese is possible, enjoyable, and well worth the effort.

If you learn Vietnamese you can locate the better restaurants. And you will have the ability to order the best Bun cha or Pho. Also you can find out what locals have to say about Tet  (Lunar New Year) or the Mid-Autumn Festival. And other events and activities that you’re interested in.

You can also learn about their practices and traditions, as well as their views on life. And you will blow their minds if you can talk with them in their language.

It is well worth taking the time to learn,at least, a few phrases. They will love you even if you try.

What is the difficulty level of learning Vietnamese?

Vietnamese is neither difficult nor simple to learn. It is  more realistic to describe Vietnamese as “an easy language” rather than a difficult language. However, one feature of the Vietnamese  that is difficult to master is pronunciation.

Why?, because it is a tonal language. There are six tones in the Vietnamese language.

There are six tones in Vietnamese that you need to learn and master when you learn Vietnamese.

  • Mid-Level Tone     (Thanh Ngang).
  • Low Falling Tone  (Thanh Huyền) .
  • High Rising Tone  (Thanh Sắc) .
  • Low Rising Tone   (Thanh Hỏi) .
  • High Broken Tone (Thanh Ngã) …
  • Heavy Tone           (Thanh Nặng)

But to reach this level, you’ll need to study pretty hard. This Vietinamese language is also related to Cuoi and has three distinct dialects. And these are the Hanoi (Northern Vietnamese) dialect,the Hue (Central Vietnamese) dialect, and the Saigon dialect (Southern Vietnamese). The Northern dialect is considered the better dialect as it is the Capitol city of Vietnam, and where the Government is situated.

Image of Hanoi. ( Stock photo )

The best ways to learn Vietnamese.

  •  Become a member of a local Vietnamese community in your area.
    Attend a Vietnam cultural festival or meet local Vietnamese people. This will be useful in learning more about Vietnamese culture and finding someone to practice listening and speaking with.
  •  Practice pronouncing the words.
    People develop a habit of pronunciation and speaking rhythm as a result of CD players with Vietnamese music, songs, and films. Vietnamese is a language that expresses meaning through a variety of tones.
  • Enlist the help of a tutor to create a lesson plan.
    If you don’t have much money, hire a native Vietnamese speaker to speak with you many times a week and invite them to dinner.
  • The best and quickest approach to learn Vietnamese is to spend more time in Vietnam.
  • Study online.

Final Thoughts. 

Is it worthwhile to learn Vietnamese?

While it is true that learning to understand the six tones of Vietnamese as well as foreign vowels will take a lot of practice, don’t give up.  It is possible to learn Vietnamese and it is definitely worth the effort.

If you like this, check out my website for more information about Vietnam. ==> here <==

I hope this helps you in your decision to learn Vietnamese. If you need help, I can offer free lessons online.


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4 thoughts on “How to learn Vietnamese”

  1. WOW it sure sounds that Vietnamese is a little more complex than other languages Stephen. I never knew of a language that consists of six tonal levels. One would need a fine-tuned ear to differentiate between them all. As a lover of languages, speaking four fluent enough to have conversations and two good enough to get around this almost makes my head hurt. 🙂

    1. Thanks Monica, Lol, I am lucky that my wife is Vietnamese and speaks a lot. She makes my head hurt. it is not an   easy language to learn but there are ways to make it easier. You can check out a couple of ways on some of my other posts at

  2. Vietnamese is not an easy language. I was friend to a family of Vietnamese and they often came to my home and I also went to their home. I told them I would like to learn their mother tongue. And they tried to speak slowly to me. I was able to start understanding some words. But when they were talking fast, I didn’t understand a thing.

    1. Lol, I know, when I first started learning Vietnamese that was the hardest thing to overcome. The listening skill is the first learning hurdle and can be difficult to jump. However once that is mastered the rest does become a bit easier. Sometimes I still miss out the flow of a fast paced conversation in Vietnamese, well certainly the intricacies anyway. I hope you managed to learn at least a few phrases. Thanks for the comments.

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