Tết 2016

Hello again. I know it’s been a while, but I’m aiming to make a fresh start in 2016 (Lunar New Year aka Tết is just round the corner) and return to posting more often. Stay tuned!

Year of the Monkey

Year of the Monkey

Song of the Summer (V-Pop)

Actually this song by solo singer Tóc Tiên is probably more popular for its dance… there aren’t that many words in it really. It’s no Gangnam style, but the middle part of the song has a fun, copyable dance that’s been popular with young people in Vietnam over the last few months.

Here’s a karaoke (aka Vietnamese subtitled) version of the original video. If you just want to see the dance, start watching around 2 mins in.

If you’re looking to watch a funny video or two, there are many covers and spoofs of the dance on Youtube. Just search “Vũ Điệu Cồng Chiêng”.

Over to you: What song or songs have caught your attention this summer?

Have you been doing something?

The last thing I posted is that you should do something, no matter how big or small, to get your learning back on track.

Somehow that was 2 months ago. So I thought I’d check in and ask how you’re doing, did you manage to do something? I did. Not quite as much as I’d hoped, but more than I did in March…

If you remember, I set two goals:

  • Writing a sentence a day in Korean, 5 days a week
  • Posting 3 words per week in the Instagram language challenge (IGLC)

Daily sentences

I wrote something 13 times in April. Many of these sentences were 2, 3 or even 4 sentences (so over the month I still totalled 30 ;)).

Korean daily sentences, early April

Half of my sentences were about food or being hungry, but not these ones.
(3/4: There’s no spring in southern Vietnam. April is really hot.
4/4: I really like Saturdays.)

As you can see, your sentences don’t have to be long, which makes this goal very achievable.

I felt like I was learning a lot, but in a manageable way. I had to look up the occasional new word, but not so many that it’s frustrating and you want to give up. Success!

Then I sort of stopped. I wasn’t carrying my notebook around with me much, or I did but just left it in my bag when I got home. Looking through my Kakaotalk, I still wrote Korean a few times in May. Semi-success? I’m not sure.


I posted to Instagram 5 times in April and 4 in May. Not great. I found the theme in April difficult as it was spring-related during the hottest month of the year in Saigon! In May, I forgot to save the prompts infographic to my phone so I didn’t keep track of the daily theme. I’ve already put the June prompts on my phone, so hopefully I can meet to my aim next month!

Other things

I’m still looking for a decent Vietnamese drama series that I can get subtitled. I don’t really read fast enough to watch Korean dramas with Vietnamese subtitles. However I recently watched an American film that had Vietnamese subtitles, so I was able to glance at the subtitles to see how certain words and expressions had been translated. Interesting, but not a great study method.

Next month

Summer means extra work for me, so I don’t have time to do the italki lessons challenge* (one day I will!) or anything else particularly intensive. So I’m going to set similar goals:

  • Write a sentence a day in Korean (minimum 15 days).
  • Post 3 words per week in the Instagram language challenge (aim 10 words).
  • Keep reviewing vocabulary with Anki and Memrise every day.

Over to you: What have you been doing to boost your learning recently? What’s your aim for the next month?

Stopped learning? Just do something. Anything.

Pretty notepad. Too pretty.

Pretty notepad. Too pretty.

Do you like my notepad? It’s pretty. So nice that I haven’t used it yet, even though I bought it months ago. Mostly because I don’t know what to write on the first page. It should be special for a special notepad, right…

Wait, what has this got to do with language learning?

Well, the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten out of the habit of daily learning. I’m still doing flashcards (almost) every day but that’s only going to help my maintain my level. I haven’t been learning anything new, even with a pretty notebook by my side.

A new start

So I bought a new one.

Cute notepad

It’s also fairly cute, but it only cost 3000 VND (about $0.14). So cheap that I can use it as a rough notebook. A place to jot down vocab I’ve just learnt or words I want to look up later. Or to draft some writing before putting it online to get corrected. Notes and scribbles are OK because it’s only a rough book.

Still, I didn’t know what to write on the first page. So I started on the last page.

What to write

While I’ve given you suggestions for writing topics before, I find that once I get started writing in Vietnamese one paragraph usually turns into a page. Who has time for that? On the other hand, my Korean level is so low that it would take ages to sit down and write any of those things.

So keeping it simple, I’m trying to write one sentence a day in Korean and get back to posting a new Vietnamese word to Instagram. But to keep it realistic, I’m aiming for 5 sentences per week and 3 vocabulary photos. If I aim for 7 I will most likely fail, and I don’t want to fail.

A little secret…I started the Korean sentences already. I’ve managed 8 out of 12 days so far and for many of those I actually wrote more than one line.

Daily writing

Except I have another secret. Even with my ‘rough’ notepad I’ve been… Scrap …writing on scrap paper first. I do this all the time. I have notebooks and textbooks stuffed with scrap paper. Yay for the environment (recycling), not so yay for being organised.

But who cares? I’m doing something again. It might be small, it might be a bit silly to write things out multiple times but it’s something. And it’s re-creating a habit.

And Vietnamese?

Tomorrow is also a new month, so a chance to get back on track with the Instagram Language Challenge too. Maybe I’ll post a picture tomorrow, maybe I’ll start on Thursday. But I’ll do something.

Thảo ơi, I don’t want to write or share new words. What other easy things can I do?

Underline new words

  • Follow me on Instagram and learn my words (some are also cross-posted on Facebook).
  • Practice an answer to a simple question (like Anh/Em/Chị là người nước nào?) over and over again. Repeat your answer 10 or 20 times until you can do it without thinking. Then try again later. And again tomorrow.
  • Grab a book or online article and simply highlight the words you don’t know. You can look them up now. Or later. Or tomorrow. Or next week. But highlight them now.
  • Make an outline for something you want to write. Choose a topic and think about your key points. Even if you have to use English to take notes. Again you can look words up later. Just jot down a plan now.

If even the smallest task is a struggle, look here for advice on taking tiny baby steps towards building a habit.

Over to you: Have you stopped learning? What do you do to get yourself out of a rut?

PS. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while. Or post one of the countless other articles I need to finish editing first. So I’m breaking the habit – I’m posting. Doing something. (Notice a pattern?)

Best of (the lunar year) 2014

New Year Review - Best of 2014 (Lunar Year)It’s New Year’s Eve! The Year of the Horse is about to end and everyone is about to get a year older.

So let’s take a little look at the best of More Vietnamese over the past year and look ahead to 2015 (Year of the Goat).

Top Articles from 2014 (Year of the Horse)

Over the course of 2014 I’ve written 29 articles on More Vietnamese.

I felt like I’ve written practical advice this year and I hope these articles are useful to you. Here are my favourites from the past year:

The most popular

Most popular pages from google searches are The Ultimate Vietnamese Resource List and my music post introducing 10 Vietnamese Pop Artists.

What’s next?

The second half of 2014 was really busy for me personally so I haven’t had much time to write, but I have been learning a lot about language teaching and reflecting on how this affects both learners in the classroom and people who self-study.


As for my own language learning, I’m at a plateau with Vietnamese again. While I have been maintaining my Vietnamese, I’ve probably spent more time in 2014 working on my beginner Korean. However I hope to boost my Vietnamese in the spring by doing 1 or 2 focused 21 day long bursts or sprints of focused learning.

In 2015, expect interesting new articles based on what I’ve learnt this past year and new vocabulary via the Instagram Language Challenge (also posted on the facebook page).

Thank you!

Finally, thank you for reading and supporting More Vietnamese! Thanks to everyone who’s left comments here or on Facebook and those who have asked questions by emails. I get so many of my ideas for articles from you.

I love encouraging people to learn Vietnamese so it’s a pleasure to run this site. Keep visiting and I’ll keep writing.

Over to you: What was (Lunar) 2014 like for you? How was your language learning?

Photo credit: phostezel