About

Welcome!

This blog is for anyone interested in learning languages, no matter what level you’re at. We write about both general language learning tips and techniques, and those specific to Vietnamese.

To get better at a language you need practice – practice speaking of course but also listening, reading and writing. To help you out, we’ve created the most comprehensive list of Vietnamese resources and our regular blog posts help you to optimise your approach to learning.

Get started!

Who are you?

Thảo in Tây Ninh

My English name is not ideal for the Vietnamese
tongue – you can call me Elisabeth, Ruth or follow my Vietnamese friends and call me Thảo. The th- is pronounced as an English ‘t’ and the name rhymes with ‘how?’.

I first moved to Vietnam in 2011 and taught English there for 2 years. In 2014 I moved back to Vietnam for a second time, where I lived until early 2016. My Vietnamese is some kind of intermediate level.

My articles stem not only from my experience learning Vietnamese, but I also draw on my experience learning other languages in the past and present as well as my teaching experience.

A quick language history
Several years ago I studied French quite extensively (to UK A-level, said to be around B2), I’ve dabbled with Esperanto and I’ve been learning some Korean on and off. My latest beginner language is Bulgarian. When I travel I like to learn the basics of the language where I’m travelling.

Where else do you write or give interviews?

Why did you start this site?

I studied Vietnamese on and off while living in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) and the second attempt, once I was able to look beyond tones, I discovered a love for the language. The way that many words are formed is so simple and poetic. For example, the ^ accent literally being the northern word for hat: . (How can you not love a language that does that!)

As it’s not a very commonly learned language I struggled to find resources for the middle levels – beyond basic survival language but not yet able to read magazines or listen to the news.

I also grew tired of hearing people say it’s so hard! Sadly there isn’t much positive stuff online about learning Vietnamese. While you’re not going to become fluent overnight, it is possible to learn Vietnamese!

As scientist Thomas Edison once said:

Of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.

Every failed technique, every misuse of a word that made a native speaker laugh…they each take us one step closer to our goal.

With a little time and effort I believe you and I can do it.

I hope you’ll join us on your journey. But most of all, good luck!

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If you have anything you’d like to see featured on the blog, please get in touch! I’m always interested in input from readers and/or articles from different perspectives (contribute?). (And of course more interviewees!) I want this website to be useful to everyone learning Vietnamese.

{ Leave a Reply ? }

  1. PolyglotFun

    Hi Thảo. I like your enthusiasm for the language a lot. I feel the same way about a lot of different languages. 🙂 Take a look at my blog if you have the time (www.polyglotfun.com), I feel like we’ll be able to learn a lot from one another.

  2. Thanh

    Thảo, thanks for sharing your language journey and valuable insights. I think lots of learners will benefit from your blog. Keep up the passion.

    Thanh

  3. Charles

    I stumbled upon your page via Polyglot Link. The useful ideas you wrote in your entries can also be applied to language learning in general:) (I’m learning Spanish now).

  4. Simone

    Great blog 🙂 Will read more when I get the chance, on way to airport right now 😉

  5. Chris Phillips

    Great blog. I was very happy to have found it. I have tried to learn Vietnamese multiple times. I am interested in learning the language because my wife is from Saigon. The last time I tried, I had a great skype tutor. However, I quit taking lessons because: 1) my time and money was limited; and 2) I have been studying Spanish for the past 4 years and thought that trying to learn Vietnamese would detract from my Spanish studies. Predictably, I am getting the bug to learn the language again. Of course, it would be great to talk to my wife and her family in Vietnamese, but the biggest attraction of the language might be that there are almost no “white people” that can speak it. In my opinion, the first impediment to learning the language is pronunciation and tones. While I made some progress with my tutor, those two things still seem like an insurmountable hill to climb. That being said, I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to learn tones and pronunciation. Again, thank you very much for maintaining this blog.

  6. Hiếu

    As a Vietnamese, I admire the foreigners who try to learn Vietnamese beause they must love Viet Nam that they want to learn the language which is not widely used. Thank you Ruth for spreading our language further to international community :).

  7. Nhi

    As a native speaker, my vocab was limited mostly to food! Thank you so much for these resources. I’m hoping to have more in depth conversations with my grandparents and other family members with my extended vocabulary. Also – I greatly appreciate you featuring some Southern accent! Keep up the great work. This has been a life saver!

  8. Cathy Wilson

    Nice to find this blog; good luck with your journey!

  9. Khanh

    Thao, thank you so much for putting together this site and sharing your passion for Vietnamese! I am trying to improve my Vietnamese to communicate better with my parents, relatives, etc. Your site is an amazing resource and you are an inspiration 🙂

  10. Rick

    Hi Thao. Thanks for your work in creating this website. It’s exactly what I have been looking for. My wife is Vietnamese and I have been to Nha Trang a great number of times, but only for 2 or 3 weeks each trip so my Vietnamese progresses a lot slower that I would like. I know a lot of words and can speak and listen to simple things, but am definitely not conversational. That’s my goal, but it will take a lot of work. The material on your site will help me work toward that.

  11. Henry

    Thao, this was just what I was looking for! I am half Vietnamese, and Vietnamese is my language spoken at home since birth. However, I never learned how to read. Half of all my relatives are in Hanoi, and I would like to connect with them more via writing.

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