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.

2015

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

Learn vocabulary on Instagram

So, things have been busy for the past couple of months and probably will continue to be until Tết.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to join Lindsay on her quest to share new vocabulary on Instagram, starting this month. I’m aiming to post 3-4 pictures a week.

IGLC january 2015

You can find me on Instagram here.

morevietnamese-instagram

While you’re there, you should also follow Viet Wordly who post gorgeous Vietnamese vocabulary pictures.

Over to you: Have you ever used Instagram to learn new vocabulary? How about joining in with the challenge?

Learn new words and phrases from videos

Passively listening to music or watching TV isn’t going to make you speak Vietnamese overnight but by actively engaging with the content, both music and movies can be a useful learning tool.

Today we’re going to look at one way of using films or TV shows to improve your vocabulary.

The basic premise of this technique is that you use the video to find authentic, interesting phrases or words that you want to learn. After watching the show you use Anki to learn (or ‘internalise’) those new expressions.

What’s needed?

You need a video or film with Vietnamese subtitles.

I tend to prefer TV series over full-length films because of the continued storyline and repetitive vocabulary. Also because they’re shorter than full length films. It’s much easier to find time to occasionally watch a 30-60 episode of something or a 5 minute short story like Qùa Tặng Cuộc Sống.

Step 1: Find new words

You watch the video on your computer, with subtitles. When a new word or interesting phrase you want to learn comes up, pause and take a screencap. I usually quickly look it up in a dictionary or online to get approximate understanding of the meaning, then hit play and continue watching.

Work on your question form by learning phrases from a film.

Work on your question form by learning phrases from a film.

Top tip: Don’t spend too much time looking up words while you’re watching or you’ll spend 2h+ watching an 1 hour long show (or give up part way through). I usually have google translate open on my phone to get the gist of new vocab and take a screencap so I can look into it in detail later.

Step 2: Fully understand the new words

After the whole show, I go through my screencaps with a dictionary to accurately understand the meaning. Even if you think you know what it means, it’s really important to check so you’re certain.

For example, when using this method with French I assumed sans doute meant without a doubt but actually it’s more like maybe (sans aucun doute is without a doubt). That’s a big, fundamental difference!

Step 3: Make your flashcards

Put the sentences and screencaps into Anki or another customisable flashcard program.

An example recall flashcard

A recall flashcard for the video method

The flashcard contains the sentence translated loosely into English and this is what prompts me to recall the sentence.

Top tip: I usually do this in batches to break up Step 2. While working through the phrases with a dictionary I take a break every 5-10 minutes and put the cards into Anki.


How to Learn Spanish have a detailed video showing how this method works. It’s 90% what I do, though I differ from Andrew in that I keep the information displayed on my cards to a minimum and I use both Learn and Recall cards in Anki.

Advantages and disadvantages of this method

The advantages of this method are that it’s really enjoyable because you’re watching something you’re interested in and it’s authentic because you’re learning words and phrases in natural spoken contexts.

The context is very strong because you have visual and audio to go with the new vocabulary. You don’t just learn new vocab, you feel it. Often when prompted to recall a card, I imagine the scene where the line was said which helps me to remember it.

Disadvantages are that it can be hard to find enjoyable subtitled materials, the language can be very informal or even vulgar (a good dictionary should alert you of this) and you have to be careful when looking up and translating new words you learn this way. If you make a mistake and learn the wrong use of a word, it will be hard to relearn.

This last potential problem is one reason why I recommend this for intermediate learners or above, because at that stage you have a better feel for the language, you’re able to discern things about the language and better judge what is and isn’t useful to learn. Alternatively you could go through your sentences with a tutor or bilingual friend to ensure you’re correct.

However if there are also subtitles in your native language, you can use them to make your cards.

Over to you: Have you ever tried to ‘study’ a film or TV programme?

Where to watch Vietnamese videos with subtitles

Last week I wrote that watching Vietnamese films or dramas as a beginner can be a fun way to immerse yourself in Vietnamese and help to attune your ear to Vietnamese. To make this enjoyable as a beginner, it’s best to watch the video with subtitles in a language you are fluent in (eg. English subtitles).

For elementary or intermediate learners who want to improve your listening or pick up new vocabulary, watching with Vietnamese subtitles can make native language material (which may be too fast or full of slang) accessible to you.

Here are 3 places you can find Vietnamese movies, films or dramas with either Vietnamese or foreign subtitles:

1. More Vietnamese’s “Vietnamese With Subtitles” playlist on YouTube (vi)

More Vietnamese youtube playlistI’ve put together a YouTube playlist of Vietnamese short films and other videos with Vietnamese subtitles.

Currently the playlist has 15+ videos and I’ll continue adding more as and when I find them.

2. Vietnamese movies and dramas on Viki.com (en, fr, es)

viki Fan-made subtitles for dramas and movies worldwide. Most Vietnamese videos on the site have been subbed in English, with a sizeable number also available in French. The occasional video has Spanish subtitles.

Unfortunately the fans who make the English subtitles usually translate straight to English without putting up Vietnamese subtitles. So far I’ve used a VA to transcribe Episodes 2-4 of The Curse of Sapphire. For one-offs this is cheap but it would be quite expensive to do this for everything. If a few people chip in I’d be happy to arrange some more transcriptions.

3. 10 Vietnamese Movies with English Subtitles (en)

A blog post recommending 10 Vietnamese movies with English subtitles and linking to each on YouTube.

Over to you: Do you watch Vietnamese films or dramas? Do you find using subtitles useful? Would you like to see more Vietnamese videos with Vietnamese subtitles?

Is it worth watching Vietnamese films and TV shows when you’re a beginner?

If you watch a Vietnamese film or TV show when you’re a beginner, you’re obviously not going to understand it all. But is it still worth watching?

To be honest, I wasn’t convinced there was any value until recently. But then that all changed…

A short case study

I started learning Vietnamese as I arrived in Vietnam, so I’d never really thought about listening practice as a beginner because Vietnamese has been all around me from Day 1.

However, since the spring I’ve taken up Korean (again). I’m not surrounded by Korean, I don’t have any Korean friends and the only real listening practice I get is the one or two lessons I listen to each week at Talk To Me In Korean (TTMIK).

I do from time to time watch Korean dramas though. I’d watched them before I started learning Korean (simply because I enjoy them). As a total newbie I didn’t learn any vocabulary from watching them or understand anything at all. I was completely dependent on the translated subtitles and honestly, the dialogue was just background noise.

But last month something changed. It was the first time I watched a drama since finished TTMIK Level 1 and found myself able to pick out some words.

wait

기드리… wait? waiting? waited? He definitely said something about waiting.

Now, this doesn’t sound revolutionary but bear in mind that young children spend years listening to their native language before they start speaking. Gradually all that ‘noise’ they hear turns into words… Sound familiar?

Anyway, back to learning Vietnamese.

Will watching films teach me Vietnamese?

No, watching Vietnamese programmes (with foreign subtitles) as a beginner isn’t going to teach you to speak Vietnamese. But if you pay attention to the dialogue, you can start to pick out familiar words.

Singling out key or familiar words in a sentence is a skill you’ll use all the time when having conversations in Vietnamese. People will say things to you and you’ll miss or not understand half of what they say. Being able to use the words you heard to guess the meaning of the sentence is an vital skill that you’ll use over and over again as you have conversations in Vietnamese.

So…?

I watch Korean dramas because I like them. It’s an added benefit that I’m training my ear in a language I’m a beginner in.

However, watching dramas is not an efficient way to learn. If you only have an hour of free time, you’d be better off using that time to watch a Vietnamese lesson on Youtube and then practise what you just learnt.

But… if you’re going to watch a movie anyway, make it a Vietnamese one (occasionally at least). 😉

Over to you: Do you watch any Vietnamese TV shows or films? Do you find it useful listening practice?