Blog Archives

How do I choose materials suitable for my level?

Golden leaves, golden shoes, golden nuggets of information. I do like autumn!

Golden leaves, golden shoes, golden nuggets of information. I do like autumn!

A new type of post on the blog, I’ll periodically be featuring short posts with little golden nuggets of knowledge or advice about language learning.

Thảo ơi, how do I choose reading and listening materials suitable for my level?

A good rule of thumb is to read material that’s a little harder than your level and listen to material that’s a little easier.

This can make a huge difference between being able to understand something and feeling so confused that you give up.

To read easily, you don’t want to be looking up more than a few words per page or article. If you’re studying rather than reading for pleasure, you can increase that figure. But even then, if you find yourself stopping every few words then consider putting that article or story aside for a few weeks and trying again when you’re a bit further along in your studies.

As for listening, even if you’re naturally good at it it’s harder than reading. Ever struggled to understand something and put subtitles on to help? Yeah, that’s it. At that point you’re reading the subtitles rather than listening to the dialogue because you can’t actually do both at the same time. Like the situation with struggling to read an article that’s above your level, if you find yourself needing subtitles then you need to find something easier to practice your listening skills for the time being.

Now you know how to tell if your materials are the right level for you, you’re ready to choose some new ones! Vietnamese learners can start here.

Top Vietnamese reading materials for learners (online)

Vietnamese reading materials

Read to improve your Vietnamese.

Vietnamese articles and stories provide natural models of the language in an interesting and engaging context that help you deepen your knowledge and increase your knowledge of Vietnamese.

In language learning it’s important to read articles that are at the right level. If it’s too hard you’ll want to give up. If the material is easy, that can be great for extensive reading (aka reading for pleasure) and deepening your knowledge of words and structures you already know.

But you should also try to balance that with some intensive reading of materials that are challenging but not so much that you get discouraged. With this kind of reading the focus is on understanding the text and it is this ‘studying’ while you read that will help increase your knowledge.

For a long time I didn’t know of any materials with graded language for Vietnamese language learners. Children’s books and comics can be helpful, but they are not the same thing as graded readers.

After digging around, I’ve uncovered some real gems online!

1. Learning Vietnamese Network

Level: elementary, low intermediate.

The site provides bilingual articles, with both northern and southern audio of the Vietnamese text. Some articles are about common textbook topics such as family or education and some are more topical, news-style.

Get started:

2. Study Vietnamese

Level: high elementary, low intermediate.

A language school provides bilingual articles – mostly short stories that are cultural, have morals or are funny.

Get started:

3. VinaVille

Level: elementary, intermediate.

Articles on VinaVille highlight new or difficult vocabulary and provide translations of these words in English, French and Japanese. There’s also an English translation of the article.

Get started:

4. Vietnamese for expats (Tuoi Tre)

Level: high elementary to intermediate.

At the lower level there’s a ‘My Story’ section of articles by learners about their time in Vietnam. Another feature of this site is the ‘Bilingual Library’ – Tuoi Tre newspaper articles with both a Vietnamese and English version (not a literal translation).

Both types of articles highlight new or difficult vocabulary and provide a key with English translations.

Get started:

5. VietFun Truyện

Level: intermediate, high intermediate.

Moving on to more natural material, I like this huge collection of short stories and legends.

Get started:

Read more

These are my favourite places to find interesting Vietnamese reading materials that I can actually read. You can find more, especially for higher levels, on our resources page.

Over to you: Do you have any favourite Vietnamese reading materials?

Photo credit: lusi