Do you feel like you should write in Vietnamese, but you don’t really know what to write about?
Choosing the right topic enables you to practice your Vietnamese in a low-pressure setting. Writing gives you time to think about what you want to say, to build on what you’ve been learning and to try out new things.
But sometimes it can be hard to choose what to write about. If you pick the wrong topic for your interests or your level, it can frustrate you, kill your motivation and even cause you to give up and avoid writing.
It can be tricky to know what to write about. Here are 12 ideas to get you started.
Make up a conversation
This is a great one for beginners. It can be hard trying to write when you don’t have much language to work with, so go with what you know and write a fictitious dialogue between two friends or colleagues.
Intermediate learners can also use this to practice different types of writing because you can vary how formal it is by changing characters. This can be a good way to check if you’re using slang or polite words like thưa in the right way.
Keep a diary
Write about your daily routine or recount something unique or different about your day. If you’re struggling at first, commit to just writing one sentence each day. It will get easier over time.
Describe a trip or event
Write about an interesting event like a dinner party or wedding you attended or describe a holiday or day trip you’ve been on.
Think of sentences or stories based on new vocabulary you’ve come across.
Eg. If you learn the word ‘leo’ (climb), you could write a few sentences about any mountains you’ve climbed, climbing trees when you were a kid, or why you’d never do either of those things.
Write about a hobby
Describe when and why you got started with one of your hobbies (or why you’re learning Vietnamese) and how often you practice it.
Describe a familiar place
Write about a place you know well – like where you grew up or went to university. As well as describing it physically, say what you like about it.
Write about a local event
Explain about a festival or annual event in your town, why it started and what usually happens.
Make a comparison between something in your country and that in Vietnam. Eg. differences in climate, eating habits, transport…
Summarise what you watch or read in your free time. Even if that film or book was in English or another language, you can still practice Vietnamese by describing the basic story, key events and why you liked (or didn’t like) it.
Use the same topic as your study material
Write your own take on a topic that you’ve seen/read about in Vietnamese.
Eg. If you listen to someone describing their best friend, write about your own.
Ask questions in Vietnamese about the language or culture.
If you wrote a sentence while chatting that you didn’t think was natural, rewrite it, ask questions and find out a better way to say it.
Or you could ask about something you’ve read or pose a cultural question like if people really chew betel nuts.
Post your questions on a peer-correction site like Lang-8 or iTalki*, wait for answers from native speakers and make it a discussion by responding to them.
Find a short article or letter that you’ve read in your native language and translate it into Vietnamese.
This is a harder task than writing something directly in Vietnamese, but on the other hand you don’t have to think about what to say.
Keep a list
Instead of trying to think of a topic every time you’re in the mood to write, keep a list of things you want to write about.
As you go about your daily life, look out for potential topics and jot them down. That way, when you’re in the mood to write you can simply look at your list and go with one of those ideas.
Over to you: Do you struggle to think of things to write about? Did this list of topics inspire you, if so… What’s your next piece of writing going to be about?
Photo credit: ralaenin