Welcome to More Vietnamese!

You dream of speaking Vietnamese and being understood. But you spend your time learning yet you don’t make any progress. Or perhaps you don’t even know where to start. After all, you took high school Spanish and look where that got you.

Let me help you achieve that dream.

Hi! I’m Elisabeth Thảo, a language teacher and learner. While I enjoyed languages as school, I followed a different path at university. Then I moved to Vietnam in 2011 to teach English, immerse myself in Vietnamese culture, and learn Vietnamese.

What’s next?

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!

Just Vietnamese?

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 learning Vietnamese.

About Elisabeth (Thảo)

Elisabeth Thảo in Tây Ninh

My English name is not ideal for the Vietnamese
tongue – you can call me Elisabeth 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 10 years of teaching experience.

In my ten year career as a language teacher I have helped hundreds of learners improve their confidence and study methods. I love helping people learn languages so much that I also train teachers.

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, particularly in 2009 and 2012/3.
  • I started learning Vietnamese in 2011.
  • I studied some Korean on and off in 2013/4.
  • I spent about a year working on Bulgarian (but only 6 months actively) in 2016/7.
  • In 2017 I dabbled in Spanish.
  • In 2018 I started learning Russian, which I’m continuing with to this day.

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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Buy me a coffee?

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 (write a guest post?). (And of course more interviewees!) I want this website to be useful to everyone learning Vietnamese.

29 replies on “About”

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.

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


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).

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.

Hi Chris! Learning two languages at the same time can be tricky to balance but considering your Spanish is so much ahead of your Vietnamese you should be ok if you’re up for dividing your time. Yes, it can be fun surprising people who don’t expect a ‘foreigner’ to be able to speak Vietnamese.

Onto your question. It’s a great question and I might expand on this in a blog post soon! For now here’s the short answer.

The key is repetition. You need to say words again and again. It’s best if you can regularly get some feedback from native speakers, particularly on the tones.

Have you thought about a language exchange? Spend half an hour chatting to someone practising their English in return for half an hour practising your Vietnamese pronunciation. You can easily find someone to Skype with.

The work you do on your pronunciation now will pay off. It’s much easier to get it right from the beginning than to go back and fix it.

Although the pronunciation is difficult, once you get into Vietnamese you’ll find the grammar is so much easier than Spanish or French!

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 :).

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!

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 🙂

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.

Hi Rick, it’s great you’ve kept working at your Vietnamese. It does get easier – promise! Having a trip planned can be a great motivator to boost your level. Look around the site, keep practising often and let me know if there are any specific problems you’re having. Good luck!

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.

Keep up the good work whenever time permit !!
i’m vietnamese born, came to america as a refugee; got rusty but am still on my way over the years back toward becoming fluent again in tieng viet…partly because most of my relatives are in Hanoi…..am also learning other languages… it’s an osmosis process 🙂

Hey Thảo, Thank you very much for the enthusiastic sharing of your love for the Vietnamese language & culture. Is there any online tutoring you suggest to learn Vietnamese in northern accent?

Great. Being a Chinese myself, I have been learning Vietnamese myself from Malaysia,as a self challenge. Vietnmese is very similar to Chinese in term of many root words. Now I can text with translator software and speak a little. I hope to learn more.
Thanks for your sharing.

Hey Ruth, I’m learning Vietnamese and came across your site when I looked for super simple stories. Unfortunately none of the links works. Are you familiar with other sites i can use?
Thanks much

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