Blog Archives

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, dramas or short videos 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. Update 2017: Videos no longer seem to available on viki.

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 with links to some of them 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?

How to find and add audio to Anki flashcards

Last month I introduced some techniques and tools for tackling hard-to-remember vocabulary.

My recommended solution for most words that you’ve learnt through your study, conversations or reading is spaced repetition. But most shared decks don’t have audio and if you make your own cards in Anki or elsewhere, how are you supposed to get (free) audio for them and what’s the best way to add the sound to your cards?

How to find free audio

If you already have the word in a recording (eg. as part of an MP3 lesson, podcast or recording of a conversation), you can use a tool like Audacity to edit it and get a clip of just the word you’re learning.

If you don’t or if you’d rather not do it that way, there are online tools you can use to get a recording of your target word.

1. Forvo

The website Forvo aims to collect a database of all the words in the world, pronounced by native speakers. The Vietnamese section has over 11,000 words pronounced already.

Just type the word in the search box and if it’s already been pronounced, it will turn up.

If the word you’re looking for is not there already, you can add it to a request list and someone will probably record it within a few days.

Advantages:

  • Most common words are already there, pronounced by native speakers.
  • You can download an MP3 recording of your target word if you create a (free) account.
  • Each word page has a map showing where the person who recorded it is from, so it’s easy to stick to Northern or Southern pronunciations as you wish.

Disadvantages:

  • It’s only single words (including compound words), so it’s no good for adding sentences or short phrases to your cards.
  • Because users make and upload their own recordings, the quality can vary and of course not every word is recorded in both Northern and Southern accents.

2. RhinoSpike

If you want custom recordings, community site RhinoSpike lets users request audio in exchange for uploading recordings in their native language for other users.

So if you want some sentences recording in Vietnamese, you’ll have to help 3 other users with your language first.

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

  • It can take a while for someone to record your audio (though you could find and make friends with Vietnamese users to speed this up).
  • You have to record or transcribe more than you request.

I usually wait until I have about 10 sentences I want recording and make one request with all of them, asking for a pause between. I then use Audacity to split the sentences in 10 files.

3. Other options

I haven’t used this personally, but here’s another option:

How to add and use audio with Anki cards

So now you have some audio, but how should you use it with your flashcards?

It’s easiest to explain this by a video:

Over to you: Do you find sound is important to help you remember words? Do you ever use audio with flashcards?

Photo credit: mlaiju

Absolute Beginner Vietnamese: How to start learning

If you’re a complete beginner in Vietnamese and you barely know a word of Vietnamese, where should you start?

I don’t know about you but I find it tricky to learn the first few words of any language. It sounds totally different or even strange. A sentence might sound really fast or a word seems really long. This is normal.

I like to start off slowly when I’m an absolute beginner. I find beginner audio courses or textbooks are overload to start with. They’re simply too much to take in at once. When you first start learning, even short sentences can be really difficult to remember. I started by learning beginner Vietnamese just a few words at a time.

An Introduction to Vietnamese for beginners

If you have a burning question about Vietnamese like what alphabet does Vietnamese use or what are all those accent marks, head to the Frequently Asked Questions.

For a general introduction to Vietnamese, this video by Rusty Compass is the best.

Where to learn a few basic Vietnamese words

In general, the most important thing is just to start learning today, with whatever you have. You can fine tune what you learn later.

Essential Vietnamese vocabulary

Although the way we speak is in sentences, you do need to build your basic vocabulary sooner or later. Here are 120 common words with audio.

Travel & Expat Vietnamese phrases

If you’re in Vietnam already or soon heading there, there is some essential beginner vocabulary and phrases you’ll use on a daily basis. For example, numbers and phrases for ordering food.

So if you’re planning to travel to Vietnam soon, start with these traveller vocabulary videos.

If you’re going to be living in Vietnam, here’s a video pronouncing common names.

A Beginner Vietnamese Series

If you want to learn some basic vocabulary like colours or hobbies (eg. before starting a course or using a textbook), the video series produced by EverydayViet.com (southern Vietnamese) is my favourite. Start here with learning to say thank you.

You can follow up on this video series by practising the vocabulary on Memrise.com. There are courses where you can practice vocabulary by multiple choice or by typing the answer.

Listening to Vietnamese

If you want to get used to the sound and rhythm of Vietnamese, you could listen to pop music or even watch videos with Vietnamese subtitles.

Learning to read Vietnamese

The Vietnamese alphabet is really phonetic (ie. letters are always pronounced the same way), you just need to learn what letters match up to what sounds. Then you can start to pick up new vocabulary when you see it written down, or be able to correctly read out the items on a menu.

Then what?

Once you’re familiar with some basics, you can choose which accent to study and start with a course, textbook, tutor or self-study with online resources.

Over to you: Are you a beginner just starting to learn Vietnamese? Why are you learning and what are you using? More experienced learners, what are your favourite beginner resources?

3 more ways to learn Vietnamese through facebook

Use facebook to learn VietnameseA few months ago I shared 3 ways to learn Vietnamese through facebook.

To recap, they were:

  1. Chat with native speakers
  2. Translate your Vietnamese friends’ status updates
  3. Consider changing your language settings

I’ve since become a bit more conscious about how I practice and learn Vietnamese through facebook and come up with 3 more.

1. Click on the links your friends share

Instead of scouring the web, or picking things at random from our Resources List, just select the things that your friends recommend. Chances are a lot of these posts will interest you as you have things in common with your friends.

This is my favourite way of finding interesting authentic materials – whether that’s articles, songs, videos or even infographics.

2. Write statuses in Vietnamese

Quicker and less pressure than writing a diary about your day, share short funny anecdotes from your day or ask questions. Interact with the people who comment and continue a short conversation.

In some ways, this is a bit like chatting with someone but you have more time to look up new words and consider how to phrase what you want to say. You’re also just talking about one topic and don’t need to think of different things to say like you do in a chat.

3. Like fan pages

To get more exposure to authentic material (ie. Vietnamese written by and for Vietnamese people), you can like fan pages for Vietnamese a favourite musician, magazine, cooking blog or other celebrities like the most famous ‘foreigner’ who can speak Vietnamese, Joe Dâu Tây.

By liking a page you can take part in the community – read news updates about the person or magazine, read other fans’ comments or even post comments yourself. These news updates should be easier to understand than friends’ status updates which often use a lot of slang or shortened ‘text speak’.

Though if you just want to chat about learning Vietnamese, there’s always the More Vietnamese page.

Over to you: Do you use facebook to practice or learn Vietnamese?

Review: Language Master Key

Listening is absolutely crucial for language learners. Being able to understand the person you’re talking to means you can nod in agreement, respond, ask questions… ie. have a conversation and connect with people.

If you want to improve your conversation skills, this is where you should start.

But what’s the best way to practice listening? Is simply watching a YouTube video enough?

The e-book Language Master Key by Ron Gullekson presents a listening-based approach to learning.

Language Master Key

Ron draws on over 10 years of experience when he explains why sound is an essential part of language learning. Not only that, but the book is full of actual techniques you can use to practice the two forms of listening he identifies: free and active listening.

I had a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments when reading the book, but my favourite section is on active listening. While free listening can be great for beginners and high intermediate learners, I think people at the middle levels in particular can really benefit from a more hands-on approach. The chapter sets out, step-by-step, methods that you can start using today.

In truth the guide not only covers why and how you should listen to improve your language skills but also includes tips on vocabulary, speaking and general learning activities. The last chapter encourages you to follow a plan for 21 days.

Normally I don’t have a lot of patience reading on my computer but I zoomed through the first 30 pages without even realising it. The book is that easy to read!

While it used to be free, it’s now available on Amazon at a reasonable price.

Practice listening to authentic Vietnamese

For active listening you need to be able to understand a lot of what you hear. Here are our top suggestions for graded or easy to understand material.

For radio stations and/or materials for free listening practice, head to the Resource List.

Over to you: What role does listening play in language learning? Are you going to download Ron’s e-book?

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