Vietnamese books in London libraries

Vietnamese books in a London library
Vietnamese books in a London library

It seems I didn’t need to bring so many Vietnamese books back with me to the UK as I’ve found a decent collection in south London.

Initially I only looked in the languages section of the library where I found two Vietnamese-English dictionaries but no course books. Only later did I discover a shelf dedicated to ‘heritage languages’ containing around 40 books in Vietnamese.

Library details

The Library at Deptford Lounge

Vietnamese resources available:

  • 2 concise dictionaries.
  • Around 40 novels, a book of short stories and a few non-fiction books (including a bilingual book about Hồ Chí Minh).

For literature and history fans

The British Library has a range of Vietnamese literature from several old manuscripts in Chữ Nôm to classic newspaper articles.

I’ll update this list of Vietnamese books and resources in London libraries as and when I find more.


An unusual use for google translate: as a spellchecker

Google translate has advantages and disadvantages. For a computer I think it does an alright job, especially for European languages, but it’s no substitute for a human and should be used in moderation.

A problem it does have is that when it doesn’t recognise a word, it won’t translate it. In fact, this can be a handy problem.

I often use google translate as a quick spell checker when I don’t have a spell check facility on hand. If I’ve written an email in Vietnamese for instance, I post my text in google translate.

I then quickly read through the English side and look for any words that haven’t translated. Most likely it’s because I’ve made a spelling mistake, so I can look at the word and see if it needs fixing.

Whoops, that should have been 'chưa' (yet).
Whoops, that should have been ‘chưa’ (yet).

This does seem to work better for European languages such as French or German, as a lot of the time google translate seems to skip over missing tones and translate it anyway. It can also be a bit hard to read through google’s English translation.

I’d still say you can catch some errors with your Vietnamese this way, though I do use it more for other languages.


3 ways to learn languages through facebook

Facebook. Love it or hate it, let’s look at how it can be used for learning languages.

1. Chat with native speakers

Use facebook to learn Vietnamese
Use facebook to learn Vietnamese

If you have any Vietnamese friends, whether in you know them in person or people you’ve met online, you can use the chat feature to have conversations with your friends. Probably best not to add random people just for the sake of learning Vietnamese, though!

As well as being fun, this can be a great way to pick up new language in a natural and authentic way. It carries less pressure than writing emails or talking someone face-to-face as you tend to read and write one or two sentences at a time. You also have the time to look things up as you go along.

2. Translate your Vietnamese friends’ status updates

Another great way of picking up natural, everyday language is taking notes from your friends’ status updates. This is more useful for intermediate learners who just need to look up short phrases. If you put whole sentences into google translate, it’s probably not going to help you very much.

I often copy sentences into my question notepad to get clarification later. You can probably pick up some good colloquial expressions and slang this way.

If friends post statuses without diacritics, you could try websites that automatically add them so you can then look phrases up in a dictionary.

3. Change your language settings

Many other people suggest this, and it is a way of getting a bit more exposure to Vietnamese. If you’re also using facebook to chat in Vietnamese and the rest of the site is in Vietnamese, then you have a nice little digital immersion environment.

Bonus: Like More Vietnamese and interact with us there 😉

Come say hi, ask questions, share your experiences. Join us here.

» Check out Part 2 here: 3 more ways to learn languages through facebook.

Over to you: Have you used facebook or other social networking sites in your language studies?

Learning Resources

2 ways of translating words that aren’t in the dictionary

Sometimes you come across a word that you can’t find in the dictionary. Perhaps you’ve tried explaining to a native speaker but you’re not able to describe the exact word you’re aiming for.

What to do?

1. Use Wikipedia

For example, I wanted to know what the skin condition ‘eczema’ was in Vietnamese. I brought up the English Wikipedia page for eczema, then scrolled down to the Languages section of the side bar and selected Vietnamese. This brought up the equivalent page and there it is: viêm da (though actually this seems to be skin conditions in general).

2. Find a picture, then ask a native

Sadly, the Vietnamese Wikipedia is lacking a few articles. Another method I’ve used is pulling up a google image of what I want to describe or drawing a sketch, then showing it to a native speaker and asking what it was.

crochet is đan móc
Crochet is đan móc

Over to you: What do you do when you can’t find a word in the dictionary?


How to use to get your writing corrected

Writing is a good way to practice your Vietnamese. Whether you keep a diary or write topical short essays, it’s important to get your writing corrected by a native so you can learn and improve.

You might not want your friends or your teacher to correct everything you write. Especially if you write quite often! If so, that’s where a website like can help. You can write something of any length, any title, any topic and native speakers will be able to read and correct it. They often also include explanations for their corrections or provide alternative ways of saying something.

Example of a correction at lang-8

In return you should read and correct journal entries written by other people learning your native tongue.

My experience

I always get corrections quickly, within 24 or 48 hours. I usually get a lot of corrections on my essays because there are many more native Vietnamese users than there are people like me learning Vietnamese.

If you get so many corrections that you find it hard to go through them all, consider making your journal entries only viewable to your friends.

Friends-only journal setting

If you’re not sure what to write about, we’ve got plenty of ideas.

Over to you: Do you get your writing corrected? Have you used lang-8? Tell us in the comments!