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?


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!


Review: dictionary

Where I taught English, this was the dictionary the Teaching Assistants used for reference.

I started using it myself and found it’s pretty thorough and most of the time has examples of the word in different contexts. I actually think it’s better than my dictionary in book form!

Here’s an example:

Example of in use

Many words also have an audio file so you can hear the pronunciation, with a northern accent of course.

It has multi-lingual dictionary features currently: English↔Vietnamese, Vietnamese-Vietnamese, French↔Vietnamese and Chinese→Vietnamese.

Over to you: Have you used Do you have any other dictionary recommendations? Tell us in the comments.