Vietnamese: Learning materials


New Member
So I would like to learn a bit of Vietnamese.
My question is which materials (if any) are good for self-study?

Professor Alex Arguelles made a video with 2 Vietnamese women who both said that Teach Yourself and Colloquial were horrible.

They also commented that DLI and FSI were "OK" but were in totally outdated speech. I ordered the Assimil course but it won't get here for another couple of weeks.

Does anyone have experience teaching themselves Vietnamese?

Also, which dialect would be more useful in the Pacific Northwest of the US? I heard that the Southern dialect used to be more common, but now the Northern dialect is catching up!
  • newname

    Senior Member
    Hi, I don't know which materials are best for you, but I recommend tackling the Southern dialect first because it has only 4 tones while the Northern one has six. Anyway, it doesn't matter which dialect you speak as long as you can master at least four tones. And if you speak the Northern dialect, you won't have problems with spelling. Even my Southern-dialect friends at university struggled with spelling. (Because in the Southern dialect, spelling and pronunciation don't rhyme.) P.S Lots of Vietnamese fled to the USA and they all come from different parts of Vietnam, so which dialect you choose won't probably matter much. I'll tell you what, I myself don't even understand certain dialects from central Vietnam when they speak at their usual speed. My tips: Learn all the 6 tones and tell people to slow down if you don't understand.


    Senior Member
    English - United States
    greetings all,

    It's been a while since I've visited the forums but I'm so glad to be back! I'm a native English speaker who has learned Spanish (self taught) and still use it some 6 years into it, but I have the desire now to learn Vietnamese. My girlfriend's parents immigrated from Vietnam and although their English is ok, I think it might help me understand what they're trying to convey if they can either 1) say it to me in Vietnamese or 2) say what they would in English, directly translated, and I can decipher it better.

    So far I have found a book: [Complete Vietnamese with Two Audio CDs: A Teach Yourself Guide (TY: Language Guides) 3rd Edition, ISBN: 978-0071737326 -- commercial link replaced by book title and ISBN by mod]

    Does anyone have experience with this particular book? Any other suggestions? I checked the sticky and the link for Cornell is expired :(.

    As we as students of language all know, trying to learn a language using arbitrary pictures and syllables that are currently meaningless is an arduous process. I'm looking for a thorough book that can explain grammar, intonation, and syntax.

    Thank you!
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