The following are books, websites, software, etc. which I found helpful in studying Vietnamese. I made this list for my non-Viet friends who asked me about learning the language.
I’m a native speaker so it was easy for me to browse through tons of web pages, videos, and books to see which one really teaches you Vietnamese (the good sources) and which one just merely translates English into Vietnamese (the bad sources). The good sources either will give you solid comprehensive grammar, vocabulary, as well as social and cultural notes. I will list the bad sources later in this post.
Dictionary: Vdict.com free online. They have English-Vietnamese, Viet-English, and Viet-Viet (use Viet-Viet to accelerate your study when you reach advanced level or are nearly there) and other languages. I wish they had pronunciation to make life easy, but oh well…
- L-Lingo Vietnamese: (Software) This is by far the best in term of ease of use and affordability (it’s free!). The vocabulary looks comprehensive and should get you through the basics (you’ll be able to name & describe most people & things around you). I haven’t run through their grammar lessons yet. They also have a mobile version for iPhone and Android. How cool is that? (Some reviewers say it is like the Rosetta Stone, which I don’t have $$ to buy to test out 🙂
- Everyday Viet: (Videos on Youtube) Pros: (1) The videos teach the most basic Vietnamese words and some phrases. If you’re just merely curious, they should be able to give you a taste of the language (2) The style (visual & audio) is neat and attractive. Cons: (1) Update speed is slooow…. They made only 13 short videos in about a year, and the existing videos haven’t even gotten through the basic level.
- Vietnamese for Beginners by Jake Catlett and Huong Nguyen: (Book) (Audio CD). It’s very useful. The progression is very well thought out. I use this to teach beginner level.
- Let’s Speak Vietnamese by Lê Phạm Thúy-Kim and Nguyễn Bích Thuận. (Book) (Website). College textbook used by Arizona State University and New York University. I didn’t buy the book ($50-70), but the website, hosted by Arizona State University, is extremely good. They have pronunciation, vocabulary, review exercises, etc.
- Chúng ta nói by Le Pham Thuy-Kim, Kim-Oanh Nguyen. (Book & Audio CDs). More advanced learners will like this. The review exercises are here and here. I use this to teach intermediate level.
- Online Resource by Arizona State University. (Website). I don’t know why the Arizona State University has an extremely thorough Vietnamese language program, but you should take advantage of it. They offer online exercises for Let’s Speak Vietnamese and Chung ta noi. They also have Pronunciation & Listening, Learning through Songs, Advanced Reading, Proverbs, Idioms, and Slangs, videos about VN, and the Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival
Advanced: Now that you’re really good, time to read and watch what the Vietnamese read and watch. Start using a Vietnamese-Vietnamese dictionary, for example.
Bad source – Stay away:
Teach Yourself Vietnamese (Book & audio CDs). It is too confusing. It does not give you a structure to follow. The layout of the book makes it difficult to find stuff. If you use this book, you will yank out every last strand hair on your head if you aren’t bald. I almost did when I tried using this book to teach.