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Learning Vietnamese: the first thousand words

02.01.08 | admin | In Vietnamese, French

Here’s a tip for learning foreign languages. To make classes or lessons, even when self-taught, go by much quicker and more easily you should have the vocabulary down. That way when you’re reading something you don’t get caught up trying to either figure out the meaning or look it up. Instead you can concentrate on trying to figure out the meaning of the phrase or sentence and picking up grammatical clues. You’ll also learn context for the words, slightly different meanings, and when a word is appropriate. But first, you need to know the vocabulary. That’s why I think any student of a foreign language should first just sit down and memorize the 1000 most common words. In general, this set of words will mostly be the same for any language. How you learn the words is up to you but what works for me is flashcards and mnemonics.

The University of Sheffield has an online database of 3000 common Vietnamese words and phrases divided into categories and subcategories with English as well as French counterparts and example semantic usage. You can not only use this to learn Vietnamese but you could use this to learn French as well and this is also meant to be used by Francophones for learning Vietnamese.

University of Sheffield Vietnamese Grammar Group Vietnamese Lexicon Database

My phone runs Palm OS and I find that it’s very useful for learning languages. You can find dictionaries that run on Palm OS that are much cheaper than buying an electronic dictionary device and you can also listen to audio files on the phone (Treo). For Vietnamese I can recommend First Thousand Vietnamese Words for Students from www.griessersoftware.com. It’s basically a free 1000 word Vietnamese-English dictionary to help you learn many of the basic words. The software is easy to use although Graffiti doesn’t work on Treo and you’ll have to learn how to type the different tones and diacritics. You can download the software here (you can also buy a bigger dictionary with 5000 words from them).

Beiks’s BDicty English-Vietnamese dictionary for Palm is another one that has many more words and is also available for $15.

Another promising resource on the Internet is this Vietnamese picture dictionary.

It has a number of basic categories and there is a picture for each word. This might be more useful for some people. There are other parts of the site which also might be useful although after creating an account I’ve been having technical difficulties getting the audio to work and other sections of the site to work.

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