There has never been a better time to learn Vietnamese. Here, I’ve compiled a list of beginner resources that are available online for free. Most of them include audio, which is absolutely essential to master the tonal nature of Vietnamese.
The lists includes courses/textbooks, mobile apps, podcasts, youtube videos, and even language exchange websites.
None of these resorces are sufficient on their own to master Vietnamese: instead they form pieces of a large multi-media puzzle.
ONLINE COURSES TO LEARN VIETNAMESE
LiveLingua Free Online Textbook & Audio
LiveLingua offers a course called “FSI Vietnamese Basic Course” and has made all the learning materials available for free at LiveLingua.com.
The materials are comprehensive and have great pedagogic exercises. There are over 350 pages of lessons and learning materials. This will provide a complete foundation before moving-on to in-person lessons.
The user-experience is non-interactive and feels out-of-date. But next to the text lessons there are accompanying audio files that are shown side-by-side the text in a double-pane layout.
Loecsen – Lacks Depth, But Nice Interactivity
Loecen is like the “Rough Guides” of Vietnamese learning: it lacks depth, but focuses on 17 conversational themes that are relevant for tourists, such as Transporation, Hotels, Restaurants, the Beach.
What it lacks in depth, it makes up for with video, audio, games, and quizzes. These interactive resources are necessary for beginners, if you don’t have a dedicated Vietnamese tutor.
You should use Loecsen as a nice interactive augmentation to the boring textbook materials of a more comprehensive course.
YOUTUBE LESSONS FOR LEARNING VIETNAMESE
The Youtube channel colloquially known as “Vietnamese with Donna” is famous among Expats in Vietnam. EverydayViet is a good introductory resource as a first-time chance to hear a native Vietnamese speaker talk naturally.
The only negative thing is that there are less than two-dozen videos and they are have discontinued production. The channel is a good starting point to get familiar with Vietnamese sounds, but it should only be used as a compliment to more comprehensive lessons
The Tieng Viet Oi (TVO) is a private language school that teaches conversational Vietnamese, both online and face-to-face. They have 6 years of free Youtube lessons that are very well-produced. They focus on practical tips and minor points of confusion for students who are already familiar with the basics of Vietnamese.
We like how the short videos are based on practical themes like “Why you STILL get confused about T, Th, and Đ” or “Cooking“, rather than reproducing dry, academic content. The little lessons are great need-to-know items that you won’t necessarily see in a textbook.
They teach the Northern Vietnamese dialect which is great for people spending most of their time in and around Hanoi.
PODCASTS FOR LEARNING VIETNAMESE
There are many Vietnamese podcasts that began with promise but then died after a few episodes. Really, there is only one podcast that has survived the test of time…
VietnamesePod101 features short 5-7 minute episodes in both audio and video format. There are over 232 episodes, and new episodes are still released every 3-7 days.
The topics are sometimes highly functional (“800 core words and phrases”), OR sometimes highly topical (“National holiday conversations”) or sometimes just random (“Bugs!”). The pacing and repetition of content make the podcast very friendly for beginners and intermediate speakers alike.
This is a must-listen-to podcast if you aspire to learn Vietnamese. At their website, VietnamesePod have a variety of other content for a subscription, such as flash-cards, quizzes and slideshows.
Recent VietnamesePod101 Episodes
MOBILE APPS TO LEARN VIETNAMESE
RELATED: See our more extensive reviews in 8 Apps to Learn Vietnamese for Free
Learn Vietnamese with Ling [Android][iOS]
Learn Vietnamese with Ling is an excellent app with gamified language lessons. The interactive lessons are, in our opinion, the best way to learn beginner-level Vietnamese.
For example, the app includes flash-card exercises, quizzes, complete-the-sentence exercises, conversation exercises, and more. It has has over 1 Million installs and a 4.5 rating.
However, the free version has only a few lessons. If you can pay the hefty price-tag for the full version (9 USD per month), it is definitely worth your consideration.
Easy Vietnamese [Android]
Easy Vietnamese is a funny app — it is basically a giant list of obscure phrases organized into functional-themes (such as meals, shopping, banks), plus accompanying audio to listen to the phrases’ pronunciation.
While it lacks interactivity, it has an enormous breadth of funny expressions. For example, “Wise guy eh?“, or “Add fuel to the fire?“
This may be overwhelming for Vietnamese beginners, but it can be great fun for intermediate speakers who already know the basics.
If you have a Vietnamese friend or tutor, you can use these weird phrases to seed fun conversations about their appropriateness or how out-of-date they are. Beginners will probably want to steer clear of the app.
RELATED: See our more extensive reviews of 8 Apps to Learn Vietnamese for Free
LANGUAGE EXCHANGE TO FIND VIETNAMESE SPEAKERS
Interpals is a fun way to meet real penpals who want to learn English, and in exchange, you can learn Vietnamese.
It is an old, establish language-exchange social website that is starting to look a little outdated. Other newer language-exchange apps may look better, but the benefit of interpals is its longevity and large user-base: it has been running for over a decade and has thousands of users, many from Vietnam.
The Interpals experience is like any social-network website, except that you hunt for people based on their language interests and locale. You create a profile and specify which countries you are open to receiving messages from, and for what purpose.
Be forewarned: not everyone is interested in a platonic language-exchange. There is a toggle to hide people who want to meet in person or who are looking to flirt. So, tick these options off, and select “Language Exchange” only. Don’t be shy and say hello to a new pen-pal!
Although it is a rival website, we definitely appreciate the collection of beginner lessons, comprehensive resources, and interactive material at 101 Languages – Vietnamese.
It is starting to show its age, but they do keep adding useful material.
For example, we like their latest flashcard games – such interactive lessons are important for effectively retaining what you learn in your memory.
Beginners should review all their material and recommend resources as a great introduction to Vietnamese.
To effectively learn Vietnamese you must simultaneously learn about Vietnamese culture: this is important as a mnemonic trick (your brain can more easily recall words that have important cultural/social meaning) but it is also funner for students.
Afterall, you are probably learning Vietnamese so that you can work, live, travel in Vietnam and experience the culture — our “Word of the Day” Blog is meant to teach Vietnamese, one word a day, as well as surround the words with social anecdotes, cultural insights, and fun lessons about Vietnamese history.
PRONUNCIATION AUDIO GUIDES
The Vietnamese language has a lot of difficult-to-hear tones and special phonemes (such as the infamous ng sound). These aren’t very well discussed in the above resources.
To fill this gap, we have made audio guides to help you hear and learn the differences between the 6 Vietnamese tones, and study the various Vietnamese consonants and vowels.
What do you think? Have you found other great resources to learn Vietnamese? If so, please drop the name and link in the comments section below.