How to Start Learning Vietnamese?

How to Start Learning Vietnamese?

So, you want to know how to start learning Vietnamese. Well, congratulations for already being on the right track! You are doing your research first.

Vietnamese is not the easiest language to learn. However, it can definitely be done in a relatively short period of time with our Online Vietnamese Language Course! Here are some things to consider when you are deciding for yourself how to start learning Vietnamese.

how to start learning Vietnamese

There are three major dialects spoken within Vietnam:[1]

  1. Hanoi (Northern Vietnamese dialect)
  2. Hue (Central Vietnamese dialect)
  3. Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon (Southern Vietnamese dialect)

Since there are a variety of Vietnamese dialects, it is important to know which Vietnamese dialect you will be speaking and interacting with most. Northern Vietnam speaks in the northern dialect, while southern Vietnam speaks in the southern dialect. Then, Central Vietnam is filled with a variety of Vietnamese dialects as well.

So, if you are visiting Vietnam, moving to Vietnam, living in Vietnam or have Vietnamese friends and family it is best to learn the Vietnamese Language of interest. The Northern Vietnamese dialect is the “official” language of Vietnam. However, if you are moving to Southern Vietnam, it may be in your best interest to learn Southern Vietnamese.

There is a large population of Southern Vietnamese speakers inside the U.S. Therefore, if you are a local U.S. resident learning to speak Vietnamese to local Vietnamese speakers you will likely benefit from learning Southern Vietnamese. In 1975, a large number of people from fled to the U.S. from South Vietnam. Therefore, there is a significantly higher percentage of people that came from Southern Vietnam and therefore understand and speak the Southern dialect. Based on one source, more than half of Vietnamese Americans reside in the states of California and Texas.[2]

Since I am a local U.S. resident, I found it easier to learn the Northern dialect first and then progress to learning the Southern dialect. Since the Northern Vietnamese dialect is the “official” language, I personally found more resources in the Northern dialect.

And, with time, I learned that the northern dialect rules are much more concise and word endings are more closely related to an English pronunciation. Therefore, I personally found it easier to learn Northern Vietnamese first.

The Southern Vietnamese dialect use one less tone to speak, but includes a lot more variations from the English alphabet pronunciations when compared with the northern Vietnamese dialect. As a native Texan, I do enjoy speaking the southern dialect because it actually has a southern “drawl” ya’ll. : ) Nevertheless, the rules for speaking in the Southern dialect are less concise than the Northern dialect.

With That Said…

Let’s get to how to start learning Vietnamese. Vietnamese is a complex tonal language. Therefore, it helpful to learn all the rules of pronunciation well first and then put it into practice as much as possible. I have shared my notes for learning to read and speak Southern Vietnamese (and technically Northern as well) in a course subtitled: “Everything Is The Same, Just Different.”

Being a tonal language, learning Vietnamese is like learning how to read, speak and listen to music. The Vietnamese alphabets are Latin-based with only a few additions to the vowel system. Diacritical marks are used to direct the tone of your voice up, down, or neutral. Consonant clusters and diphthongs are fairly straight forward once you learn the alphabets, vowels, and tones. The endings consonants are definitely more difficult in Southern Vietnam.


This is the basics of how to start learning Vietnamese fast. Please leave your comments or questions below.