For many Vietnamese-Americans, Vietnamese-Europeans, and foreigners interested in learning Vietnamese, keeping up with Vietnamese is difficult if you’re not surrounded by people speaking the language constantly. At best, you’re likely just speaking with family members at home about menial things like hellos and meals, but digging any deeper is either tedious, inaccessible, or you just might be lazy.
Among my Vietnamese friends, I call my language ability “Kitchen Vietnamese.” It’s what I learned from my parents while speaking with them in the kitchen.
Pushing your Vietnamese from beginner into intermediate or intermediate into advanced levels is really only available to people who get the chance to do it in university (assuming the university even has Vietnamese as a language) or private classes.
Well, guess what, you don’t have to go to class to learn Vietnamese anymore. The extremely popular language learning company Duolingo (over 100 million users) has launched a Vietnamese learning course on its award-winning mobile app.
Vietnamese on Duolingo
Already, there are over 100,000 users learning Vietnamese on Duolingo. If we assume that the Vietnamese diaspora is about 4 million people, 100,000 users represents 2.5% of the total diaspora population, and that’s just after a few months, and this very recent mobile launch. We at Vietcetera are among those ranks of eager Vietnamese learners.
If you already think you’re fluent, or your Vietnamese is strong, you’ll need to make sure to take the placement tests in the app. This way, you’ll be skipping over the beginner stuff like greetings and fruits. Note though, especially for you Viet Kieu’s out there, that you’ll need to know your diacritics (dau) and activate the Vietnamese keyboard on your phone.
It might be an area that plenty of diaspora Vietnamese fail, since they don’t usually type with diacritics. Nevertheless, mastering diacritics will take your Vietnamese to new frontiers of reading and writing previously out of reach.
Of course, there are plenty of other tools out there for Vietnamese learners in the Appstore and Play Store, and we don’t want to be too partial to one over another. But we thought it’s worth sharing that the world’s most popular language learning app has now embraced Vietnamese. Even before Chinese! (Footnote: Granted, that’s because it’s too hard to do in their current formatting as mentioned in an interview with Tim Ferriss).
A Quick Review
We gave the Vietnamese course a quick spin and have included screenshots of the on boarding process. It starts with a placement test or to start with the basics if you’re a beginner. The placement test involves listening to a few audio files, translating a few sentences, and matching images with words.
Overall, a very welcome addition to the Duolingo family of courses.