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Learn the Vietnamese Alphabet from A to Z!

Learning to speak a new language is exciting; learning to write a new language is even more exciting! It will open new worlds for you. So, dig into these tips and advice for learning how to master the Vietnamese alphabet easily - at VietnamesePod101 we make it easy, fun and relevant for you!

Starting anything from scratch can be challenging, especially if you learn how to write in a language completely different from your own. It is really like navigating through a territory that is completely unknown to you.

However, this need not be a big hurdle or a problem! At VietnamesePod101, we introduce you to Vietnamese writing in simple, easy-to-follow steps, and you can ask for advice or help anywhere along the way. It is important to master the Vietnamese alphabet completely from the start.

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If you want to master the Vietnamese language and become fluent, get this Vietnamese eBook!
You need physical worksheets to practice on.

This eBook is a MUST-HAVE for all Vietnamese learning beginners!

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Download your free Vietnamese practice sheets PDF today and learn the Vietnamese language in no time!
This is a must-have guide for absolute beginners

Introduction to Vietnamese Writing

Introduction

The Vietnamese alphabet is easy to learn because it uses the same alphabet as English, plus some more letters with diacritics.

Alphabet  

The Vietnamese alphabet consists of 29 letters, inclusive of 22 letters that are also in English, plus seven additional ones with diacritics. The letters f, j, w and z are not used in Vietnamese. Besides single letters, there are nine digraphs and one trigraph, which are used as consonants when forming a word.

Using diacritics is the most prominent characteristic of Vietnamese writing system. There are nine diacritics, four of which create additional sounds and the other five of which mark the tone of a word. Please be aware that diacritics are applied above or below a vowel.

ă, â, đ, e, ê, ô, ơ, ư

These seven extra letters are for sounds not found in the English alphabet by default. While đ is a consonant, the other six are used as vowels.

Diacritics (tone marks)

There are six tones in Vietnamese but only five of them are marked with diacritics:

  1. The mid-level tone is called ngang and is unmarked.
  2. The gradual falling tone is called huyền and the diacritic is a grave accent.
  3. The high rising tone is called sắc and the diacritic is an acute accent.
  4. The mid-dipping falling tone is called hỏi and the diacritic is a hook.
  5. The broken rising tone is called ngã and the diacritic is a tilde.
  6. The heavy falling tone is called nặng and the diacritic is a dot below.

Vietnamese Alphabet Chart

Alphabet

One of the biggest obstacles of learning the Vietnamese language is not the actual words or grammar rules, but the Vietnamese alphabet. It is unlikely that your Vietnamese lessons will immediately feature exposure to this alphabet because the concept of learning an entirely different alphabet in addition to building a new vocabulary and grasp of grammatical rules can be incredibly overwhelming. Instead, your lessons will feature words that have been transliterated, or converted from the traditional alphabet of the Vietnamese language into the alphabet used to write in the English language. This is accomplished through a means known as “phonetics”, or the letters that are assigned to different sounds.

Vietnamese Alphabet

Upper case Lower case Sample word Sounds like
A a anh a in father
Ă ă ăn a in hat
 â ấn u in but
B b ba b in baby
C c con c in can
D d z in zoo
Đ đ đo d in do
E e em e in trend
Ê ê êm a in mate
G g ga g in go
H h hoa h in house
I i in e in she
K k kịch k in kick
L l lo l in love
M m ma m in mother
N n nam n in nice
O o ong o in hot
Ô ô ông o in hope
Ơ ơ ơn u in fur
P p pao p in pick
Q q qua qu in queue
R r ra r in run
S s sao s in sing
T t tan t in tea, but softer and unaspirated
U u u oo in good
Ư ư ưng oo in boot but with unrounded lips
V v vui v in van
X x xe s in sea
Y y yến e in she

It is entirely possible to learn how to speak Vietnamese and even be able to communicate without delving into the Vietnamese alphabet simply by relying on transliterated vocabulary and communications. A true appreciation for the language, however, requires knowledge of the alphabet. This knowledge will allow you to read materials that are written in the language, including literature and historical markers, but also practical materials such as signs, menus, and other information should you visit the country.

The written alphabet is actually based on Latin script and is known literally as “national language”. It can be difficult to learn the alphabet and connect it effectively to communicating in the language. This is because some of the letters may represent several different sounds, or the same sound may be represented by the same letter. This is because the alphabet was designed many hundreds of years ago and since then the spoken version of the language has been modified. This could also be the result of those developing the written language attempting to write out the sounds of several different spoken dialects at the same time. Learning the alphabet in conjunction with the spoken language, therefore, can be rather complicated. Only consistent exposure to using the alphabet will enable you to understand the contexts.

When learning how to speak Vietnamese you will quickly learn that it is a tonal language, meaning that the words themselves rely on the tone in which they are spoken to garner meaning. These tones are indicated through the usage of accent marks. Depending on how many accent marks are placed on a word, and where they are located, the word will be pronounced differently, and therefore mean something different.

Why is Learning the Vietnamese Alphabet Important?

AlphabetA language’s alphabet is its building blocks. Trying to learn how to write in Vietnamese without first learning its alphabet is a bit like trying to build a brick house without touching the individual bricks! It is impossible to do a good job that way. So don’t believe language schools and methods that try to teach you otherwise. You will regret it later.

Also, once you start recognizing symbols and words, you will be encouraged by your own progress and motivated to learn even faster. Even just learning the basics of the alphabet will allow you to start recognizing simple Vietnamese words, and it will feel great!

Furthermore, knowing the alphabet even helps with pronunciation, as learning the individual letters of any language will start uncovering nuances and intricacies that are not always apparent when you’re simply listening to the words.

Completely mastering the Vietnamese alphabet, no matter how long it takes, will give you an excellent head start in learning how to write and read the language. It will offer you a solid foundation on which to build the other language skills, so set a goal to learn the alphabet so well that you’re able to recite it in your sleep!

Read on for helpful tips and secrets to learning the Vietnamese alphabet quickly and effectively.

How to Download Your Free Guide to Beginner Vietnamese

Download your free Guide to Beginner Vietnamese!

If you want to master the Vietnamese language and become fluent, get this Vietnamese eBook!
You need physical worksheets to practice on.

This eBook is a MUST-HAVE for all Vietnamese learning beginners!

free Vietnamese eBook

Download your free Vietnamese practice sheets PDF today and learn the Vietnamese language in no time!
This is a must-have guide for absolute beginners

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3 Reasons to Learn Vietnamese Through PDF Lessons

Let’s now take a closer look at how studying Vietnamese lessons in PDF format can help you reach your dream in up to half the time of normal video or audio lessons!

① Saves Minutes on Your Data Plan

Learning Vietnamese through PDF lessons can dramatically reduce your data use. Once a lesson or tool is downloaded, you can then access it offline via your computer or smartphone any time or place regardless of Internet access. And once you’ve download the Vietnamese lessons in PDF format, you can actually access them faster than logging in and trying to do so via a live site. So not only will learning Vietnamese using PDF lessons save minutes on your data plan—it will save you some significant time as well as the lessons add up!

② Print and Take All Vietnamese Lessons and PDF Tools With You Anywhere

Sometimes, a tiny smartphone screen just isn’t adequate, especially when you are trying to learn something new. The great thing about PDF lessons, tools or files is that they can be quickly printed and taken anywhere after you download them. In fact, printing out Vietnamese lessons in PDF format can actually save you time when compared to going through the material on a smartphone with a small screen—even with the extra printing time!

③ Great Study Tool to Boost Retention and Mastery

Studying video or audio lessons online is a great way to learn a language because students can play and rewind sections as many times as needed until the lesson is mastered. But when you review the same Vietnamese lessons again in PDF format, an incredible thing happens: your retention dramatically improves! Thanks to Time Spaced Repetition, seeing the information again in written format helps reinforce the information in your mind and improves both retention and recall. The benefits of learning Vietnamese using PDF lessons quickly add up to significant time savings for you, your data plan, and your dream of learning a new language!

Why are we giving it away?

Learning to read and write is a must for all beginners. Although you get video lessons on how to write in Vietnamese at VietnamesePod101, you’ll still need physical worksheets to practice on. That’s why you’re getting this printable tutorial PDFs as a gift.

Secrets to Learning the Vietnamese Alphabet Fast

SecretWith a language, like with anything you have to learn from scratch, having a few mnemonic devices handy are key to learning it fast. A mnemonic device is basically any method or technique that helps you to retain or commit something to memory more easily.

Here are a few mnemonic devices to memorize the Vietnamese alphabet so you can speed up learning how to write in Vietnamese.

① Find and Learn an Alphabet Song or Poem in Vietnamese

Can you still remember your childhood alphabet song in your own language? The best way to commit it to memory so you can recite it is still your mom or first teacher’s way - with music, a song and/or a poem! Find a recording and learn to sing the song, or recite the poem along as best as you can. Ask your VietnamesePod101 teacher to help you understand exactly what you are singing or saying, and soon you’ll have reciting the alphabet under your belt! Repeat it out loud as often as possible.

However, you still need to learn how to write it.

② Study a Few Letters At a Time

Remember when you were young and learning to write for the first time? You didn’t start with words or sentences; you started with letters, one at a time!

Decide on tackling only a few letters each week, and then don’t move on from these till you are completely familiar with them. Don’t take on too many at once, or you may become discouraged. Also, remember to ask your teacher at VietnamesePod101 if you have questions!

Learn to incidentally spot the letters in books, road signs (If you’re living in the country), magazines, on TV, anywhere you encounter written Vietnamese. Remember to write them out!

③ Write Out the Letters of the Alphabet By Hand

Make it a goal to write out your week’s letters at least once a day, and commit to this goal. You can also do it every time you have a free moment. Get yourself a special notebook for this purpose that you can carry with you anywhere you go. Sitting on the train or bus? Waiting for someone somewhere? Whip out your notebook and write the Vietnamese alphabet, or the letters you are learning. Aim for about 20 repetitions, while silently saying the letter in your head as you write it out. This way, you will soon be able to form and write words all by yourself! Exciting, isn’t it?

Writing something down with a pen also seems to engrave it in the brain in a way that nothing else does. As an added benefit, it gives you the satisfaction of seeing a new language in your own writing!

Once you’ve mastered the whole alphabet, commit to writing it out in its entirety at least once a day, for at least one month. More repetitions are obviously better.

④ Involve Your Whole Body

Research has shown that the more senses and actions we use to learn something, the quicker the new information sticks in the memory and becomes habitual. To apply this principle while learning the Vietnamese alphabet, write out huge letters by tracing them in the soil, or with chalk on the floor. Now, while saying the letter out loud, walk on the lines you have just traced. In this way, you ‘write’ the letter by moving your whole body!

Having fun just makes it even easier to learn something, so why not ‘write’ the letters out with dance steps while moving to your favorite Vietnamese music!

This is a simple trick that seems silly, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you will commit intricate letters to memory this way. It really works!

⑤ Use Associations To Memorize Letters

This technique would involve saying the Vietnamese letter out loud, and then thinking of a word in your own language that sounds the same as the letter. That would then create a phonic association that should make it easier for you to remember the letter. Better even if the association is something you can draw or picture.

If the script of the new alphabet is very different from your own, look at it closely, and see if you can find an image that the letter reminds you of

⑥ Now Have Fun Trying To Write Words!

Try to write words from your own language in Vietnamese, and ask your friendly VietnamesePod101 teachers for feedback! Or post them on the forum and see if anyone can read them. You will be so pleased with yourself when you start writing words that are readable and recognizable by native speakers.

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