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How to Improve Your Conversation Skills in Vietnamese

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Opportunities are typically provided to individuals who are nice and confident. That’s why improving conversation skills allows you to comfortably engage anyone. Conversations should be enjoyable. They entail one-on-one conversations between two or more people regarding a topic of mutual interest.

However, many people are afraid of conducting dialogues. They’re worried that they won’t be able to keep the discussion going or that they just simply don’t know a lot of Vietnamese words and phrases. Wondering how to improve your conversational skills in Vietnamese even when you learn Vietnamese online? These skills can not only be learned and developed but are also surprisingly simple to do so, and we Vietnamese native speakers use them a lot.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Vietnamese Table of Contents
  1. Tone-The Soul of the Vietnamese Language
  2. Be Friendly and Polite
  3. Making Yes/No questions
  4. Create Emotional Connections

1. Tone-The Soul of the Vietnamese Language

A Woman Is Confused about What the Man Next to Her Is Saying.

In Vietnamese language learning, you’ll notice that Vietnamese is a tonal language. That’s why pronouncing tones correctly is critical because they decide the meaning of Vietnamese words and phrases. Even Vietnamese native speakers have different ways of pronouncing the tones depending on the location. There are six tones in Vietnamese, with five tone marks.

  • Thanh Ngang (Mid-Level Tone): no tone mark
  • Thanh Huyền (Low Falling Tone):
  • Thanh Sắc (High Rising Tone): /
  • Thanh Hỏi (Low Rising Tone): ? a question mark without a dot 
  • Thanh Ngã (High Broken Tone): ~
  • Thanh Nặng (Heavy Tone):  .

This is an example of a single word with different meanings if it goes with different tones.

  • Mai : Tomorrow

Ví dụ : 
Mai tôi sẽ nói chuyện kỹ hơn với anh
(I’ll speak to you more clearly tomorrow.)

  • Mài : to sharpen

Ví dụ : 
Tôi đang mài dao
(I’m sharpening the knife)

  • Mái : roof

Ví dụ : 
Có một lỗ thủng trên mái
(There’s a hole on the roof)

  • Mải : focusing

Ví dụ : 
Thằng bé mải chơi game quên cả học bài
(The boy was so focused on playing video games that he forgot to study.)

  • Mãi : forever

Ví dụ : 
Mong hai bạn mãi hạnh phúc bên nhau
(I hope you two are happy together forever.)

  • Khuyến mại : Promotion/sale off

Ví dụ : 
Sản phẩm này đang được khuyến mại 20%
(This product is 20% off)

2. Be Friendly and Polite

Don’t you enjoy talking to someone who wholeheartedly shows hospitality and politeness? In addition, it’s very common to see Asian people or Vietnamese native speakers speaking English fluently, but it’s very rare to see a foreigner speaking Vietnamese correctly. That’s why we’re often extremely excited and impressed that someone is learning our language, even if they’re learning Vietnamese online, and it’s absolutely normal to enrich their journey by supporting them. Being friendly and polite to locals is therefore definitely helpful when learning Vietnamese.

There are several ways to say “Hello” and “How are you?” in spoken Vietnamese, and they always work to improve your Vietnamese speaking skills.

A Young Girl Waving a Hand
  • Chào em, chào anh/chị, chào cô/chú/bác, chào ông/bà : Hello
  • Ê : Yo/hey (for close friends)
  • Lâu rồi không gặp : Long time no see (for someone you haven’t seen for a while)
  • Bạn có khỏe không : How are you (for anyone)?
  • Khỏe không? : You’re good? (for friends)
  • Có gì mới không : What’s up (for friends)?
  • Dạo này thế nào rồi? : How have you been? (for friends)
  • Ngày hôm nay của bạn thế nào? : How has your day been? (for anyone)
  • Rất vui được gặp lại bạn : It’s nice to see you again (for anyone).

  Now you can stop saying Xin chào and use any of the Vietnamese words and phrases above to impress Vietnamese native speakers.

3. Making Yes/No questions

Yes/No questions in Vietnamese are super easy to make. Preparing some questions before meeting any Vietnamese native speakers in your mind is a life changer. There was a time when I was hanging out with some foreign friends, and my English wasn’t really good at the moment because I was learning Vietnamese online. I still remember that, besides actively listening to what they were saying, I would focus on the topic to formulate some questions to clarify or ask for more information. The conversations always went well.

What Yes/No looks like in Vietnamese : 

  • Có, ừ, vâng, dạ, rồi (Yes) “Vâng/ dạ” is used when talking to older people, whereas “Có/ ừ/  rồi” is for friends.
  • Không, chưa (No)

In your Vietnamese language learning journey, remember that if you want to show respect to older Vietnamese native speakers, always add “ạ” at the end of the sentence when speaking. Writing, on the other hand, doesn’t require “ạ” all the time as it’s considered redundant.

Question Marks on Paper Crafts

Now let’s see how many types of Yes/No questions there are in the Vietnamese language. The tip is to remember a few key Vietnamese words and phrases below.

– Tag questions : questions that end with “à/phải không/đúng không”

Ví dụ: 

  • Bạn là học sinh mới  à? (Are you a new student?)
    (Yes): For friends
    Không (No)
  • Em là học sinh à? (Are you a new student?)
    Vâng ạ (Yes): For older people
    Không ạ (No)
  • Bạn học tiếng Việt ở trên mạng đúng không? (Did you learn Vietnamese on the internet?)
    (Yes): For friends
    Không (No)

– Questions that have + động từ (verb) + không? (Do you …)

Ví dụ: 

  • Bạn laptop không? (Do you have a laptop?)
    (Yes)
    Không (No)
  • Bạn thích đi du lịch không? (Do you like travelling?)
    (Yes)
    Không (No)
  • Bạn lái xe không? (Do you drive?)
    (Yes)
    Không (No)

– Questions that end with “chưa”: questions in the Present perfect tense. 

In this case, instead of saying “Không” for “No,” remember that we always use “Chưa” instead, unless you don’t plan to do it at all.

  • Bạn đã ăn cơm chưa? (Have you eaten)
    Rồi (Yes): meaning you have eaten.
    Chưa (No): meaning you haven’t eaten.
    Không ăn (No): meaning you plan to skip.

4. Create Emotional Connections

Telling stories or putting away distractions are some of the most effective ways to show respect to Vietnamese native speakers, create deeper connections, and improve conversation skills. Let’s practice this technique in your Vietnamese language learning journey by breaking it down into small techniques as below:

Khen ngợi: Giving compliments

A thoughtful and kind compliment can make someone’s day. Here are some examples that you can immediately use with any native Vietnamese speaker in your Vietnamese language learning journey. 

  • Em làm tốt lắm: You did a good job (For younger people)
  • Anh/chị nhiệt tình quá: You’re very enthusiastic.
  • Cảm ơn anh/chị đã mời em ăn tối: Thank you for dinner.
  • Màu này hợp với anh/em lắm : This color suits you a lot. 
  • Hôm nay em rất đẹp: You look beautiful today (for women)
  • Anh/chị dùng nước hoa gì thế? What perfume are you wearing?
  • Đợt này nhìn da chị thích thế? Your skin looks really nice lately.
  • Con bé nhà anh/chị học giỏi thật đấy : Your child is doing really well in school.

If you want to practice pronunciation too when you learn Vietnamese online, follow my instructions by clicking here for more details.

A Woman Reading a Greeting Card

Sử dụng thán từ : Using Exclamations

Thán từ” are Vietnamese words and phrases used to emphasize your feelings and develop your Vietnamese conversation skills, which are not often mentioned when you learn Vietnamese online. Although it’s a little bit challenging for learners to naturally apply them in conversations in Vietnamese at first, it’s always fun to experiment and see how native speakers react to your efforts, isn’t it?

  • Thật á (Really): To show surprise/fear

Ví dụ : 

    Tao bị giật điện thoại rồi (My phone was stolen)
    Thật á? (Really?)
  • Ôi giời ơi (Oh my god): To show surprise/fear

Ví dụ : 

    Ôi giời ơi, mày làm tao giật cả mình (Oh my God, you scared me)

  • Cái gì (What): To ask for repetition

Ví dụ : 

    Đi ăn không? (Wanna go grab something to eat?)
    Cái gì? (What?)
  • Làm sao (What?): To tease someone or to ask for clarification

Ví dụ : 

    Bật nhỏ tivi thôi! (Turn down the TV)
    Làm sao? (What?)
  • Vãi (What the): To show surprise/fear

Ví dụ : 

    Con nhỏ đó cặp với ông kia lớn tuổi lắm (That girl is dating a very old man).
    Vãi… (What the …)
  • Ôi/Uầy (Oh my): To show surprise/fear 

Ví dụ : 

    Macbook Pro bây giờ hơn 40 triệu mày ạ (MacBook Pro now is over 40 million)
    Uầy, chát nhờ… (Oh my, it cost an arm and a leg…)
  • Thôi xong (Crap): To show surprise/fear

Ví dụ : 

    Mai kiểm tra một tiết nhé (There’s a 45-minute test tomorrow).
    Thôi xong! (Crap!)
  • Ôi mẹ ơi : Oh mama : To show surprise/fear

Ví dụ : 

    Sẽ hơi đau một chút đó (It’s going to be a little painful)
    Ôi mẹ ơi (Oh mama)
  • Không!!! (Oh no): To show surprise

Ví dụ : 

    Sáng mai dậy sớm nhé (Let’s wake up early tomorrow)
    Không!!! (Oh no!!!)
  • Điên à (Are you crazy?): To show surprise

Ví dụ : 

    Cho tao vay 100 triệu đi sửa mũi  (Lend me 100 million to get my nose job)
    Điên à? (Are you crazy?)
  • Hoan hô (Bravo): To celebrate something

Ví dụ : 

    Em tao đỗ đại học rồi (My sister got into college)
    Hoan hô!!! (Bravo!!!)
  • Thông minh (Brilliant): To recognize someone’s great idea 

Ví dụ : 

    Cách này nhanh hơn đấy (This way is faster)
    Thông minh! (Brilliant!)

A Men Pointing up to Light Bulbs on the Wall

Sử dụng các từ đệm : Using Filler words

Filler words can sometimes be frustrating for listeners if they’re overused. However, it can be a great tool to buy time or think of what to say next, especially when learning Vietnamese, which is not mentioned much when you learn Vietnamese online. Using filler words can be easy if you remember these tips.  

First, don’t try to add filler Vietnamese words and phrases to every sentence. It can be an overwhelming conversation in Vietnamese. Instead, speaking slowly and smoothly will help improve your fluency while giving you some time to catch up with the tones. 

Second, use your facial expressions or adjust your tone to emphasize the main idea of your speech, not the filler Vietnamese words and phrases. It will distract people from focusing on your hesitance instead.

Lastly, repeat the questions or the sentences once you don’t completely understand the meaning. Vietnamese people are very friendly, and we’re always willing to support you if you need it. 

By the way, here are some filler words [youtube video] that are commonly used with examples:

  • Kiểu như là, hay là, hoặc là : it’s like/or

Ví dụ:

    Hôm qua anh ấy nói chuyện với tôi kiểu như là có gì đó khó nói lắm.
    (He talked to me yesterday as if it was like there was something difficult to tell.)
  • Hiểu không? : got it?

Ví dụ:

    Ý tôi là chúng ta cần phải bàn kỹ hơn việc này, hiểu không?
    (What I mean is we need to discuss it more carefully, get it?)
  • Đúng không? : right?

Ví dụ: 

    Em đang làm việc. Anh cứ nhắn tin làm sao em tập trung được, đúng không?
    (I’m working. How can I focus if you keep texting me, right?)
  • Nói chung là : basically

Ví dụ : 

    Anh phải xem lại bản kế hoạch đã rồi mới trả lời em được. Nói chung đợt này anh bận lắm. 
    (I have to double-check the plan, then I can answer you. Basically, I’ve been busy lately)
  • Là, thì : so, then

Ví dụ :

    Tóm lại (là), chúng ta cần phải thanh toán hết cho họ. 
    To sum up, we need to pay them off.
  • Xong rồi : and then

Ví dụ :

    Em ăn đã, xong rồi em sẽ gọi lại cho anh
    I’m eating, then I’ll call you later.

No matter how many Vietnamese words and phrases you know, it doesn’t make any sense if you don’t have conversations in Vietnamese every day and really own them. Vietnamese is, interestingly, a highly customizable language. What I mean is, that even pronouns or verbs can be reduced sometimes, and it’s still understandable. Are you curious how so? Keep in touch, and I’ll tell you in future blogs. 

Don’t forget to visit VietnamesePod101.com often for a better experience and to improve your conversation in Vietnamese. We provide plenty of audio lessons and vocabulary lists to enrich your lexicon. 

Enjoy learning!

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