Pimsleur is one of the most widely recognized language courses around. It’s trademarked method for teaching a language by simulating real conversations has stood the test of time. In today’s post we’re going to look at how well the Pimsleur method works for their Vietnamese course.
Pimsleur Vietnamese is a great course for beginners or for anyone who wants to improve their Vietnamese accent. The Pimsleur method pays a lot of attention to correct pronunciation, which works really well for a tonal language like Vietnamese. The course does an excellent job in teaching basic phrases and preparing you for your first Vietnamese conversation.
The main drawback of Pimsleur Vietnamese is that there’s only one level available. If you’ve studied Vietnamese before then you might want to look for other resources. Otherwise beginners should definitely give Pimsleur Vietnamese a shot.
Is Pimsleur Vietnamese right for you?
Yes if you’re a beginner
Pimsleur Vietnamese is the ideal course for someone who has little to no experience with the Vietnamese language. The course is designed to take students from an absolute beginner to being able to hold basic conversations in Vietnamese.
Yes if you want to work on your pronunciation
Pimsleur Vietnamese is also a good option for anyone who has studied Vietnamese before, but needs to brush up on their accent. Correct pronunciation is a must when speaking Vietnamese!
Yes if you want to start speaking Vietnamese
If you’re learning Vietnamese because you want to speak it in the real world, then Pimsleur might be the course for you. Every lesson teaches you practical phrases and helps you practice them in a way that you’ll be able to say them correctly and remember them easily.
No if you’ve an intermediate for advanced learner
Pimsleur Vietnamese is only available in one level (most Pimsleur courses have 3 or even 5 levels). So if you’re an intermediate advanced learner, and you already have a handle on pronunciation, Pimsleur probably won’t have much to offer you.
What we like about Pimsleur Vietnamese
Emphasis on pronunciation
As I mentioned before pronunciation is extremely important if you’re learning Vietnamese. Vietnamese is a tonal language. This means that the intonation you use can change the meaning of a word completely. If you try to say something to a Vietnamese speaker and you have a bad accent they literally won’t be able to understand you. With non tonal language pronunciation isn’t as crucial, but with a language like Vietnamese it is an absolute must!
Pimsleur spends a lot of time training you to pronounce Vietnamese correctly. In fact it’s the only audio course I know that does this. In each lesson you learn a series of new phrases. You learn each phrase word by word and syllable by syllable. The course breaks down larger phrases into their syllable parts, helping you to hear and understand the nuances of the Vietnamese sound system. The lesson also points out any differences between Vietnamese sounds and English sounds. They also explain how to pronounce sounds that are often more difficult for native English speakers.
Pimsleur is also one of the only courses I know of that helps you prepare for real life conversations. After you’ve learned the new phrases in a lesson, the course will start prompting you to ask and answer questions in Vietnamese. You have a brief moment to respond before the correct reply is given. The prompts mix and match phrases from your current lesson with previous ones. As you progress through the course you’ll also start hearing less and less English. Gradually the prompts will use more and more Vietnamese.
This method simulates what it’s like having a real conversation in Vietnamese. You never know exactly what you’ll be asked, and you’ll have a short time to respond. This style of learning helps you to think and speak Vietnamese without having to translate anything from English in your head (a common pitfall for beginners).
What we don’t like about Pimsleur Vietnamese
There’s only one level available
My only gripe about Pimsleur Vietnamese is that the course isn’t longer! There’s currently only one level available. I really hope sometime in the near future the folks at Pimsleur will extend the course to the usual five levels. Until then beginners will have to be happy with the thirty lessons found in level one.
Alternatives to Pimsleur Vietnamese
Pimsleur Vietnamese has some great features, but if you’re looking for something more comprehensive or if you have a different learning style, there are some other options to consider.
Vietnamesepod101 features hundreds of podcast style lessons across five difficulty levels (from beginner to advanced learners). Each lesson/episode uses a real conversation between two native speakers to teach you grammar and vocabulary. The hosts of the podcasts introduce the lesson dialogue and break down any difficult grammar points. Every lesson has full transcripts in both English and Vietnamese, as well as individual phrase playback from the dialogue.
Vietnamesepod101 also has some cool bonus features too. There’s a Vietnamese-English dictionary, grammar guides, a downloadable pronunciation guide, audio phrases lists, and more.
Learn Vietnamese with Master Ling
Master Ling teaches conversational Vietnamese through exercises and minigames. You’ll learn basic words and phrases from a variety of activities including word matching, listening comprehension exercises, translation, fill in the blank, translation, and even practicing with a Vietnamese chatbot. There’s also Vietnamese dialogues you can work with to practice your reading and listening skills.