You’ve learned the letters and you’re ready to learn to say words. As you’re learning Vietnamese, be patient and playful. Experiment with the different sounds. Say them long or short, quiet or loud. These are your new tools that you’ll use to speak the language so get familiar with them.
Now we’re ready to learn one of the secrets of Vietnamese pronunciation. The Long-Sound Short-Sound rule comes into play with a huge number of Vietnamese words. Native speakers will be impressed by your pronuncation when you start using this technique.
The Long-Sound Short-Sound Rule
How can you put the Long-Sound Short-Sound rule into practice? Any time you see the letters that are listed in this video, identify the 2 sounds, remember which one is short and which one is long, and apply the rule.
Since we don’t have a concept like this in English, it will seem unnatural at first and you may sound a bit unnatural to native speakers at first. Don’t worry. You’re just starting. Over time you’ll start sounding more natural. The important thing is that people can understand you. If people can understand what word you’re trying to say, you are way ahead of the game.
Next we get into -NG word endings. You’ll encounter sounds in this lesson that we don’t have in English. Any time there is a sound, a concept, or a rule in a foreign language that you don’t have in your own language, it will take extra focus and practice to get it right. Stay patient and playful and you will keep making progress.
Special Word Endings – NG
If you talk to people who have studied Vietnamese, they will tell you the same stories about puffy cheeks. The wondered, “Why do I have to make my cheeks puffy when I make this sound? It seems silly and I don’t see native speakers making their cheeks big and puffy!”
If fact, native speakers do make their cheeks puffy but it’s very subtle. It’s just like saying TH sounds in English. Native speakers stick their tongue between their teeth when they make a TH sound but they do it subtly. When students learn to speak English, sticking their tongue out past their teeth while speaking seems odd and uncomfortable. The students who do it patiently and playfully tend to produce the TH sound correctly after just a little practice. The ones who resist and don’t want to give it a try tend to keep having problems and take much longer to produce the sound.
Go ahead. Be the student who learns quickly. Make your cheeks big. Have fun and laugh as you learn. After a little practice you’ll get the hang of it.
Next we’re learning more special word endings. Think of these letter combinations as puzzle pieces. Later you will put them together to make words and sentences. We’re building up your skills one piece at a time. The better know these small parts, the better your pronunciation as a whole will be.
Special Word Endings – C, CH, P, T
Now put all these concepts into practice. Say the words and remember the rules that are coming into play. When you know not only what sounds occur but also why they are pronounced that way, you’ll be well equipped to go out into the world and handle whatever words you encounter.