I have a big problem....I can remember how to spell Vietnamese words...But I can never remember the tone that goes with them!!!
Any advice/tips/hacks etc that may help?
In my humble opinion, you should try to refresh your perspective first. Most people approach this language by memorizing each Latin letters first just like when you learn most Latin-based languages (which is easy), then force themselves to memorize tonal marks later. This causes a problem: you brain tends to focus on the easier part which is the Latin letters and thus you have trouble recalling the remaining tones.
You can try breaking a word a part: consonant, tone-based letter, tonal mark. For instance, consider the word "trước". Breaking it apart: consonant "tr" + triphthong "ươc" + acute tonal mark (/), then proceed to learn the meaning of this word. (Try remembering "truoc" first and tonal marks later would make you learn slower)
Actually, the method is applied in some languages, such as Zhuang spoken in Guangxi, China (I happen to know it a little). In the backside of renminbi notes, there are texts like 'cunghgoz yinzminz yinzhangz it maenz' (the People's Bank of China, one yuan), with h (except in 'hangz') and z denoting the tones. [However, the assignations are not identical to those used in Telex IME for Vietnamese. ]
In memorizing words, they are helpful. For example: gwn laeuj (to drink alcohol). I remind myself: ils boivent les eaux, but we gwn laeuj -- a before e, j instead of x. Tone markers are too small, very easy to ignore. Even as a native speaker, I had a tough time to distinguish dàgū (auntie) and dǎgǔ (to knock a drum) in pinyin. [Here the letter is not Vietnamese ă --- Chinese ǎ has a wedge on its head, while Vietnamese ă has an arc. ]
Before 1982, the language even used created letters for tones. They were made to resemble the ciphers 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. (See the table at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Zhuang) The letters 3, 4, and 6 were shaped identical to Russian letters з, ч, and ь (so lead types could be spared).
Think of the tone as just an additional letter. With the tone, initial consonant, central vowel, and final consonant, each word has at most 4 parts (a word could have as little as 1 part, such as yêu which is just the central vowel). This means you have less to memorize than you might think.
i just asked the same question from the guy who completed the tree. i tend to have the same problem. i dont have a solution but will be monitoring this thread if someone figures out a good method. Im redoing all the courses and trying to remember. I can guess some that are repeditive like "con cá" and "con gà". I guess i need to write it all out on flashcards and keep practicing. I probably shoulding continue the next lesson if i cant remember the tones. I'm so disappointed in myself considering i'm vietnamese who cant speak vietnamese and i heard it growing up my whole life...
I understand you. I'm a student of korea. (which is next to japan) English is my second language. I still can't classify difference between R and L sound well. Korean use only 'ㄹ'sound (which is similar to 'l'). B and V = 'ㅂ'. C and K = 'ㅋ' etc. So i listened and tested them over and over again. (test is VERY important...)
And it is also hard for me to remember the tone. haha... we'll get there in the end!
I recommend you the course in memrise. http://www.memrise.com/course/802446/vietnamese-basic-pronunciation-vowels-tones/