Does this mean compass as in the tool for direction or compass as in a straight-edge and compass?
A tool for direction. La bàn is a sino-vietnamese word: la means net (of all the directions), and bàn, a plate. A la bàn is a plate with directions inscribed.
that was my first reply, then I realized that bàn by itself is table or desk. la bàn is compass. I'm sure I may never use this word in Vietnamese though. With GPS, who needs a compass....
My comment was more meant to critisise that the duolingo wordlist showed me the translation "la desk" for "la bàn". That should be corrected (or has been done so, I think).