This is why what I feel the premature introduction of audio testing in this course frustrates me..."cắn" I mistake for "cần", "ôm" to me sounded like "hôn". I feel that audio testing is introduced way too early and should be introduced only after we have largely mastered written Vietnamese and have considerable fluency in that. Only then should audio testing begin, and the start of the focus should be to teach us to be able to make these types of discriminations, starting with the s-l-o-w pronounciation of similar-sounding words so we learn the nuances.
The way things work now, I'm not really learning much of anything...I essentially recognize what the correct answer is for the exercise and essentially memorize it, then spit it back out. Doesn't mean I'll recognize a new audio sentence spat out at me using the same words.
This is exactly why you need the audio testing. You realize there are sounds you don't hear correctly; go back and listen until you can hear them.
cắn and cần have different vowels and different tones. For the vowels, ă has the mouth wider open than â. For the tones, cắn is a rising tone and cần is falling.
ôm doesn't have an initial "h" sound, and it ends with "m" instead of "n".
If you're having trouble, go back and listen until you hear the difference.
By the way, I see you are already at level 18 in Vietnamese, which means you have completed over a thousand lessons or reviews. Every real-life language class I've ever taken requires speaking and listening from day one. When do you think is the right time to start?
No no no. This is why I differ.
For one thing, Vietnamese words on DL are not pronounced consistently, whether it's correct or incorrect (the google speaker, whether their pronunciation is correct or not, at least pronounces Vietnamese words very consistently). I can hear differences in DL, all right, but there is at least as much differences in the way the same word is pronounced in one sentence versus another, than there is between two similar-sounding but different words.
I have Vietnamese friends who are trying to learn English, and I help them when I can, and vice versa. When I talk to them, either in-person or on Skype, I a) deliberately use simple grammar and constructions, avoiding things like contractions and dense vocabulary, and b) slow down the delivery. If they don't understand what I said, I repeat it, s-l-o-w-l-y, enunciating each syllable. Then, if they still have problems, I write it out for them.
Those options aren't present in DL. What you get often are fast deliveries, there is no "slow down" button, and you can't get a word bank to help you along. I think the best method for audio testing would involve all these things.
So whether or not you think audio testing at this stage is 'good' or not, as I said, for me it's not helping. I don't really learn to 'hear' the word(s), I just recognize the answer for that particular sentence, get my answer accepted, and move on. Give it to me in another sentence and I'll probably fare no better. Consistent pronunciation, slow-down options, and the word bank option would help.
Yes, I've completed over 1200 lessons. But I see audio testing at this point as a hindrance, not a help, something that is retarding my progress, not furthering it. Audio testing is a hindrance because it distracts me from what I think I should be focusing on, which is vocabulary and grammar--being able to read and write Vietnamese sentences. Since the crowns system has robbed us of word lists, I am constructing a Vietnamese vocabulary list of my own to review...though that doesn't compensate for the fact that DL also robbed us of the ability to 'target practice' certain words/phrases, an option we had pre-crowns. Audio exposure is a good thing, I welcome that (hearing the sounds when given a Vietnamese sentence to translate) but not audio testing. Not now. I need to remember and retain more vocabulary and grammar than I am now.
When should I get audio testing? To put it bluntly, when I can read Vietnamese well enough to pick up a Vietnamese newspaper and read it. Or when I visit Vietnam and can read pretty much all the signs on the businesses there. I've been to VIetnam, I have friends there, and I've been amongst their families...and to be honest nothing DL has taught me is of much help now understanding live Vietnamese conversation. But that's in large part due because there is oodles of VIetnamese vocabulary I don't know yet, plenty of words they're saying I've never seen before; the same reason I can't yet read a Vietnamese newspaper. When I have learned enough vocabulary to read said newspaper then I think I have a chance, for then I will at least know most of the words they are saying, though I know I will still have to train my ears to hear.
And finally, how should audio training start? Why, to me, not with sentences, but with tones...learning how to differentiate between 'bạn, bàn, bán, bản', 'mua, mùa, múa, mưa, mựa', etc. I'd start at ground zero.
Yes, I acknowledge that language classes are usually taught with audio testing, just the way that music classes are taught without music theory. That doesn't make either way optimal; adults don't learn languages with the same ease or in the same manner as children.
To further this analogy, when I took piano lessons as a child, I got frustrated and quit. Later, I found out how Bach taught his children, by teaching them music theory and composition when teaching them how to play, and I thought "whoa, what a great way to teach!" It became obvious to me that once you can fathom the larger structure--with music; keys, chord progressions, the like--then you can understand the piece as a whole and have expectations of what you will need to do next, and then it's a matter of getting your fingers there, as opposed to rote put-your-fingers-here method I was taught. Being able to compose music before you can play it I think is optimal, but you can find near-nary a teacher who teaches things that way. In fact, music theory and composition classes at my university were walled off to everyone save music majors.