Sharing my experience completing the course and strengthening the skills + some tips
This comment was originally posted on facebook, I figured I might share it as well here
I just finished the duolingo Vietnamese tree and here is my general impression of the free course: it is well structured and is a good way to start learning the language. Personally I already had studied Vietnamese for two years before starting it and while we do learn quite a few things on there, Duolingo can only teach us a very small fragment of the whole language. Vietnamese is a very flexible language and the fact that this is based on translating from one language to the other doesn't let the language truly express itself, it doesn't let us play with the words order, for instance. Also, many grammar points have been left out for the intermediate and advanced learners. For those, I would strongly recommend books such as Assimil's (for French speakers, I do not know if they have an English version for Vietnamese, perhaps). Assimil allows you to get familiar with both accents but still the pace is slower than in reality. Regarding vocabulary, I learnt plenty of words using Duolingo and I think this is where it excels. I particularly enjoyed learning about slang and I would hope for some more in the later expansions of the course, if any. While I'm not a fan of speaking colloquially when learning a language, it's really great to be aware of such commonly used expressions, especially when they aren't found in any dictionary.
This is how I strengthen my skills on Duolingo : I redo the skill that I reviewed the day before 5 times, and then move onto the next one that I do 5 times. Doing it 5 times allows me to cover all the vocabulary and sentences comprised within the skill. If you only strengthen a skill once or twice, you might miss out on some important words and expressions you have forgotten
I also found it great that it had a northern accent although southern is more popular, I personally find it easier to grasp. However, I believe it is easier for a southern speaker to understand a northern speaker than the contrary. Thus, if you started learning Vietnamese with the southern accent, that's great haha, you might be able to comprehend both accents. I don't know about Huế's though, that's a different story. The food is delicious there, apparently haha. Alright I am digressing.
To all of those who prepared and who are taking care of this course, cảm ơn rất nhiều
Congratulations on your effort in learning Vietnamese! Seeing that you are an advanced learner, I should add that you ought to avoid saying, "cảm ơn rất nhiều." It's an unnatural construction. Say, "cảm ơn nhiều lắm" or "cảm ơn rất LÀ nhiều." Better yet, say, "cảm ơn mọi người," (thank you, everyone). This is much more natural as interjections in Vietnamese typically have to be addressed toward someone, which is why people will say "cảm ơn em" or "cảm ơn anh." It's the same idea that explains why no one says "xin chào" or "chào bạn." It's chào anh, chào em, chào chị, etc.
Yes, the accent spoken in Huế and other cities in Central Vietnam is very interesting. Sometimes, it can be hard to make out though, even to natives. Thank you for sharing your experience. I believe many other learners will find inspiration and motivation from you. Keep on learning languages.