Study Tips from an American Who Speaks Vietnamese

Listen to Language Link Vietnam teacher Whalen Rutherford tell how learning Vietnamese has helped him understand Vietnamese students who want to learn English.

What is your name?
My name’s Whalen Rutherford.

How long have you been in Vietnam?
I’ve been in Vietnam now for just over four years.

How well do you speak Vietnamese?
Tiếng Việt của tôi tương đối là ổn.

How did you learn Vietnamese?
I study at the National University.

What problems have you experienced learning Vietnamese?
Studying Vietnamese in Vietnam – being surrounded by Vietnamese people – has helped me a ton, a lot! And the problems that I’ve experienced are standard: with tones, and Vietnamese being very different from English… But I’m able to seek out more than enough opportunity to practice Vietnamese without having to go online or into a book.

How are Vietnamese and English different?
Vietnamese is mono-syllabic, and in English we have… Vietnamese being mono-syllabic, the words get their meaning from different tones placed on the vowels. And in English, the devices that are more important would be word and sentence stress, and…the structure of the language is very different, in that regard. But grammatically – I was very surprised at the similarities, how similar Vietnamese and English are.

What has learning Vietnamese taught you about Vietnamese students who try to learn English?
Learning Vietnamese has taught be a lot about just learning a language, learning a second language. And about Vietnamese in particular, it’s taught me a lot about the culture, learning styles that aren’t necessarily specific to only Vietnamese students, but that are certainly important, culturally to Vietnamese.

They have different learning styles to you, you believe?
Certainly…certainly.

What advice do you have for Vietnamese students who want to learn English?
For Vietnamese students who want to learn English, I think that they should take ownership of their learning, and seek out, and look for as many different opportunities to use their English in ways that they find interesting, and exciting. And by that I mean looking for a book in a genre, or a type of book that they really enjoy in Vietnamese – and then read that in English. Or, if they enjoy film, movies, then watch those movies in English. And watch them in Vietnamese too! And just expand on their interests and their likes…in English.

Thank you very much.
Thank you.

This entry was posted in General Advice, Inside LLV by Hal. Bookmark the permalink.

About Hal

My full name is Hal Medrano. I am originally from New York City. I have been teaching English since 1991 and working with educational technology since 1996. I am the Blended Learning Program Manager at Language Link Vietnam and the Webmaster for this blog.

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