I’ve gotten several questions about my process for learning Vietnamese and the memory techniques that I use.
So, today I will explain my approach to how I’m learning Vietnamese.
**You can apply this to any language you want to learn!
I’m 27 days in and have comfortably learned 275 words so far. That’s about 10 words a day (I’ll explain why that is important).
The reason I’m learning Vietnamese is because I am the coach of the Vietnamese Memory Team.
HOW I’M LEARNING VIETNAMESE
– Google Spreadsheet
– Anki app
– Mnemonic link!
First off, there is no perfect source/book/app to learn a language. That is the first trap most people fall into. They research too much. They get overwhelmed. They never actually start.
My approach is to pick a solid method and dive in. Figure it out and adjust along the way. Just go!
I chose the Duolingo app to start learning Vietnamese. They have many languages to choose from. It’s good for several reasons.
– It has a voice that reads new words
– It has pictures & translations
– It builds new words you learn into sentences.
– It quizzes you English to Vietnamese AND Vietnamese to English (or whatever language you choose)
– It keeps track of how many days in a row you practice and notifies you if you haven’t trained (optional)
This example shows French on Duolingo.
When a new word that I haven’t learned pops up, I put it into a Google Spreadsheet on my phone.
– In the first column, I write the new Vietnamese word.
– Second column, I write a phonetic hint to remind me of the pronunciation (optional).
– Third column, I write the English translation.
Then, I import this sheet every day into Anki. Anki is a free, spaced repetition flashcard app for learning.
I setup Anki to automatically create flashcards from this spreadsheet data. It also automates which flashcards are shown each day.
Actively quiz yourself!
Repeat the words out loud.
The reason Anki is so amazing is that it automates spaced repetition. Spaced repetition is probably the #1 best way to learn anything long term. It just means you review the information more frequently in the beginning…and less and less over time. It’s based on scientific studies of how to learn effectively.
Ok, now for the part you really want to know.
How do I learn/memorize/remember foreign words and their meanings?
For most of the words I learn, I create a mnemonic link.
Basically, I create a story or image in my mind that links the foreign word to the English meaning.
Here are a few examples (in Vietnamese):
đọc (sounds like doc) = to read
Link: I have to use a doctor’s stethoscope to read.
xe đạp (sounds like se dap) = bicycle
Link: When I ride my bike I look carefully to avoid the dips. I see dips.
nghe (sounds like ney) = to hear
Link: I constantly hear a horse “neigh“.
vì sao (sounds like vee sow) = why
Link: V Sauce (he is famous on YouTube) always asks “why“? in his science videos.
tại (sounds like tie) = because
Link: Because always ties a sentence together.
These links help you retain the word initially. Some will stick immediately, some you will have to change or review a few times for it to be memorable.
In case you’re wondering, the mnemonic links fade over time. That’s a good thing…so you don’t have to think of these weird stories every time for every word. Eventually you will just know the word.
To make your own links:
My advice is to JUST USE THE FIRST IDEA THAT POPS INTO YOUR HEAD. Do not think of the “perfect” link. It doesn’t exist….and it’s a waste of time. The weird ideas, that you think don’t make any sense, are the best links!
This entire daily process (Duolingo -> Google Sheet -> Anki -> Mnemonic Link) takes 20-35 mins a day for me.
I learn on average, 10 words a day. That doesn’t seem like a lot. But remember, I’m also reviewing past words I’ve learned.
10 words a day for 1 year = 3,650 words. Enough to be anywhere from conversational to proficient in that language.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with learning languages. Less is more (10 words a day). Think long-term.
20 mins every day is way better than doing 4 hours just 1 day a week. Consistency is key with learning a language.
Read Part 2 of How I Learned Vietnamese with Memory Techniques here: https://memoryjohn.com/how-im-learning-vietnamese-with-memory-techniques-part-2-of-2/