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Vietnamese Complete Audio CD Program [With 2 CDs] (Teach Yourself (McGraw-Hill)) Paperback – Apr 2004

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Paperback, Apr 2004
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Amazon.com: 16 reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Poorly designed and proofread course 26 May 2006
By Lars Peder Kallar Devold - Published on Amazon.com
With its prohibitive tone distinctions, large number of vocals and alien consonants, Vietnamese is one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world. Unfortunately, this course does a very poor job with conveying how the language is to be spoken, and similar to many other DIY language courses, the exercises at the end of each lesson are thrown in haphazardly and have little relation to the lesson they accompany.

The course begins with an introduction to the tones. They are not given names (low falling, glottal stop, mid rising, et.c.) on the cd or any explanation of their differences. In fact, at first listen they sound pretty much the same and only after rewinding the tape or skipping back on the cd hundreds of times will you eventually nail them. Next comes a list of the vietnamese vocals, consonants and diphtongs. On the CD, they are spoken in sequence (fast!) by a number of native speakers of different age and sex. This is actually a good way of getting the gist of the relative pitch of the tones, but for the actual pronounciation, just saying a bunch of morphs in sequence does little for someone without a trained ear. No examples are given of similar sounds in languages more commonly known to the average user of the course (like English, German or French).

Once (or rather, if) you have gotten past the gruelling 10-minute introduction track, you go on to the dialogues themselves. The speakers all speak in a normal conversational tempo, which in vietnamese terms means faster than you can possibly pick up the distinctions. Only by deliberate analysis of individual words using a computer and headphones will you come anywhere near learning the language. Subsequent dialogues only get worse, and sometimes use words and phrases not in the vocabulary provided for each lesson or the dictionary at the back of the book. There is a lot of background noise on the recordings, using headphones you can hear typing, muffled voices, computer fans, et.c. At the end of each dialogue, you'll be asked to answer some questions ("how did the speaker introduce Ms. Phuong?"), but the time given you to answer the questions is next to none and it is downright impossible for someone just learning the language to mimic the native speakers using the recordings provided.

The exercises at the back of each lesson seem to have been tacked on without much effort. They use little of the vocabulary of each lesson and give little insight into the grammar. The solutions for the exercises at the back of the book are poorly organized and hard to read, and sometimes don't match the exercises at all.

All in all, this was a poor purchase and I felt I gained little for the hard work I put into it. As a student of mandarin and someone fairly good at mimicking speech patterns, accents and languages, I still found it next to impossible to understand and learn Vietnamese from this course. My verdict: do not buy.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
a book for intermediate learners 16 Sept. 2005
By Andy Smith - Published on Amazon.com
I have been living in a Vietnamese house-hold for two years now (I rent from Vietnamese people) and I have been to Vietnam two times. I had long learned the "basic" grammer structure and many useful words before I bought this book. The book _can_ be used for newbies, but I would not advise it. It is basically a crash-course in Vietnamese, cramming in valuable lessons at every-interval and leaving out some explainations that a person totally unfamiliar with vietnamese would find hard to grasp. This is a perfect book for a transition from a begginer to an intermediate student. For a Total beginner I would say it is not the book. I also did not find anything especially intriguing about the cultural notes. But if you can rememeber a lot of information really quickly, it is possible to read the entire book in about 4 hours.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
OK for non-beginners 22 Aug. 2005
By sylvie777 - Published on Amazon.com
I grew up speaking and hearing Vietnamese at home, but I stopped speaking when entering kindergarten to "avoid having an accent". After reading this book, I realized that I was able to recall a lot of words. I just don't know how those who have never had any Vietnamese would be able to learn this alone. A native speaker will definitely need to guide the person through.
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Poor Course 28 Jun. 2005
By Jesse J. Czaja - Published on Amazon.com
Im not one to write reviews, but i have commited myself to learning Vietnamese and this selection looked very good, even if it lacked reviews.

I found the CD, very hard to work with. It first speaks the word in Tieng Viet, then tells the meaning, this leaves you repeating a word you dont understand, but mind you, there is little time to repeat the word anyway, as the CD moves right along.

The book is ok, and is why i gave the course 2 stars. Within it has "Cultural Information", every few pages, that i found interesting. But im unsure how anyone could really learn even the basics of the language from this course.

If you are interested in learning to speak a few phrases and very basic Vietnamese Language, i would suggest "Vietnamese:Audio CD Course(Language 30)". Its easy and kinda fun, plus the smallish phrase book is easy to carry around so you can practice while away from a cd player. Its perfect for the car ride to work, as you dont need the phrase book to follow along with the CD.

If you really want to master Tieng Viet, i think you need to spend more the $20, and maybe take a few college class's, or maybe live in Vietnam for awhile.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
underrated 26 Jun. 2006
By My trang - Published on Amazon.com
this actually was the first book i started with in 2000 and to be fair i would say it is a very good course. It isnt a complete course as it advertises itself to be but then again no vietnamese language course is "complete". The pronuciation section on the CD is very good like the other post said you have to go through it hundreds of times before you pick it up but the is the sacrifice you have to make towards mastery of the tones. As an introduction to the language it is good, just realize that it is supplemental and you should be getting your hands on every course you can buy borrow or find in order to study viet.
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