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I served in Vietnam in '68-69 and am planning to return next year with my two adult children to show them Danang, Hoi An, and Saigon(although it's officially Ho Chi Minh City, it's still okay to refer to it as Saigon because the locals use the two names interchangeably). Back in the 60's I was sent to language school for a year to learn Vietnamese with native instructors so for my return trip I wanted to brush up to impress my kids and better enjoy my visit. I promised my daughter that this wasn't going to be a boring(for her) battlefield tour! All the more reason to know some conversational Vietnamese. When I looked around for language training I couldn't find it taught in any college continuing education programs. The Berlitz school was way too expensive. Rosetta Stone also seemed expensive and I read some negative reviews about how effective it was. I'm a huge Audible fan and while searching for books about Vietnam I saw this Pimsleur course offering and quickly went through the thirty lessons which were helpful for listening to natives speak. I missed not having any written materials to study grammar or a native to converse with who could listen to and correct me. In my search for what to study next I searched on YouTube and found "Learn Vietnamese with Annie" which is fabulous. Annie is a young Vietnamese woman in Saigon who started doing free YouTube lessons a few years ago. I've watched these videos while running on my treadmill and learned so much about the language, especially the differences in the Southern dialect. Annie now has a weekly podcast series available by subscription of $5/month. The value of the podcast is that you listen to a dialogue between two native speakers in a typical situation(market shopping, for example) and then Annie and Jack, an American I think, discuss the dialogue words and pronunciation. There's also an audio vocabulary review and a pdf of the dialogue transcript. You can listen as often as you want. Here's something else I recommend. I noticed on Amazon that two new dictionaries came out in February, 2016. They are from Tuttle Publishing and are fantastic! One is English to Vietnamese and the other its twin, the Vietnamese to English. You must get them! One other thing I'm now doing. Annie offers one-hour one to one lessons on Skype. I pay $63 for five lessons. Imagine, here's this old geezer talking on Skype with a young Vietnamese language teacher who's in Saigon. I had never used Skype before and now I'm acting like I'm a geek! Anyway, it's fun. She's eleven hours ahead of me but is very flexible in scheduling(my lesson is from 8:30-9:30pm East coast time). One of the great things about the Skype lesson is that there's a margin space on the side of the screen so if I don't understand something she just types it in the margin for me to see instantly. At the end of my lesson I copy and print the margin notes for later study. Anyway, I hope I don't sound like a salesman because I'm not affiliated with Annie in any way. Try her videos. She has a captivating smile and a contagious laugh.
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