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Elementary Vietnamese

Title: Elementary Vietnamese

Author: Binh Nhu, Ph.D. Ngo
Format: Hardcover
List Price: $49.95
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Amazon USA Price: $32.19

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Elementary Vietnamese

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Editorial Reviews
About the Author
Binh Nhu Ngo, a native of Vietnam, is Vietnamese Languageuage Preceptor, Harvard University. He is the author of A Vietnamese Textbook for Beginners.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Description:
Based on material developed by the author for his course at Harvard University, Elementary Vietnamese is a complete Languageuage course designed for either self-study or college-level classroom use. The text, consisting of two parts, includes a pronunciation guide and fourteen short-dialogue lessons. The pronunciation guide describes Vietnamese sounds and differences between the Hanoi and Saigon dialects. Examples of Vietnamese advertisements and newspapers are used throughout the lessons. Also included is a Vietnamese-English glossary and an English-Vietnamese glossary.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Bilingual edition (December 1, 2003)
  • ISBN: 0804833699
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.3 x 1.0 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds.
  • Average Customer Review: based on 12 reviews.

Customer Reviews
Avg. Customer Review:

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful:

Good book after skipping pronunciation chapter, November 29, 2001

Reviewer: D. F. Utz "got_rice" (Daly City, CA USA)

If you skip the atrocious first chapter on pronunciation, you have a really good introductory text for learning Vietnamese. The grammar rules are quite clear and enlightening. I had used another Vietnamese language text, which was good but skipped some essential explanations.

Binh's book has good explanations of grammar points and dozens of practice samples.

Main problem is the first chapter on pronunication. Such guides on pronunciation are simply useless to anyone other than a linguist. Having it as the first chapter makes the text look like an awfully complicated book. It's enough to scare anyone from learning a foreign language. Put such pronunication guides in the appendix.

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful:

Save This Endangered Text; It's The Best You Can Get, January 29, 2001

Reviewer: MHuynh (Poughkeepsie, NY United States)

Save this text!

As a non-Vietnamese speaking Vietnamese-American born at the end of the war (and ambitions to get involved in business in Vietnam in the future) this course has been a savior.

It's the best you can buy for learning the Vietnamese language. Other Vietnamese language `courses' found on Amazon aren't even in the same league with this one. Before getting this I ordered Language/30's Vietnamese and Vocabulearn's Vietnamese. In comparison these ones are jokes (the readers who gave them good reviews obviously haven't seen this course).

One caveat however. For this text to be useful the accompanying CD set also needs to be ordered. Unfortunately, I'm lead to believe this text is endangered of being put out of print because the publisher (Tuttle Publishing) doesn't even make the CD set anymore. To get the CD set (7 CD's for $135) you have to mail the author directly (Tuttle's number is given in the back of the book. Call them, they'll give you the author's address). Fortunately the author's very quick to mail the CD set- it took 3 business days to get from Cambridge, Mass. to Santa Clara, CA.

If you are interested in learning the Vietnamese language buy this text (with the intention of later buying the CD set). This course deserves to thrive and become the standard for learning the Vietnamese language. It should be the "Elementary Chinese" (a standard Chinese learning text) for the Vietnamese language.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

One expensive option with very few alternatives., June 6, 2004

Reviewer: Thomas B. Leonard II "Researcher / Publisher" (St. Louis, MO United States)

As a language teacher with a Masters Degree in Applied Linguistics, I feel that this book is simply not worth the price. I haven't bought the CDs, as after purchasing the book I couldn't justify the extra $135 for the audio materials. Even barring financial considerations, I doubt very seriously whether the CDs would elevate its usefulness considerably.

The first section is devoted to Vietnamese phonology, and it does a fairly good job. If you have any background in linguistics, most of it will be quite easy to work through. However, most of this section relies entirely on the supplemental CDs to be truly effective.

The chapters follow a pattern. First, they introduce a conversation. Next, they give pertinent vocabulary. Following that are a series of grammar/usage notes. The chapters end with a series of rather repetitive exercises.

This book is almost certainly designed with an introductory Vietnamese course in mind. In a University setting with a language lab that offers the CDs for the students, and with a professor that uses the book as a jumping-off point, it would probably be a useful text.

However, as a self study book, it simply doesn't cut it. The book offers no answers to the exercise questions, and it doesn't provide nearly enough examples to answer the learner's questions. For one example, after scouring the book for the answer, I'm still not sure whether one uses a classifier with two nouns that have been joined with "va".

If you're interested in finding a far cheaper and more useful program, I would suggest Dana Healy's Teach Yourself Vietnamese. It is equally if not more comprehensive, it includes two CDs that help facilitate pronunciation and provide audio representations of the text's conversations, and it can be purchased for almost half the price of this textbook. For the motivated learner who is content to create their own written exercies, it is a far better choice.

If we assume that the price of this book is not merely $35 for the book, but $170 for the book and CDs, I would suggest an alternative. For just a little more money, one could purchase Teach Yourself Vietnamese for $25 and the GD305V talking Vietnamese translator for $234. (I purchased mine from http://www.aimhi.com) With these two tools, and given the amount of Vietnamese reading material on the internet, you will be far better prepared than by spending the required money on this book and CDs.

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

Worst book I have ever tried, June 5, 2003

Reviewer: Xuan

In reviewing this book, I found it to be utterly senseless and useless. The book is complex and does not focus on the language structure very well.

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful:

Hands down the best text on the market., July 21, 2002

Reviewer: John L. Wood Jr. (Boston)

Although the other reviews complain of complexity, it is utterly necessary to learn the pronunciation. As far as the book focusing on the northern dialect, it is quite simple to change a few nuances to suit to a speaker of the southern dialect. I have studied Vietnamese for over four years, and owe my near-fluency to this book, and this book alone. There is simply no other learning material on the market today that is as thorough as this book, and the accompanying audio products. Keep in mind, however, that special attention needs to be paid to the pronunciation guide, and listening to the audio course and the pronunciation of the speakers. This aspect of the course is completely invaluable. The nature of the Vietnamese language is it's tonal characteristics; without them, a person trying to speak the language will not be understood. This book will definitely help you master the tones, so you may begin practicing the drills and learning the vocabulary. It is an indispensable course for those who truly want to learn the language.

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

missing pieces, April 23, 2002

Reviewer: "foiegrasterrine" (Colorado)

Upon reading the introduction, I discovered there was an audio CD to accompany the book that was not provided (standard). I wrote to the author and was informed that, for [money](+... shipping), I could buy the audio CD's directly from him.
As far as a textbook quality goes, I cannot rate it accurately because I have not used it fully. Upon first and subsequent impressions, it is much more complex than texts in the romance languages, which probably should be expected. It seems to offer very little support for slow learners like me.
I rate the book with two stars because I desire to give it the benefit of the doubt (due to all of it's other wonderful reviews).

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