Vietnamese vs. English<br />Ashley E. White<br />ESL 502<br />
Subject Of Investigation<br />Vietnamese female, 34 years old<br />From the mountains north of Ho Chi Minh City<br />Received some schooling while growing up in Vietnam.<br />Has lived in the U.S. for 10 years<br />Currently works as a nail technician/store manager<br />Has learned English through her interactions with customers but mainly studies and attempts to read the closed caption provided during TV shows and movies.<br />
Key Features of the Vietnamese Language<br />ALL words consist of one syllable<br />The language is tonal: different tones coupled with a word signal a difference in meaning.<br />Tones are represented in writing by diacritic marks<br />Roman alphabet with a 1:1 sound to letter correspondence<br />Monosyllabic words contain ONE vowel.<br />Has 3 well-known dialects: Northern, Central, and Southern.<br />
Similarities Between Vietnamese & English<br />Roman, phonetic alphabet<br />Inclusion of vowels<br />Similar handwriting systems<br />Similar punctuation symbols<br />
Phonetic Differences<br />Consonant clusters or blends such as str-, spl-, and tr- do NOT exist!<br />No equivalents for the sounds /th/ and /zh/ as in “pleasure.”<br />In the Vietnamese alphabet letters such as “ch” exist and denote one sound. <br />My subject had a very difficult time pronouncing blends and digraphs. In many cases, the blends and digraphs are simplified (example str- might be pronounced /tr.). This mispronunciation is a direct result of the nonexistence of clusters in my subjects’ L1.<br />
Morphological Differences<br />Vietnamese does not contain suffixes such as : -ing, -s, -es, ‘s, -er, and –est.<br />Vietnamese rely on context to indicate plurals, possession, and comparisons.<br />The absence of suffixes may have contributed to my subjects’ tendency to drop the final –s or –es sound when denoting plurals during our conversation.<br />
Semantic Differences<br />The English verbs “to do”, “to work” and “to make” have ONE equivalent in Vietnamese: lam.<br />This finding may explain why my subject had great difficulty employing these verbs appropriately during conversation.<br />Vietnamese is a tonal yet language, English uses intonation to emphasize mood and urgency. <br />Vietnamese speakers often have difficulty interpreting and using intonation appropriately if they are not directly taught appropriate intonation (Center for Applied Linguistics).<br />
Syntactic Differences<br />Vietnamese speakers have difficulty with word endings that change the grammatical category of a word.<br />In Vietnamese the verb “to be” only precedes nouns. This may explain why the verb “to be” is often missing in statements in which there is no noun at the end.<br /> -Example “ We on the left” “I sorry”<br />
Instructional Implications<br />To help Vietnamese learn appropriate pronunciation and intonation teachers should provide multiple opportunities for learners to listen to native speakers through read alouds, listening centers, poetry studies, and interactions with native speakers.<br />Minimal pairs can also be used to improve pronunciation.<br />Exercises that involve watching one’s tongue in a mirror may also be useful to help teach Vietnamese students consonant clusters.<br />Direct instruction and multiple practice opportunities are a necessity when it comes to teaching proper use of verbs as well as using word endings to indicate plurals, possession, and tense.<br />
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