The official national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, though members of the nation’s many minority groups speak languages such as Cham, Khmer and H’mong. Formally educated Vietnamese — those in who in the past may have studied French or, in the North, Russian — today are likely to study English

English-speakers may look at Vietnamese, written using Latin characters, and think pronouncing words in the language will be a snap. Nope. Vietnamese is a tonal language. Tones vary by:

* length (duration)
* pitch contour (i.e. pitch melody)
* pitch height
* phonation

Still sound easy to you? It won’t once you look at this “Vietnamese tone chart.” The language may seem even less likely for you to master once you try to reproduce these pronunciations of the Vietnamese letters and tones which will also give you a sense of how to pronounce letters with all those great accent marks. (You may think you’re parroting back the correct pronunciation and inflection. But you’re not.)

We’re going to do our best when we say hello and goodbye:

Hello: Chà o
goodbye: Tạm bi

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