By Jack Halpern (春遍雀來)
Below is a summary of fifteen reasons that Vietnamese is easy to learn, much easier than many other languages.
- Short words. Words are short and easy to learn. Many common words like ngủ and đi have only one syllable and even polysyllabic words like thú vị are often short.
- Stable tones. The tones do not change according to the context; that is, the tone of any syllable is always the same.
- No gender. Vietnamese has no grammatical gender. Gender is a major
challenge for learners of many languages like Arabic and German, since
the form is often irregular and illogical.
- No plural. Vietnamese has no plural forms, neither for nouns and
adjectives nor for verbs. Plural forms can be highly irregular (as in German and Arabic) and thus difficult to learn.
- No articles. Vietnamese has no articles. In many languages, such as
German and Portuguese, mastering the articles is difficult because their
form can depend on gender, number, and case.
- No conjugation. Vietnamese verbs are never conjugated; that is, they have only one form. Some languages have hundreds of verb forms, which could take years to learn.
- Tenses are easy. Vietnamese tenses are formed by a small number of
particles placed before the verb, such đã for past and sẽ for future. You can thus master the Vietnamese tenses in a few minutes.
- Tenses are optional. The tense particles can omitted if the tense is clear
from the context, or by using a time word , as in Tôi ăn trưa hôm qua ‘I had lunch yesterday’.
- No cases. Vietnamese words are not inflected for grammatical case (such
as nominative and dative), which makes it much easier to learn than
languages with complicated case systems like German.
- No agreement. Since Vietnamese words are not inflected nor conjugated,
they never change according to the tense, number and gender of other
words in the sentence, as is the case in many languages.
- Easy to read. Vietnamese is written in the Latin alphabet, modified by
diacritics. It is much easier to read compared to other Asian languages like Chinese and Japanese that are written in non-Latin scripts.
- Easy to write. Vietnamese is easy to write because it uses the Latin
alphabet and because the orthography is fairly regular, unlike such
languages as French and English.
- Easy words. Vietnamese words are based on the Chinese model. Since
each syllable has a clear meaning (often derived from a Chinese character), compound words can be easily understood if one knows the meanings of each component.
- Easy grammar. Vietnamese grammar is much easier than that of many
other languages because of such features as verb conjugation and case
endings don’t exist, while others, such as plural forms and tenses, are easy to form and are optional.
- Information density. Vietnamese packs more information into the same
number of syllables than other major world language, contributing to ease of learning because the shorter words represent meaning more efficiently.