Vietnamese is an Austro-Asiatic language spoken by nearly 70 million people worldwide. It is the official and national language of Vietnam. Its vocabulary is heavily influenced by Chinese and French with numerous words and terminology borrowed from both respective languages. As a result of immigration following the Vietnam War, Vietnamese is widely spoken across other parts of Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia. Similar to Chinese and other East Asian languages, Vietnamese is an analytic language with multiple phonetic tones. There are five to six phonetic tones used in Vietnamese (depending on regional dialect). Historically, Vietnamese was written using an adapted version of Chinese characters called Chữ Nôm, however, French colonization led to the adoption of the current Vietnamese alphabet based on Latin script.
In the Fall of 2019, I studied abroad in Vietnam for four months and took a language intensive throughout the semester. I learned basic vocabulary and day-to-day conversational Vietnamese during this four-month period. Upon my return to Union, I wanted to continue learning Vietnamese and utilized a Minerva Exploration Grant to fund continuation classes. I took twice-weekly online classes where I learned grammatic structures and continued to grow my vocabulary. I also learned the differences in dialects and word choice from different regions of Vietnam. As a heritage learner, I wanted to learn Vietnamese to reconnect with my family's culture and improve my communication with my extended family abroad.