The Vietnamese language. As a beginner student thereof, I reckon that numbers serve as an excellent entry point… likely enabling the growth of new, neuroplastic structures within the brain. Just like mycelium needs an entry point to spread through forest floor (or the seams of a shower), learning numbers may provide a starting point for conquering a language.
Additionally, mastering the ability to hear and speak numbers proves immediately valuable for everyday life in Vietnam, whether it’s paying bills at coffee shops or engaging in casual conversations. As a former university research assistant in eLearning and Behavioral Psychology, I’ve created the following 3 mini-games to facilitate the learning process:
In The City Park
Objective: Learn to speak numbers.
Strategy: You are presented with a number. Try to speak it out loud in Vietnamese. Then hit the space bar to hear the number (for your brain’s calibration process.) Additionally, the number is written out in the top right hand corner. Hit the space bar again to be presented with a new, random number. There’s a counter in the top left hand corner that shows you how many numbers you have practiced with already.
The numbers are spoken by speech synthesis on the computer, which is terribly poor, but better than nothing. I appreciate the computer voice since it’s infinitely more patient than any human teacher. Consult a native Vietnamese speaker for the real pronunciation (and a good scolding.) You will soon find out that most human teachers have a set limit for repeating a word, which is around 2 to 4 times. Use a more advanced AI speech synthesis system like https://fpt.ai/tts to hear various computer speakers and accents (Northern, Middle and Southern Vietnamese).
Configuration: (a) Highest number. In the top input field in the little white box on the left hand side you can enter the highest number presented. Enter “10” to only be presented numbers 0 to 10. Enter “1000” to be presented numbers from 0 to 1000.
(b) Multiplier. In the second input field you can enter a factor (multiplier). Enter “1000” if you want to be presented with numbers like on Vietnamese money. 80,000 VND for a drink at Starbucks, 25,000 VND for a Cà Phê Đá at the corner coffee shop. Enter, for example “5” to be presented only with numbers that are multiples of 5.
(c ) Numbers in English. Check the checkbox to have the computer speak the number you’re presented with in English. Now you can look out the window and enjoy the scenery while hitting the space bar and studying numbers in Vietnamese.
The Three Camels
Objective: Learn to hear numbers.
Strategy: You are presented with a number—in speaking only. So listen closely. Hit the space bar to hear it again. Then click on the matching number below a camel. You can use the arrow keys left, down, right instead of clicking.
The computer voice (speechSynthesis) might be so distorted that it’s hardly intelligible. Similar to the singing voice of a camel. Good practice!
The Two Girls
Objective: Learn to work with numbers on a native skills level.
Strategy: “A cộng B bằng ?” translates to “A plus B equals ?” in English. Hit the space bar to hear a mathematical expression for you to solve. Then type the result with the number keys.
Configuration: Enter the highest number you want to hear for A in the “A max” input field, and the highest number for B in the “B max” input field. Click somewhere on the game screen so that the computer can catch when you press the space bar or numbers.
- These games only work on Desktop or on a laptop, NOT on mobile devices (such as iPhones or tablets).
- Furthermore, some or all of the games may not work properly (or at all), as I created them basically only for myself and for use on my MacBook locally. They are not prepared or packaged for deployment.
- For speechSynthesis to work make sure to have a Vietnamese voice installed on your computer (on a Mac that’s in System Settings > Accessability > Spoken Content > System Voice > Manage Voices…).
The games can be found here: https://alfonsgrabher.com/vn-numbers
Số, there’s a week of my life invested. Good luck and enjoy your language learning journey!
Alfons, May 2023
Image credits: park-city-park-people-walk-stroll-7153125 by dandelion_tea on Pixabay, brothers-and-sisters-hold-hands-7300150 by Tilixia on Pixabay, Three camels by hunter-so on Unsplash, Picture frame by luis-villasmil on Unsplash. Credits to ChatGPT for code completion, which made this project possible in the first place.