Ben Pham


Children's acquisition of consonants, vowels, and tones in Northern Viet Nam


There are 54 languages spoken in Viet Nam including Vietnamese, the  first language of the Kinh people (accounting for approximately 86% of the population), and 53 other indigenous languages spoken by 53 ethnic minority groups (Trần, 2000). Vietnamese is the official language of Viet Nam and is spoken by most of the population (over 89 million people from all 54 ethnic groups) as their first or second language (Trần, 2000; Vietnam General Statistics Office, 2013). Vietnamese is also spoken as home language by nearly four million Vietnamese diaspora and by a significant number of Vietnamese nationals who have migrated in many other countries (e.g., to undertake higher education). For example, in Australia, Vietnamese is the sixth most commonly spoken language other than English with 1.1% of the population speaking it as a home language (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). In the 2011 US Census, Vietnamese is the fourth most common language other than English spoken at home (Ryan, 2013). In Canada, Vietnamese is one of the top 25 languages spoken (Statistics Canada, 2012). It is also recognized as a minority language in many other countries across the world including France, the Czech Republic, Germany, Korea, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Due to the high proportion of Vietnamese speakers, information about Vietnamese is useful for educators and speech-language pathologists who work with monolingual and multilingual Vietnamese children and adults in many different countries. However, very little is currently known about Vietnamese-speaking children's speech and language acquisition.

Through the use of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health -Child and Youth version (ICF-CY, World Health Organization, 2007) as a theoretical framework, this study aims to explore speech acquisition of Northern Vietnamese children. The overarching objective is to describe speech sound acquisition in preschool-aged children aged 2;0 to 6;6 in Northern Viet Nam.  The research will provide information regarding the age of acquisition based on variables of consonants, vowels, and tones; the percentage of consonants, semivowels, vowels, and tones correct; early, middle and late consonants; common mismatches; phonological patterns; phonetic, syllable and word-shape inventories; and children's intelligibility.

Why I chose CSU

Before coming to CSU I was a lecturer in special education at the Ha Noi National University of Education, Viet Nam. In 2013, I received an Australian Awards Scholarship (AAS) to undertake a four-year PhD program in the 2014 cohort in Australia. While I was searching for a potential supervisor(s) and a preferred Australian institution, I met Professor Lindy McAllister (Director of the Trinh Foundation) in Ha Noi. After knowing about my previous research experience, my current employment, and my research interest of children's speech acquisition and speech sound disorders, Prof. McAllister referred me to Prof. Sharynne McLeod at CSU. I then made contact with Prof. McLeod to express my desire to be her PhD student. Prof. McLeod had previously lectured in the Speech Pathology Program at Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine in Ho Chi Minh City and had an ongoing interest in Vietnamese children's speech acquisition. Having discussed the proposed research project with her via Skype, I was excited by the prospect of working with highly skilled supervisors.  I believe that my supervisory team at CSU will provide me with constructive instruction to undertake my PhD research project on Vietnamese speaking children's speech.

Engagement and memberships

Conference organisation

Invited committee member on the Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Considerations across the Discipline for the 2015 American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA) Convention (2015).

Professional consultancies/committees

Speech Pathology Australia Working in a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Society Working Group (2015)

The Viet Nam School Readiness Promotion Project (SRPP), Training workshop Care and education for children from ethnic minority groups and vulnerable children, The Viet Nam Ministry of Education and Training and World Bank, Viet Nam (2013)

The National Program of General Education Development, Training workshop Inclusive education for children with disabilities, The Viet Nam Ministry of Education and Training (2012)

The National Project Primary Education for disadvantaged children (PEDC), Training workshop Inclusive education for students with disabilities, The Viet Nam Ministry of Education and Training and World Bank (2010)

Unicef-Viet Nam, Training workshops Inclusive education for children with disabilities in An Giang, and Dong Nai Provinces, and Da Nang City (2010, 2011, 2012)

Professional affiliations

Member of National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (USA) (2014- present)

Charles Sturt University Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE) – Student affiliate (2014-present)

Publications & Presentations

Peer reviewed journal articles

Phạm, B. & McLeod, S. (2015, in press). Consonants, vowels, and tones across Vietnamese dialects. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

Conference presentations (published abstracts)

Phạm, B., McLeod, S. & McCormack, J. (2015, May). Comparison of consonants, vowels, and tones across three dialects of Vietnamese. Poster presented at the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, Canberra, Australia.

Current candidate profiles