Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

Learning Hokkien


Recommended Posts

For quite a long time I've had my eyes on Hokkien to be the next variety of Chinese I would tackle. I don't exactly have that strong connections with the Hokkien cultural sphere, but I have had a few Singaporean friends, and although they don't exactly speak Hokkien, I've always sort of viewed the Hokkien that a lot of Singlish words come from with some sort of homely feel. It would also be a sort of interesting challenge to take on a variety less accessible than Mandarin or Cantonese. I don't really see any utility in it for me to be honest, but I like doing lots of useless fun things, so here we go!


I'm personally most interested in learning Singaporean (or JB/around that area) Hokkien, but I haven't found resources for this at all, so I've decided to settle with Taiwanese Hokkien for now. I just finished the book 外國人學台語, which was available from my university library, and I'm wondering where to go next. (The university also has another book, 台湾語入門, which seems to go a little further than the other one, but it has no audio, which isn't very ideal as I don't exactly know any native speakers who can help me read out the lines.)


I've also started watching the drama 飛龍在天, it's not bad, and I find watching drama is helpful to pick up the sounds and stuff.


Is anybody else here learning/speak Hokkien? Any tips or thoughts? Anyone know any Singaporean Hokkien movies that are actually all in Hokkien and not just like 2 lines? (I heard that they exist, tho probably from the 80s)


Also, does anyone know of any language exchange sites or something where you can find Hokkien speakers? (I've never used such sites before, but I haven't been as desperate to find speakers before XD) I tried making an account at lang8 for this purpose, only to find out that Hokkien (nor Taiwanese, nor Amoy, nor Xiamen, nor Min Nan you get the idea...) wasn't on the list of selectable languages to learn so... there goes that plan. I suppose I could look for Taiwanese people or something on the site and ask them if they speak Hokkien, but that is a lot of work.


For now, let this thread be a general hang out thread for people learning Hokkien!




EDIT: So far I found this dictionary that I think is pretty nice:




I really like its integration with the Mandarin dictionary, because this means I can actually look up things in Mandarin to find out how to say them in Hokkien; I don't know of any other dictionary that lets me do this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Maryknoll in Taiwan publishes a great, if dated, series of textbooks simply called "Taiwanese." I think there are 3 main books, the then two more for more specialized vocab for missionaries. It's a missionary group, so you do learn words like "pastor" early on, but overall it's good, practical 台語. You could probably order it from 台灣ê店. Just know that they may refuse to speak to you in Mandarin. It'll be either Taiwanese or English, but their English is passable.


I also have a book that I bought from them called 生活台語會話. It's pretty good for basic everyday conversation. There's a Japanese book that I got from Kinokuniya called 台湾語会話フレーズブック. It has 2900 sentences in Japanese, Taiwanese, and Mandarin, and the MP3s have all three languages recorded (in that order).


There's also a recording floating around out there of an older edition of Talks on Chinese Culture (中國文化叢談) in Taiwanese. It's pretty old, but it's good Taiwanese if you can stomach the heavy-handed KMT propaganda. I believe it's used at ICLP.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yea, I heard of Maryknoll; I'm not too keen on the missionary language, but I'll think about it. I might check out 生活台語會話 if you say it's good, but I don't exactly like phrasebooks (they are boring), so I dunno about 台湾語会話フレーズブック.


中國文化叢 is not learning material but is just talks in Taiwanese? Is it subbed (as in trad chinese)? Might be harder for me to understand, but I'll think about it. For now I think I'll stick with dramas tho, I have no shortage of these in the mean time.


I heard of 台灣ê店; the refusal to speak Mandarin sounds like quite a plus! I wish I could go to Taiwan and visit their store, but oh well. 


Are the SLS series books good? Apparently my city's library has the Taiwanese book in their reference section, so I think I'm gonna go for it. (Unfortunately not the Amoy Hokkien book, no x_x)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used the Maryknoll series, perhaps you come across more missionary things as you progress, but the first book at least is all the standard saying hello, taking the bus, going to the bookstore fare. You do learn words like nun and pastor at an early point, but apart from that, I would recommend it even to the staunchest atheist. My teacher was not even Christian herself. But I have only used this book and don't know how it compares to others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

中國文化叢談 is an intermediate-level Mandarin textbook. The current edition is edited by Vivian Ling and published by Yale University Press, but I think it's significantly different from the older version. It's been used at ICLP and other schools in Taiwan for decades, so I'm sure tracking down a used copy of the textbook wouldn't be too hard. The recording of it in Taiwanese might be another story though, unfortunately, but it is out there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, that sounds wonderful. Now only tracking it down........


Is there a specific "Taiwanese Version" of the textbook I need? Or are the Taiwanese recordings just Taiwanese translations of the Mandarin text? Or are they Taiwanese readings of the Mandarin text? (Not sure if people even do this tho... XD)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

SOAS publishes a textbook with audio called Spoken Hokkien. I do not have the book, so I can't comment on it. Maybe someone else has used it?


A professor from National Cheng-Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan has a book online called Let's Learn Taiwanese and Vietnamese. It looks like it's in Vietnamese, Taiwanese, and English. I have not used this myself either.


The rest of these resources assume knowledge of Mandarin or basic Taiwanese. I might be really off on the language levels, but hopefully someone will find these resources useful.


大家來說閩南語 is from National Education Radio in Taiwan. It partially follows the book 大家來說台灣母語 (link to 台灣e店). The teacher speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese. It's not a full course - there's no indication that the last broadcast is going to be the last one. I don't have the book, so I don't know how much of the book got covered. But the first few recordings are a great intro, and even explained differences between northern Taiwanese pronunciation and southern Taiwanese pronunciation.


台灣閩南語的閱讀與寫作(97) and 台灣閩南語的閱讀與寫作(96) are recordings of the same course from the National Taiwan Normal University, but from different school terms. I put the later term's version first because (if I remember correctly) I think that one introduces the pronunciation and romanization in more depth than the other one. Also, I think the professor speaks entirely in Taiwanese even though it's a general education class.


高雄市閩南語自編教材 has twelve textbooks for grades 1-6 published by the City of Kaohsiung in Taiwan. It's entirely in Taiwanese, with text and audio. It includes romanization and extended bopomofo.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have the Spoken Hokkien book. It seemed pretty good, but it's in a box on the way to Japan right now so I can't take a look. I think I decided not to use it since it teaches the Tainan accent and I live in Taipei. Tainan is the prestige variety though, so for people without a preference it's probably a good choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...