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Tips for learning Canto and a good textbook? (for foreigners)


Mckk
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Title speaks for itself :) I'd really like to teach my husband Cantonese (he's Czech) and I'm becoming really frustrated with a lack of system. He's really talented actually - he can hear the tones usually and he can even replicate most of them with some practice. That's more than I can say for, well, pretty much ANY westerner I've met (and I grew up in England lol - I lived amongst the English. That's a lot of westerners. There was once a nice old lady who proudly told me she knew one sentence in Canto, so of course I asked her what that is. She then said, "Madam magoi." For the life of me, I was like - who the hell is Madam Magoi? Can anyone guess what Mdam Magoi means? lol).

 

The problem isn't with the tones, surprisingly. The problem is my husband keeps forgetting the words he's learnt :( because he has no reference for them and nothing to pin the sound to the meaning. He's created his own version of "pinyin" and his knowledge of Czech has been surprisignly helpful in pinning down Cantonese pronunciations (Czech has more sounds than English I think and Czech and Canton share some mutual sounds). In short, writing down the sounds for later reference isn't a problem.

 

But he just keeps forgetting anyway :(

 

So first I want a textbook so I have a system to teach him by, as I'm getting really frustrated and plain bored because I'm repeating what the heck "table" is in Canto for the millionth time and then two weeks later I'd be telling him the same word.

 

And second - any tips on how to better memorise Canto words, when you don't live in HK? (and no, there're next to no Cantonese speakers here)

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I don't know of any good books, but at to the forgetting the word for table etc. if you don't mind having post-it-notes around, stick them on the table, the door, the fridge and so on with his version of pinyin, and the character on it and at least you won't be asked over and over and it may help get it stuck in his brain :)

 

Hope it goes well.

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I think the best books for studying Cantonese all come from the Greenwood press (http://www.green-woodpress.com/products_list.php?iscantonese=1).  The "Fun with ..." books are great for practice, and the learning "Spoken Cantonese" books have good dialogues and a good progression from Beginner to Advanced.

 

Outside of the Greenwood press books, "Teach Yourself Cantonese" by Hugh Baker and Hanson Ho seems to be a good book (and a bit cheaper and easier to find).

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  • 3 weeks later...

I used Sydney Lau's books. Quite old, non-standard romanisation but very orientated to spoken cantonese.

 

Some of the vocabulary is a little dated and quaint.

 

But it's tough to learn cantonese without anybody else around.

 

Madam Magoi = Madam, thank you

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  • 3 weeks later...

Try the more modern Interesting Cantonese series, it has lots of short conversational sentences with English tranlsation, jyutping, written Cantonese and a CD. There are three books in the series from beginner to advanced, covering a lot of good vocab for everyday conversations. It doesn't cover grammar, but presumably you could help with that.

 

I'm BBC btw and bought two sets recently to help some friends with their dodgy canto.

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Just to clarify why I liked Sydney Lau's books.

It would give examples of different ways to say the same thing. For example, it was from that book that I learnt three ways of saying 'yesterday'in Cantonese. Two are pretty commonly used. The more formal version 昨曰 is heard much less but it really helped me knowing it existed. I was involved with some meetings with some much older people - the Cantonese they were using was over my head. Why? Because they were speaking in more formal Cantonese rather than colloquial speech. Sydney Lau's books helped me follow a little bit!

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