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Cantonese textbooks + resources after Mandarin


ZhangKaiRong
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Hello all,

 

My girlfriend (who is from mainland China) started to learn Cantonese some weeks ago, as we came across a good opportunity to go to Hong Kong for work in the banking sector, and knowing some Cantonese may be useful. She's picking the language quite quickly by watching Alex Chen's learn Cantonese Youtube videos on pronounciation, watching news in Cantonese and she also started to read newspaper articles. She has colleagues from Guangzhou working here, and they often have some small conversations in Cantonese, and she's really making a progress based on the feedbacks.

I'd also like to learn some Cantonese - I'm pretty fluent in Mandarin, both written and oral, business and everyday life situations, so I'm tempted to try out the "another big Chinese language" (and I'm envious on my girlfriend too!). But the methods she's using is not fully for me - Alex Chen's videos seems to be OK if you're a native Mandarin speaker, but how he's explaining tones and pronounciation is sometimes not intuitive for me enough, and to be honest, it's tiring for me to use Mandarin as a transmitting language for learning Cantonese. It's out of my comfort zone, as I've never learnt a foreign language with Mandarin being the transmitting language, I get frustrated and tired more quickly, this is why I'm looking for some English-based Cantonese resources, so I'm open for recommendations from fellow Cantonese learners :) When I was actively learning Chinese (and also Spanish and Japanese), I usually looked for a comprehensive, example-based textbooks that teach pronounciation, basic grammar patterns, thematical vocab and dialogues, also used language podcasts (like ChinesePod and JapanesePod) for listening, and I tried to find opportunities for speaking with native speakers to practice daily life conversations. After reaching a good enough, textbookish vocab base, I turned to higher level reading materials (business-related articles, contemporary short stories) to increase vocab and expressions. I plan to do something similar with Cantonese. With Mandarin, it was slightly different, as a bigger portion of study time was passed on pronounciation and character learning/writing. I can't ignore tones in Cantonese, that's for sure, but I can live without being able to write every Chinese characters I know in a traditional format and the Cantonese specific characters, being able to read it is enough for me. So my main focus is reading-speaking-listening. Any suggestion on proper materials? :)

 

Many thanks!

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Hi @ZhangKaiRong,

 

On my bookshelf is A Shortcut to Cantonese (2013) which is designed for English speakers who already learned Mandarin. I say "on my bookshelf", because I tend to buy too many books long before I have time to use them, so it's sitting in my queue. I haven't actually used it, but it seemed good after flipping through it.

 

Pimsleur Cantonese Level 1 also has 30 half-hour audio lessons.

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44 minutes ago, lechuan said:

On my bookshelf is A Shortcut to Cantonese (2013) which is designed for English speakers who already learned Mandarin.

 

Looks decent. And uses Sidney Lau's method of romanisation. 

 

Perhaps @queridocan chip in with some advice.

 

Firstly, the biggest issue is going to be getting over the cultural aspects. People in HK don't have much patience. If you try to use Cantonese as a beginner, people are going to go straight to English (if you don't have a Chinese face) or Mandarin (if you have a Chinese face).

 

Secondly, workplace language is going to be English. You get quite a few mainlanders working in finance who will be working in either English or Mandarin with their HK colleagues simply because it's the fastest mode of communication. HK Mandarin (no matter how off it is) is going to be better than your Cantonese. 

 

Thirdly,  it is very common to get better service if you use English. One mainland Mandarin teacher told me she used English in HK to get better service when visiting HK. 

 

Resources:

 

I would still recommend Sidney Lau's books. Just get the first two volumes, sit down with a Cantonese teacher and work through them with a recording device at hand. Reinforce by photographing a couple of pages and asking colleagues to read out the Cantonese to train your ear. If you find them useful (some vocab is oudated), then go for more. 

 

I have the Glossika mp3 for Cantonese and I have to say, the male speaker is very good. I would probably rate it better as a learning aid than the Mandarin (Mandarin one is high pitched voice and very fast). The reason why it is good is each word is very clear (to me) and the speed is only slightly slower than average native. It is only a short step away from full native and you are less likely  to be caught out when people speak more 'standard' (for want of a better word) Cantonese. 

 

You can try learning to read but to be honest, if you haven't yet got a proper ear for the language and tones, it is going to be be much much harder than Mandarin and not without frustration. Which is why the voice recorder is very important. 

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8 hours ago, Flickserve said:
8 hours ago, lechuan said:

On my bookshelf is A Shortcut to Cantonese (2013) which is designed for English speakers who already learned Mandarin.

 

Looks decent. And uses Sidney Lau's method of romanisation. 

 

It actually uses Jyutping romanization, which has a few different initial/final spellings from Sidney Lau.

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The news was on and I was watching Carrie Lam, HK's chief executive giving a statement for the press. Decided to pay more attention this time.  The subtitles were pretty accurate for the formal terms and very clearly spoken. Good learning material. 

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Another vote for Glossika's Cantonese course. It's excellent.

 

I used Cantonese for Everyone 大家嘅廣東話 when I first started learning. It's good, but it's not aimed at people who already speak Mandarin, so you can go through it pretty quickly to get a handle on some of the differences between the two languages. After that, diving into Glossika should be no problem.

 

There's also Cantonese.org, courtesy of Pleco. Not to mention several fantastic Canto dictionaries available in Pleco.

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Wow, thank you for all the suggestions, I never came across this many resources when I was looking for it online.

I totally forgot about Pimsleur, even though I used their Mandarin and Japanese courses back in the days. The Mandarin version was really good for tone drilling, I expect something similar for Cantonese as well, and that's actually quite useful.

This Shortcut to Cantonese also seems a good book, something I have been looking for. On amazon it's out of print, but I will try to hunt down somewhere - don't know how reliable is the publisher's shipping. Teach Yourself Cantonese also seems fun, found some sample pages online. I heard many good things about Glossika courses, might be the time to try it out :)

 

@Flickserve

Yeah, I'm aware of the fact that I'm in a better situation with either English or Mandarin in HK, mostly because I won't pick up Cantonese that easily. My motivation for learning is not exactly to be able to use the language every day (although it would be cool), but to have some basic idea what's happening around me in a Cantonese environment. In my job, I often have conference calls or negotiation sessions with Chinese clients, or there are Chinese on the other side, and to be honest, all of these meetings in such setups at some point turned into a mini-discussion among the Chinese participants in Mandarin, and my ability to follow and understand the discussion was extremely helpful. There were cases when the party sitting in front of me didn't know that I'm fluent in Mandarin, and they said a lot of relevant things in Mandarin. If I could achieve something like this, even to a lesser extent, I'd be happy. 

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I have posted this link before elsewhere but here would also be a very appropriate place. 

 

If you can access YouTube, look up... 

 

https://youtu.be/50F8_SI_1js

 

This vlogger is very good. He speaks clearly, mixes in some colloquial Cantonese, subtitles are clear so you can also follow the traditional Chinese. The subtitles don't precisely follow the colloquial speech but most of the nouns are there. Each video is not so long that it be becomes overwhelming, it would be easy to search segments. Best of all, he is humorous. 

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  • 4 months later...

Interesting articles and tools (several dictionaries) in this blog. It looks rather inactive now, but the links seem still live.

 

廣府小研究-CANTONESE RESOURCES  
 
https://writecantonese8.wordpress.com/  

 

Two favourites :

Cantonese Proverbs in One Picture  
https://writecantonese8.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/cantonese-proverbs-in-one-picture/  

 

Cantonese Tones in Animations
https://writecantonese8.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/cantonese-tones-in-animations/  
I don't understand this one, but it looks very pretty.

 

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