Learning Cantonese Part 1: 8 Reasons Why You Should Learn Cantonese!

31 Oct 2018 | Veronica

Thinking about studying Cantonese? Check out these 8 reasons why you should learn Cantonese.

1. Investing in a foreign language is always beneficial

Have you ever heard someone say they regret learning a language? On the other hand, there are numerous benefits. Language skills open up connections and opportunities, save you from paying tourist prices, and set you apart when applying for a new job.

2. It’s the local language.

Although English is an official language in Hong Kong, and it is possible to survive with only English, your experience in the city will be entirely different and a whole lot friendlier with a bit of surviving Cantonese.

While Mandarin is beneficial for business purposes, going into local neighborhoods and speaking Mandarin would be a bit like going to a Spanish-speaking country and speaking Portuguese. Don’t be that guy!

3. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the culture

Language shapes the way we interact with and make sense of the world around us. Having trouble communicating with colleagues because of cultural differences? Understanding even the basics of Cantonese can help make sense of communication styles and cultural norms. You might even start to see the ways English/Western workplace communication can be annoyingly superfluous…

4. Daily errands become so much easier

Have you ever had a long day at work when you’re exhausted and have been on your feet all day? Then imagine someone arrives speaking your second or third language at you. Of course there are days that you couldn’t be bothered to help them.

On the other hand, as a non-Cantonese speaking foreigner it can be mentally exhausting at the end of a long day trying to process information and procedures for your errands when it’s all in Chinese.

Learning Cantonese makes a world of difference in those situations!

5. Free stuff!

As a visible foreigner, using Cantonese has led to free foods added to purchases at the wet market and discounts given on GoGoVan and taxi rides. It’s so rare to see Western foreigners speaking Cantonese, there’s a lot of appreciation when you try. *Disclaimer: This has been the personal experience of the blogger. This blog does not guarantee free things.

6. It’s not as hard as people say

Don’t get me wrong – Cantonese is difficult. But dismissing it like an impossible feat? That’s an easy excuse. Getting to a basic level – ordering at restaurants, shopping at the wet market – can be done in a matter of weeks!

7. It’s a really, really cool language

Once you get the hang of the tones, it’s pretty amazing that simply changing the register of a word can give it up to 9 different meanings. All with the same sound!

8. The grammar is comparatively easy

If you’ve learned English, French, Spanish, or any other language that has required memorizing verb endings for all types of pronouns and tenses… Cantonese will be a flat out blessing. Want to say something happened in the past? Add a single time indicator like saying “yesterday”, or just one word that functions for most verbs, like ‘jor (咗)’ (equivalent of -ed). You’re all set!

Convinced? Check out Part 2: Where to Learn Cantonese in Hong Kong and Part 3: Useful Apps and Resources for Learning and Practising Cantonese.

Or get started right away by learning the basics!