Learning Cantonese Part 2: Where to Learn Cantonese in Hong Kong

1 November 2018 | Veronica

Aren’t sure yet that you should learn Cantonese? Check out part 1 on 8 Reasons Why You Should Learn Cantonese!

Fast, Good, Cheap. Pick two. 

When it comes to Cantonese classes in Hong Kong, you’ll end up compromising on something. I’ve written this guide based on personal experience and reviews from colleagues with the goal of helping you find the school that best matches your needs. 

Do you want a crash course for short, daily interactions around the city within weeks? Or do you dream of being able to watch Wong Kar-Wai films without needing subtitles?

Read on to find the best Cantonese schools in Hong Kong!

*Note: This guide has been written for non-Chinese speakers. Check out the school pages directly for Cantonese courses for Chinese speakers!

Language Schools

1. VTC

Recommended for: Quickly learning the basics with once a week classes. At the end you will be able to have short, daily interactions.

Hours: 20 hours, once/week

Class Size: Starts around 20 students. By the end of the course numbers drop drastically.

Pros: Learn a lot in a short time. Very cheap, HK$900 for the course with a 40% discount if you pass and attend 70% of classes!

Cons: Uncertain about whether future levels will ever be taught as it relies on enrollment. Minimal coverage of grammar and tones as the focus is primarily on quick memorization and usage.

2. Yale-China Chinese Language Centre at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

Recommended For: Quickly learning the basics for immediate use. If you want to try Cantonese out but you’re unsure if you’ll continue.

Hours: 40 hours, twice/week

Class Size: 16 – 20 students, dependent on enrollment.

Pros: Curriculum has a good balance of grammar, vocabulary, and speaking practice. Within a few lessons you’ll be using what you’ve learned.

Cons: Slow communication when registering for the course and uncertainties of course start date. Uncertain if higher levels will be taught as it relies on enrollment.

3. Hong Kong Institute of Languages

Recommended For: Quickly learning the basics for immediate use with once a week classes. Focus on functional language for Westerners. 

Hours: Wednesdays, 7-9pm

Class Size: varies

Pros: Passionate teacher willing to communicate by Whatsapp through the week, lots of communication practice in good contexts. 

Cons: No intermediate class at this school, will need to change schools if wanting to continue.

4. Hong Kong Language School

Recommended For: Long-term learning. You will spend time perfecting the tones and learning Cantonese grammar on route to fluency.

Hours: 20 hours per course, 2x/week

Class Size: 3-6 students

Pros: Small class size allows for a lot of individual speaking practice where the teacher can check your tones and pronunciation. Intermediate and advanced levels available and run frequently.

Cons: Feels slow before you can start using the language practically due to the focus on tones and grammar. 

Private Tuition

1. HelloToby

Recommended For: flexible class schedule and/or outside of evening hours

Hours: custom

Class Size: individual or small group

Pros: personalized material, focus on your needs

Cons: Teachers’ materials/content/quality varies, more expensive

Looking for more help with your learning? Check out Part 3: Useful Apps and Resources for Learning and Practising Cantonese