2 November 2018 | Veronica
Here are some Cantonese-specific tips, apps, and resources to help you learn Cantonese! For general language learning suggestions, I recommend you check out these common mistakes language learners make and how to fix them.
1. Be prepared to jump between different Romanization systems
Unfortunately the limited Cantonese resources out there don’t share a standard Romanization system, so in order to use it all you will need to jump between systems. The most common are Yale (i.e. Hēung Góng and Jyutping (i.e. hoeng1 gong2). Being comfortable in multiple systems will help you out – at least, until you learn to read Chinese!
Pleco is an amazing app that will allow you to customize the Romanization you want to use. The app has an excellent dictionary (can type in the sounds you hear in Cantonese), the option to make flashcard decks, and even shows how to write Chinese characters stroke-by-stroke.
Great to have on hand when you hear a new word and want to look up its meaning!
Just be careful – as with any dictionary it will give many words without any indication of how commonly used they are…
3. ESLteachers (this website!)
Check out this page to learn some interesting Cantonese slang expressions, survival phrases and basic grammar!
4. Google Translate
Google Translate has many limitations on how accurate it is, and it still only has Mandarin pronunciation of Chinese characters. However, with the app you can point the camera at Chinese and get an instant (attempted) translation. Far from perfect, but useful in a pinch to verify if there is offal in the food you’re about to order.
With friendly banter, interesting and practical conversations, and a growing base of resources, CantoneseClass101 is a great investment for motivate self-learners or as a supplementary tool to formal classes. You can do a free trial of the premium subscription or stick with the free resources.
6. Join a Meetup Group/Force Yourself to Practice
In Hong Kong, there is an active Cantonese meetup group on Tuesday evenings. Not a place to start learning, but a great place to practice what you’ve learnt! It can be intimidating to start using your Cantonese, but the sooner the better!