Learners’ sharing / learning tips of Cantonese

Not the knowledge we have had, but the impact we have made.

True story and amazing one! It is a garden for learners’ to leave their reflections on their studies, they may be some good learning methods, apps, books and ways to keep motivated. All the best to your study.

Beginner learner 

5 February 2019 ✹

My Cantonese journey has been a bit stop and start however now I am determined to speak conversational Cantonese, which is useful to speak when I am in Hong Kong for work or visiting family.

During the week, it is often difficult to dedicate the time I like to study – when I do practice the language it is with my tutor once a week. My tutor gives me increasingly interesting and relevant material to use with my husband or at a delicious Chinese restaurant.

When I walk to the train station in the mornings, I listen to flashcards or podcasts about learning Cantonese. I also use my Travis translator when I want to know a phrase quickly!

Carine’s feedback :

I am happy to see learners’ reflections on their studies. They have a locus of control of their learning, we can see their confidence of using the right methods and turn their learning into a “manageable” habits. I learn french, sometimes, I push myself so hard and by making my own flashcards, I feel contented and help my study when I key in the words / sentences and it is a good way to have my review from time to time. 

It is not easy to learn everyday, it feels like it is hard to turn learning into a habit. It seems to me that using flashcards would be a good choice when learning can be separated into small pieces, “start easier”. 

Intermediate learner (from USA, Parents are Chinese – Taishan – speaking)

25 December 2018 

I am a Cantonese heritage speaker (upper beginner / intermediate) level. Grew up in a Cantonese speaking household (of Taishan origin). My intention on wanting to reconnect with my family’s heritage language came about, after wanting to make a difference in the health care field (my occupational background). After having the opportunity to do some interpreting with patients and families, I had a strong and deep desire on wanting to help, by lending my services giving language help to patients whose first language isn’t English. Before then, I was very shy and self conscious on speaking Cantonese. I was afraid of being judged and made fun of by other Cantonese speakers, because I had a Taishanese accent. Nevertheless, I decided to seek professional language tutor help through Carine (she’s excellent by the way, give her a try!), and also downloaded Hello Talk App, to have more practice and exposure with other Cantonese speakers, as well as help native Cantonese speakers improve their English.

Beginner (from USA, absolute beginner)

16 December 2017 at 13:27

I watched Cantonese pronunciation videos on YouTube, I practiced vocab on the Nemo app every day for about an hour, I think it just takes practice speaking a lot. Maybe encourage them to find a language exchange partner using HelloTalk. It is not as good as a tutor but you can make a friend and practice Cantonese with them every day with voice messages.

I think repitition is important, they should not try to learn too fast, first need to practice the basics a lot

Upper Intermediate (from Canada, Parents are Cantonese speaking)

28 December 2017 at 13:49

I wasn’t really sure how to learn a language, especially for a language that is so different from English, so I started where everyone would initially think: a class. Of course, it’s really hard to find a class for Cantonese. Sometimes if you’re lucky, cultural organizations may offer them, but often times they lack students to start such a dedicated class.

I actually started learning Cantonese at a local Chinese school. This is one of those weekend Chinese schools that a lot of Chinese parents like to send their kids in hopes of educating their children in the Chinese language. There were no adult learners class, but given they found a teacher that was willing to take time out of their day to help me once a week. I took the offer. It was expensive, but I think out of all the opportunities I have had in the past to converse with (whether it be through exchange or from teachers), I think face to face teachers are sometimes the most ideal. I think a lot of it has to do with physical connection since they understand your situation and may understand something that might prevent you from learning. For example, I remember being deathly afraid of speaking, and so one day, he asked me to go out with him to Chinatown and buy all of his groceries in Cantonese. He stood behind me and I tried ordered everything without using English. It was pretty nerve racking initially because I was so worried about pronouncing things wrong or I would forget something on the list because I was focused on correct sentence structure. He asked me to do this after every class I had with him. There was even this one time where I ended up doing all the other school’s staff shopping because my teacher couldn’t think of anything else to buy that week! But if there is anything I learned from these experiences, it is that most people are very happy that someone is taking the time to learn their language. You may not see it initially, but the people you talk to are in a similar situation too. Eventually, you may gain the confidence for some small talk once they see you more often. Or they may ask you to become an exchange partner so that they can improve their English. Once I got to that point, speaking became easier because I realized they also have the same problems I have, just in a different language.

If you’re not so blessed with some sort of local Chinatown, HelloTalk or any other sort of language exchange website or app works well. HelloTalk also has a “twitter” function where you can share your thoughts with picture, voice message or text. Many people on that app are pretty happy to correct you, though I’ve found if you make your post too long, people will usually just correct your post as opposed to have a discussion. And ideally, you should have a regular tutor if you can. iTalki is probably the most popular resource for this.

This is an ongoing essay, so if you have any suggestions, corrections or advice, or you also want to share about your story, please contact me at carine@chinese-tutors.online

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