I think I'm learning Cantonese, I really think so.
July 11, 2012 1:25 PM Subscribe
I'm moving to Hong Kong for at least two years, starting at the end of August. Help me pick a feasible strategy for learning some Cantonese
posted by mdonley to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I won't get that much exposure at work - I'll be teaching English all day, in an entirely English-speaking office. Presumably most of my students, especially my youngest ones, will speak Cantonese as a native language.
My goal isn't that ambitious, I think: I'd like to know how to converse, at least a bit, about some or all of these things after the first several months:
- exchanging greetings and pleasantries and being polite and respectful
- being able to talk about myself and ask about others a bit (how we're feeling, where we're from, what we do, what we're interested in)
- a bit about the past or future - what my plans are for the weekend, what I did last weekend, etc.
- practical things, like the weather, numbers/time/money, and some shopping/bargaining language
Writing isn't that important. I don't think I'll have time to take a class, unfortunately, but I could spend at least 2-3 hours a week working on things on my own or with a language tutor.
The success I've had with learning alphabetic languages like Polish and French have involved me 1) reading everything I can get my hands on to find patterns and learn from context, and 2) staged-repetition flash card programs like SuperMemo or Anki.
Neither of these things seem like they'd work for Cantonese, especially because I don't know how I'd create my own sets given my inability to read, type or write the characters correctly. (Is there an easy way to do this? I have found some flash card sets to download but that's less effective than making your own.)
Tones are also freaking me out completely - is this just something you develop an ear for when you arrive, or is it possible to hit the ground running a bit? Where can I find good audio samples to mimic?
So then: What's worked for you? How did you pick up Cantonese? (Or should I study Mandarin instead?) What resources have your found online/offline to help? I've got the Lonely Planet Cantonese phrasebook and it's a bit intimidating - anything else as simple/handy out there?
Finally, I understand that most/all people I deal with may speak at least some English. But I'd love to understand as much as I can while I'm there as a personal goal.