Cantonese is a hard language.
And to make matters worse, there's not a lot of stuff out there for learners of the language.
So, when I learnt Cantonese last year I made a point of collecting the best resources out there, so you can spend less time searching and more time learning!
- Cantonese Conversations – This is my passion project for Cantonese learners around the world! Cantonese Conversations will help you understand native speakers, grow a huge vocabulary of natural words and phrases, and start speaking more fluently right away.
- CantoneseClass101.com – Free podcasts offering well-structured lessons at all levels. The paid site is fantastic and offers the most valuable stuff, like line-by-line clickable audio (In English, Jyutpin and Chinese characters), review tracks, SRS flashcards based on the audio of each lesson. Click here to read my full review of the website.
- Glossika Cantonese – An exciting new addition to the world of resources to learn Cantonese. Their innovative system of Mass Sentences gives you a huge amount of listening practice to natural spoken Cantonese sentences – as opposed to single words that you'll get elsewhere. Sound complicated? It's actually really simple, and polyglots around the world swear by the Glossika system as a way to improve their level in a new language quickly.
- Complete Cantonese – From the Teach Yourself series, this is the book that I used to learn Cantonese for the first 6 months. The dialogues are entertaining and the lack of English translation for the dialogues really makes you work to understand the whole text. Some of the language used is not necessarily everyday Cantonese, which is a perennial problem unfortunately. Nevertheless, it's a fantastic resource for taking your from beginner to intermediate level.
- FSI Cantonese – A free course (audio and text) developed by the American Foreign Service Institute. A little dated, but it's free!
- Cantodict – The best English-Cantonese two-way dictionary out there.
- Cantonese.ca – A rudimentary but potentially useful site.
- Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar (Routledge Comprehensive Grammars) – Harold kindly wrote in to let me know about this book. He had this to say: “I have the first edition, but they brought out a slightly updated one in 2011. Basically, it's the only grammar book for Cantonese out there and was written because although there have been various attempts over the years, the old ones are out of print, hard to find, and not comprehensive enough. Examples are in Yale romanisation and (in the new edition) Chinese Characters as well. There's a whole page listing all the particles and how they are used, which is great if you come across one that isn't in Teach Yourself or FSI. The book is very readable and not heavy at all. In case I sound like a salesman, I was given a copy by my godmother about five years ago during one of my earlier attempts to teach myself Cantonese.”
- VOClab – VOClab have produced a nice little Cantonese vocabulary app, with audio and spaced-repetition system! Well worth a try, especially as a beginner.
- 83 Idioms In One Poster – Please do check out this wonderful illustration which showcases the richness of Cantonese culture by showing 83 Cantonese idioms in one insane picture!
- Living Cantonese for Intermediate Learners – My favourite resource of all. This book is an entire RTHK radio-drama, transcribed (in multiple formats), translated and explained. Not for beginners, but once you get to an intermediate level, this is awesome!
- Apple Daily News – Daily video news in Cantonese… with transcripts!
- RTHK – Hong Kong radio. It's authentic material, and therefore high level. Free podcasts are available iTunes.
- Carlos Douh – This guy rocks!
- Tommyeee – Some funny lighthearted stuff here.
- Virtual Cantonese Keyboard – Jyutping (one of the romanisation systems for Cantonese) is a bit of an acquired taste, but nevertheless, this online virtual keyboard is the easiest way to start writing Cantonese.
- Animated Stroke Order – Animated stroke order for Chinese characters. Just enter your character and it'll show you how to write it properly.
Since Cantonese is a spoken language, finding reading material is tough. My approach has been to buy self-study books like Teach Yourself Cantonese and use online resources like Cantoneseclass101.com which offer text with audio.
- Uwants – A Hong Kong forum.
- Web Speech – Cantonese text-to-speech. Not 100% reliable though…
Do you know a great resource for reading Cantonese? Let me know.