While Chinese is one of the most popular languages people want to learn, there are two different dialects of Chinese, which most people do not realize until they go to actually start learning Chinese. The two dialects of Chinese are Mandarin and Cantonese. Mandarin is the most common dialect for foreigners to learn due to most having trouble learning Cantonese, plus Mandarin is the more common dialect of the two.
Most people do not even understand why Cantonese ought to be taught since they believe it is only ever spoken within Hong Kong. This is not completely true though. Yes, Cantonese is spoken within Hong Kong, which makes it different from most other Chinese cities, but Cantonese is also spoken in some southern provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, Macau as well as other countries all around the world. Knowing Cantonese would be a must if someone was to travel to the lower areas of China or even just want to visit Hong Kong and speak to the natives in their own language.
Another thing that makes people think they don’t need to learn Cantonese is because they already know Mandarin. There are some very distinct differences between the two though, and these differences can make for a really bad conversation if mixed. Some of the words are completely different, but there is also a difference in pronunciation and grammar, which could make a conversation hard to follow. These differences are so sever, many have said that Mandarin and Cantonese ought to be two different languages instead of just two different dialects.
Cantonese is not as hard to learn as some believe. One of the main factors that play into people saying Cantonese is hard to learn is the fact that others told them it was hard before they even tried, which lead to them psyching themselves into making it hard when it actually is easy to learn. If someone was to say over and over again that it is impossible to learn Cantonese, then other people are going to believe that and not even try to learn Cantonese, especially when so many say Mandarin is so much easier to learn. Another thing that can factor into learning Cantonese is the other languages someone is fluent in speaking could impact their learning how to learn Chinese Cantonese and speaking it.
Carlos Douh is a prime example of someone who was able to successfully learn Cantonese, and he is self taught. When asked how he managed to learn Cantonese when so many have not been able to, he broke it down into simple steps for new learns to follow. First, he said to focus on the speaking part of Cantonese first and ignore the written aspect. He said knowing how to speak the language is far more important than knowing how to read and write the language. Next, he said to learn the romanization of Cantonese instead of listen and repeat. Carlos recommends learning to use the Yale romanization system. Next, a person needs to know is to learn the basic structure of Cantonese by speaking, which can be accomplished by speaking to native speakers. Next, he recommends a person write down any new words they come across in romanization. He states that even if you pronounce it incorrectly when repeating it a native will understand what you mean and can help you pronounce it correctly. Memorizing new words is the next step, which can be accomplished through repetition after a person has the correct pronunciation.
While each of these steps are very important when learning Cantonese, there are three major things that Carlos took into consideration before he even attempted to learn Cantonese. First, he made sure he had a strong desire and passion to learn the language. Just learning the language to know it is not very productive in helping someone learn the language; they have to want to learn the language. Next, he believes someone has to be willing to hear it, speak it, and memorize it, or they will never have much success. Lastly, Carlos made sure that learning the language is fun, because if it is not fun, someone will never want to stick with the learning process.
Jan Van dee Aa has a very different method for learning Cantonese, which takes him longer, but the method works for him. This just helps to show that different people have to learn a language in their own way. Not everyone can learn the same way. When Jan decided to learn Cantonese, he was already fluid in Mandarin, so he felt confident in learning Cantonese, but he soon learned they are different in many ways, as stated above. Jan’s method for learning Cantonese is considered the Add 1 Challenge. This challenge immerses someone in a group of learns all working towards the same goal, which is to learn the language in 90 days. He worked with an online teacher, and he has been rather successful with this method. But it does not work for everyone because of the short time frame to work within. The one problem with Jan’s speaking is that he still has a lot of work with pronunciation that needs to be done.
All of these methods prove that anyone can learn any language they want as long as they put their full focus and passion into the process. Being consistent is a key part of knowing how to learn Chinese Cantonese. Learning how to speak a new language is to have fun and it is easier in a group setting. When you are in a group learning that language together then you are held accountable for the progress that you make. Even if so many other people have trouble learning a language, that does not mean a person cannot learn that same language. There three things that are very important for someone to take into consideration when learning new languages. First, a person needs to set a clear goal that they want to reach. Secondly, a person needs to continue working towards that goal and not let anything stop them from reaching that goal. Lastly, the person needs to start with just one language and go from there. If they want to learn multiple languages, they can slowly work their way through each of the languages one at a time.
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