ARTICLES

Guangdonghua in Guangdong? (First time using Cantonese in Mainland China)

I know this probably shouldn’t seem like a big deal. But the last time I took a trip to Guangzhou, I was not a Cantonese speaker. I knew a ton of words, I could make small talk, and my pronunciation was perfect. But to be blunt, I couldn’t speak Cantonese. Not really. Not in real life. So every time I crossed the border from Hong Kong into Shenzhen and the province of Guangdong, I transitioned to Mandarin, because it was just easier.

Stupid and Lazy

This story isn't about Cantonese specifically, but is a reminder for me that there are stages to language learning. And no amount of trying, crying, shouting, or beating will let you skip those steps. During my first year of teaching English in China, I had to give...

What Does “Self-Taught” Actually Mean?

“Self-taught” refers to people who learned a subject without formal lessons in classrooms. And that's why self-taught language learners get get so much respect. If you been able to put together your own personalized curriculum of books, audio recordings, teaching...

Can you teach yourself Cantonese as easily as learning an instrument?

Whether you’re learning a language or playing an instrument, it’s really hard at first. It’s awkward, and it sounds terrible. But ideally, with the right training and practice, you can become a rock star on your instrument! And if you keep learning a language, you'll...

Written Cantonese, and why foreigners don’t learn it

Cantonese speakers are painfully aware of the fact that they have to use Standard Written Chinese (aka Modern Standard Chinese). The frustration stems from the fact that Standard Written Chinese feels TOTALLY different from how they actually speak. Why Nobody Expects...

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