February 14, 2011
THE MOST PERSISTENT MYTH
Perhaps the most persistent myth among learners of Cantonese is that there is not enough material to learn Cantonese. Some of these learners mourn in discontentment and think to themselves that if only there was more material available, they would study the language thoroughly and be fluent in it. From my experience, in the vast majority of the times, people who try to find a reason to explain why they are not doing something they ought to be doing – or want to do, at least on a superficial level - and wait an ideal scenario to do it will never do it, sometimes even when this ideal scenario appears.
A great story that always inspired me is that of French writer Léon Bloy. He , at one point of his life, was in complete misery and living from aid given by charity and friends. However, even when begging for money, he never stopped studying and writing. He never conditioned his studies to an ideal situation and said : if only I had this or that I would become a great writer. Even in the most hostile and unfavorable conditions imaginable, he continued studying and eventually became one of the towering figures in French XXth century literature.
I concede that when compared to languages such as Mandarin, English, French, Spanish, Cantonese learning materials are comparatively scarce. But , most of the times, this perception is due to the learner not knowing about all the materials that are available than to a scarcity of them per se.
I intend with this post to enumerate all of the resources that are available at our disposal and, once and for all, obliterate this myth that still prevents many people from learning the language :
From what I have seen, this is by far the best publishing house of Cantonese books. In this link there are 22 books ( most of them for intermediate and advanced learners) that you can buy from them. I myself own one of their books, Intermediate Cantonese : Themes for listening and speaking, and can say that it is excellent.
Here is a list with twenty more books.
3) Teach Yourself Cantonese – which is excellent and you can even find some of their dialogues on youtube on this channel
4) FSI Cantonese course, available for free.
So, we already have 44 books here. Now we can proceed to online resources.
5) INTERNET RESOURCES
Milan’s indispensable Cantonese.hk, which has a number of monologues.
These last two sites have dozens and dozens of monologues, flashcards, podcasts, videos,etc.
Site with transcripts of Sephen Chow’s movies
Youtube channel of a news channel with literally thousands of videos , which all have transcripts in Chinese. Even if you don’t read Chinese characters you can just copy and past the text with Canto Dictionary and see the jyutping and translation of the words.
Well, if that is not enough material to learn the language I honestly don’t know what it is. What more can we ask? When we think about those people of the past that had no internet, no tv, no radio, no ipod, no audiobooks, no online dictionaries, no nothing, except a grammar book, a few other books and native speakers in distant lands to talk to, and yet managed to learn dozens of languages, that says something rather sad about our day and age, especially when we see people who have pretty much everything necessary to learn a language and yet find endless excuses to why this is an unsurmountable task.
Moreover, as the learner progresses and achieve a more advanced level, does he really need that many text books as a primary source of study or rather wouldn’t they just be complements that he would use every now and then? Wouldn’t he want to learn the language primarily from movies, tv programs, the radio, books and interactions with native speakers? I rest my case…