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February 19, 2011


I decided to post some children stories I have. When I was looking for Cantonese material a few years ago, I found at a small book fair in Hong Kong some books targeted at Chinese children who are learning English. These books consist of short stories about animals in the farm, in the wild, their adventures, and so forth. There is a Cantonese and English version. This first one is about a little fox and its misadventures. I hope you will enjoy it.



February 19, 2011

I recently came across a thread in a language forum that discussed the peculiar characteristics of language lovers. One post that really caught my attention was one that said that you really know you are a language lover when you find yourself listening to music in your target language that you never would in your mother tongue just for the sake of learning it .And in the end you even wind up liking it!

I think this is very true, at least from my experience. Nevertheless, by that I don’t mean that those who don’t listen to music in their target language are not serious and passionate about learning it, but just that in trying to absorb the language you find that it has a particular and especial beauty that even the most trivial – and sometimes atrocious – things have a certain charm and musicality. And that leads you to doing certain things you wouldn’t normally do, such as listening to Cantopop!

Ok, I said it. I listen to Cantopop. Generally speaking, I think Cantopop, if it was not in Cantonese, would fit the atrocious category I mentioned before. I certainly would not listen to it if it was in any other language. But since Cantonese is so enchanting and exuberant you find that even some pretty lame songs have a certain beauty – that’s not true for all of them, of course. Some songs are so lame that no language in the world could make them pleasant to listen to in any way. Twins, for instance, is just horrible no matter what.

With that being said, I think it would be interesting to just post a few Cantopop songs that I listen to – and, alas, like! Not all of them are lame. Some of them are even good and I would even listen to them in English. In fact, generally speaking, I tried to pick the crème de la crème, as the French would say. I hope you will like them. So without further ado, here is my list :



February 14, 2011


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.


Milan’s indispensable, 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.

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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…



February 12, 2011


This is the first post of this new blog. In this very first post I will explain the reasons why I decided to create yet another blog concerning the Cantonese language. In 2007, while I was still in Hong Kong, I created a blog called “ Cantonese Stories”, which was basically a place where I gathered a few recordings of stories in Cantonese with a transcript and translation. At that time, it was my perception that there was a shortage of material for learners of Cantonese, especially intermediate and advanced learners. I do not find , however, this view to be true any longer.I plan to discuss this particular issue on a later post.

I started learning Cantonese in 2006/2007 when I was an exchange student in Hong Kong. I spent 10 months there and when arrived at the city I spoke no Cantonese whatsoever. I pretty much started learning it from the word go, or from the word nei hou… After coming back to my country, I continued learning it for two or three more months, but finally gave up. I didn’t have much motivation to learn it…

However, the other day I was talking on skype with a learner of the language whom I have known from that time and he was speaking very advanced Cantonese. That’s when I had a realization : if I had continued studying I could be already speaking fluently by now. All of a sudden this sense of empowerment took over me and I decided to start my road to polyglotery.

But anyhow, what then would be the purpose of creating such a blog? These are the reasons I have to create a new – and different -blog :

1)It’s a good way to keep me motivated in my studies. Motivation is probably the most important factor that will pave your way to success in language learning. Basically, if you have motivation, you will continue studying, and if you do so, you are more likely to succeed eventually. However, keeping motivated throughout the years ( unlike that sheer enthusiasm that you have in the first few months) might be a very difficult thing to do. Therefore writing such a blog is a way of not let dying that initial enthusiasm that we all have when starting to learn a foreign language.

Furthermore, this enthusiasm is a spark that is not only lit in one learner, but also in a great many other people as well. When you see a person who is learning something passionately and successfully , it’s common to also feel swept away by their enthusiasm. I myself have felt this way after seeing many polyglots and their remarkable achievements. I hope that, by writing this blog, I will not only motivate myself, but also encourage other people to learn the language and continue studying it.

2)It’s a good way to mesure my progress. I intend to post some audioclips of me speaking Cantonese. My intention is not showing of or anything of that sort, but rather measure my progress throughout the months and years and get constructive criticism from learners who are more advanced than myself.

3)Since my objective in learning foreign languages is the possibility of accessing different cultures, especially their literature, history and music, I thought it would be interesting not only to just post a bunch of stories in Cantonese, but also to discuss issues regarding Hong Kong and Chinese culture in general. I plan to provide interesting links to articles and videos related to Chinese culture, especially when related to Cantonese and other Chinese languages and dialects. For this reason in particular, I decided to create a new blog, since the last one was just a collage of stories in Cantonese, as its name indicates.

4) After the reasons indicated above, I still have another good one : I lost the password of Cantostories. Therefore, everything conspires to the creation of a new blog, which I hope will be of interest to anyone who learns Cantonese.

On a side note, I will continue posting short stories and monologues. But this new blog has broader scope and will encompass other things too.

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