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Archive for the 'Advanced Cantonese' Category

An Introduction to Cantonese Language Proficiency Tests

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Do you fancy studying or working abroad in Hong Kong, but don’t speak Cantonese as your first language? Or maybe you want to know how good your Cantonese is after months of hard work? No worries, we’ve got you covered! 

Today on CantoneseClass101.com, we’ll be providing you with a summary of the most popular Cantonese language exams—so read on!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Benefits of Taking a Cantonese Language Exam
  2. What Cantonese Language Exams are There?
  3. COPA (CUHK)
  4. ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)
  5. Other Exams: GCSE Cantonese & HKDSE Chinese
  6. Bonus: Tips on Preparing for Your Cantonese Proficiency Exam
  7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Benefits of Taking a Cantonese Language Exam

A Golden Egg

There are lots of reasons why taking a Cantonese test can be good for you (and your studies)! In the following sections, we’ll go over the top benefits you can expect from doing so.

1. It will improve the way you learn.

Taking tests and exams will give you a better idea of your current Cantonese proficiency level. This knowledge will allow you to see if there are any gaps between reality and your expectations. If so, you can do some reflection to figure out the best way to improve your studies and learning habits.

When you sit for an exam, you’ll have to recall and apply what you’ve learned. So making your studies more targeted allows you (or forces you) to remember useful information. It also improves your ability to apply what you’ve learned in new contexts. 

2. It will increase your motivation.

Before an exam, people tend to study harder than ever. With a goal or target in mind (and the exam fees you paid), you’ll have a greater urge to study and improve your Cantonese.

3. It will demonstrate your Cantonese abilities to others.

If you’re looking to work in Hong Kong and want to impress your potential employer, getting a good Cantonese exam score will help a lot. Not only does it prove that you know Cantonese, but it also proves that you’re resilient and a great learner. Afterall, Cantonese is one of the hardest languages in the world!

2. What Cantonese Language Exams are There?

A Question Mark

Unlike IELTS for English-learners or JLPT for Japanese-learners, there are no government-administered Cantonese language tests in Hong Kong. However, we do have some oral tests designed for Cantonese language learners. The two most common tests are COPA (offered by the Chinese University of Hong Kong [CUHK]) and OPI (offered by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages [ACTFL]).

There are also two more comprehensive Cantonese examinations: GCSE Cantonese and HKDSE Chinese. They’re actually part of the public examination designed for secondary school students. 

GCSE is a test that fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds must pass in order to graduate from the Key Stage 4 phase of their secondary education in either England, Northern Ireland, or Wales. HKDSE is Hong Kong’s university entrance examination, administered upon completion of a three-year senior secondary education.

3. COPA (CUHK)

1. Introduction

The COPA Cantonese exam is an adaptation of the Chinese Speaking Test (CST) developed by the Center for Applied Linguistics in the United States. 

Duration: 30-45 minutes

The examinee hears the test instructions and questions in their mother tongue (English, Japanese, or Korean) from a master tape, and then responds in the foreign language he or she is learning (Cantonese or Putonghua). Tasks cover a wide range of topics and speech functions, and responses are evaluated by two specially trained COPA raters.

The rationale in scoring the COPA is to find the level at which the examinee consistently fulfills the speaking functions. Each COPA task presents the examinee with a speaking task of a defined level of difficulty, based on the Proficiency Guidelines developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The ACTFL Guidelines describe aspects of speech that characterize speakers as having a given level of proficiency. These guidelines were developed in response to a movement in the language-teaching community, stressing the importance of meaningful communication in the foreign language classroom.

All assessment tools are made available to the public so that learners who want their speaking proficiency in Cantonese assessed may obtain an objective evaluation based on testing and linguistic principles. Currently, English-speakers are able to take the COPA in Cantonese and Putonghua. Students will be notified when the Japanese and Korean versions are available.

2. Score reporting

A certificate will be issued with a description of the proficiency level attained by the examinee. The possible levels are: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Superior. This certificate will serve as an indication of his/her speaking ability and can be used for various purposes.

The official reports will be sent to the examinee two months after the testing date. Two additional reports will be sent free of charge to institutions designated by the examinee at the time of the evaluation. All subsequent requests to send the official report directly will be charged HK$50 per copy.

3. Fees and application procedure

  • Application fee: HK$100
  • Examination fee: HK$800 

The following groups can take the exam at a special rate of HK$600:

  • Current CUHK and CLC students
  • Students from CUHK university division Advanced Putonghua course
  • Current CLC TCFL Advanced Diploma Programme students

You may download the application form on the official website and bring a check (payable to “Chinese University of Hong Kong”) with you on exam day.

4. ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

1. Introduction

Duration: 15-30 minutes

The OPI test takes the form of a phone call, during which the candidate and tester have a guided conversation. After a short introduction, the tester will ask the candidate personalized questions and adapt the conversation depending on the candidate’s language skills, interests, and comfort level. 

As this is a standardized test, it’s a reliable way of measuring a person’s speaking ability in a given language. This Cantonese proficiency test is designed to reveal patterns of weaknesses and strengths that the candidate possesses. 

The OPI tests the candidate’s ability to speak Cantonese effectively in everyday situations. The test does not base its grading on specific curriculum content, and because each interview is adapted for the individual candidate, a candidate’s score or performance is not compared to that of other candidates. 

2. Score reporting

The OPI is graded according to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines (2012), the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) guidelines, or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) guidelines. The scoring guidelines are determined based on the type of certification the candidate is looking to attain. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of how each rating scale works:

  • ACTFL – A candidate may be rated anywhere between Novice and Superior.
  • ILR – A candidate may be rated anywhere from ILR 0 (no proficiency) to ILR 5 (functionally native).
  • CEFR – A candidate may be rated anywhere from A1 to C2.

3. Fees and application procedure

  • Examination fee: US$159.00 

You may schedule a test online.

5. Other Exams: GCSE Cantonese & HKDSE Chinese

College Students

Now we’ll briefly introduce the GCSE Cantonese and HKDSE Chinese tests. As explained earlier, these two are actually part of the public exams, and are therefore much more difficult. We do advise that language-learners, especially beginners, aim for the two exams mentioned above (COPA and OPI) rather than the following two!

1. GCSE Cantonese

GCSE in Chinese (spoken Cantonese) consists of four parts to assess your Cantonese listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills: 

  • Part 1: Listening & Understanding in Chinese (Cantonese)
    • Length: 45 minutes, including 5 minutes of reading time
    • Weighting: 25% / 50 Marks
  • Part 2: Speaking in Chinese
    • Length: 10-12 minutes plus 12 minutes of preparation time
    • Weighting: 25% / 70 Marks
  • Part 3: Reading & Understanding in Chinese
    • Length: 1 hour 5 minutes
    • Weighting: 25% / 50 Marks
  • Part 4: Writing in Chinese
    • Length: 1 hour 25 minutes
    • Weighting: 25% / 60 Marks

You may find out more about the exam on the official university website

2. HKDSE Chinese

HKDSE Chinese is designed for very advanced Cantonese speakers—even local secondary school students tend to find it difficult!

  • Part 1: Reading
    • Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Weighting: 24% 
  • Part 2: Writing
    • Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Weighting: 24%
  • Part 3: Listening and Integrated Skills
    • Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Weighting: 18%
  • Part 4: Speaking
    • Length: 25 minutes
    • Weighting: 14%

School-based assessment (SBA) will account for the final 20%. For those who aren’t sitting for the exam as secondary school students, an average SBA score will be applied instead.

You may find out more about the exam here.

6. Bonus: Tips on Preparing for Your Cantonese Proficiency Exam

Light Bulbs
  • Do as many mock tests as you can.
  • Study the vocabulary required for the test.
  • Study the sample answers to the questions.
  • Speak more with native Cantonese-speakers.

Remember, practice makes perfect!

7. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

Language Skills

Planning to take a Cantonese exam soon? Come and practice your Cantonese with CantoneseClass101.com! With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

Until now, we’ve delivered more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, an abundance of vocabulary learning tools, spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program

Before you go,  let us know in the comments if we forgot to include anything, or if you still have some questions about these tests. We look forward to hearing from you, and will be glad to help!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Cantonese

Hong Kong Life Events: Happy New Year in Cantonese and More!

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Important life events are a great opportunity to practice Cantonese. Not only do they give you an opportunity to express your friendliness and caring to your native friends, but they can also serve as very good conversation starters.

Can’t wait to learn Happy New Year in Cantonese, and more? Keep reading for a comprehensive guide to Cantonese life events and messages!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese

Table of Contents

  1. Birthday
  2. Chinese New Year
  3. New Year
  4. Other Holidays
  5. Graduation
  6. New Job/Promotion
  7. Retirement
  8. Wedding
  9. Injured/Sick
  10. Pregnancy and Birth
  11. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Birthday

Happy Birthday

Most Hong Kongers have two birthdays: one expressed in Gregorian format, and the other one based on the lunar calendar. Nowadays, most natives only celebrate their Gregorian birthday, but the older generation may still treat their lunar birthday as the “real birthday,” and hence celebrate that one instead.

If you’re to celebrate a birthday for a local friend, you may want to learn a few birthday messages to say, on top of bringing presents and cake. Here at CantoneseClass101.com, we hope to make learning about Cantonese life event messages both fun and informative!

1- 祝你生日快樂,心想事成

Meaning: I wish you a happy birthday, and that all your wishes come true!
Romanization: zuk1 nei5 saang1 jat6 faai3 lok6, sam1 soeng2 si6 sing4
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

2- 牛一快樂!

Meaning: Happy B-day!
Romanization: ngau4 jat1 faai3 lok6
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

3- 青春常駐,年年廿八!

Meaning: Wishing you always (stay) young, like 28 years old, every year!
Romanization: cing1 ceon1 soeng4 zyu3, nin4 nin4 jaa6 baat3
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

2. Chinese New Year

There are two new years in Hong Kong: the New Year that everyone celebrates (based on the Gregorian calendar) and the Chinese New Year (based on the lunar calendar). Chinese New Year is a very important holiday in Hong Kong, as well as the Greater China area. We usually greet relatives and friends with the below greetings for Chinese New Year. Familiarize yourself with the common expressions below in exchange for some red packets (if you’re entitled to them)!

Red Packet

1- 恭喜發財!

Meaning: May you have a prosperous New Year!
Romanization: gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

2- 年年有餘!

Meaning: Wishing you prosperity through the years!
Romanization: nin4 nin4 jau5 jyu4
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

3- 身體健康!

Meaning: Wishing you good health!
Romanization: san1 tai2 gin6 hong1
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

4- 萬事如意!

Meaning: Best wishes for the new year!
Romanization: maan6 si6 jyu4 ji3
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

5- 大吉大利!

Meaning: May good fortune be with you!
Romanization: daai6 gat1 daai6 lei6
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

6- 快高長大!

Meaning: May you grow up fast and strong!
Romanization: faai3 gou1 zoeng2 daai6
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

7- 青春常駐!

Meaning: May your youth always be with you!
Romanization: cing1 ceon1 soeng4 zyu3
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

8- 龍馬精神!

Meaning: May you be as energetic as dragons and horses!
Romanization: lung4 maa5 zing1 san4
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

9- 學業進步!

Meaning: May you excel in your studies!
Romanization: hok6 jip6 zeon3 bou6
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

10- 心想事成!

Meaning: May all your wishes come true!
Romanization: sam1 soeng2 si6 sing4
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

3. New Year

We also celebrate the universal New Year in Hong Kong (and with fireworks!). See below for some Cantonese congratulations you can say to your native friends for the New Year!

Fireworks

1- 新年快樂,恭喜發財!今年煙花勁靚!

Meaning: May you have a happy and prosperous New Year! This year’s fireworks are breathtaking!
Romanization: san1 nin4 faai3 lok6! gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4! gam1 nin4 jin1 faa1 ging6 leng3
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

2- 新年快樂!

Meaning: Have a happy New Year!
Romanization: san1 nin4 faai3 lok6
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

3- 祝你新一年健康、快樂。

Meaning: Wishing you health and happiness in the new year.
Romanization: zuk1 nei5 san1 jat1 nin4 gin6 hong1, faai3 lok6
Format: Applicable to written/formal scenarios

4. Other Holidays

Basic Questions

As the city where East meets West, Hong Kong has both Chinese and Western holidays. For example, we celebrate Easter, Christmas, Mid-Autumn Festival, etc. Below are some sentences for you to express your joy and holiday wishes in Cantonese to your friends!

1- 聖誕快樂!

Meaning: Merry Christmas!
Romanization: sing3 daan3 faai3 lok6
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

2- 假期愉快!

Meaning: Happy holidays!
Romanization: gaa3 kei4 jyu6 faai3
Format: Applicable to written/formal scenarios

3- 享受你嘅假期!

Meaning: Enjoy the holidays!
Romanization: hoeng2 sau6 nei5 ge3 gaa3 kei4
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

5. Graduation

Most people consider graduation to be a huge milestone—learn the phrases below to wish your friend or loved one a happy graduation!

Graduation Hat

1- 祝福你一路上擁有許多光明美好的機會,且能一一成功把握住它們!

Meaning: Wishing that brighter opportunities come your way and you achieve success in all of them!
Romanization: zuk1 fuk1 nei5 jat1 lou6 soeng6 jung2 jau5 heoi2 do1 gwong1 ming4 mei5 hou2 dik1 gei1 wui6, ce2 nang4 jat1 jat1 sing4 gung1 baa2 aak1 zyu6 taa1 mun4
Format: Applicable to written/formal scenarios

2- 展翅高飛吧!

Meaning: Spread your wings and fly!
Romanization: zin2 ci3 gou1 fei1 baa3
Format: Applicable to written/formal scenarios

3- 恭喜你畢業,亦都祝福你下一場旅程!

Meaning: Congratulations on your graduation, and best wishes for your next adventure!
Romanization: gung1 hei2 nei5 bat1 jip6, jik6 dou1 zuk1 fuk1 nei5 haa6 jat1 coeng4 leoi5 cing4
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

6. New Job/Promotion

New jobs and promotions are worth celebrating! And in Hong Kong, if your close friends or your boss get promoted, they may treat you to lunch—so be prepared and learn some wise words of congratulations in Cantonese!

Celebration

1- 恭喜恭喜,鴻圖大展,步步高升!

Meaning: Congratulations! Wish you more advancement and progress in the near future!
Romanization: gung1 hei2 gung1 hei2, hung4 tou4 daai6 zin2, bou6 bou6 gou1 sing1
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

2- 祝您在新的仕途上再創輝煌!

Meaning: Hope you will make great success in your new position!
Romanization: zuk1 nei5 zoi6 san1 dik1 si6 tou4 soeng6 zoi3 cong3 fai1 wong4
Format: Applicable to written/formal scenarios

3- 升職快樂!

Meaning: Happy promotion!
Romanization: sing1 zik1 faai3 lok6
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

7. Retirement

Hong Kongers typically retire between the ages of fifty-five to sixty-five. Do you know what to say when your friend or colleague retires?

Retirement Party

1- 祝您光榮退休!

Meaning: Best wishes as you retire!
Romanization: zuk1 nei5 gwong1 wing4 teoi3 jau1
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

2- 退休也許能改變您生活方式的許多方面,但無法改變您這位非凡的人物。

Meaning: Retirement may change many things in your lifestyle, but nothing can change the wonderful person you are.
Romanization: teoi3 jau1 jaa5 heoi2 nang4 goi2 bin3 nei5 saang1 wut6 fong1 sik1 dik1 heoi2 do1 fong1 min6, daan6 mou4 faat3 goi2 bin3 nei5 ze2 wai2 fei1 faan4 dik1 jan4 mat2
Format: Applicable to written/formal scenarios

3- 希望您很快找出新方式,使您每天能享受當自己老闆的愉快。

Meaning: Hope you’ll soon discover new ways to enjoy each day with all the pleasure of being your own boss.
Romanization: hei1 mong6 nei5 han2 faai3 zaau2 ceot1 san1 fong1 sik1, si5 nei5 mui5 tin1 nang4 hoeng2 sau6 dong1 zi6 gei2 lou5 baan2 dik1 jyu4 faai3
Format: Applicable to written/formal scenarios

8. Wedding

Marriage Proposal

Did you know that guests attending a wedding banquet are expected to give at least HK$800 in the form of red packets at the dinner reception? Further, the newlyweds often give out sweet favors, such as chocolates, before their guests go home.

1- 祝你哋白頭到老,永結同心!

Meaning: May you enjoy every happiness and success during your long life together!
Romanization: zuk1 nei5 dei6 baak6 tau4 dou3 lou5, wing5 git3 tung4 sam1
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

2- 恭喜晒!祝你哋幸福!

Meaning: Congratulations! I wish you happiness!
Romanization: gung1 hei2 saai3! zuk1 nei5 dei6 hang6 fuk1
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

3- 新婚快樂,早生貴子!

Meaning: Happy marriage and may you have a lovely baby early!
Romanization: san1 fan1 faai3 lok6, zou2 saang1 gwai3 zi2
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

9. Injured/Sick

Instead of saying “take care” when someone is ill, a more local way to express your concern and care is “Have you went to the doctor’s yet?” See below how to express this in Cantonese, and learn more Cantonese condolences for someone who’s not feeling well.

Little Girl Got Sick

1- 睇咗醫生未?

Meaning: Have you went to the doctor’s yet?
Romanization: tai2 zo2 ji1 sang1 mei6
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

2- 早日康復。

Meaning: Get well soon.
Romanization: zou2 jat6 hong1 fuk6
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

3- 保重。

Meaning: Take care.
Romanization: bou2 zung6
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

10. Pregnancy and Birth

Talking about Age

How do you congratulate your friend’s newborn? Read below for some Cantonese congratulations you can use!

1- 恭喜添丁!

Meaning: Congratulations on the new baby!
Romanization: gung1 hei2 tim1 ding1
Format: Applicable to both written/formal and spoken/informal scenarios

2- 天大喜訊呀!

Meaning: That’s wonderful news.
Romanization: tin1 daai6 hei2 seon3 aa3
Format: Applicable to spoken/informal scenarios

3- 恭喜!祝你們的小寶貝帶來幸福

Meaning: Congratulations! May your baby bring you happiness.
Romanization: gung1 hei2! zuk1 nei5 mun4 dik1 siu2 bou2 bui3 daai3 loi4 hang6 fuk1
Format: Applicable to written/formal scenarios

11. Conclusion: How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

We hope you still remember how to express Happy Birthday and Happy New Year in Cantonese!

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have your daily dose of Cantonese whenever and wherever you want, through mobile apps, desktop software, and our website. We offer entertaining, engaging, and effective lessons on various aspects of the Cantonese language and culture.

Until now, we’ve delivered more than 750,000,000 lessons to thousands of happy students from all around the globe. You can learn Cantonese with over 1060 audio and video lessons delivered by our knowledgeable and energetic hosts, detailed PDF lesson notes, an abundance of vocabulary learning tools, spaced repetition flashcards, and a lively community to discuss the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning Cantonese now!

And keep in mind that if you prefer a one-on-one learning approach and want to further accelerate your Cantonese learning, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program!

Know that your hard work will pay off, and before you know it, you’ll be speaking Cantonese like a native! Before you go, let us know in the comments which of these Cantonese life event messages you’ll be able to practice first! We look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese