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Archive for the 'Cantonese Podcasts' Category

Level Up Your Cantonese with Cantonese Podcasts

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Do you know the average amount of time people in Hong Kong spend commuting on public transport each weekday? 73 minutes! Not to mention how crowded public transport is here during peak hours—you can barely use your phone. Imagine all those hours wasted on the commute if you didn’t engage in anything productive or fun!

Metro

What if I told you that you could actually use those hours to efficiently practice your Cantonese with hardly any effort? 

By listening to Cantonese podcasts, you can expand your knowledge of the language without going through the tedious grind of flashcards and grammar exercises. This is not a life hack. In fact, it’s the same thing that happens whenever you watch movies or series in your target language! If you find something interesting enough, you’ll start tuning in on a regular basis and eventually become absorbed in it—and having fun through natural exposure like this is the best way to learn anything. 

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can learn Cantonese by regularly listening to podcasts. We’ll also introduce you to the best Cantonese podcasts for learning new words, picking up idioms, solidifying your knowledge of grammar structures, and more. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. Why learn Cantonese from podcasts?
  2. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Beginners
  3. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Intermediate Students
  4. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Advanced Students
  5. How to Make the Most out of Cantonese Podcasts
  6. How CantoneseClass101.com Can Help You Learn More Cantonese

1. Why learn Cantonese from podcasts?

A Woman Listening to a Podcast

The best way to learn Cantonese is to fully immerse yourself: travel to Hong Kong and forbid yourself from speaking any other language until it becomes second nature. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, right?

This is good advice, for sure, but what if it’s not an option? Maybe you need to reach a specific level before your trip to Hong Kong in order to pass an exam or land a job. In any case, when full immersion is not on the table, it leaves you with a few other options. 

Taking classes, learning grammar from textbooks, and going through the usual tedium of vocabulary lists and “fill in the blank” exercises have proven to be reasonable approaches. But in this day and age, why not take advantage of everything the internet has to offer? Streaming, YouTube videos, vlogs, online radio, and, of course, podcasts.

1 – The Benefits of Passive Learning

Practice makes perfect, and the more exposure you get, the better. 

On top of whatever method or academic program you’re following, the simple habit of listening to Cantonese every day in your car, on the bus, or while doing the dishes will foster a slew of benefits: 

  • Improving your listening skills
  • Reinforcing your pronunciation, especially early on
  • Consolidating your grammar as you hear the structures in context
  • Enriching your vocabulary on the topics of your choice
  • Learning something new (in addition to Cantonese), depending on your podcast of choice

2 – Different Levels, Different Perks

As a beginner, listening to Cantonese podcasts early on will give you a good sense of how the language sounds and allow you to tackle the pronunciation as early as possible. Fixing pronunciation mistakes further down the line would be significantly more difficult.

Intermediate learners always experience the effect of diminishing returns. Simply put, it takes more work to achieve the same level of progress than it did when you had just started. Through consistent exposure, you’ll expand your grammar knowledge, learn new vocabulary, and get more comfortable with Cantonese—all without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Advanced students may benefit the most from podcasts, especially when they’re getting fluent enough to choose from the massive amount of content for native speakers. Suddenly, you’ll be able to listen to hundreds of podcasts on any topic imaginable and keep making progress along the way.

2. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Beginners

The Blocks ABC Resting on the Edges of Books to Resemble Steps

As easy as ABC!

1 – Cantonese for Travel and Beginners – Real Life Language

This podcast covers the basic vocabulary words and phrases you might need when traveling. The series covers everything from talking about drinks to letting someone know your luggage is lost. If you’re just thinking about putting some Cantonese words in your pocket for a trip to Hong Kong or another Cantonese-speaking region, this podcast may be extremely helpful!

2 – CantoneseClass101*

CantoneseClass101 offers a range of podcasts covering all learning levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Beginners will start with podcasts that are very basic, and they can work their way up through the materials at their own pace. Even if you’re just looking to acquire a little vocabulary for a business or leisure trip, you’ll find suitable podcast episodes here!

*While this site is helpful for beginners, there are lessons tailored for intermediate and advanced students as well.

3. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Intermediate Students

Several English Words Typed on Small Pieces of Paper

From ABC to words, and beyond…

1 – RTHK: Naked Cantonese

This is a very fun Cantonese podcast hosted by Cecilia Gamst Berg (a Norwegian Cantonese teacher) and Sarah Passmore (a producer for RTHK). There are more than 200 lessons covering everything from beer to rugby. It’s a pity that the program ended in 2011, but the content is still valid and enjoyable!

2 – Learn Cantonese Daily

Learn Cantonese Daily is a weekly podcast that helps you build your Cantonese vocabulary. It covers a wide range of topics, from art-related expressions in Cantonese to the difference between 返 (faan1), 翻 (faan1), and 番 (faan1). The content is more well-suited to intermediate learners who already know a bit of Cantonese and want to polish their language skills further.

4. Recommended Cantonese Podcasts for Advanced Students

Newspapers

1 – SBS Cantonese – SBS廣東話節目

The SBS Cantonese podcast is produced by the Special Broadcasting Service, and it covers worldwide news and political insight in Cantonese. As worldwide news is easily accessible in almost all languages, this is a nice way to learn Cantonese since you can also listen to the news in your native tongue to compare. 

2 – RTHK: Podcast One

Would you like to find Cantonese podcasts produced by native Cantonese speakers that center around your interests? RTHK: Podcast One is the place to go! It features a wide range of podcasts in Cantonese, covering topics ranging from culture and drama to finance and the latest Hong Kong local news. These podcasts are all prepared by RTHK, the public broadcasting service in Hong Kong. 

5. How to Make the Most out of Cantonese Podcasts

Study Hard

1 – Pick a podcast for your level.

What might sound really obvious can also be challenging when you’re somewhere between levels. I would recommend starting with something on the easier side so you don’t get discouraged. Then, if you feel like you’re ready for more, you can always move on to some more challenging content later.

2 – Select the right topic for you.

The best podcasts for learning Cantonese are those that will fascinate and engage you! Especially if you’re at an advanced level and have the luxury of choice, I strongly believe you should choose your listening material based on the topic over any other consideration. While it may take some trial and error to figure it out, listening to something you’re passionate about will keep you invested and coming back for more.

3 – Listen to several podcasts and place value on diversity.

You don’t have to find the perfect program from Day One; in fact, keeping your options open is often the smart choice. This is also a good way to expose yourself to more than one voice and accent.

4 – Practice makes perfect.

On beginner podcasts, you’ll often find some listen & repeat exercises—and I’d encourage you to take them seriously. Especially if you’re at home or in the comfort of your car, you can go wild and repeat as much as you want. This is the best possible way to practice your pronunciation.

5 – Daily exposure is key.

If you can find the time for a daily podcast session by setting up a routine, this consistency will take you a long way. Commuting time is a popular option, but any downtime can be transformed into progress, as long as your ears and brain are fully available (don’t multitask too much!).

6 – Don’t forget to mix it up.

Although it might be possible to learn solely through passive learning, you’ll achieve the best results by mixing things up. I’d recommend using podcasts as a complementary activity, accompanied by some classic grammar and vocabulary work.

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

We know that learning a new language can be tiresome or even lonely, but with the right tools, you can master the Cantonese language without all the struggling. 

With CantoneseClass101.com, you can have you+r 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 for discussing the lessons with fellow learners. What are you waiting for? Download our lessons, enjoy our audio and video files, and start learning now!

Keep in mind that if you prefer a 1-on-1 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.

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

How Long Does it Take to Learn Cantonese?

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Some of you might have heard about how difficult it is to learn Cantonese. After all, Cantonese is a tonal language with its own writing system based on thousands of Chinese characters

Do you fancy to learn Cantonese but want to get a rough idea of how long it’s gonna take? Or maybe you’ve already passed the beginner stage and would like to see how your progress compares to that of your peers?

A Timer

Today at CantoneseClass101, we’ll answer the question: How long does it take to learn Cantonese? 

Our answers will be based on the three levels of Cantonese proficiency: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. This will give you a rough idea of what to expect throughout your Cantonese learning journey and serve as a benchmark. 

Let’s get to it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Cantonese Table of Contents
  1. The Many Factors Involved
  2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve a Beginner Level?
  3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Intermediate Level?
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Advanced Level?
  5. Tools to Facilitate Your Language Learning Journey
  6. Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning Cantonese?

1. The Many Factors Involved

Before we talk about how long it will take to reach each level, there are a few key factors we need to consider. They’ll impact how fast you can learn Cantonese, so keep them in mind when coming up with your own estimate!

Cantonese vs. the languages you know

Cantonese is quite different from most languages. For one, it’s a tonal language that relies on pitches to distinguish between words. It also uses a completely different writing system than English does. Cantonese uses characters that are composed of parts that depict physical objects or abstract ideas—there are thousands of characters and each one carries a sound and a meaning. 

If you know Mandarin, which is also a tonal language that uses characters, chances are that you’ll pick Cantonese up much faster!

Your motivation

How much time and effort you’re willing to spend makes a huge difference. Are you learning Cantonese because of your partner? Or are you a big fan of Cantonese movies? Having a goal or a strong reason will help you strive for success and overcome any hurdles along the way!

Your language learning resumé & age

A Resume

It’s not easy to learn a new language, but having previous experience will speed up your progress. This is because you’ll already know how and where to start! Also, the more languages you’re exposed to, the easier it gets to decipher their logic and understand the inner workings of their grammar and structures.

Of course, age matters too. It’s easier to memorize new words and rules while you’re young. Studies have found that language-learning ability declines at age 18. The sooner you learn a language, the better!

Are you planning to learn the Chinese characters too?

Chinese characters are logograms. Each Chinese character is unique with its own pronunciation, and you’ll need to memorize 2000-3000 of them to read a newspaper. It does take a bit of time to recognize how the characters look and how to write them. 

If you only want to learn how to speak Cantonese, you might want to consider studying only the romanization (i.e. the jyutping system) and bypass the learning of Chinese characters. This will speed up the learning curve a lot.

2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve a Beginner Level?

A Baby with Some Books

Beginner-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: A1-A2

Speaking & Listening

You should be able to conduct basic and simple conversations (self-introductions, asking for directions, ordering food) and know some survival Cantonese.

Reading & Writing

At this level, you will only need to know some jyutping.

Duration

So how long will it take to learn Cantonese if you only want to achieve this level? Assuming you spend at least an hour per day studying…

  • Average: 2-3 months 
  • If you know Mandarin: 2 months or even less

Tips

The most important thing for Cantonese beginners is to accumulate vocabulary. So, make good use of flashcards! You can use them to remember words, simple phrases, and anything else you want. A simple search for “flashcards” on your phone’s app store should give you plenty of options.

Another tip is to learn the romanization system. Literacy in Cantonese requires the memorization of thousands of components and characters, which can be daunting for new Cantonese learners. To start learning the sounds of Cantonese without the baggage of characters, Cantonese jyutping (also referred to as Cantonese romanization) is the perfect place to start. This is essentially a way to help translate Cantonese pronunciation into English pronunciation. 

With the romanization system, you’ll be able to learn the correct pronunciation of a word easily. No guessing and no Chinese characters needed!

3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Intermediate Level?

Middle School Students

Intermediate-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: B1

Speaking & Listening

At the intermediate level, you should be able to…

  • …articulate more complex thoughts.
  • …use different sentence patterns to some degree.
  • …handle short conversations or discussions with locals.
  • …pronounce words more accurately (not mixing up the 9 tones!).

Reading & Writing

Your reading and writing skills will still be quite limited, though you’ll be more familiar with how jyutping works. 

Duration

Assuming you spend at least an hour per day studying, here’s how long it might take you to reach intermediate-level Cantonese. 

  • Average: 6 months 
  • If you know Mandarin: 3-4 months

Tips

The crucial element required to reach an intermediate level is “practice.” 

By now, you should have accumulated some additional vocabulary, phrases, and even sentence patterns. You’ll need to practice speaking more so that you can put all of that knowledge to good use! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and start chatting with local friends! If you don’t have Cantonese-speaking friends, you could try finding study partners online or an online coach. Through making mistakes, you’ll figure out where and what you should improve.

4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve an Advanced Level?

A Group of Adults in Discussion

Advanced-Level Skills

  • CEFR Equivalent: C1

Speaking & Listening

Upon reaching an advanced level of Cantonese, you should be able to…

  • …converse with locals with ease.
  • …give fluent speeches.

Reading & Writing

Being an advanced Cantonese student means that you can recognize roughly 2000-3000 Chinese characters in addition to the jyutping. This will allow you to read newspapers and other short, simple texts. 

Duration

So how long would it take to learn Cantonese to this level of fluency? Assuming you spend at least an hour per day studying…

  • Average: 1-3 years**
  • If you know Mandarin: 6-12 months

** Learning the language takes 1-2 years on average for those who ignore the Chinese characters and focus solely on speaking. If you decide to pick up the Chinese characters as well and want to read a newspaper, the average time needed is 3 years.

Tips

Deep immersion (like living in a Cantonese-speaking region) is the ideal path for reaching the advanced level. Through daily usage and conversation, you’ll learn the various ways to articulate ideas in Cantonese—not just through textbook examples, but also through local slang terms and idioms. Make local friends, speak the local language, and experience life locally!

If staying in a Cantonese-speaking city is not an option, why not watch Cantonese movies and TV shows? This would be a fun way to learn the language, plus it can teach you more about the local culture!

5. Tools to Facilitate Your Language Learning Journey

Wondering how to learn Cantonese faster? While effort and time count, there are also some tools you can use to smoothen your path and speed up your progress! 

Online lessons

When it comes to learning a language anywhere and anytime, online classes are your bread and butter. They’re usually fit for any level and are much more affordable than schools or private lessons.

For example, you can watch and listen to over a thousand videos and audio lessons from CantoneseClass101 through our mobile app, desktop software, or website.

CantoneseClass101.com

Private schools and teachers 

Private schools and teachers are usually the most effective resources, as they can tailor the course just for you—but they’re also the most expensive. We would suggest carefully reading feedback and reviews from students before committing to anything. Stay away from courses with too many students per teacher and beware of scams!

Immersion

Immigration Entry Card

Immersion is truly the best way to learn a language, whether it’s deep immersion like living/working/studying in the local country or soft immersion like watching Netflix/TV/movies in your target language. Immersion is helpful because it’s much more authentic and you can observe how the language is being used in different scenarios—the underlying rules of the language. Over time, you’ll also know much more about the language and culture. If you’re engaging in deep immersion, you can make local friends too!

Why is CantoneseClass101 Great for Learning 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 where you can 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 service with a Premium PLUS account! 

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 if you feel ready to start learning Cantonese after reading this article. And if you already know some Cantonese, please share with fellow learners how long it took you to get where you are. We look forward to hearing from you!

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