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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Hi, everybody! Olivia here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Cantonese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: Do I have to learn 漢字 (hon3 zi6), which are the “Chinese characters”?
Explanation
In Hong Kong, Chinese characters are used in all settings: in signs, books, newspapers, websites, magazines, shops, and so on. So the answer to the question of whether you have to learn Chinese characters is YES! It’s best to know how to write Chinese characters so you can read and remember more vocabulary. It is also helpful to learn the Chinese characters for better communication in markets and in the countryside. However, most signs and street names in the city are bilingual as Hong Kong has been a British colony for over 99 years.
Let's get into more details. How many Chinese characters do you need to know to reach daily usage level?
Depending on how ambitious one is trying to understand the culture, normally 100 characters will provide a lot of fun for written communications in primary level. There are special combinations of characters that may be helpful to just recognize instead of to write them. For example, 火車 (fo2 ce1) "train"; literally means "fire car".
Is there a standard proficiency level system for Cantonese?
There are two official Cantonese proficiency tests.
The first is by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), administered by Language Testing International (LTI), which includes Cantonese.
The other one is by the The Chinese University of Hong Kong or 香港中文大學 (hoeng1 gong2 zung1 man4 daai6 hok6 ), which is the Computerized Oral Proficiency Assessment (COPA).

Outro

How was it?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
"See you next time!", 下次見! (haa6 ci3 gin3!)

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