I love Cantonese as a language – it’s hard but also fun and emotional. It’s also a big part of my husband’s culture, but sadly it’s vanishing slowly from Hong Kong. In the past signs were written in Cantonese and English, in 1997 they added simplified Chinese. Now the order changed into Cantonese, Mandarin, English – works for me as long as Cantonese and Mandarin won’t flip. Cantonese is like a meat in the Hong Kong-dumpling.
And the sad thing is slowly I have a feeling it’s already started – I don’t say knowing both is bad, but when I wish when we go shopping people talked to us in Cantonese. We went to pick up our wedding rings and Cartier in TST greeted us with Mandarin. Maybe it’s because most of their clients are from Mainland China but I still believe the first greeting should be in Cantonese since we’re in Hong Kong, if my husband would respond in Mandarin (which is so broken even I have a better accent) and they know how to respond, then great. Local language should be displaced to a foreign one.
That’s why I’m so happy more and more people and expats in Hong Kong are interested to actually continue the tradition of speaking Cantonese, which for a non-native speaker is a pain in the butt. Really painful. For me personally I swear so well while counting my husband jokes they should put me in front of the politicians.
I already wrote long time ago what methods I use to learn Cantonese (if you want to read it, click here) and I’ve been asked so many times do I use apps to learn Cantonese that I’ve decided to show you my favorite one and the one I didn’t really like. This part is for iPad free apps, if my dear readers want I can make another article for Android apps as well! Let’s get started!
Very cute and simple app to use. As most of the apps it needs to be upgraded (or your iPhone/iPad should have a jailbreak) to give you 100% of it, but even if you have to spend 4.99$ it’s worth doing. You have a choice of flashcards with general conversation, numbers colors, food, shopping, places, transport, emergency or even relationship! And the thing I like the most of popping out ‘word of the day’ – you can start your day with Cantonese! Also what I like is that it doesn’t sound like made by computer, it’s more natural than what you hear on most of the Internet translator. You can also adjust the speed of speaking so you can spend more time to focus on the word or phrase. !
Even thought the name is ‘Talk Cantonese’ it has nothing to do with talking. You have the choice of only 3 categories: general, traveling and time. Technically you can upgrade to get the rest, but even thought I clicked upgrade to check the price the whole app just hung up and frozen my iPad. Every single time I tried to do it. Beside the male voice sounds so computer that it could be a Cantonese Hatsune Miku. Forget it. Do not bother downloading.
Whoever made this app is a genius. It more like a game that consists a conversation and sentences to pick from while you’re introduced to a new vocabulary. When your character speaks you will see an English line of dialog you have to translate. When the other character speaks you listen to what they have to say and figure out what they wanted to tell you in English. You have a multiple option to choose. And it feels great when a handsome boy calls you beautiful – then you listen to what ‘you’ are saying and tap it on the screen. You also get and lose points but I still haven’t really figure it out what do you need them for. Again another app that makes the pronunciation sound real and for more difficult sentences you can adjust the speed of speaking as well. After finished game you see your result, what did you learn, how long it took, how correct you were and your level’s progress. Definitely must download.CN-Cantonese
You might noticed I like very colorful and ‘living’ programs. This one is white and soooo boring. No English, just signs so you cannot use it as a starter. And it’s uses simplified signs so if you’re trying to learn the traditional ones it’s not really helpful. Although it might be useful if you live in Cantonese part of China. Honestly it’s not bad, but it’s also not really worth to spend your time, the only plus I can see is that the voice sounds real to me. And that annoying commercial at the bottom. Not good, not bad – you might give it a try, but I wouldn’t recommend.
There can be bunch of Cantonese apps so you need to look for one with a flower/mountain background. What’s important in Cantonese is proper pronunciation and how else you should practice it than singing some karaoke? It’s very lovely and simple app that contains 100 song including Cantonese version of 周華健-刀劍如夢 which made me pretty shocked and happy, since then my husband is forced to hear me ‘singing’ it almost every day. And I don’t even mind the commercial. If I really need to complain I just wish the signs were more in the middle, little bit bigger and sometimes I had a feeling the color changes too slow so lyrics don’t match the sound. But in general it’s fun, fun and entertaining – all you need to learn.WordPower Cantonese Dictionary
At first glance this app might seem ordinary, just like any other app to study language. It has a daily notification with a new word, really decent speaker but it has something I haven’t found in any other app – voice recorder. While practicing you can actually hear how you say things and compare them with the lector. You can also test yourself wish flashcards – the reader says the word and you pick if you think it’s right or wrong. The basic choice for flashcards is: expressions, calendar, drink, food, measurements, money, musicians, nature, place, tourist attractions. I just love this app, but there’s something that keeps me bothered and I mentioned it at the beginning about vanishing… Yup, at the top there’s Chinese flag instead of a Hong Kong one and when you go to ‘calendar’ section you can see a CPC Founding Day. From studying point of view it’s really helpful and that should be one of the first apps to download but I got quite upset seeing this.
You can also try apps made for children since they start from the very basic things like cat, dog etc. but I’m not really big fan of those.
Have you ever tried to study Cantonese? Or maybe you’re studying some other language right now? Share your favorite apps that could help others! 🙂