廣東話教學apps – study Cantonese with apps

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!

Pocket Lingo
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. !

image_3image_2image_4Talk Cantonese
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.

imageStudy Chat
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.image_5image_6image_8image_7CN-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.image_11image_10WordPower 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.
image_17 image_16 image_15

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.
image_13 image_14
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! 🙂


36 thoughts on “廣東話教學apps – study Cantonese with apps

  1. I thought it was inconvenient that the Chinese language varied according to each area.
    I also like dialects of Kansai (Osaka).
    I studied Chinese (standard language) a little at once.


    1. thank you! finally someone told me the difference, I always asked my husband why sometimes it’s 天 and the other time 日 and he said that he doesn’t want to make me more confused 🙂 thank you again! 🙂 I love it that I can learn something new everyday, especially when it goes to Cantonese! 🙂


  2. I used Cantonese Lite for Android. Make sure it has the Hong Kong flower logo. The language is also dying out in China Towns. There was an article about it in 2010. I like watching mingjai14 on youtube. He is very funny.


  3. Sadly Cantonese probably be extinguished one day, just like many other languages in mainland. We must protect the language, and traditional Chinese character too. But the problem is even United Nation recognize simplified Character rather than the traditional one!


  4. I really tried studying Mandarin before with Apps but I don’t get into it. I cannot explain why but I feel much more comfortable with some study books and my daily Character/ Vocabulary card session


  5. I hope they still speak Cantonese when I get the chance to visit HK someday!
    My Mandarin is so bad! I am a Cantonese! L-O-L!


  6. my parents both speak Cantonese, and this post has made me realise that once they die that’s another family line gone from speaking it (we live in the UK and me and my siblings only speak English… and French). Sad really, but I suppose that’s what happens when you settle in another nation, you lose your culture in order to integrate.


  7. It’s a shame that Cantonese is slowly vanishing from Hong Kong.. It’s such a interesting language! It’s next on my “language list” just need to learn perfect mandarin first and then the accent they speak in ChenChen’s hometown, so that I can communicate with his grandparents that only speak the mandarin with the local accent :p


  8. I also love Hong Kong for their Cantonese tunes. Growing up watching so many Hong Kong series and soaps, I found it nostalgic to hear it less and less there. Hope there’re still people who cherish and perpetuate this unique Hong Kong culture. 😀


  9. it is always sad when a country, any country, is slowly loosing its piece of identity. though i don’t speak either cantonese or mandarin, i do think HK should gravely protect its cantonese nature and identity, despite the many mainlanders from china have managed to flock over and taken over lands in HK. i grew up watching HK movies and listening to HK music. i find it to be a much friendlier chinese sound than china mandarin. HK cantonese should be held in high regard in its own country, otherwise HK will loose the base that makes HK… HONGKONG. the same reason i have a high regard for taiwan who keeps its traditional mandarin instead of turning a new leaf and start adopting a simplified chinese like many countries do.


  10. Then you should immigrate to big cities in North America where you hear more Cantonese. I had no idea..but then I never knew how to speak Cantonese, just Toishanese.

    To my ear, Cantonese sounds more emotional than Mandarin.


  11. Good stuff. In the next few years you’ll be able to communicate with your husband in Cantonese.
    p.s. You have read my email?…..


    1. I thought about it but I’m too ugly to put myself online haha 🙂 maybe I will use in the voice record only haha 🙂 but mostly for Cantonese, for Mandarin I have ability to speak since we share a lot of the sounds but my only Mandarin teacher could be my husband and he speaks with an accent – he’s native for Cantonese and Shanghainese only, he can speak Mandarin but people know it won’t be good haha 🙂


  12. I’ve been finding this language audio app very useful. Load up your ‘Complete Catonese’ into it and it will break up the file so you can ‘digest’ it in bite size chunks. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.povalyaev.WorkAudioBook. Can add subs or notes as well.
    Not a pretty app, or even an app really but all time fav program for learning Cantonese is Learning With Texts’ (LWT http://lwt.sourceforge.net/). Takes a bit or work to set up but so rewarding and fun once its done. I use a tablet without wifi, but i’m able to load up what I want to read in my chrome browser and it stays in cache. I can then read what I want on my commute-works a treat.


  13. There’s the good old fashioned way to learn – the web: http://www.cantonese.ca – the swearing section is quite…well… comprehensive.

    Also, the best app ever for learning Chinese on your iPhone or Android is Pleco (www.pleco.com). I’ve been using it for 8 years now (way back on my Palm, now on the iPhone). They added Cantonese dictionaries. Plus, the OCR software let you point your camera on any character with instant translation – also works with traditional chinese characters….


  14. Thanks! Very useful 🙂 I tried to learn Cantonese once, but had not succeeded. Perhaps they are right, find a person who speaks the language … to love. Love is a strong motivator 🙂


  15. Thank you for this. These are some excellent resources. I’m Australian and my boyfriend of 5 years is originally from Hong Kong. I’ve been learning Cantonese on and off for 3 years. Thankfully his family speak English but I enjoy being able to speak Cantonese with them, especially when visiting Hong Kong. I feel more connected to his family. Thanks again. Great stuff!!


  16. I am so glad that you think people should speak their native language in their own city because a lot of Chinese people in the U.S. reluctant to speak Chinese to Chinese people because they think they are in America and they shouldn’t speak Chinese.I totally against that. I speak English with Chinese people when American or other nations people around, but when a group of Chinese people get together, I speak Chinese.


  17. I am a Latino born in Guatemala.I live in NY since the age of 8.There is a girl who teaches Cantonese, now at a local Chinese church.She loves to teach Cantonese.I have known her for many years now.She was the teacher when I started learning Cantonese.
    I sent her this site at her email: Cantonesesociety@gmail.com .I know
    she will share it among other friends on Facebook.For her to be an ABC and teaches Cantonese for free! It is
    awesome.She needs to be recognize more, and I a laptop for sharing this.hahahaaha(just kidding)


    amazing.She needs to be recognize.I could use a laptop (((hahaha just kidding)


  18. Hi there!

    I just discovered your blog and its extremely helpful! My parents are from Hong Kong and I was born and raised in Canada. I can speak Cantonese fluently but I am always looking to further improve it. Reading and writing is definitely not my strongest area. Lately I actually got more interested in learning 成語 since it is such a powerful tool to get your message across with only a few words. I was wondering if you know any apps or websites that teaches it with Cantonese and English in it. I really apprecite your help and thanks for the post! ^_^


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