I’ve tried several audio programs that teach you Cantonese, and I’ve had a lot of success with them, but there’s one that has easily surpassed every other audio course—it’s Pimsleur Cantonese Chinese.
The genius minds behind Pimsleur have created a awesome system that enables you to remember words and phrases almost magically—and more importantly, learn a language with extreme precision and effectiveness. As you know, correct pronunciation is essential in communicating in Cantonese, because even a single blunder in tone can result in violent consequences… But worry not, this audio course places the foremost importance on correct pronunciation, and it effectively guides you how to reproduce the sounds that you hear spoken by the native Cantonese speakers that you will be working with throughout the course.
In case you’re new to Cantonese, it is a language (or an unintelligible dialect if somebody really wants to call it a dialect) mainly spoken in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, and in many Chinese communities in America and Southeast Asia. A lot of Hong Kong movies, such as Jackie Chan’s and Bruce Lee’s action flicks, are spoken in Cantonese, and many kung fu styles that originate in the southern regions of China involve terminologies in Cantonese.
Although I would consider it one of the hardest languages to learn due to its complex tones (there are six or nine tones altogether, depending on how you categorize them), with this teach-yourself program you can successfully teach yourself how to speak and correctly pronounce Cantonese.
The lessons contained in Pimsleur Cantonese Chinese are structured in an intelligent way: they just somehow manage to hardwire the words and phrases into the learner’s mind. And it works amazingly well. Every unit introduces new concepts, and every subsequent unit reviews the concepts learned before. The reviewing is timed so well that as soon as you start to lose grasp of the previous things, the narrator appropriately intervenes and refreshes your mind by asking how to pronounce something in Cantonese, after which he also provides you with the correct answer.
The units are based on realistic conversations, so you are learning how to interact with people starting with the very first lesson. And every unit builds onto the previous lessons by introducing new words and phrases that can be directly used in conjunction with what you’ve learned. The program is perfect for beginners who have no knowledge of Cantonese, because it starts with the basics.
By the way, this program doesn’t teach you how to read or write Chinese, and rightly so, because this awesome package focuses on training you how to speak and understand Cantonese.
But a great teach-yourself course like this cannot be obtained for free. It comes with a price that exceeds most other audio language courses. If, however, you are determined to self-study Cantonese, I strongly advise you to forget second-rate options and go for the greatest tool available. If I ever happen to find a better alternative, I will gladly delete this post and replace it, because I don’t want to endorse methods that don’t produce the best possible results.
$230.02 from Amazon.com
If you are interested to learn other languages using Pimsleur’s innovative method, you might find these audio courses interesting: