Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Expat learning Cantonese

I was on the MTR on my way back home from work and an expat sat next to me. then he took out from his suitcase a Cantonese oral exercise book. i asked ask him in cantonese, "nan umm nan" (is it difficult?) He gave me a blank look telling me that he didn't understand a word. I repeated my question in English and we carried on little conversation. I found out that he is only on lesson two and has very limited Cantonese. Yes, he found Cantonese to be hard, especially with the different tones. I shared with him some frustration stories my friend had with learning Cantonese and finding conversational partner. He told me that his greatest enemy is fear of speaking in Cantonese. He told me that it's very difficult for him to understand when people talk to him in Cantonese.

from my experience, not too many expat are interested in learning Cantonese (which I think is a pretty difficult language to learn). But he seems to be a serious learner, or he wouldn't be studying on the MTR. He told me that there are only 4 students in his Cantonese class, so i guess it isn't a popular endeavor for expat. However, i do know of a group of Korean housewives who go to CUHK for Cantonese lesson.

For expat, Mandarin would probably be an easier and more practically language to learn. I wonder why they picked Cantonese instead. But I think it's cool that they are learning Cantonese.

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