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CLS - Beginning Cantonese (2 CD's)
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BEGINNING CANTONESE provides language instruction for use inside and outside the classroom, either as a supplement, or as a self-instructional tool. The program includes 20 lessons and an additional introductory lesson on some key aspects of Cantonese and the Chinese writing system. Be sure to begin with the introductory lesson, since it will give you crucial background information for all your lessons. Each lesson consists of a dialogue (text, video, audio), hyperlinked grammatical and cultural notes, as well as several types of exercises. Also, at the end of each lesson are hyperlinks to supplemental lessons, cultural capsules, graphics, and reference material.
Within each lesson, you can work in several different modes. After getting as much as possible from the oral and visual sources, listen to the dialogue while following its written form. This mode allows you to listen to the whole text, as well as to sentences and words individually, if desired. At the word level you can follow links to grammatical and cultural footnotes, all explained in English. In addition, you can access an audio English translation of words and sentences at any time, although the written lesson texts are only available in Yale Romanization (Cantonese written in the same letters that are used to write English). If you are interested in learning the Chinese writing system, each lesson includes a link to a version of the lesson text in which spoken Cantonese is written in standard Chinese characters, which many Cantonese use (see section on the writing system in the introductory lesson).
When you are confident about your general comprehension of the lesson text, you can go through several exercises which offer immediate correction, and can be repeated as many times as desired.
Pronunciation allows learners to compare their own pronunciation to that of a Cantonese native speaker. This interactive multimedia language tool offers learners native pronunciation they can use at any time, and more efficiently than audio or video tape.
Finally, get acquainted with a couple of internet web sites that provide a wealth of information and Chinese-related links that provide opportunities for you to go beyond the information in the lessons and explore the language on your own:The University of Arizona Critical Languages Program
The Cantonese Language Association
BEGINNING CANTONESE is designed to be flexible and to be used in a variety of settings, so the sequence that is best for you depends on your learning goals. However, you might consider the following Suggested Activity List, adapting it to your own needs.
Get acquainted with the main dialogue by going through it in the different modes available (word, sentence, pronunciation and meaning, etc.). Start with the second lesson. Before you check the translation, try to get some general ideas by finding words/phrases you already know. Much of what we read or hear is understood by context rather than by word comprehension. Nobody learns everything there is to know in a language--even in English you probably hear words you are unfamiliar with and have to guess the meaning by context or your knowledge of parts of the word that you do know (for example, do you know what sonoluminescence means?). It is the same with Cantonese.
Memorize a couple lines, paying attention to your pronunciation and fluency, and then compare yourself to the native model by using the pronunciation exercise or the record/playback tools. Try to get as close as you can to the speed and pronunciation of the native model. Remember to pay attention to the tones--they are essential to understanding in Cantonese!Study the group of lines in detail, reviewing footnotes, English meanings, etc. as necessary. Try expressing ideas using all of the language and rules you've learned up to this point, especially the new vocabulary words and grammar structures. Follow the patterns given in the lessons and the footnotes, then replace the vocabulary with words from the supplementary lists. Make up your own dialogue, or talk to yourself or a friend in Cantonese. Practice saying sentences to yourself as you go about mundane daily activities, such as driving, exercising, cleaning, etc. Experiment with the language!
If one of your goals is to learn the writing system, go to the Chinese character version of the Romanized main lesson. You have access to many of the same tools for the character version as you do for the Romanized main version (pronunciation, notes, sentence- and word-level translations, etc.). Alternatively, you may choose to work through a number of lessons focusing on spoken Cantonese, and then come back to the character versions when you are more comfortable with the main lessons. In fact, some research suggests that the latter approach might be more effective.
Be patient! Take it slow and don't get overwhelmed at the amount of information contained in each lesson. Language learning takes time and practice.
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