A textbook gives you structure – a CLEAR path, from Page 1 to 200. It teaches you the characters, grammar, writing, reading and everything that you won’t learn from reading articles online. And I know you’ve read enough.
Are textbooks the answer to the entire language? No. But they’re a safe and reliable start to Cantonese (the Chinese they speak in Hong Kong, duh).
Here’s a list of 6 best Cantonese textbooks for beginners.
All books have links so click on them to learn more at Amazon. Links are my Amazon affiliate links.
This is probably as good as it gets when it comes to Cantonese textbooks. It comes with CDs and 26 chapters. It challenges you to learn Cantonese at a rapid rate. You learn Canto with Yale Romanization System (the best for English speakers). The dialogues are practical and will be useful for real life. You’ll learn how to read and write as well as lots of vocab and grammar. Great first choice for Beginners.
Good for learners with some experience. It’s 184 pages and 28 units total. And that’s right. It’s all about grammar so it’s a perfect book to have regardless of whatever else you’re learning with. Each lesson builds upon itself. Examples are taken from Radio, TV, movies – so you learn Cantonese as it’s spoken. I liked it personally.
This is a phrasebook, NOT a textbook.
A must for any beginner, traveler or anyone looking to add more Cantonese to their brain. It does what it says. You learn enough phrases and vocabulary to be understood in real life. If you can’t read Chinese AT ALL, good news – here, you learn all of the 2,000 vocab and phrases in Romanized Cantonese (meaning, they’re written in English characters).
Nice dictionary for beginner students. And super cheap too, just $5. No knowledge of Chinese characters is required because it uses the Yale Romanization system. You’ll learn the 3,000 must know words – just the most used, most common ones – in this small 96 page book. Good for reference. Definitely buy it as a supplement.
Learning Cantonese? You need to know the Characters. This might be the best way to learn Chinese characters in general – and yes, it covers Cantonese (and even Singapore Chinese). Learning to write Chinese is a skill acquired ONLY through repetition and this book breaks it down for you step by step. You’ll learn 2,000+ characters and 2,500+ combinations. For a 352 page book, it’s very cheap too.
This Cantonese textbook gives step-by-step approach to written and spoken Cantonese. Everything’s organized by subject (traveling, shopping, etc.) with a list of vocabulary and dialogues. Another bonus is that it’s really good at explaining TONES so you will come out with good pronunciation. HOWEVER, this book is not for travelers and NOT for wimpy beginners with not enough time… it’s challenging.
By the way, as you can see by the BLATANTLY obvious ads I have above and below… I also recommend CantoneseClass101.com (click here!) for their Audio and Video Lessons. Yes, it’s no textbook, but it just might be the best damn online course for speaking, listening and mastering Cantonese conversation.
That site would be a perfect supplement with whatever Cantonese textbook or dictionary you’re using. Check it out and decide on your own.
Do you have any best Cantonese textbooks that you swear by and recommend? Any Mandarin ones? I’ll need to write about that.
I’ll add more as I go along.
Leave a comment!
– The Main Junkie
P.S. I highly recommend this for Cantonese learners. If you REALLY want to learn to Cantonese with effective Audio & Video lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at CantoneseClass101 (click here) and start learning!