8+ Best Cantonese Textbooks – A List for Beginners

Know what I like about textbooks?

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.

And in this guide, you’ll get a list of some of the best Cantonese textbooks. Take a look below.

best cantonese textbooks

By the way…

If you want to HEAR real Cantonese, check out this audio lesson while you browse the books. (3-Minute Cantonese Lesson from CantoneseClass101.com.)

So, here are the Cantonese textbooks.

1. Complete Cantonese: A Teach Yourself Guide (Teach Yourself Language)

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.

Click here to check it out

2. Learn to Speak Cantonese I: A Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Conversational Cantonese

Now, this is a great Cantonese textbook for beginners.

You follow the story of an American boy who wants to learn Cantonese for the sake of his girlfriend and impress her relatives. As such, it focuses on basic conversations that you’d want to learn as a beginner. Very easy to follow. This is a quick 137-page, 10-chapter book that’s perfect for anyone who’s brand new and wants a simple start to Cantonese.

Click here to learn more.

3. Complete Cantonese Beginner to Intermediate Course: Learn to read, write, speak and understand a new language

This is another good Cantonese textbook – by Teach Yourself – that promises to take you to the Intermediate level.

Definitely a strong contender on my list of best Indonesian textbooks.

This 25 chapter textbook seems to cover it all: grammar explanations, dialogues, vocabulary, exercises, and cultural insights. Pages: 432

  • By Teach Yourself
  • Strength: Comprehensive book
  • Just don’t get it on Kindle. Textbooks aren’t very easy to review on a Kindle.

Click here to learn more.

4. Basic Cantonese: A Grammar and Workbook 

One of the best Cantonese textbooks for grammar. Clear and extensive explanations of beginner grammar across 190 pages.

It does a good job to help you break down a sentence and understand how the how the subject, object, etc. come together.

Also, you get quizzes and answer key at the end of every chapter. The fact that this doubles as a workbook is a big deal. It’s better to practice the grammar rules than just read about them.

  • Warning: Not for complete, “know-nothing” beginners. You might want to use this is a companion for whatever other textbook or program.

5. Reading & Writing Chinese: A Comprehensive Guide to the Chinese Writing System

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.

Click here to check it out

6. Colloquial Cantonese (Colloquial Series)

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.
Click here to learn more.

7. Essential Cantonese Phrase Book (Essential Phrasebook Series)

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).

Click here to check it out

8. Pocket Cantonese Dictionary: Cantonese-English English-Cantonese

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.

Click here to check it out

These are some of the best Cantonese textbooks and books I’ve found so far.

But, if you want something a little more than a “book,” then I recommend CantoneseClass101.

CantoneseClass101 is a Cantonese learning program. You get audio/video lessons made by real teachers. The lessons get you speaking in minutes and are just 3-15 minutes in length. Just press the play button below to check out a lesson.

So, if you want to HEAR real Cantonese and learn faster with a program, I recommend them.

Click here to get a Free Lifetime Account at CantoneseClass101.com.

– The Main Junkie

Learn Cantonese with Free Podcasts

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Pimsleur Cantonese audiobook is another good resource to have