Annoying and irregular as both Jyutping and Yale are, I can actually read both romanizations pretty well now – but it wasn’t without a lot of effort. I accidentally came up with a trick to do so, using my favourite open-sauce program Anki. (Anki is an SRS – a spaced repetition system, designed to help retain learned information – but more on that in another post).
Firstly though, what’s a child’s favourite thing to do before going to sleep? Being read to. Furthermore, they rarely want to hear a story just once – children love repetition, and by ingraining language structures from bedtime stories, they gradually improve their language skills.
Since Anki supports both text and sound, my approach was to try and emulate being read to – I SRSed Cantonese sound-bites with accompanying transcripts in both Chinese characters and Jyutping. Then, I could see which sounds accompanied which letters, and gradually – gradually, I could produce those sounds correctly without having to hear them first. Because an SRS forces you to repeat cards when needed, the repetition a child gets when being read to was also present.
So I guess my point is twofold – there is nothing so difficult that cannot be overcome without practice and a good method, and that the best methods [for language learning] are based on those that children instinctively use.
Anyone else out there master Jyutping or Pinyin in a different/better way? I’d be interested to know!