Advanced Cantonese Class Specification

One hour-long class per week, five sections for each class, each totaling 12 minutes:

  1. Revision of material from previous class and analysis of written passages submitted as out-of-class work.
  2. Reading of a Standard Chinese passage (e.g. newspaper article or novel excerpt) using Cantonese readings, with corrections from the teacher as appropriate.
  3. Discussion about said passage in spoken Cantonese.
  4. EITHER a short (600-800 words) written Cantonese passage on a particular theme (either narrative or dialogue, or a mix of the two) OR a discussion-based item on the TV or radio (6-8 minutes). Teacher should highlight new words and provide additional Cantonese usage examples.
  5. Systematic progression through Cantonese grammar (highlighting differences between Standard Chinese), based on learners’ needs. Should utilize pattern-based learning, highlighting differences between similar sentence structures. Vocabulary used should only include words used in spoken Cantonese.

Out-of-class work:

Write a passage in both Standard Chinese and Cantonese related to either section 2 or section 4, to be handed in the following week and corrected for the lesson thereafter. Corrections should not be limited only to character errors or faulty grammar, but should also include word misuse (even for minor errors of nuance).

General comments:

  1. Entire class should be recorded for student’s review.
  2. Recourse to English only at student’s request.

…What’s This About?

So, I know that self-study is all the rage, but, actually, it can only get you so far.  My reading, for example, is now at about the level of a 11 or 12 year old, but I’m increasingly running into things that dictionaries don’t directly answer.  (For example: if there’s a choice of readings, which one to use?)

Plus, my spoken Cantonese, while not bad, does tend to include collocation errors or the occasional tone mistake, and it would be nice to have someone highly motivated to correct such errors (because, in this case, they’re being paid).

So a couple of couple of questions here: does anyone else have a private tutor for the language they’re studying, and if so, how do you spend the time?

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5 thoughts on “Advanced Cantonese Class Specification

  1. I can’t answer your questions about tutors, unfortunately I can’t afford that right now, but I wish you lucking finding a good one.

    I noticed that, while learning Korean, going over grammar explanations really speeds up understanding, so I agree that some structured learning is a good thing. I don’t try to memorize the grammar rules but it helps a lot compared to just looking at the English translation for a sentence to know what subtle nuances a grammar point might have or if people Seoul might pronounce it differently (or incorrectly). Admittedly I’m just using a podcast. I’m not quite at the stage you are at with Cantonese though.

    Definitely update us on how this goes!

  2. I dunno, “wish you lucking” has kind of a nice ring to it~

    Totally agree about the grammar, that’s why I’m only planning on spending 12 minutes a week on it 😛

    I don’t have money to burn, exactly, but (bizarrely, for an English teacher) I need to communicate in Cantonese and Mandarin quite a lot with parents, and it’s sometimes frustrating to be unable to express ideas tactfully – otherwise, I wouldn’t bother…

  3. Well, I don’t exactly have a private tutor but I do have a friend teaching me 潮州話 once a week and our sessions usually run about an hour. Although, in my case, it’s a little complicated considering there are literally no standard materials for the language (because of the ridiculous amount of regional differences), so maybe my experience won’t exactly apply, but I think it’s helped me figure out a little what works for self-studying.

    Anyway, so far, I’ve had to make the materials myself (basically, writing dialogues and sentence lists) and have her translate them (along with writing a literal word-for-word middle translation) before she can teach me. Our sessions are usually then just going over and reading the dialogue/sentence list together, and then asking for clarifications for particles and words I don’t understand and try to see if I can assign any equivalencies to Mandarin words (incredibly helpful), which takes up all the time.

    But actually, writing my own dialogues has been really helpful because it’s in a sense, anticipating and pre-studying for conversations that might happen. So then, when I actually try to converse using what I’ve learned, because I’ve already thought about possible responses, I’m a little more prepared in answering. Plus, since dialogues are so easy to memorize and practice on the go, I feel like they’re really effective in helping internalize the language and its grammar patterns.

    So I don’t know if I’d agree with your emphasis on writing with weekly passages; I’m a little dubious as to how effective writing essays prepares for conversation. I feel like writing and speaking are different scenarios, because in writing, where if you’re having trouble articulating something you can just go back and rephrase and edit as you like or just start all over, where as speaking is more on the fly and you’re stuck in the moment with what you have already ingrained (of which, I don’t feel like writing really contributes to much).

    Anyway, your lesson plan looks a little ambitious with time, but I’m very curious to learn how it turns out. I’d definitely love to know how to make my own sessions more effective.

    (And I apologize for this horridly long post…)

  4. Hey SuperLawnChairGirl, (tremendous name, by the way),

    You’re learning 潮州話?? That’s very ambitious! But, you’re learning 國語 as well right? Which language’s 音 do you use when reading?

    I’m throwing the writing in there as well not because I expe So, you’re writing dialogues of things you’d like to say in English and having her translate ct it to help much with conversation, but because… I wanna be able to do everything 🙂 I don’t think it should take up too much classtime, but I guess there’s always scope for either extending the class or altering the content.

    It’s good that you’ve got a friend who’s willing to work consistently with you for free… I haven’t found someone willing to do that. (Not necessarily because they’re after money, but because it’s impractical for them to make time each week at the same time.)

    I’m very impressed you’re making your own materials though – what (if anything) are you doing for immersion? 潮州有沒有電台?戲?歌?

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