Cantonese Course Outline

The Cactus Course Outlines provide a learning framework for the Cactus Foreign Language Evening Courses. They are designed to provide you with a good idea of what you might cover over a 10-week period, and include typical themes, grammar and vocabulary fields. They are flexible rather than prescriptive, in that our teachers may decide to adapt their learning plans to the specific level, aims and interests of their classes. Use the tabs below to view the relevant Chinese Cantonese course outline for your level.

Cantonese Beginner 1

The course covers grammar, reading and writing practice as well as an insight into the culture of the region. Students will learn the basics of the language and be able to build up enough knowledge to read and write at a basic level. Given the subtle differences between eastern and western cultures, it is beneficial to the students to be aware of such differences which are embedded in the language.

Topics & Vocabulary:

  • Greetings in normal and polite ways
  • Introducing yourself or someone else using various titles
  • Useful expressions
  • Numbers 1- 99
  • Asking for and offering information
  • Likes & dislikes
  • Eating & drinking in a restaurant or a tea house
  • Expressing days
  • Family and friends
  • Asking for help start with “chíng mahn” 請問
  • Meeting friends and doing things together
  • Inviting friends for a meal

Grammar:

  • Global basic sentences with to be “haih”係, to have “yáuh”有, to do “jouh”做 and negative forms
  • Sentences with adjective structure without to be
  • Past, and “the situation has changed” with a functional marker “jo là” 佐啦
  • Pronouns – subject “ngóh” 我, possessive “ge” 喞
  • Singular vs. Plural
  • Auxiliary words e.g. “séung” 想
  • Word order in sentences
  • Question forms – affirmative, negative and question
  • Classifiers (e.g. a cup of tea = “yat bui chàh” 一杯茶 )
  • Particles such as “a” 啊 “jèk” 渣
  • Two functions of “hóu” 好

Cultural Content:

  • Chinese names
  • Hand shaking etc.
  • “Beliefs” – lucky/unlucky numbers and colours
  • Cantonese dietary habits e.g. “Yam chàh” 飲茶 and “Dín sam” 點心
  • Characters and calligraphy

Skills Work:

  • The Arabic alphabet, reading and writing
  • Extensive practice of Cantonese Pinyin and tones
  • Lots of speaking practice
  • Lots of listening practice
  • Lots of reading practice
  • Recognizing pictograph characters
  • Reading simple characters practice

Cantonese Beginner 2

Topics & Vocabulary:

  • Shopping and asking about prices, sizes and colours
  • Saying thank you in different ways
  • Making a complaint
  • Making an apology with “deui mjyuh” 對唔住
  • Expressing various emotions using adjectives
  • Making an excuse, using “yiu” 要
  • Express days of the week in different ways
  • Getting around by transport
  • Asking direction and location
  • Planning a holiday
  • Four directions

Grammar:

  • Review & practise previous level grammar (e.g. through mixed tense work – present/past)
  • Present continuous with different patterns e.g. “haih” 係
  • Past and future with time words “kàhm yaht” 噙日 & “tīng yaht”
  • Modal verbs such as “sīk” 識 & “hó yíh” 可以 “wuih” 會
  • Comparison using “béi” 比 and the superlatives ‘jeui’ 最
  • Ordinal numbers using “daih” 第
  • Time phrases – adverbs of frequency such as “sáu sìn” 首先, “yìhn hauh” 然後
  • “Wh”s
  • Expressing excessiveness with “taai” 太 + adj. + “là” 啦
  • More about classifiers (e.g. a cup of tea/two boxes of chocolates.)

Cultural Content:

  • Various festivals e.g. Chinese New Year
  • Major dialects in Chinese language
  • Various forms of Cantonese
  • Cantonese and Pidgin English

Skills Work:

  • Lots of Pinyin and tones practice
  • Lots of speaking practice
  • Lots of listening practice
  • Lots of reading practice
  • Recognizing pictograph characters
  • Lots of simple characters writing practice

Cantonese Beginner 3

Topics & Vocabulary:

  • Talking about the weather
  • Expressing years and days
  • About going on holiday
  • About leisure activities
  • Express your opinions on keeping fit
  • Most common kind of sports
  • Common feelings and emotions
  • Entertainment, watching football and seeing a film
  • Saying how you are feeling
  • Seeing a doctor
  • Hobbies

Grammar:

  • Review & practise previous level grammar
  • Conditional sentences with ‘when’
  • Approximate numbers
  • Present perfect with particle “gwo” 過
  • Building up phrases such as “gòi” 該 + v + “là” 啦
  • Understanding potential verb phrases with “dāk” 得/ “m” 唔
  • Complex sentences such as “yān waih” 因為… “só yíh” 所以…
  • “Māt yéh” 乜嘢 in affirmative sentences
  • Attributive clause with “gē” 喞
  • Making adverbs from adjectives
  • More about the superlatives ‘jeui’ 最
  • Continuing action
  • Four character phrases

Cultural Content:

  • Customs of celebration e.g. special food for Chinese New Year
  • Famous Chinese Kong Fu
  • Chinese and Western medicine
  • Some Cantonese adopted in English such as Typhoon, Mahjong

Skills Work:

  • Pronunciation – key sound practice
  • Lots of speaking and listening practice
  • Reading short essay practice
  • Recognizing characters and writing common characters practice

Cantonese Elementary 1

Topics & Vocabulary:

  • Paying a compliment re e.g. new clothes, new house
  • More about directions words
  • How to express likes and dislikes
  • Leisure time, playing Mahjong 麻將
  • Fashion
  • Express one’s judgements
  • Citizens and Policemen
  • All the major colours
  • Discussing gambling
  • School life
  • How to say large numbers

Grammar:

  • Review & practise previous level grammar (e.g. through mixed tense work – present/past)
  • Verb endings
  • Future with “wuih” 會
  • Result of actions with words e.g. “hóu là” 好啦
  • Action with verb complement
  • Present continuous e.g. “hai douh”
  • Comparative/superlative “gàng” 更/“jeui” 最
  • Making more adjectives with ‘hóu” 好
  • Making sentences shorter
  • Frequency of time expressions
  • Passive construction with “beih” 被
  • More about classifiers

Cultural Content:

  • Two biggest symbols – dragon, the Dragon-boat Festival
  • One of the most ancient Chinese arts – pottery
  • Education system in China
  • Colour symbolism in Chinese culture
  • Mahjong 麻將 and fantan
  • Religions

Skills Work:

  • Lots of speaking practice
  • Lots of listening practice
  • Pronunciation practice
  • Reading short essay practice
  • Writing common characters practice
  • Translating from Chinese to English, and vice versa

Cantonese Elementary 2

Topics & Vocabulary:

  • Travelling
  • Checking in at the airport
  • Expressing clock time
  • Talking about driving
  • About being lucky
  • Problems with a photograph on an immigration application
  • How to use active and passive verbs
  • About proximity and distance
  • How to build up complicated descriptive phrases
  • Command sentences

Grammar:

  • Review & practice previous level grammar (e.g. through mixed tense/aspect work – present/past/future simple/continuous/perfect)
  • Consolidate & extend the following concepts & structures:
  • Duration expressions
  • Completely with verb ending “saai”
  • Compound sentences e.g. “lihn … dou…”
  • Giving advice using v + “duo dī” 多啲
  • Passive construction with “beih” 被
  • Relative clauses
  • More negative forms e.g. “mòuh” 無
  • Conjunctions
  • Complement of degree construction v + “dāk” 得 + adj.
  • All the comparison forms

Cultural content:

  • Cantonese opera
  • Chinese lunar calendar
  • “Kèihpòuh” 旗袍 and “Cheongsam” 長衫
  • Laughing and smiling
  • Driving on the right hand side

Skills Work:

  • Extensive speaking/active practice
  • Extensive listening and reading practice
  • Lots of writing practice

Cantonese Elementary 3

Topics & Vocabulary:

  • Law and order
  • Crimes
  • Speaking different languages
  • Banking and finance
  • In the bank
  • Impact of recession
  • Continents and Oceans
  • Telling how you would like your meat to be done
  • In the post office
  • Where can I post my parcel?

Grammar:

  • Review, consolidate & extend previous level grammar
  • Present perfect
  • ore slang phrases
  • Emphasizing the conclusion e.g. “jauh” 就… “dihng la” 定喇
  • Various complex sentences e.g. “jí yáuh” 只有… “chòih” 才…
  • Wide range of functions’ structure “haih” 係 … “lahk”勒
  • Building up more adverbial phrases for speaker emphasis e.g. “kèih saht” 其實
  • Word order corresponding to sequence of events
  • Idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms
  • Exclamatory expressions
  • Understanding some phrasal verbs e.g. “fan gaau” 瞓覺, “fan yat gaau” 瞓一覺
  • Final particle for identification

Cultural Content:

  • Greetings with Chinese culture
  • Hong Kong’s return to China
  • Cantonese and Mandarin
  • “Mihn jí ” 面子
  • Provinces and cities

Skills Work:

  • Extensive speaking/active practice
  • Extensive reading practice
  • Extensive listening practice
  • Creative writing
  • Translation from Chinese into English and vice versa.

Cantonese Intermediate 1

Topics & Vocabulary:

  • Talking about living accommodation and the environment
  • Computer and computer games
  • Talking about hobbies and changing hobbies
  • Giving congratulations
  • Managing inflation
  • Discussing work environment
  • Using pair of opposites to make sentences
  • Interviews
  • How to be polite
  • How to comment after you have visited a restaurant

Grammar:

  • Review, consolidate and extend, including:
  • Using more slang words to make sentences
  • Complex sentences
  • Conjunctions
  • Narratives
  • Exceptions to the rule

Cultural Content:

  • “Dim sam” and “yam chah”
  • Familiar terms of address
  • Spectacular food in HK
  • Where does Cantonese come from?
  • Honorific words
  • The extremes of politeness

Skills Work:

  • Extensive speaking/active practice
  • Extensive reading and listening practice
  • Extensive listening practice
  • Creative writing
  • Translation from Chinese into English and vice versa
 

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