1st Edition

Cantonese as a Second Language Issues, Experiences and Suggestions for Teaching and Learning

Edited By John C. Wakefield Copyright 2019
    302 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    302 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Cantonese is a language from southern China that is spoken by roughly 70 million people worldwide. It is the language of Hong Kong cinema and has traditionally been the most prominent language spoken in Chinatowns around the world. People choose to learn Cantonese for a variety of social and economic reasons: because it is a heritage language that one’s relatives speak; because it is the language of one’s partner and monolingual in-laws; because it is necessary for living and working in Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, or other Cantonese-speaking communities; because it is the bridge to fully appreciating and understanding Cantonese culture; or simply because it is an irresistible challenge. Whatever the motivation, more and more people are choosing to learn Cantonese as an additional language.

    This book discusses many issues related to both acquiring and teaching Cantonese. If you are a learner of Cantonese, this long overdue volume is essential to understanding both the grammatical and the social issues involved with learning this notoriously difficult language. If you are a teacher, this book will be invaluable to gaining insight into your students’ motivations and needs. And finally, if you are an applied linguist, the unique aspects related to the acquisition of Cantonese offer a fascinating contribution to the literature.


    1. The Cantonese Language (Robert S. Bauer and John C. Wakefield) 

    Part I: The Teaching and Learning of Cantonese 

    2. Teaching and Learning Cantonese as a Second Language: Language Attitudes and Learning Hurdles (Siu-lun Lee)

    3. Learning Cantonese in the Work Context of Hong Kong: Needs, Practices, and Benefits (Winnie Chor) 

    4. A Case Study of Cantonese as a Foreign Language Curriculum Design in North America: Establishing the Cantonese Language Program at the University of British Columbia (Raymond Pai) 

    5. Teaching Cantonese Literacy as Part of a General Education Program: Issues and Challenges (Matthew B. Christensen) 

    Part II: Experience and Advice from Advanced Learners 

    6. My Cantonese Odyssey (Robert S. Bauer)

    7. Self-Reflective Ethnographic Analysis of a Singaporean Learner of Hong Kong Cantonese (Lian-Hee Wee)

    8. ‘Do you Dream in Cantonese?’ – The Long Road to a Competent L2 (John Guest) 

    9. Striving for Linguistic and Cultural Assimilation in Hong Kong (John C. Wakefield) 

    10. Cantonese as Seen from Japanese Eyes (Shin Kataoka)

     Part III: Cantonese as a Second Language in the Hong Kong Education System 

    11. From Oracy to Literacy: The Role of Cantonese in L2 Chinese Language Teaching (Shui Duen Chan) 

    12. The Effect of Age of Arrival to the Development of Cantonese Narrative in Ethnic Minority Children in Hong Kong (Cheung Hin Tat) 

    13. Teaching Jyutping to Non-Chinese Speaking Secondary School Students in Hong Kong (Chaak Ming Lau and Peggy Pik Ki Mok)


    John C. Wakefield received his PhD in Linguistics from the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He is an Associate Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, and has a forthcoming book titled English Loanwords in Cantonese: How their Meanings have Changed (Hong Kong University Press).