While Ling was doing research into developing its language app, they were stunned when they discovered there was no Cantonese on Babbel. Today, we will look at some reasons why that might be and some alternatives to Babbel. If you are ready for that, then let’s get started!
What Is Cantonese?
Cantonese is on the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages tree. The language is closely tied to the city of Guangzhou(formerly Canton). It is a valuable part of the cultural identity of people in Southeast China and is closely related to the region’s politics.
Is Mandarin close to Cantonese? Sort of. The two share a lot of vocabulary; however, a person speaking Mandarin in Beijing would not be understood by someone in Hong Kong speaking Cantonese and vice versa. The reasons for this are that the two languages have different phonology, and also the placement of the verbs in sentences is different.
Why Is There No Cantonese On Babbel?
Why exactly is there no Babbel Cantonese course? This is a strange one. Usually, when we do similar articles to this, it is easy to say why Babbel has chosen not to include a language. Often that reason comes down to the raw demographics. It takes just as long to develop an Albanian course as a Spanish course. But what is a language learning app going to choose? The demographic with 500 million speakers or the demographic with 5 million?
This is why not including Cantonese is so strange. There are 60 million speakers! That’s a huge market.
Another reason we often hear is that even if a language has a lot of speakers, perhaps those speakers aren’t valuable from an economic perspective. A lot of the Indian languages are like this. They have massive amounts of speakers, but perhaps those speakers are mainly in the countryside where tourists and businesses don’t go.
However, again, this is not the case with Cantonese. The area formerly known as Canton includes places like Macau and Hong Kong- some of the most economically developed places in the world.
For me, that leaves 2 possible reasons. The first is that although we said all language courses take the same amount of time to make, this technically is only half true. Babbel is a german company, and their courses are written in Latin script. To develop Cantonese, they’d have to find a way first to teach learners the Chinese characters.
The second and most likely is that Cantonese is really difficult to learn from an English base. More on that now.
What Is The FSI?
The FSI stands for foreign service institute, and they have been studying languages and language learners for 70 years. They categorize the time it takes students to reach PWP or ‘Professional Working Proficiency.’
They have four categories:
Category 1- 24-30 weeks. 600-750 class hours. Languages such as French and Spanish
Category 2- 30 weeks. A little strangely, only German is listed in this category.
Category 3- 36 weeks. 900 class hours. Languages such as Indonesian and Malaysian.
Category 4- 44 weeks. 1100 class hours. Many languages such as Thai, Russian and Finnish.
Category 5- 88 weeks. 2200 class hours. Languages such as Mandarin and Cantonese.
In fact, there are only 5 languages in this category in total. So you can see now why the app doesn’t include Cantonese. Most language learners simply aren’t motivated enough to continue when the time it takes is so vast.
Alternatives To Babbel For Learning The Cantonese Language
- Youtube. There is tons of material on Youtube for learning Cantonese. With some of the smaller languages, it can be difficult to find content, but as we’ve discussed, Cantonese is such a widely spoken language there are 100s of content creators. Here are a few we’d recommend. 5 minute Cantonese and Learn Cantonese with Cantonese class 101.com. The most important thing about learning on Youtube is becoming an active community member.
- Teaching Cantonese with Preply. As much as we like to imagine that an app or a book is enough. Eventually, to really get to the top level, you need to work on your conversation skills with native Cantonese speakers. The spontaneity of conversation is so vital for pushing you to the limit of your capabilities, and it’s at this outer limit that growth occurs. Again, this is also a great way to be involved in a community. You’ll find that if you have different teachers, they’ll have students who want to build a community. Only a few connections really develop your network. Prices range between about $10 and $30.
- Learn Chinese Cantonese With Ling’s Cantonese lessons
Learning Chinese Cantonese With Ling
Ling is the best place in the App Store and Play Store to study a Cantonese course.
Most importantly is our writing system. We teach you the Cantonese Chinese characters, which is crucial if you want to read and write. However, it isn’t just passively looking at symbols. Our system is interactive, and you trace the outline on your screen.
There is also listening practice with native speakers meaning you don’t come away with a false accent. With our flashcards, you can learn everything from basic Cantonese phrases to medical problems to space travel. Speak with our chatbot, which is the next best thing to hiring a tutor. Also, learn grammar with our basic grammar guides. Basic is not bad. We don’t want to flood you with grammar that is already complicated.
This blog is updated weekly. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no dedicated Cantonese blog. However, we have blogs on many different languages, including other major languages, Korean, Lao, and Thai.
(N.B) We also have 60 other languages to choose from