We have been here over 1 year and I’m sad to say that I don’t know more Cantonese. There are lots of reasons I haven’t learned very much, on the top of the list would be: I was busy with a newborn, homeschooling and adjusting to life over seas. Another reason we haven’t been forced to learn more of the language is that English is widely spoken here. But really I just haven’t spent much time learning the language. Cantonese has been quite intimidating to me. It is a very difficult tonal language with 6 different tones.
While Cantonese is the spoken language in HK, in China the predominant language is Mandarin which people say is a bit easier to learn (only 5 tones…only!) We have learned that since 1997 (after the hand over of HK from Britain back to China) there has been more and more Mandarin spoken here in HK. That being said we have learned a little of both but have begun to pursue learning Mandarin a bit more now. Abe is very good with languages and has been proactive in getting books and flashcards for the kids to learn Mandarin from but there is nothing like learning while speaking with someone.
We have been blessed to have a sweet young Chinese lady come and clean our apartment weekly. She is from Hong Kong and speaks Cantonese but also speaks Mandarin fluently. We have had a few impromptu Mandarin lessons with Fong when she is here. Fong has helped us learn some vocab and is patient with our pronunciation. She has also helped the boys begin writing Chinese characters. The written language is just beautiful. It was interesting to find out that there is a proper way, a correct order of each stroke in a character. The boys seem to soak it all up better than I do for sure but the learning is slow. Life and busy and full…we’ll see how much we learn. Just don’t quiz us! 🙂