Thursday, October 12, 2017

Results of Homework Submissions for Cantonese I Class: Please submit your links by this coming Monday!

Hi Gang,

[10/17/17 update: I reconsidered what I originally typed here, which constituted an ultimatum to my students who had not done the homework. I did NOT in fact issue that ultimatum during the following class, because several problem students appear to have quit the class and the vibe last night was much better, more productive, and students seemed to take the class more seriously than 2 weeks ago. Thanks to everyone for this.]

Below are the Cantonese Tones Youtube video links submitted so far by our students. So far, 10 students have done the homework.

Please remember that the purpose for this homework assignment was twofold:
  1. To give you a fun and appropriate homework assignment related to the material that we covered during our last class; and
  2. To provide extra support for those of you experiencing issues regarding the concept of 6 tones and what will be necessary for each of you personally, unrelated to anyone else in the class, to learn how these 6 tones work FOR YOUR VOICE, FOR YOUR EARS. 
Despite the limited response to this homework assignment, I have begin to provide below some of my own top choices for Youtube videos teaching the 6 tones of modern Cantonese for non-native speakers. I wanted to wait to send you all my preferred links, so I could allow all of you to actually do the assignment. Alas, that didn't happen -- so at the bottom of this entry, I will add some of my own favorite videos as I discover them over the coming days and weeks...

Links submitted so far for Youtube videos teaching the 6 tones of Cantonese, with brief notes from me when appropriate:

This is not a particularly clear video and I do NOT recommend watching this one. Thanks to the student who submitted it, but this video may confuse you if you watch it.

THIS ONE IS EXCELLENT, even though it uses a different romanization system. The sounds are the important thing. This video nails it. Brendan recommends this video!

This video was submitted by 4 students so far and also uses jyut ping, the other romanization system that we used to teach at ALESN. Even though we are teaching Yale now, this is still a good video for the sounds of the tones, with a good graphic chart for visualization of the relative pitch levels involved in the 6 tones.

This video is short, sweet and to the point. I would have exaggerated the 4 tone a bit more, as I did in class, because one mistake that many beginner Cantonese students make (myself included when I first started) was to mix up the 4 and the 6 tones (indeed, with some words, the tones are apparently interchangeable and a difference in meaning may not be recognized, according to my NYC Cantonese conversation partner Candy Chan, a native Hong Kong speaker living in NYC). This is an excellent video for all of you to play over and over again, maybe 50 times in a row. You get the audio along with the visual and a hand pointing to each tone on the chart, all in real time, all in under 30 seconds.

This video features excellent pronunciation of the 6 tones: first in order from 1 to 6 on the syllable "si," and then following this, using some off the numbers from 1 to 10 that happen to have each tone, rearranged in an order that allows for pronunciation of the syllables from 1 to 6. This is an excellent video, and it also includes a piano approximation of the tones at the end -- THOUGH I WOULDN'T LISTEN TO THIS PART IF I WERE YOU!!! In my opinion, this piano demonstration does NOT actually help in any way and might confuse you. It does NOT sound anything like the actual "functional" sound of the tones IN SPEECH. While well-intentioned, this piano section at the end of this video is crap and should be ignored by all of my students.

This is a very comprehensive and excellent video from the website Fluent Forever. IT IS THE BEST SINGLE VIDEO SUBMITTED SO FAR BY ANY STUDENT. It uses jyut6 ping3, the other romanization system that we used to use in our ALESN program -- though we have switched to Yale, based on our 3 current Cantonese textbooks. This particular video starts with an overview of Cantonese syllable pronunciation (the "big picture," so to speak), and then progresses to the tones. This video also does a FABULOUS job of explaining the high falling tone vs. the high level tone! Do not be confused by the 3 short "stop tones" described towards the end of the video, which can effectively be merged into tones 1, 3, and 6, as appropriate. I am happy to answer any questions about "the 9 tones of Cantonese" during class, but it no one brings this up, I will NOT bring this up on my own, because there is no reason to add to anyone's confusion at this point...

This is a cute, short video demonstrating the importance of proper tone pronunciation, sent by Amy Lam, one of our students who is already fluent in Cantonese and who is taking the class to learn to read Yale romanization. This video expands on the humorous mispronunciation that I mentioned between touh5 ngoh6 vs. touh5 ngo1: hungry vs. diarrhea.

This is the most recent video submitted by a student as of 10/23/17. It has the potential to be helpful, but THIS IS A HORRIBLE FIRST VIDEO FOR YOU TO WATCH IF YOU ARE TOTALLY NEW TO CANTONESE. The visualization of the tones is horribly presented. All tones are visualized as horizontal lines, even though the 2 and 5 tones are voiced as rising and the 4 tone is voiced as falling. This causes a serious disconnect for the absolute beginner viewer, who may not associate the proper pitch contours with 2, 5, and 4. In addition, tones 4, 5, and 6 are illustrated on the screen with 6 pictured above 5. Again, this could lead to a serious disconnect between the actual pitch contours of the tones for the absolute beginner student. SUMMARY: THIS VIDEO IS GARBAGE AND SHOULD BE IGNORED BY ALL OF MY BEGINNER STUDENTS AND ONLY VIEWED BY STUDENTS WHO CAN ALREADY SPEAK CANTONESE WITH ACCURATE TONES.

.  .  .

BRENDAN'S VIDEO LINK # 1: This is an excellent video, also using some of the numbers from 1 to 10 to illustrate the 6 tones. It then goes on to give sample words using tone combinations, comparing the tones in the Cantonese word for Hong Kong, for example, to the pronunciation of the Cantonese numbers 1 and then 9, which share the same tone combination of 1 and then 2.


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