Monday, October 16, 2017

Welcome to all new Cantonese II Saturday Workshop/Class Students: Summary and Homework for our first class

Hi Gang,

Welcome and thanks for signing up for my brand new Cantonese II workshop or class -- whichever it winds up becoming, in which we will have some fun learning the vocabulary, dialogues and grammar materials of FSI Cantonese Basic Course Volume 2, beginning with Lesson 16.


This past Saturday was our first class, and indeed the first time that I have ever taught this class. As I mentioned to the 6 of you in attendance, if I am able to gather 7 or 8 (or more) TOTAL students by week 4 of this class, we will continue every week from 5:30-6:30 pm for the rest of the academic year as a regular ALESN class. If not, I will probably make a decision to end after 4 sessions and we can consider this some kind of intermediate-level conversation workshop.

After a brief introduction, I jumped right into Lesson 16, beginning with the Vocabulary on page 16. If you have not already, please scan below in this same blog category, click on the link and download your FREE textbook and mp3s. I was encouraged that 50% of the class already had the book this past Saturday. Everyone else, please download and bring or print the PDF of the book (or at least Lesson 16) next Saturday.

Because this is the first lesson and I don't really know what people will struggle with or perhaps need to work on (and maybe there won't really be anything too hard in this lesson, since most of the students are ethnically Chinese and already speak Cantonese to varying degrees with family and friends), I won't spend much time this week pointing out any specific vocabulary items -- other than to suggest that you should all memorize the vocabulary for Lesson 16. These are good words, even if you don't have any interest in playing Mahjong or going swimming.

Following a review of vocabulary, I read the Recapitulation of the dialogue and asked you all to listen. Everyone pretty much seemed to understand the gist of what I read and most people also picked up on the specifics of the conversation as well. This was an excellent sign. Yay.

From here, we went through the Build Up section, where I read phrases and sentences at a time rather than entire lines of dialogue at a time. With one exception, everyone was able to repeat everything I said without issue, which was very encouraging.

This means that you are all at the right level in our ALESN curriculum, and that you might want to also consider taking Hung's Cantonese 2 class earlier on Saturdays, if you have time. He uses a different, in some ways more advanced, textbook with very interesting dialogues and vocabulary. This past Saturday, for example, he covered a conversation about fashion, specifically about purchasing a hat in a women's clothing store.

Topics of interest in our own Lesson 16 Dialogue 1 will be covered below in the INSIGHTS section of this blog entry.


In order of their appearance in the dialogue, let me point out some items of interest that you should all pay attention to, some of which we will cover as specific grammar items next week:
  • GWO3 HOI2 = "cross the sea" = traveling from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon or vice versa via Star Ferry, etc.
  • HAAHNG4 GUNG1 SI1 = "walk store or shopping mall" = window shopping
  • DA2 FO2 GEI1 = "hit fire machine" = old style Zippo lighter for smoking. Don't you love how Chinese words are put together? As an outsider learning this language at ALESN and on my own, I am always fascinated by the words that Chinese people have created to explain Western concepts and items. Another great one is the word for roller coaster (not covered in this lesson), which translates to "across or through the mountain car" -- which is exactly what a roller coaster does, if you think about it...
  • Mouh5 maaih5 dou3 daih6 yi6 di1 yeh5 aah4? The use of AAH4 as a sentence final question particle expressing a rhetorical or "you didn, did you?" or "that's right, isn't it?" meaning.
  • The use of LAIH4 as a verb particle to express 2 possible sentiments, the first being that someone did something different than the other person expected when he or she asked a question about it. We will explain this more during our next class. At least one student had a question about this at the end of class this past Saturday, so let me leave this one until we officially cover the grammar point in the text next week. To be honest, though I was familiar with this use of LAIH4 (or LEIH4), I don't know that I officially learned it as a grammar point during my own Cantonese studies (which continue to this day, of course). I am looking forward to teaching this point next week so that I myself can be very clear about it going forward -- both when using it in my own speech and when explaining it to students.
  • In case it is new for you, remember that CHEUT1 is one of several possible measure words for a movie or film.
  • We kind of glossed over the rest of the conversation because we ran out of class time, so let me leave off here until the next blog entry.

 Since this was our first class, your homework is simple:
  1. Download the free textbook and the accompanying 20 or so hours of mp3s from the link below in this same blog category, from the previous entry for your class.
  2. IF YOU NEED TO, please listen to the mp3 for Lesson 16, so you can practice your listening comprehension for this dialogue. Even if you feel that you don't necessarily need the practice, I still recommend that everyone listen to this 30 minute long mp3 because it will give you a chance to preview the substitution and other drills that we will begin next week to support the vocabulary and grammar points of this lesson.
  3. Everyone in class should get yourself ONE Cantonese movie with English (or Chinese if you can read AND UNDERSTAND THEM) subtitles that you will enjoy watching over and over AND OVER again for the rest of the time that I teach this class, to assist with your listening comprehension process for the vocabulary and phrases that we will be learning. You would be surprised how much of this lesson material appears in your average Jackie Chan movie or in Disney's Frozen in Cantonese or whatever DVD or Youtube video you might choose. Intermediate level language is intermediate level language, and the odds are very high, for example, once you internalize the usage of LAIH4 as a verb particle in either of the 2 applications that we will learn next week, that you begin hearing this in a Harry Potter movie in Cantonese -- or certainly while eavesdropping on various random conversations in and around Chinatown.
Thanks and see everyone next week!

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