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Best Language Courses for Learning Cantonese

Best Courses Cantonese

Learning Cantonese might seem a bit intimidating at first, but don’t worry – we’re here to help you find the right course that makes it a breeze. Whether you’re starting with the basics like vocabulary and pronunciation or aiming to use Cantonese in business, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we’re going to share the best resources for learning Cantonese. Naturally, we’ll also talk about courses that are decent, though not mind-blowing, and give you a heads-up on what to avoid.

We’ll break it all down, weighing the pros and cons of each Cantonese course option. Ready to dive in?

Let’s start off with our top-tier picks for learning Cantonese!

Table of Best Courses to Learn Cantonese

Links below will send you to the course websites, and the course details are down below.


OVERALL BEST

A Smart Start for Cantonese: Pimsleur

Best App-Based Course for Cantonese Learners: Ling

Solid Instruction in Cantonese: Mango Languages

Best for Picking Your Own Class: Verbling


BEGINNER COURSES

A Smart Start for Cantonese: Pimsleur

Basic Cantonese at a Cost: Transparent Language

Decent Instruction for Beginners: Mango Languages


READING AND LISTENING

Tons of Content at a Good Value: CantoneseClass101

Podcast-Style Learning for a Fee: Conversations

Read Your Favorite Content in Cantonese: LingQ


SPEAKING AND WRITING

Best for Getting You to Speak Cantonese from Day 1: Pimsleur

Good for Intermediate Students Wanting to Practice Speaking Cantonese: Glossika


VOCABULARY AND GRAMMAR

Great for Growing Your Vocabulary: Memrise

Phrase-Based Learning With Lots of Grammar Practice: Assimil


TUTORS AND LANGUAGE EXCHANGES

Accessible Tutors For Every Ability: italki

Great Way to Find Tutors and Classes: Verbling

Best Way to Find Language Exchange Partners While Taking Its Audio Lessons: HelloTalk


Overall Best Cantonese Learning Courses

These are our top four favorite resources that we recommend for anyone learning Cantonese.

A Smart Start for Cantonese Learning

Rating 4.0

Subscriptions start at $14.95/mo

LEARN ANYWHERE ANYTIME, QUICKLY

The Level 1 course in Cantonese features 16 hours of Cantonese Chinese content. Pimsleur’s audio-focused teaching style will get you speaking the language faster than other resources will. However, it’s not great for learning grammar or about the written language.

Pimsleur is a strong resource for learning many languages, and we don’t hesitate to recommend it for Cantonese. Especially for beginners, it’s a nice intro to a new language.

Pros

  • You’ll start speaking almost immediately, which jump-starts your learning.
  • The audio makes for an easy introduction to Cantonese.

Cons

  • You can’t get Cantonese via a subscription.
  • You’ll need some reading and writing supplements.

See our Super-Detailed Pimsleur Review

Best App-Based Course for Cantonese Learners

Rating 3.2

Monthly is $8.99, Annual is $79.99, Lifetime is $149.99

Visi Ling

GAMIFIED PRACTICE IN LESS COMMON LANGUAGES

Ling is a gamified language-learning app with courses on over 60 different languages. Practice happens through short-themed lessons, making for convenient and entertaining study time. It isn’t the most comprehensive resource out there, especially for more popular languages, but it can make a decent way to get started with a less common language.

Pros

  • It uses native speaker audio.
  • The activities are enjoyable and don’t become overly repetitive.
  • It’s easy to use and is visually appealing.

Cons

  • There are very few grammar explanations.
  • There are no translations for individual words.
  • Some activities can be buggy.

See our Super-Detailed Ling Review

Solid Instruction in Cantonese

Rating 3.5

$ 14.99-179.99

STRUCTURED COURSE FOR BEGINNERS

Mango Languages is a solid enough option for beginners looking for a structured and affordable course. It’s not the flashiest of courses, but it’s designed reasonably well and the lessons will get you off on the right foot.

Although it’s not particularly expensive, some libraries offer free access to Mango Languages, so it may be worth checking there.

Pros

  • Access is free via some libraries—and a subscription includes 70+ languages.
  • The stats trackers and game-like interface can be fun.
  • A good option to get started with the language.

Cons

  • The interface can get boring and kind of repetitive.
  • The translation function is meant to be a utility, but it isn’t really reliable.

See our Super-Detailed Mango Languages Review

Best for Picking Your Own Class

Rating 4.6

$ 18.00

ONLINE CLASSES WITH HELPFUL REVISION TOOLS

Verbling is an online language-class marketplace where you can take lessons with teachers of your choice. It has some student-friendly extra features, including a built-in online classroom, flashcards, homework calendar, and a filing system for lesson materials. There are also useful but disorganized forums where you can discuss languages, share writing for critique, and do free language drills and exercises. 

The lessons are generally high quality and well structured, plus the filters make it easy to find teachers who specialize in everything from accent reduction to interview preparation.  

However, it can be slightly pricier than alternatives, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look elsewhere. It also has fewer languages than some of the bigger competitors, so it might not be a good choice if you want to study Azerbaijani, Khmer, or Yoruba.

Pros

  • I quickly found great teachers.
  • The platform’s extra features, such as teacher-made, personalized flashcards, help you review the material learned in each lesson.
  • It seems focused on long-term progression as well as immediate student satisfaction.
  • You don’t have to give out your contact details, thanks to the classroom technology.

Cons

  • Some teachers don’t use the platform’s flashcards and materials system.
  • There are fewer languages available than on italki.
  • You can only pay in US dollars, plus there’s a hidden fee.
  • The forums need more moderation.

See our Super-Detailed Verbling Review

Best Cantonese Beginner’s Courses

A Smart Start for Cantonese

Rating 4.0

Subscriptions start at $14.95/mo

LEARN ANYWHERE ANYTIME, QUICKLY

The Level 1 course in Cantonese features 16 hours of Cantonese Chinese content. Pimsleur’s audio-focused teaching style will get you speaking the language faster than other resources will. However, it’s not great for learning grammar or about the written language.

Pimsleur is a strong resource for learning many languages, and we don’t hesitate to recommend it for Cantonese. Especially for beginners, it’s a nice intro to a new language.

Pros

  • You’ll start speaking almost immediately, which jump-starts your learning.
  • The audio makes for an easy introduction to Cantonese.

Cons

  • You can’t get Cantonese via a subscription.
  • You’ll need some reading and writing supplements.

See our Super-Detailed Pimsleur Review

Basic Cantonese at a Cost

Rating 2.3

$ 24.95

BASIC CANTONESE AT A COST

Transparent Language has a lot to offer in terms of total languages, but at this price point, we expected better content. We’re not huge fans of the teaching methods, which are mostly rote memorization of individual words in isolation – far from an effective way to study.

Pros

  • There are many languages available to choose from.

Cons

  • The price is way too high for what you get.
  • The teaching style is ineffective.

See our Super-Detailed Transparent Language Review

Decent Instruction for Beginners

Rating 3.5

$ 14.99-179.99

STRUCTURED COURSE FOR BEGINNERS

Mango Languages is a solid enough option for beginners looking for a structured and affordable course. It’s not the flashiest of courses, but it’s designed reasonably well and the lessons will get you off on the right foot.

Although it’s not particularly expensive, some libraries offer free access to Mango Languages, so it may be worth checking there.

Pros

  • Access is free via some libraries—and a subscription includes 70+ languages.
  • The stats trackers and game-like interface can be fun.
  • A good option to get started with the language.

Cons

  • The interface can get boring and kind of repetitive.
  • The translation function is meant to be a utility, but it isn’t really reliable.

See our Super-Detailed Mango Languages Review

Courses to Learn Cantonese Reading and Listening

Honing one’s ability in reading and listening is an essential step in improving Cantonese comprehension and overall language development. The courses below will help you enhance your Cantonese reading and listening, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner.

Tons of Content at a Good Value

Rating 4.0

$8.00/month

TONS OF CONTENT AT A GOOD VALUE

Podcast-style language learning has caught on, and for good reason. It’s a casual yet natural way to learn any language, and the rule applies to learning Cantonese, too. While we haven’t tried Cantonese, we do have experience with other courses from Innovative Language—and they all use the same format.

With CantoneseClass101, you’ll find lots of dialogue to practice with, crucial grammar discussion, and some cultural information to help round out your lessons. There’s a lot of English in the beginning, too, which can help new Cantonese speakers.

Pros

  • Tons of content—especially audio—at a decent price point.
  • The beginner level starts out with a lot of English, which can help if you’re a complete newbie to Cantonese.

Cons

  • Not a ton of written material here, so you’ll need a supplement.
  • There’s a lot of material but the pathways are a bit confusing.

June Campaign Sale! Use code 6MONTH2024 and get 45% off the 6+ Month plans. Get access to the 6, 12, or 24 months of Premium or Premium PLUS. With Premium PLUS, you also get access to your very own teacher! See details on the website. Offer ends on 6/21/24.

See our Super-Detailed CantoneseClass101 Review

Podcast-Style Learning for a Fee

$97 one-time fee for the MP3, video, transcripts, and Anki flashcard decks for each conversation

PODCAST-STYLE LEARNING FOR A FEE

Cantonese Conversations involves audio and video of real conversations in Cantonese. You’ll also get the transcripts for the conversations, so you can follow along and fill in the gaps in understanding. Also, you’ll download flashcard decks (with the Anki app) for more practice.

Pros

  • You get audio, transcripts, and flashcard practice, which helps jump-start your speaking/processing skills.
  • Everything is downloadable so you can study anywhere.
  • Real conversations from native Cantonese speakers.

Cons

  • The price is a bit steep for the content you receive—which is mostly audio and transcription documents.
  • It’s a supplemental resource, so don’t expect it to teach you everything you need.

Read Your Favorite Content in Cantonese

Rating 4.0

$ 12.99

EXTENSIVE READING MADE EASY

LingQ is a language-learning platform that focuses on extensive reading for over 30 different languages. You can import your own content or choose from the community library of books, articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, and more.

The app highlights unknown words across every lesson and makes them reviewable via different types of SRS flashcards. The more you read, the more accurately you will be able to identify content that is suitable for your level.

Although I did not find it beneficial for languages I had never studied before, I think LingQ can be helpful for upper-beginner to advanced language learners who enjoy reading. It is especially helpful if you struggle to find graded readers in your target language.

Pros

  • I can easily import almost any material I want to study.
  • I can use SRS flashcards to quiz new words from a specific page.
  • Each lesson in the library displays the percentage of known and unknown words based on my reading history.
  • There are many dictionaries to choose from for definitions.

Cons

  • Reviewing words is chaotic. Every word you look up gets added to a huge queue that quickly becomes unmanageable.
  • The extra features are overpriced and can be found other places for cheaper.
  • Very little of the content is original. Much of it was uploaded by users from other places.
  • The free version is extremely limited.

See our Super-Detailed LingQ Review

Courses With Cantonese Speaking and Writing Emphasis

Speaking and writing in Cantonese may be intimidating at first. But with lots of practice and with the help of these Cantonese courses, you will be able to communicate more effectively and enhance your Cantonese speaking and writing.

Best For Getting You To Speak Cantonese From Day 1

Rating 4.0

Subscriptions start at $14.95/mo

LEARN ANYWHERE ANYTIME, QUICKLY

The Level 1 course in Cantonese features 16 hours of Cantonese Chinese content. Pimsleur’s audio-focused teaching style will get you speaking the language faster than other resources will. However, it’s not great for learning grammar or about the written language.

Pimsleur is a strong resource for learning many languages, and we don’t hesitate to recommend it for Cantonese. Especially for beginners, it’s a nice intro to a new language.

Pros

  • You’ll start speaking almost immediately, which jump-starts your learning.
  • The audio makes for an easy introduction to Cantonese.

Cons

  • You can’t get Cantonese via a subscription.
  • You’ll need some reading and writing supplements.

See our Super-Detailed Pimsleur Review

Good For Intermediate Students Wanting to Practice Speaking

Rating 3.6

$16.99-$30.99

AUDIO INSTRUCTION BUT AT A COST

We like Glossika for learning multiple languages concurrently or in succession, but it has its drawbacks, too. Let’s start with the positives: the lessons will get you listening and speaking Cantonese. The audio is pretty robust, and there’s a lot of content.

On the downside, the price is pretty high, and we’ve found errors in some of the courses—not impressive.

Pros

  • One subscription includes all the languages.
  • There’s a lot of audio and effective repetition in each lesson.

Cons

  • We don’t love the high price point.
  • Some courses have errors, which makes the cost even harder to stomach.

See our Super-Detailed Glossika Review

Learn Cantonese Vocabulary and Grammar

Vocabulary is the basic building block of a language. It is the basis of all the areas of communication – reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The courses below have their own methods of immersing you with lots of vocabulary and grammar practice helping you improve your Cantonese. Take a look and see what fits your language learning style.

Great For Growing Your Vocabulary

Rating 4.0

$9-$120

VOCABULARY-FOCUSED COURSES

Memrise is another tool we love and has a lot of free content as well as a paid subscription.

You can study specific decks to practice skills in different areas, with the flashcard-like style working well for drills. You’ll need another resource to really round out your Cantonese lessons, but as a beginner, you’ll need to learn lots of words, and Memrise is excellent for that.

Pros

  • You can study user-created content for free—which often receives updates/new additions.
  • The flashcard format lends itself to quick study sessions.
  • Their use of a spaced repetition system ensures your study time is effective.

Cons

  • Don’t expect or try to learn every aspect of the language from Memrise.
  • The higher your Cantonese level becomes, the less useful Memrise is.

See our Super-Detailed Memrise Review

Phrase-Based Learning With Lots of Grammar Practice

Rating 4.0

$0.00

PHRASE-BASED LEARNING IN A WELL-STRUCTURED COURSE

Assimil is a French company that has been selling language-learning resources since 1929. Assimil materials are available as books, CDs, and downloadable e-courses; there are a variety of available course types, and instruction is based on interacting with phrases in the target language. The popular Sans Peine or, With Ease, courses are for absolute or false beginners that would like to reach the B2 level, but we think you’ll need to incorporate some other study materials to make this happen.

Pros

  • The audio quality is great.
  • The culture notes add a lot of value.
  • There are plenty of grammar explanations, but they aren’t a focus.

Cons

  • The mobile app isn’t super intuitive.
  • The pronunciation feedback method could be better.
  • The exercises aren’t especially engaging.

See our Super-Detailed Assimil Review

Tutors and Cantonese Language Exchange

Learning and practicing Cantonese with a native speaker has numerous advantages, including improved pronunciation, cultural understanding, fluency, and overall language proficiency. These courses are perfect if you’re looking to learn Cantonese with the help of a tutor or a native Cantonese speaker.

Accessible Tutors For Every Ability

Rating 4.5

$ 5.00

CONVENIENT TUTORING AT ALL PRICE POINTS

We love italki because you can connect with experienced instructors who meet you where you are (not literally!). The online platform lets you choose from either teachers (who usually have educational experience) or tutors (typically native speakers or those with lots of language experience) for one-on-one digital lessons.

You can schedule your sessions to fit your schedule, work on specific topics or categories, and find someone who matches your learning style and speaking ability.

Pros

  • Totally customized learning experiences.
  • You interact with a real instructor via virtual lessons, so it’s convenient yet powerful learning.
  • There’s a sense of community, with language swapping boards and more.

Cons

  • Sometimes the in-demand teachers are hard to schedule with.
  • Pricing is via italki credits, so you’ll need to load up your account to pay.

See our Super-Detailed italki Review

Great Way to Find Tutors and Classes

Rating 4.6

$ 18.00

ONLINE CLASSES WITH HELPFUL REVISION TOOLS

Verbling is an online language-class marketplace where you can take lessons with teachers of your choice. It has some student-friendly extra features, including a built-in online classroom, flashcards, homework calendar, and a filing system for lesson materials. There are also useful but disorganized forums where you can discuss languages, share writing for critique, and do free language drills and exercises. 

The lessons are generally high quality and well structured, plus the filters make it easy to find teachers who specialize in everything from accent reduction to interview preparation.  

However, it can be slightly pricier than alternatives, so if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look elsewhere. It also has fewer languages than some of the bigger competitors, so it might not be a good choice if you want to study Azerbaijani, Khmer, or Yoruba.

Pros

  • I quickly found great teachers.
  • The platform’s extra features, such as teacher-made, personalized flashcards, help you review the material learned in each lesson.
  • It seems focused on long-term progression as well as immediate student satisfaction.
  • You don’t have to give out your contact details, thanks to the classroom technology.

Cons

  • Some teachers don’t use the platform’s flashcards and materials system.
  • There are fewer languages available than on italki.
  • You can only pay in US dollars, plus there’s a hidden fee.
  • The forums need more moderation.

See our Super-Detailed Verbling Review

Best Way to Find Language Exchange Partners While Taking Its Audio Lessons

Rating 4.5

$ 6.99

MAKE FRIENDS & PRACTICE LANGUAGES

HelloTalk is a mobile app for language learners interested in language exchange. It facilitates communication between native speakers and those learning their language with the use of built-in language tools. It also offers audio lessons in 10 languages as part of a separate subscription.

Pros

  • It’s exciting to practice communicating with real people
  • The built-in language tools are helpful
  • It’s easy to pick up and put down whenever you like

Cons

  • It’s too easy to rely on google translate
  • It can be hard to find good partners
  • The paid audio lessons probably aren’t worth it

See our Super-Detailed HelloTalk Review

Maybe Try These Cantonese Learning Courses

The courses above are our favorites but they are certainly not your only options. Here are other courses that are mostly recommended and are worth looking into.

Udemy

The quality of content you’ll find on Udemy varies significantly from course to course since anyone can add a course. However, that does also lead to some interesting and unique options you won’t find elsewhere. Not surprisingly though, the majority of courses are aimed at beginners in the language.

Be sure to check through the reviews and watch any sample lessons before making a purchase.

Assimil

Assimil is a French company that has been selling language-learning resources since 1929. Assimil materials are available as books, CDs, and downloadable e-courses; there are a variety of available course types, and instruction is based on interacting with phrases in the target language. The popular Sans Peine or, With Ease, courses are for absolute or false beginners that would like to reach the B2 level, but we think you’ll need to incorporate some other study materials to make this happen.

See our Super-Detailed Assimil Review

Best Free(mium) Courses for Learning Cantonese

Learn Cantonese free with the help of these budget-friendly courses. Take your pick at our Bargain Basement section with a list of free and freemium Cantonese courses.

Old-School Resources For Dedicated Learners

OLD-SCHOOL RESOURCES FOR DEDICATED LEARNERS

While the Cantonese Learning Center website is pretty clunky, there’s good material here if you invest the time. Their downloadable e-book and accompanying audio files cover mostly beginner material, but since free is the price, there’s not a whole lot to complain about.

You can’t really argue with a free resource, but we do have to note that there isn’t much content for intermediate to advanced Cantonese speakers. Therefore, the scope of this course is a bit limited.

Pros

  • You can study in-browser from anywhere you have Wi-Fi or download the materials to take them on the go.
  • The courses are completely free.

Cons

  • The materials are quite dated and the format is totally old-school.
  • Intermediate to advanced Cantonese speakers may not find much to work with here.

Dusty But Decent

FSI

Rating 4.3

Free

FREE AND THOROUGH BUT DATED

The primary highlight with FSI is the fact that it’s free. But these old-school resources leave a bit to be desired, even though Cantonese is hardly the only language available via FSI. You’ll find a student text (two volumes) and over 23 hours of downloadable audio.

It’s nice that you can print the text if you want, or download it to use as an e-book, but the materials are very dusty. The age shows—and there’s nothing new or innovative about this learning style. That said, it might work for serious learners who are ready to buckle down.

Pros

  • It’s totally free and downloadable.
  • You have both audio and text components, which is helpful for beginners especially.

Cons

  • The materials are super old.
  • There’s nothing really fun about learning with FSI—just a textbook.

A Free-For-All of Language Learning

A range of price points, but courses often go on sale for an average of $10/each

CUSTOM LEARNING FOR EVERY LEVEL

The quality of content you’ll find on Udemy varies significantly from course to course since anyone can add a course. However, that does also lead to some interesting and unique options you won’t find elsewhere. Not surprisingly though, the majority of courses are aimed at beginners in the language.

Be sure to check through the reviews and watch any sample lessons before making a purchase.

Pros

  • If you do buy a course, you get lifetime access (and a money-back guarantee via Udemy).
  • Courses go on sale regularly, so you won’t need to pay much more than $10.

Cons

  • There aren’t many Cantonese courses to begin with.
  • Many courses are relatively low quality.

Most Useful Free Flashcard Vocabulary Builder

Rating 4.1

Free

THE GO-TO SRS FLASHCARD APP

This powerful SRS flashcard app is one of the most used, and not just for languages. It is the go-to app for free (except on iOS) Spaced Repetition System (SRS) flashcards. It has a simple user interface with various features that more hard-core users can dive into if they choose. Your flashcards will appear according to your natural forgetting curve; the app will test you in increasingly spaced out intervals, with more difficult cards appearing more than once in a session, while easier cards spacing out over weeks — or even months and years.

Pros

  • Offers a wide range of features.
  • Allows synching across multiple devices.

Cons

  • Anki’s interface may be a bit intimidating for beginners.
  • The aesthetic isn’t very appealing.

See our Super-Detailed Anki Review

Convenient, Gamified Practice for Beginners

Rating 4.0

$ 0.00

FREE GAMIFIED COURSE

Duolingo is a super popular free language-learning app. It’s available for desktop as well as mobile and offers over 90 different language courses in over 20 different languages — there are currently 35 languages with English instruction. The Duolingo approach is gamified and easy to use, but the bite-sized lessons don’t offer much in the way of in-depth practice. The Duolingo tag line is “Learn a language in just five minutes a day.”

Pros

  • The short lessons are ideal for quick, convenient practice
  • The game-like features make the exercises engaging and fun
  • The community aspect is motivating

Cons

  • There’s no opportunity to create your own sentences
  • Grammar instruction isn’t part of the lessons
  • Text-to-speech audio is sometimes low quality

See our Super-Detailed Duolingo Review

So, What are the Best Courses for YOU to Learn Cantonese?

It can be a challenge to learn Cantonese, but having the right resources can make a significant difference. Most of the time, it is necessary to take advantage of multiple resources to help you better in your language learning journey. A lot of the Cantonese courses on our list are really useful but are much more effective when paired with other resources or learning methods. Make sure to check our list of best podcasts to learn Cantonese if you want to consider podcasts as another resource option.

Whichever language skill you want to focus on more, there’s definitely a course to help you. Given the many choices out there, you’re bound to find one or two that will work perfectly for you. Don’t see your favorite course on this list? Let us know about it!

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