FSI Cantonese Basic Course

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What is the FSI Cantonese Basic Course?

Mandarin Chinese has by far the largest number of native speakers in the world, and, after English, it is also the world’s second most widely spoken tongue. For this reason, there is an abundance of study materials to choose from for anyone hoping to learn it.

Cantonese, on the other hand, is not so commonly studied, and consequently, the resources you can turn to are far more limited. For this reason, this FSI Cantonese course is an invaluable source of learning materials for anyone who wants to try it.

It teaches the “prestige” variety of Cantonese that is spoken in the city of Guangzhou (formerly Canton), and it provides a wealth of text and audio for you to use.

This course first appeared in 1970, and it contains enough material for around 400 hours of classroom time, consisting of 30 lessons and accompanied by many hours of authentic audio.

How was FSI Cantonese Basic originally used?

These course materials were originally created to teach US diplomatic staff the language before being sent on postings to Cantonese speaking areas. Students were expected to spend around six hours in class each day, and they were supposed to supplement this with a further two hours per day of individual study.

From the beginning, they spoke only Cantonese in class, and even outside of lesson time, they were supposed to speak Cantonese among themselves. In this way, in a short period of under six months, they were able to attain a relatively high level of proficiency in the language.

How can you use FSI Cantonese Basic?

Of course, it will probably be impossible for you to recreate anything like the perfect study environment enjoyed by US diplomats studying this course. However, FSI Cantonese represents a comprehensive introduction to the language, and if you know how to adapt the materials, you can still benefit greatly.

If you have another coursebook, you can use these materials to supplement your learning, helping you improve your fluency while also increasing your stock of vocabulary.

Alternatively, you could use the FSI Cantonese course as your primary study materials while using any other resources you can find to supplement your learning.

For further details on how to make the best use FSI Basic courses, please check out our accompanying post here for more study tips and advice.

Taking it further

However you decide to employ these course materials, you can’t learn a language from books alone. The most fun part of learning a language is using it, and as soon as you can, you should also begin to look for opportunities to practice your Cantonese with native speakers.

After beginning this free online Cantonese course, try to find ways of incorporating Cantonese into your daily life – and very soon, you will begin to realize just how quickly you are making progress.

Volume 1

Student Text

Lesson 01 Tape 1 Tape 2 Lesson 09 Tape 1 Tape 2
Lesson 02 Tape 1 Tape 2 Lesson 10 Tape 1 Tape 2
Lesson 03 Tape 1 Tape 2 Lesson 11 Tape 1 Tape 2
Lesson 04 Tape 1 Tape 2 Lesson 12 Tape 1 Tape 2
Lesson 05 Tape 1 Tape 2 Lesson 13 Tape 1 Tape 2
Lesson 06 Tape 1 Tape 2 Lesson 14 Tape 1 Tape 2
Lesson 07 Tape 1 Tape 2 Lesson 15 Tape 1 Tape 2
Lesson 08 Tape 1 Tape 2    

Volume 2

Student Text

Lesson 16 Tape Lesson 24 Tape
Lesson 17 Tape Lesson 25 Tape
Lesson 18 Tape Lesson 26 Tape
Lesson 19 Tape Lesson 27 Tape
Lesson 20 Tape Lesson 28 Tape
Lesson 21 Tape Lesson 29 Tape
Lesson 22 Tape Lesson 30 Tape
Lesson 23 Tape