Cantonese lessons


Are Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese the same?

The characters

Although their characters share the same origins, Mandarin characters have become simplified. Cantonese characters are more complex as more strokes are used to write them. The word ‘dragon’, for example, features sixteen strokes in the Cantonese character system, whereas in Mandarin, only five strokes are used. BiCortex Cantonese lessons will help you understand the differences in more detail.

Geographical differences

Mandarin is the official language of China. Cantonese, however, is Hong Kong’s main language, although it is also spoken in some areas of China, such as the Guangdong Province, the Guangxi Province and also Macao.

Tonal differences

Mandarin and Cantonese are both tonal languages, meaning one word can have several meanings, depending on which tone is used to express it. However, while Mandarin has five different possible tones, Cantonese has nine. Since meaning is conveyed with tones, it is not possible to avoid learning them.


Chinese is a language rich in idioms and proverbs. At times, the literal translation of Chinese expressions into English can have comical results. It may also be surprising to note that the same is also true for translations between Mandarin and Cantonese. Often, an expression which exists in Mandarin, will not exist in Cantonese and vice versa.

Why take Cantonese lessons?

Job opportunities

Hong Kong, where Cantonese is more widely spoken than Mandarin, is an international business hub. Given its proximity to key Asian markets, it is no surprise that 9,000 businesses have a presence there.

Learn Mandarin

Belonging to the Sino-Tibetan family, a family of over 400 languages, Cantonese is a gateway to other languages. Although there are differences between them, Cantonese and Mandarin are also similar. Once you have learnt Cantonese, you can begin to easily recognise and understand Mandarin words and characters.

Improve your musical abilities

Attuning your ear to the Cantonese tones will enhance your musical talents, helping you to distinguish between notes. You may also wish to use songs as a means to improve your language abilities. Songs, with their catchy tunes, are easy to remember and invite repetition without becoming boring.