Rapid, fun, effective, painless Cantonese

South China Morning Post: One Hongkonger's simple yet genius method that makes learning Cantonese as easy as 'Do-Re-Mi'

I’ve learned more Cantonese in the last 10 minutes than I’ve learned in the last 10 years of living here”

“Sitting across from Tiff was the first time it felt not only interesting but also fun and totally feasible”

“I love your system – so much more intuitive and logical than Jyutping/Yale ridiculousness”

“More useful than any textbook and fundamentally easier to understand, too. Brilliant”

“Chantoneasy almost magically ‘hacks’ your existing skills to rapidly accelerate picking up Cantonese

Rapid, fun, effective, painless Cantonese

Too busy for long drawn-out courses?
Guaranteed fastest way to speak Cantonese

Struggling with those tones? Not being understood due to mispronunciation?
Get it right from the start — painlessly and instantly

Finding Chinese lessons boring and dull?
Chantoneasy’s active style makes learning fun, entertaining, and engaging

For individual and group lessons contact

THE Chantoneasy STORY

Hi! My name is Tiff Chan, a Hong Kong-born, international school-raised award-winning multimodal artist who in 2015, went to Berkeley California to pursue Dance Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy after finding IEATA (International Expressive Arts Therapy Association) in 2013, and was tired of getting by with freelance jobs in the arts. I wanted to finally find my career in alignment with my 'ikigai' (a Japanese concept that brings together what we love, what we are good at, and what the world needs).

One afternoon, a spontaneous Cantonese class for Sebastião (my housemate at the time) to woo his lover, sparked off a chain of 'eureka realisations' to make Cantonese immediately accessible. We only had half an hour and he had to get it right, sounds and tones intact, if he didn't want to get slapped or ditched! The pressure was on! The eureka moments panned out something like this:


  • How can he have bang-on accurate tones?— Make it visual. Make it clear. Use existing references.

  • Which references?—How about music? Lines to show the levels. How about symbols like in Putonghua Mandarin. How come Putonghua pinyin is so clear and efficient? I wonder if we can connect to and re-adapt the Putonghua symbols to include Cantonese. Some of the tones are the same, like the top tone and the higher sliding tone!

  • Oh my goodness they span the same vocal range, even though they sound so different!

  • I can add the actual words onto the tone chart so you can just read the words as they go up and down the tonal scale, and pitch your voice and tones accordingly!

  • Let's re-spell the words. Spell them any way we like, in a way that finally resembles the actual sounds that are pronounced, not some butchered anglicised way that reduces and renders the words unrecognisable when spoken!


That day, we had a lot of fun, and I had to let Sebastião go teach his class, and I went home, la-di-da. I went on with my work in dance therapy and such. But the Chantoneasy work kept going by itself in my mind, completely independently to everything else I was doing. It began to have a life of its own!!!

And that was how it all started in 2015.

Why the name "Chantoneasy" and not "Cantoneasy"?—because when the 'eureka' moments first happened, I was cycling up and down 'The Channing Way' in Berkeley everyday, and it conjured up ideas to carry my family name to honour my grandfather's brother, 陳皮 or Chan Pei, a prolific musical film director in Hong Kong in the 40s as one of the only members of the family who pursued an arts career, and also because in French, chanter means 'to sing', which signifies the connection of speech, especially in tonal languages, to singing. French was one of my earliest language inspirations, since my father was a Double Major in French and German, and brought it to my attention from a young age. Easy peasy, Chantoneasy, Cantoneasy, they're all related! By the time I heard about Chineasy while on my research residency at Poly U in 2017, I had already been using Chantoneasy, and I didn't want to change my name just because they were similar. I felt there was no harm in the associations.

"After all, the name of the language itself, tells us that we
'can - tone - (with) ease' >> Cantonese!!"

When I realised this, that this was already encoded in the name of the language, my mind was blown! It was like a code that we needed to excavate more and more, to discover what other treasures we may reveal or be directed to. And treasures there were! Read more about the Chantoneasy applications to world languages.

Who is Chantoneasy for?

  • People who resonate with the arts—with the use of a therapeutic and creative mindset of finding the best ways that you as an individual would learn, with attention to the modality you are most receptive to, whether through visuals, listening, speaking, or active interaction for example, and whether your notes need colours, shapes and lines to strategically prompt things you need to remember or pay attention to

  • People who are musically-inclined—the tools connect to concrete musical references, such as to do-re-mi and the manuscript for reading music. However this is just ONE of the references, and you do not have to have ANY musical background. Do-re-mi can easily be replaced by numbers, or simply the concept of levels (like stairs).

  • People who benefit from or need personal attention—and want personalised connection and relevant examples related to your personal experiences, in the way that acknowledges particular thoughts and feelings around challenges you face in previous attempts in learning languages, whether Cantonese, other tonal languages, or something else, and feel left behind or would lose interest in group settings

Or if you:

  • have tried other methods or felt exhausted from taking various courses from short-term intensives to bone-dry repetitive drills using tone numbers and existing systems that haven’t been sufficiently tailored to the needs of learners who come from the world over

  • are bored and tired of dense worksheets and teachers who can’t or don’t really attune to the students

  • can follow your own curiosity and be self-driven

  • are willing to confront all blocks that come or emerge along the process

  • are determined to get the sounds and tones right, so you are understood 100% of the time with every accumulated word you learn even if only one by one — instead of learning 100 words and only being understood 20–40% of the time which of course will leave you feeling aggravated, exhausted and wanting to give up

  • want to speak the language with ease, fun, and flow, accurately with the right tones and sounds from the very beginning (not after finally being corrected years later)

CHantoneasy tools are useful for:


How Chantoneasy works

Chantoneasy is a radically more effective approach to language with instant access — instead of weeks, months or years.

Tonal languages can be very difficult to learn using traditional teaching methods. Minimise your learning time using the clear, direct, and intuitive Chantoneasy system of tools, and be able to say what you need to say in the most accurate way, in the least amount of time.

Chantoneasy accelerates learning by integrating a uniquely wide battery of psychologically engaging techniques:

  • visual — spatially showing learners the relationship and movement between the tones of different words, and their melodic flow, provides total clarity plus tools for tonal practice

  • tactile (touch) — physical reinforcement is a crucial element for addressing tonal unfamiliarity and apparent ‘tone deafness’, stimulating learners to develop embodied mind-voice connection

  • kinaesthetic (movement) — simple mnemonic gestures that integrate tone, sound and word meaning, offer an easy way to overcome mind-voice disconnection and naturally remember words instead of forcing learners through pressure and numbing repetition

  • creative — learners are inspired to connect their own associations and ideas to the sounds, and with the configuration of tone-sound-meaning-action/gesture for each word

  • musical — references to music offer additional familiarity and accessibility to learners, even to those who claim to be non-musical but then discover they do still appreciate and understand basic aspects of music

  • intuitive, embodied, holistic — every part of the learner’s experience is considered and questioned in what connections, contributions and resistances might emerge or exist

These techniques are integrated into Chantoneasy’s pioneering set of intuitive, multimodal tools that can be used to access, transcribe and learn languages in natural ways that enable users to accurately reproduce native tones with clarity and ease. Besides using customised romanisation to effortlessly illustrate the sound of each word, a simple 2-line musical stave visually shows the tone of each word according to the first 5 notes of the solfeggio music scale (do-re-mi-fa-so). Learners can simply follow the tonal scale, saving the extra mental effort of having to remember the clumsy tone marks or numbers used by the Yale or Jyutping systems, which has often put people off learning Cantonese. To further assist the distinguishing of tonal variations of the words, learners are encouraged to reinforce the position of each tone with physical, tactile sensing, in order to facilitate embodied mind-voice coordination. Every aspect of language access and learning is also supported by a wide range of multidisciplinary psychological, educational, and creative resources and interventions.

The Chantoneasy method:

  • activates the senses

  • incorporates imagination and personal association

  • lets you choose what works best for you

  • helps you form your own adaptive integration and customisation

  • augments the best of existing systems, to bust myths and confusion

  • makes the tones far more accessible than you think

  • prioritises correct pronunciation to master speaking first

  • lets you never feel daunted by the sound of any new word again

  • is imbued with fun, humour and anecdotes from different countries and cultures

  • shows how shamelessly familiar and accessible the sounds actually can be

  • integrates the use of both sides of the brain

LEARNing format—1:1 teaching


      • Fixed price for one hour classes

      • Online or in-person

      • Current best offer is $500HKD per week, for up to 2 separate classes, to encourage you to follow up on your learning more than once every week


      • Customised teaching with support of worksheets, notes, and recordings specifically for your purpose, in your preferred personal method of learning.

      • Notes on tone paper or with symbols and gestures, immediately applicable to your situation.

Time and Location:

  • Monday to Saturday times available, am/pm.

  • Last class: 7pm

  • Usually at locations such as at a cafe or restaurant with tables that allow us to stay for at least an hour, or where we can arrange a suitable hired venue

Teaching content

Content will vary according to your learning style, speed and experience, adapting to how much you are willing to use and practice in your everyday life.

Strictness in accuracy in pronunciation will also be adjusted according to your sensitivity, receptivity and determination (to surrender/ relax into the right shapes or processes!).



  • NUMBERS (addresses, dates, money/currency, shopping, stats, etc)








  • Busting the 9-tone myth and giving you an abundance of tools for reorganising and re-invigorating existing learning material or customising new material, according to your needs, in a way that would be fun and interesting

  • Streamlining your learning through breaking down the various types of romanisation and notation methods, honing in on what works for you

What students say about Chantoneasy

I’ve learned more Cantonese in the last 10 minutes than I’ve learned in the last 10 years of living in Hong KongMax Marshall (Scotland) Disney

Within my first hour I was blown away by how intuitive the system was. The combination of physical actions, creative association, and a simple “do-re-mi” technique made it a lot less painful than I thought. Tiff is also extremely patient and encouraging. Would recommend this 100% to anyone with an interest in learning CantoneseMiguel Mari (Spain) Creative Director, Tatler Asia Group

It’s brilliant how effectively Chantoneasy shortcuts the pain of learning Cantonese, when compared to how grueling it was for me to learn through a yearlong intensive university Cantonese program. The Chantoneasy system almost magically “hacks” your existing skills to rapidly accelerate picking up Cantonese pronunciation, instead of the repetitive drilling we had to do just to learn the tones, three hours every day for an entire month. I wish Chantoneasy had existed when I was learning Cantonese — Prof. De Kai (USA) Human Language Technology Center, Computer Science & Engineering, HKUST, Founding Fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Tiff’s system is brilliantly and intuitively designed for the Cantonese beginner, with a unique approach to teaching tone, where the musical scale is mapped onto the human hand. Tiff will hold your hand until you’re ready to walk on your own [metaphorically!] Tiff is a professional, and very personable teacher, who has been unfailingly supportive and helpful. I recommend her highlyProf. Darryl Sterk (Canada) Department of Translation, Lingnan University Hong Kong

The idea of learning Cantonese has always felt daunting. Sitting across from Tiff was the first time it felt not only interesting but also fun and totally feasible — Dr. Robert Alexander (USA) CEO / Co-founder, AuraLab

I met Tiff at an event and she taught me her method of learning the tones on the palm of my hand and within 5 minutes taught me how to count to 10 in Cantonese – correct tones and everything. So amazing! She made it so fun and easy!! — Chiara D’Cruz (India) Consultant, PwC

I've grown up and lived in HK for 18 years in total ignorance about the Cantonese language. I have always felt that I don't get learning second languages, I've always felt awkward and unintuitive at it. But hand-on-heart just spent 1 hour with Tiff and, through a series of "A-ha!" Moments, I'm finally beginning to understand. More useful than any textbook and fundamentally easier to understand, too. Brilliant — Alex Hale (UK) Geoscientist

Tiff is a super enthusiastic teacher. If you are struggling with the tones (who doesn’t ?!) Tiff is a perfect fit for you. Tiff’s method is like no other, it will make you hear and understand the difference. Her unique approach is fun and accessible. Yay to no more accidental swearing — Gedvile Bunikyte (Lithuania) Fitness Professional, Contemporary Artist, Gymnast, Dancer

It’s given me the confidence to start conversations in Cantonese rather than in English. The way I remember the tones at the moment is where they are on the chart – their positions and relationships to each other on the scale. It’s in my visual memory. It’s interesting, just becoming more aware of the relationships, the words flow better instead of them running into each other. Tiff's method is logical and quick to master. I first learned my Cantonese over thirty years ago but have never developed the confidence to use it until now. I even find myself translating road signs into Chantoneasy and have started looking out for characters I recognise. Lessons are structured to suit my needs and I always look forward to them. For the first time, I can pick out the tones when I hear people speaking and have even taken to chatting in supermarket queues and at the dry cleaners — Sandy Pescod (UK) former Head of Science and Physics/Science Teacher, English Schools Foundation

I love your system – so much more intuitive and logical than Jyutping / Yale ridiculousness. I hope this catches on and revolutionizes Canto teaching! — Robyn Crowter (UK) Litigation Lawyer

This week I had the pleasure of starting my 'next' Chinese language course with Tiff Chan. Though I have long understood the importance of learning languages phonetically, I've never formally been blessed with a teacher who actually makes that effective. BUT this time round it's a joy to know I can learn with a fabulous teacher who makes it super interesting and satisfies my inner geek — Jacqueline Faulkner (UK) Permaculture Specialist, Community Manager, Sohofama

My husband and I have been absolutely loving our classes with Tiff. We’ve lived in Hong Kong our whole lives and were so embarrassed at the level of our Cantonese. Just a few classes in, we felt the language coming alive in new ways and we finally understood tones (!) The Chantoneasy method is much simpler to follow than others we’ve tried in the past and makes you feel like it’s easy to dive in and try. Our confidence has definitely improved and we find ourselves actively looking for opportunities to speak the language in our daily lives. Tiff herself is patient and creative and a pleasure to learn from. We cannot recommend her and these classes highly enough! — Cruzanne Macalligan (UK) RTHK Radio Host, Poet, Scriptwriter, Comedian

A fun and easy way to learn Cantonese without being stuck on the tones! Plus, Tiff tailors the content to your interests and needs which is so helpful! My husband and I took Cantonese lessons with Tiff and it was an awesome experience. We quickly learned the basics, so now we can count and deal with money, greet people, and most importantly know what food we're ordering and order two beers Her approach makes learning the tones really easy. And loved that the lessons were tailored to what we wanted to learn. Highly recommend Tiff's classes! — Amanda Cook (USA) Founder of Wellpreneur, Author, Entrepreneur

Tiff is really a great teacher and you'll learn Cantonese like never before. She is so creative that you'll never be bored of learning a new language! — Marion De Sousa (France) Tattoo Artist, Senior Regional Business Manager, Marketing Manager

Tiff has cleverly invented her own simple system for learning the tricky tones in Cantonese. She’s also developed a more easy-to-read spelling system. After just a few classes with her, I’m able to understand much more of the conversations around me and had the courage to start speaking in Cantonese. She’s a dedicated teacher who doesn’t let any mistakes go by without correcting them, which is exactly what I want in a teacher, and always has inventive ways of helping me remember the right pronunciation and tone. I’d highly recommend her to anyone beginning their Cantonese journey! — Mel Patching (USA) Writer, Editor, Storyteller, Content Manager

The hand movements, the music staff and the symbols make hitting the tones so much easier. Without them it would be like walking in a maze blindfolded — Stephen Leung (Philippines/HK) Graphic Designer

It has definitely been a great basis that has helped my Cantonese skills. Without being able to dedicate too much time to proper study, I have still been able to learn and use new words in my daily life. This is especially useful in family gathering environments as my partner’s family can’t speak English. Highly recommended! — Aymeric Vollant (France) Co-founder of IKIGAI and HK Solar Sound System, Entrepreneur, DJ

I like that we can use music notes to remember the tones and use suggestions of objects or ideas to remember the words, feels like learning for a song or a play — Sophie Zwingelski (France) Fashion Marketing

I am half Chinese and half English, although I grew up in Hong Kong I struggled with learning Cantonese. Tiff’s method opens up new possibilities for writing the language without using characters. She also creates an open and encouraging space for learning which makes language flow and builds confidence — Laura Zhang (UK/HK) Artist, Founder & Director, 宀 (Mihn) Gallery

Tiff is a fabulous teacher! She brings enthusiasm and energy to the lesson and makes learning fun. I love her approach to Cantonese – trying to make it intuitive for those whose ears and brains aren’t familiar with the language. I’d highly recommend Tiff! — Becky Light (UK)

Looks like Tiff has discovered something wonderful here!!!!! Teaching accurate pronunciation quickly and easily, using phonetics and what has been described as kinaesthetics by some! Bravo, Tiff!!! — Dina-Anukampana Das (India) Sanskrit Pronunciation Specialist, Personality Development Trainer, Bhagavata Dharma Preacher

I haven't studied the traditional way of learning Cantonese but it sounds very scary, all the tones and things, and when I look up this way of learning and try to sing it, I feel it's so enjoyable it actually makes me want to learn it, so I'm very happy I have discovered this, thank you! — Oriana Matthies (Venezuela/Germany) Fashion Design, Tzuri Gueta

Learning the tones is such an integral part of learning vocabulary and seeing it written down helps to remember the tone of each word. It clarifies everything and makes it a pleasure to learn and much easier to review and practice afterwards — Anna Bate (UK) Examiner for IELTS

I’ve found this Cantonese class the most realistic of all the Cantonese classes I’ve attended to date. Realistic I say because of its very sensible explanation of the tones of the language, making the analogy to the human hand, an item that is always handy — Graeme Morris (UK) Musician

Chantoneasy is an innovative system in learning Cantonese for Westerners. It combines music melodies, a specially designed symbol intonation system and phonetics. Since it is quite difficult for western people to get the correct intonation in speaking Cantonese, the Chantoneasy system makes it easy for people who have no idea about Cantonese speaking and could make them speak more like the local Chinese. It's a super user-friendly-designed system that requires no special knowledge in pronunciation. Bravo! — Daniel Chu (HK) Vice Principal and Teacher, Sacred Heart Primary School

Your “visual tone-based" Cantonese-teaching method integrated perfectly with Western musical notation is creative. The method is especially useful and effective to the learners whose native languages are not tonal, such as many European languages, Japanese and so forth. The learners can pick up the 6 to 9 tones of HK-accented Cantonese within a shorter period of time of learning and they can learn to speak Cantonese in a more “language-friendly” way. I appreciate your sincere and hard effort on bridging the cultural gap between East and West and introducing Hong Kong to the world through teaching Cantonese to people of other nationalities in English as a medium of instruction — SK Sye (HK) History and Chinese Language Teacher, Islamic College secondary school, Chai Wan

A very unique and simple way of learning a tonal language, in an enjoyable relaxed way. Tiff was very good at finding out what we wanted to use our Cantonese for, and changing her lesson plan to our needs — Zak Mazeika (UK/US) IT Security Specialist

I enjoyed the classes a lot. My own circumstances were that I had learned some Cantonese previously, as well as even more Mandarin, and so was some way from being a total beginner. For this reason I tended to ‘drive’ the class quite a lot with my searching questions, which worked for me. She focuses strongly on getting the Cantonese tones right – a very important factor in the language, and has her own system for this, a practical and user-friendly system that does speed up the whole process. So if you want to enjoy the experience, I recommend classes with Miss Tiff Chan — Barry O’Rorke (UK) Film/Theatre Actor, English/Drama Teacher

I like the visual tone tracking. It works for me. Living in Hong Kong, I need to talk to my students, to get around, to truly identify with being a Hong Kong person – it should be my culture. It’s embarrassing that I’ve lived here for so long and still don’t speak the language. I like the musical quality and uniqueness of Cantonese — Fiona Kaaka (UK) Actor and Drama Teacher

The tone chart suits me – I like the way colours are used to separate the words and the visual aspect of the chart so I can see if the tones are going higher or lower — Deepa Kamath (India) Founder of Amplify Digital, Graphic Designer, Design Thinking Practitioner

For me this is easiest [among the systems] because it’s visual and reminds me of sheet music; it’s more advanced. If I forget the tones, I can use the piano to remind me by playing it out. There’s more space in the visual field, and once I know the meaning I can switch between Cantonese and Putonghua, because I already know Putonghua. Cantonese is very symbolic – there’s lots of heritage and tradition, lots of wisdom that I’d like to explore. I want to learn Cantonese to communicate with local people — Sophia Wunderlich (Germany) Educational Therapist

I like that it looks like a music stave. I want to learn Cantonese to be able to talk to my wife’s family, and for our new baby girl as we are raising her in Hong Kong. I don’t want to miss out. I like that Cantonese is a sung language. There’s so much personality in people’s chosen words or phrases – it shows their sense of fun and humour — Brendon Gold (UK) Musician

The fact that you've made learning Cantonese more accessible to me is amazing. I’ve been taking a public Cantonese course in Wanchai from a teacher who DOESN’T TEACH TONES, only drawing one arrow for all low tones, ZERO INDICATION OF SLIDING TONES, and teaching j sounds (instead of dz/ z) on cramped worksheets!! And your enthusiasm for teaching is great; it makes me want to learn even more. For the first time, I feel like I can learn this language — SM (UK) University ESL Teacher

Not a day goes by when I try to say something in Cantonese and I’ve not been understood. I talk slowly but I’m understood, and people enjoy it — B. Edwards (UK) Clothing Manufacturing

About Chantoneasy

Tiff Chan has been developing and teaching with the Chantoneasy method since 2015, drawing from broad knowledge across a dozen languages and extensive expertise across language education, psychology, therapy, movement, fine art, and expressive arts. Tiff is exceptionally qualified, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Oxford University (at the famed Ruskin School of Art, winning the Mitzi Cunliffe Award and the Ho Leung Ho Lee Scholarship for Fine Art), a Master’s degree in Movement Directing and Teaching from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and a Master’s degree (with Distinction) in Expressive Arts Therapy with a Psychology minor from the European Graduate School in Switzerland.

Tiff is a TEDx speaker who has been featured by SCMP and RTHK for her achievement in developing Chantoneasy. She chaired the ‘Visual and Kinaesthetic Tools to Support the Teaching and Learning of Languages’ workshop at the IEATA 2017 conference (Winnipeg, Canada) and held a research residency on the academic, linguistic, and technical perspectives of Cantonese language learning at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2017. Tiff co-led the Water (Tanka) Dialect and Cantonese workshops at the Cheung Chau Wave Art and Culture Festival (2017) and Inter-Island Festival (2021).

Get in touch!

Feel free to let me know your learning needs and goals,
or discuss support for what you've been finding challenging

Email: tiff.chantoneasy @

Facebook / Instagram: @chantoneasy

Directions, plans, and applications for research

  • Almost all languages fit within the same vocal range

  • The way we can access Cantonese can be applied to other languages, tonal as well as non-tonal. So far, words or sentences have been transcribed for over 30 languages or dialects, including:

(Sino-Tibetan): Cantonese, Putonghua Mandarin,, Tibetan

(Austro-tai): Vietnamese, Thai

(Austronesian): Tagalog, Cebuano (Tagalog dialect)

(Altaic): Turkish, Japanese, Korean

(Hmong/Miao): Hmong,

(Afro-Asiatic): Arabic (Syrian), Hebrew, Ghanaian,

(Niger-Congo): Nigerian Yoruba

(Indo-Iranian): Hindi, Singhalese, Farsi/Persian (Dari)

(Algic Algonquian Cree): indigenous Canadian Cree

(Italic/Latin/Romance): French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish

(Germanic): German, Swiss German (from Wallis and Zurich), English, Danish, Afrikaans

(Slavic): Polish, Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian

(Uralic): Hungarian