About me

Hi there! I’m Israel Lai, a 20-year-old Hongkonger, music student/composer by day and language learner by night. I discovered my passion of more languages when I took German as a minor at university; now, apart from learning and teaching foreign languages as a hobby, I am a staunch supporter of the Cantonese movement, and I’ve taken part mainly as a Cantonese-English translator in projects like Cantonese Conversations, Easy Cantonese, Cantonese Movie Dialogue Corpus, and the words.hk dictionary. I’m also a Chinese-English translator at Die Musikzeitung.

On this blog you will read about my travel experiences as I begin to explore the world on my own, as well as the insights I gain through my successful (and unsuccessful) language learning adventures. I hope you’ll have a good read and perhaps even get inspired! If you’d like to tell me your views about my blog or ask a question, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message through the Contact Me page.

I’ve also recently started a section with the fancy punny name Bel Canton, with the aim of introducing and explaining up-to-date Cantonese language with Hong Kong-specific cultural elements to learners of the language. If you see some symbols that you don’t understand, check out my “legend”!

My languages

It’s always hard to say whether you “speak” a language or not, but here is a list of languages I’ve ever learnt.

Cantonese – my native language.

English – my quasi-native language. I’d say I can handle all situations in English, especially in academic environments where my English actually beats my Chinese.

Mandarin – can communicate fluently, though I keep making pronunciation errors due to lack of practice.

French – can read Harry Potter.

German – [update] I now consider myself fluent in daily conversations!

Japanese – can barely communicate in daily situations because I’ve put it aside for a year or so.

Dutch – just for fun, pretty basic.

Russian – was trying Glossika before I threw myself into Germany…I tried talking to a Russian, and it turns out my speaking ability exceed my expectations, while my listening ability was close to zero.

Swedish – basically fluent, even though I can still feel conscious effort when putting sentences together. Currently studying in Swedish.

Polish – current project! Can read with help, enjoying the challenge to speak.