Listen to Podcast | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Can You Teach Me?”

New Words
My Hokkien is not good – 我的福建话不好 – wa eh Hokkien way bo ho 
Can you teach me – 你可以教我吗 – li eh sai gah wa bo
Southern Min language  – 闽南话 – ban lam way


Podcast Transcript | Hokkien: How Do You Say “Can You Teach Me?”

Hokkien - Can You Teach Me - How Do You Say

Hello everyone, 你好, 食好未? Welcome back to “How Do You Say” on LearnDialect.sg!

我的名是 Eugene and today, I will teach you a phrase that will come in very handy when you are asking for help in learning Hokkien. This phrase is “我的福建话不好、你可以教我吗?”

Breaking it down into 2 parts: 

  • The first part “我的福建话不好” translates into “My Hokkien is not good”; and
  • The second part “你可以教我吗?” means “Can you teach me?” 

Are you ready? Ok, let’s go! 

The first part, 我的福建话不好. “My Hokkien is not good”. 

Did you notice that I used “wa” instead of “ggua” to represent “I” or “me”? Now listen to this 2 phrases again:  

我 (ggua) 的名是 Eugene.  

我 (wa) 的福建话不好. 

So why is there a difference? Should it be ggua or wa? Quite confusing, isn’t it?

Well, in fact, both “wa” and “ggua” will work. “ggua” is the official pronunciation, but if you are speaking Hokkien in Singapore, you’ll find that majority of Hokkien speakers have localised the language and tend to use “wa” to represent “I” or “me”. 

Similarly, I have used “福建话” to represent how Singaporeans typically refer to the Hokkien dialect. In other areas including Taiwan, China etc., you may hear people referring to the dialect as “闽南话”.  

Going back to learning today’s phrase, 我 (wa) 的福建话不好, 

“好” refers to “good”, so “不好” refers to “not good”. As such, if you were to say that your Hokkien is not good, you would say 我的福建话不好 . 

Now pause the audio and give this first part a try, 我的福建话不好. 

Good! Now let’s move on to the second part of the phrase, 你可以教我吗?

“可以” refers to “can” while “教” refers to “teach”. Finally, “吗” is inserted at the end of a sentence to form a question. This is similar to our previous podcast “你好吗?”, which means “How are you?”  

So “你可以教我吗?” translates very literally into “You can teach me?”

Now pause the audio and give it a try, 你可以教我吗?

Great! Now, let’s combine both parts together, 我的福建话不好, 你可以教我吗? 

One more time and this time, say it with a smile! 我的福建话不好, 你可以教我吗? 

Great! Don’t you think this is a good opening line to start a conversation with Hokkien speakers? I am sure many Hokkien speakers would be more than willing to help you.   

Well, in fact, if you have specific phrases that you’ll like to learn, we want to be the first to help! Please leave us a comment on our Facebook page. Who knows, the next podcast may be dedicated to you! 

Thank you for listening in to “How Do You Say” on LearnDialect.sg. My name is Eugene and see you the next time.  


Our Philosophy for Learning Hokkien in Singapore

The pronunciation of Hokkien words varies from one region to another. For example, Penang Hokkien sounds different from Taiwanese Hokkien. At LearnDialect.sg, we want to make learning Hokkien fun, easy and practical for daily conversations in Singapore. As such, we think it is important to listen to how Singaporeans speak Hokkien. To do that, we have an ongoing process of collecting audio recordings from at least 100 Hokkien-speaking seniors in Singapore and thereafter based our audio pronunciation on the most commonly-heard version.

In similar nature, rather than trying to figure out which Hokkien romanization system to use (e.g. Pe̍h-ōe-jī or Taiwan Romanization System), we encourage you to form your own phonics, so that you make an association with these Hokkien words in the quickest way possible. To illustrate, the formal romanization of the English word, “eat”, is “chia̍h” in Hokkien. However, in our “Have You Eaten” podcast transcript, you’ll find that we use “jiak”, which we think relates to us better. That said, you may use other romanization (e.g “chiah”, “jia”, etc), as long as it helps you to make sense of what you hear.