Cantonese Lessons Teach Shanghai More Than Words
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2017-06-27 14:21:06

SHANGHAI — At the age of 23, Hong Konger Justin Lou packed up and moved to Shanghai with 5,000 yuan ($730) in his pocket.

With an older sister working as a lawyer in Hong Kong and an older brother working as an engineer in Singapore, Lou felt somewhat free of the burden of parental expectation. “I was left with the chance to come have a shot at the mainland,” he told Sixth Tone.

When he arrived in Shanghai seven years ago, Lou found himself a job as an analyst at a fund company, making 4,000 yuan a month before tax. The salary was so low that he couldn’t bring himself to tell his family back home in Hong Kong and had to find part-time work teaching Cantonese to sustain himself.

Hong Kong native Justin Lou moved to Shanghai to start his career seven years ago. He now runs his own Cantonese language school, which has served 20,000 students to date. By Wu Yue and Daniel Holmes/Sixth Tone

After Lou was laid off from his finance job in 2013, he decided to devote himself to teaching Cantonese full time, having discovered a sizeable market for the language through his part-time tutoring. Beginning in a small office in central Shanghai that he rented with his modest savings, Lou has grown the venture into a fully-fledged Cantonese language school that has served around 20,000 students to date.

Editor: Owen Churchill.

(Header image: Justin Lou waits for students outside Luwan Stadium in Shanghai, June 14, 2017. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone)