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My husband currently speaks cantonese at an elementary school level, and would like to upgrade this knowledge of being able to read a chinese menu at least. He's able to recognize alot of the very basic characters and speak it in cantonese.

I'm seeing that alot of flashcard programs are in mandarin and in simplified form. It's kind of tricky to figure out the best way to go about this since he already speaks cantonese and has a very basic knowledge of traditional characters.

  • Should he stick with learning traditional or go simplified?
  • Is there a good program to learn this quickly that shows the characters but speaks in in mandarin and cantonese?
  • How many characters should one know to read at least a chinese menu at a restaurant?
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There is no data about how many characters that need to read a restaurant menu(I would say about 100 or 200 at most, that depends on the how many dishes on that menu ;) ), but according to:

《现代汉语常用字表》 - Mainland China  Simplified Chinese    
《常用国字标准字体表》 - Taiwan China  Tradition Chinese
《常用字字形表》      - HSK China     Tradition Chinese

Knowing 5000 characters is more than enough to read any ordinary things in Chinese today. Becuase nowadays the normal educated Chinese people should know about 1000 ~ 5000 characters without looking the dictionary.

But I think the tricky/hardest part is knowing the vocabulary, not the characters itself.

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