The Chinese pronunciation is a difficult part for students, particularly for beginners. The system of writing Chinese in alphabets is called Pinyin.
One of the first steps in learning Chinese is to get used to its pronunciation. The key to overcome the pronunciation challenge is to speak more.
I would like to recommend this mobile app: Chinese Tones Trainer. Developed by a group of Chinese teachers who have rich experiences in teaching Chinese, this app will help you to learn the Chinese tones correctly and effectively. In this app, there are more than 2,000 Chinese words (all very commonly used) with audios for you to practice.
With over 2,000 words to exercise, this app guarantees a powerful result as long as you are willing to devote your time and energy into it. I recommend you to practice tone by tone. Let’s say day one, you want to focus on words with first tones. Make sure that you put the audios on and simply listen to it again and again. After each word, there is a 2 seconds pause, which is for you to repeat. Remember, it is very important for you to repeat after me loudly. Alternatively, you can also use the audio while driving, cleaning, cooking, activities where this Chinese app can be your background melody. Let the sound sink in your mind.
How to Use Chinese Tones Trainer
Step 1: download the app by searching Chinese Tones Trainer in app store on your Iphone or Ipad
Step 2: open the app, and you will find the interface one
Step 3: choose which you’d like to do: listening to audios or do exercise
This mobile app has two functions:
Choose which category of words you would like to practice in interface two. Here all the words are classified into 20 small groups, according to the combination of tones ( first tone + first tone, first tone + 2nd tone….fourth tone + fourth tone).
Here you can listen to the audios, as many times as you wish. In addition, you can repeat after the audios. What’s more, with the auto play button on the right top, you can also listen to all the 100 words in each category with just one click.
All the audios are recorded by native Chinese speakers and are very useful words.
If you would like to test your knowledge of Chinese pronunciation, that’s also possible. This app offers the following three exercises:
Exercise 1: listen to audio, and select the correct tones for the given pinyin
Exercise 2: listen to audio, and select the correct pinyin for the given tones
Exercise 3: listen to audio, and type out the complete Pinyin including the tones
Interface 4 shows you an example.
pinyin is a system of writing Mandarin Chinese with Roman alphabets. The system was developed in 1950s, primarily to help provide a pronunciation system for Chinese with different dialects.
A pinyin is composed of three parts, namely initials, finals and tones. A Chinese pinyin starts with an initial, which is a consonant, and followed by a final, which consists of one or more vowels.
A good news of learning Chinese is that there are a mere 23 initials and 36 finals. All Chinese sounds that exist will be a combination of one initial and one final. Thus you can imagine that the number of sounds in Chinese is much lower than in English. In the last page of this app, you can find all possible pīnyīns.
The 23 Initials & 36 Finals
|Initialsb p m f
d t n l
g k h
j q x z c s
zh ch sh r y w
|Finalsa o e i u üan ao ai ang ou ong
ei en eng er ia ian
iao iang ie in iu ing iong
ua uo uai uan ui
ueng un uang ün üe üan
How to pronounce:
j q x z c s zh ch sh r
j is similar as “j” in English words like: jeep, jeez
q is similar as “ch” in English words like: cheese, cheat
x is similar as “sh” in English words like: sheep, sheet
c is similar as “ts” in English words like: hats, carrots
z is similar as “ds” in English words like: kids, roads
s is similar as “s” in English words like: sorry, sock
zh is similar as “ge” in English words like: judge, bridge
ch is similar as “ch” in English words like: much
sh is similar as “sh” in English words like: cash, gosh
r is similar as “ge” in English words like: garage
A few suggestions:
To achieve a good Chinese pronunciation means a great deal of listening practice. You can only say it right yourself after you are able to hear the sound differences. And this ability will come to you naturally after you’ve done sufficient listening.
You can expect to achieve a reasonable success within a relatively short period of time. The beginning few weeks is crucial in shaping your sound. So make sure you do some hard work at the very beginning
Say it out loud: make sure that throughout the exercises in the app, you will repeat out loud the words. This is because you can really feel the tones only when you speak out loudly and hear your own sound.
Enjoy and good luck!