Mastering Chinese pronunciation should constitute the very
first step toward learning the Chinese language. The Chinese Pinyin is featured
by all the Chinese phonetic alphabets and they are used in the pronunciation of
Chinese characters. In order to distinguish the different tones, you must pay
keen attention to the reading of the Pinyin letters, initials, finals, and all
The golden yardstick for measuring your performance: being capable of reading any Chinese character with the correct tone in Pinyin. Be warned: correct pronunciation from the start matters, and bad habits must be nipped in the bud.
Tip No.1: Note that Chinese is a tonal language.
Pay special attention to the four basic tones of putonghua: the level tone, the rising tone, the falling-rising tone and the falling tone. Funny jokes abound in this respect. One of the most renowned pieces includes the English speakers' pronunciation of Yao Ming, the prestigious Chinese basketballer in NBA. The funny thing is, instead of the correct pronunciation of the rising tone, both words are mispronounced as the seemingly falling tone meaning "life-threatening" or "fatal" in Chinese, painting Yao an image of a monster.
Tip No.2: take the initiative to practice, whenever and wherever.
Practice makes perfect. The more you practice speaking, the easier it will be for you to learn. If possible, take a Chinese class in the local community, and do the practice drills with your study partner or native speakers of Chinese. Find every means possible to practice anything you've learned. One of my friends once traveled in China, she made the best of her trip in the train by conversing with a female Chinese college student. There my friend taught her English while she taught my friend Chinese. That very experience encouraged her to practice Chinese whenever and wherever.
Tips No.3: utilize long distance learning
Long term focus on one way of learning can be a twist, rather boring and exhausting, especially for Chinese learning. However, if multiple means are employed, it'll be a different case. For example, besides traditional classroom learning, multimedia resources such as e-learning and on-line radio, once fully employed, are rewarding to some extent.
Tip No.4: learn Chinese through singing Chinese songs
Singing songs are absolutely mind soothing distractions and attractions. Songs cover a wide range of difficulty scales and topics, and therefore, can be an ideal means for learners of all levels to improve their Chinese. Some Chinese songs, such as The Chinese Language popularized by S.H.E, even consist of Chinese tongue twisters. Follow the singing process, and great progress will be on the way.
Tip No.5: practice with the help of oral Chinese software
Taking advantage of the latest multimedia technology and combing words, sounds, pictures, animations and music, software of oral Chinese learning enable learners to speak on and off studying. It provides a pleasant and cozy environment for the learners to study Chinese in an interesting and completely new style
Tip No.6: learn Chinese consonants and vowels with the help of English pronunciation
For the mastering of Chinese consonants and vowels, English words with the same sound can be associated with the corresponding Chinese initials, and facilitate learning and memorizing in an easier way. For instance, b - as the "b" in "book"; p - as the "p" in "pool"; m - as the "m" in "moon".
Tip No.7: never ever underestimate the help of a dictionary.
Get a good compact dictionary and make sure it has the phonetic spelling of the words. Whether you are learning all by yourself or in groups, dictionaries are the most dedicated teachers. Take it with you wherever you go. Remember, you are carrying learning opportunities with you.
Tip No.8: blurt out and show off loud
Make sure that a cassette is available, listen to and repeat after the tape. Read out loud while learning, blurt out loud while practicing, and show off loud what you've learned. Passion paves the way for more efficient learning, especially true for pinyin study. Adopting a passionate attitude allows a full and all-round participation in learning which yields a rewarding learning outcome.
Tip No.9: learn to speak step by step, one word at a time
The one thing that is sad about rooted mispronunciation is that learners make repeated mistakes without realizing them. Thus, learners have to be highly conscious of the value of the "one bird in hand" rather than "two birds in the bush". Take it easy, make it correct and then move on. Never repeat mispronunciations.
Tip No.10: Find joy in learning Chinese pinyin.
Interest is the best teacher. Great athletes and accomplished musicians love what they do and then achieve who they are. Likewise, only when Chinese pinyin learning appeals to you can you make long term substantial improvement. You might have to spend numerous hours studying and practicing. Many people give up halfway. Go through the frustrating initial phase if you are find joy in learning the Chinese pinyin.
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