Learning the second most spoken language in the world can be quite challenging, especially when you’re just getting started on how to master Chinese pronunciation. To fully grasp Chinese pronunciation, one must also learn how writing and spelling work because Chinese isn’t a phonetical language. The words aren’t read the way they’re spelled out.
The process of mastering your Chinese pronunciation requires time and effort. You must learn the basics first, starting from comprehending the 4 tones in Mandarin, recognizing the Chinese writing systems, and finally establishing an understanding of the grammar. This may seem like a tough trip falling down to an endless abyss but the results of mastering Mandarin Chinese pronunciation will surely hold beneficial advantages, mainly for your career.
In 2021, Chinese is gaining more and more recognition as one of the best languages in the world. This undeniable fact is also attracting millions of people to start learning the language and mastering Chinese pronunciation. In helping you to get started, today’s blog is going to exclusively explain the basic steps on how to fully master your Chinese pronunciation. Better late than never, right?
1. Establish full comprehension of the 4 tones in Mandarin Chinese
For non-Chinese speakers, the first step of comprehending the 4 Chinese tones might come off as a tough cookie to break, especially if your language is read clearly the way the words are spelled out. However, since the meaning of a Chinese character could differ based on your tone pronunciation, you’ll have to spend time identifying the 4 Mandarin tones in order to pick up Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. So, here’s what you should do.
First, note in mind that there are 20 combinations derived from the 4 Mandarin Chinese tones. Afterward, try taking a listen to them while looking at a tone-pair chart. A tone-pair chart is one of the best methods to help master Chinese pronunciation because it trains the mind and tongue at the same time to be familiar with the tones. Once you’re done listening, have a go at imitating them and try to find any distinctive features among the tones. By learning the 20 pairs, you’ll be able to easily pronounce any 2-character words.
Another tip: it’s best to learn the 4 tones in phrases, rather than single characters. You’re not learning to speak in singular words, but whole and complete sentences. Learning Chinese phrases can assist your Chinese pronunciation through observing how the characters sound or affect one another when they are paired in a phrase or sentence. Not only that, you should also learn the tone changing rules in Chinese because every character sounds different in a pair depending on the tone of the other characters.
2. Learn written Chinese characters effectively
The second step is to implement your understanding of tones into writing Chinese characters to master your Mandarin Chinese pronunciation better. According to a report “Writing to Read” by Carnegie Corporation of New York, writing is able to improve our reading skills as it enhances the ability and comprehension to read a text accurately and fluently. In a way, reading is also what makes us craft our speaking abilities.
The Romanized Chinese characters are called pinyin, which helps us to transcribe the sounds better in order to pronounce them. Reading and writing Chinese characters may be the next challenging steps of sharpening your Mandarin Chinese pronunciation, but thanks to technology, there is another simple way to learn reading and writing these scribbly characters. This great tool can help us convert any Chinese characters into pinyin. All you need to do is enter any character and it will automatically convert.
Another effective method to learn writing which has been implemented by a lot of people is utilizing a writing workbook because it is completed with boxes and dotted guidelines to aid you in writing the characters properly. Hand-writing the characters yourself will surely let you memorize Chinese characters better in order to master your Mandarin Chinese pronunciation. The most important part of writing is following the stroke order of the Chinese characters. Once you learn and remember these rules, writing Chinese characters will be a painless task for you.
3. Watch and listen to Chinese films or music
Following getting the basics and theories done, it’s time to experiment and implement what you’ve learned so far. Edgar Dale, an American Educator, developed the cone of learning experience which stated that people can apply and demonstrate something when they’ve remembered 50% of what they hear and see during learning. The theory shows that when people watch or listen to something, they will surely remember better and look back on their learning.
Pick any tv shows, movies, videos in Chinese that appeal to your favor and put on English, Chinese or pinyin subtitles depending on your level to start implementing on which aspect you want to focus on. If you’re focusing on perfecting the writing, you can try to listen and jot down every unfamiliar word and expression. Meanwhile, if you’re intentions are to learn the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation, have a listen at every utterance of the characters and try to pause or re-watch the films to imitate how they pronounced the words.
4. Ask questions
When you’re utterly sinking in the confusion of Mandarin Chinese pronunciation, it’s best to ask for any related questions and assistance you can find. Asking questions doesn’t make you look stupid. In fact, it’s what makes additional information appear to help you learn better of languages like Mandarin Chinese with different intonation and writing. One way to go is to ask a native speaker directly to get the perfect answers. You can also ask your fellow peers who are also learning and mastering Mandarin Chinese pronunciation in order to learn the language from a different perspective and exchange studying information and tips.
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