Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles tagged with ‘Tones’

  1. How learning some basic theory can improve your pronunciation

    Achieving native-like pronunciation in a foreign language as an adult learner isn’t easy. The strategy to get there needs to incorporate large amounts of practice, mimicking and feedback, but I’m convinced that we can also benefit from a small portion of theoretical knowledge. Pronunciation theory can, among other things, help us notice details we did know about before.

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  2. 24 great resources for improving your Mandarin pronunciation

    In this article, I list 24 great resources for learning pronunciation. Naturally, some of them are limited to Mandarin Chinese, but many are more general in nature and works for other Chinese dialects or even other languages. Resources are sorted into Basic sound references, Pronunciation explained, Advice on learning pronunciation and Useful software and applications.

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  3. Hacking Chinese Pronunciation course now open for registration

    The Hacking Chinese pronunciation course is back in a new, heavily upgraded version! It contains a systematic assessment of your pronunciation, including detailed error analysis and in-depth explanations of priority problems, all done manually by me for your benefit. The number of slots for this course is limited!

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  4. How to find out how good your Chinese pronunciation really is

    Evaluating pronunciation needn’t be hard, but many methods commonly used by teachers are deeply flawed, resulting in inaccurate error analysis. If we want to improve, we need to be clear about what we need to improve first. This article looks at some problems with commonly used methods to evaluate pronunciation and suggests some alternatives.

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  5. Two reasons why pronunciation matters more than you think

    Good pronunciation matters, whether you like it or not. In general, students (and teachers) tend to stop caring about pronunciation much earlier than they should. You don’t need to aim for native-like pronunciation, but clear and easily-understood Chinese should be the goal of all students. In this article I present two arguments: one about the fact that pronunciation and communication are closely linked, one about how pronunciation reflects both you as a person and your other skills.

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  6. Focusing on tone pairs to improve your Mandarin pronunciation

    When learning to pronounce tones in Chinese, it makes sense to focus on words rather than single syllables. Most words in Chinese are disyllabic and since practising these will also include to tone changes (sandhi), focusing on tone pairs is a very good idea. This article gives you all HSK and TOCFL words, sorted by tone! This is great both for students who need words to practise difficult combinations, but it’s also useful for teachers who need more words to practise these combinations.

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  7. About fossilisation and improving your Chinese pronunciation

    It’s a fact that most foreign adults don’t acquire native like pronunciation in Chinese, but what’s the reason? In most debates at this point, someone will throw in the word “fossilisation”, as if that actually explained anything. This article is about why the concept of fossilisation is bunk and how we should think about adult pronunciation instead.

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  8. Adding tone marks (w/o Pinyin) above characters to practise tones

    Reading in Chinese is hard, but if we use too much Pinyin, we will never get used to reading characters. Adding tones (but not Pinyin) above characters is a good way of helping us to focus on tone production, separating the problem of remembering tones from the problem of producing tones, enabling us to focus on the latter.

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  9. Don’t use mnemonics for everything

    Mnemonics are really cool, but you shouldn’t overuse them. Chinese characters are very complex and the amount of information you might want to remember about them is large. Creating mnemonics for everything is very time consuming and difficult. Instead of doing this, create mnemonics only for things you actually find hard to remember.

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  10. The importance of tones is inversely proportional to the predictability of what you say

    Tones are more important than people think. In this article, I discuss some of the reasons why some people insist that tones aren’t very important. My hope is that I deeper understanding of the problem will lead to a higher awareness of the importance of tones.

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