Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles tagged with ‘Tones’ Page 3

  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. Extending mnemonics: Tones and pronunciation

    Using mnemonics to memorise concrete objects is fairly easy, but how can we use mnemonics to remember abstract things such as tones and pronunciation? In this article, I expand my previous discussions of mnemonics and show how they can be quite powerful if you’re prepared to invest some extra time.

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  6. Recording yourself to improve your Chinese speaking ability

    Recording yourself is a powerful way to improve Chinese speaking ability. It helps you become aware of your problems, enabling you to improve on your own.

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  7. The tones in Mandarin are more important than you think

    Tones are more important than most people think. Just because native speakers reduce tones and speak quickly, it doesn’t mean that you can do the same and get away with it. Don’t be fooled by people who say that tones in Chinese aren’t as important as all that, because they’re wrong.

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  8. Learning the third tone in Chinese

    The third tone in Mandarin is an essentially low tone. The only time it’s pronounced with a high element is in front of another third tone (when it turns into a second tone) and sometimes when stressed.

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  9. A smart method to discover problems with Chinese tones

    Studying Chinese, it’s sometimes hard to assess the quality one’s own pronunciation. People in your surrounding might understand what you are saying, but how do you verify how clear your pronunciation is? In an ideal world, it would be easy, you could just ask a qualified teacher and given enough time it would be possible to figure out most of the pronunciation-related problems. However, you seldom have that option, so here I present a method to test your own pronunciation which is difficult to fool and has proven extremely useful in practice.

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  10. Chinese listening ability, a matter of practice?

    Many people have asked me how to improve listening ability, not only when learning Chinese, but when learning any language. The problem is that there seems to be no tactic to employ and no smart tricks; to get better at listening, you simply need to practice. Is this really the case? Is listening ability simply about listening a lot? Can’t you hack it?

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