Many learners studying Chinese have difficulties with learning the tones of Chinese. If nailed them already, then no need to continue reading this post. But if you aren’t sure or you have troubles with the tones, then keep on reading.
Having difficulties is completely understandable if your native language doesn’t have tones and you’re not used to a tonal language. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! And with practice there is only one way and that’s upwards, towards better tones and pronunciation.
Polyglot Luca Lampariello has shared his advice in a blog post, here is some of his advice:
To get a better idea of his advice, read the whole blog post!
I agree with Luca that listening is the key to good tones. You have to hear the tones first and then start pronouncing them yourself. It’s always a good idea to record yourself speaking in order to spot your mistakes. You can compare yourself to a native speaker and see where the differences are. You can use Mandarin Chinese Tone Pair Drills by Sinosplice to help you out.
You might get in to a stage where you think tones doesn’t matter that much. I’ve been there too. But if you want to have a correct pronunciation, make sure that natives can understand you, then you better learn the tones well.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, then you should try Laokang Tone Trainer, excellent app to help you learn the tones!
(Picture by Sinoplice)