How to Learn Chinese Phonetics Effectively

Posted by Mollan Mo on Mar 5, 2016

For Chinese learners, if you want to read Chinese correctly, you must learn Chinese phonetics well. It is the basis of Chinese speaking. What should be noticed during the learning of Chinese phonetics? You could find answers by reading the content below.

1. Learn Pinyin System

One feature of Chinese phonetics is that syllable structure is simple. Pinyin is the mark of notation for Chinese characters. Each character has a specific syllable. Each syllable is composed of three parts: initial, final and tone. In the Pinyin system, there are 21 initials, 36 finals, 2 semi-vowels, 4 tones and a neutral tone. At first, you should learn all the pinyin one by one. Learn how to read and write the pinyin. You could find some of the pinyin is quite similar with English phonetics. But some of them have never appeared in English phonetics. For example, lots of Chinese learners cannot pronounce "c" correctly. In this circumstance, you need to take more attention to such phonetics, you can ask a Chinese native speaker to teach or correct your pronunciation. Here is a copy of the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet. It is the tool for phonetic annotation of Chinese Characters and Chinese spelling.

Chinese Phonetic Alphabet

Here is a picture of the combination of Pinyin below, which is clearly for you to read the different combination of Chinese pinyin-initials and finals.

Chinese pinyin combination
Chinese pinyin combination
Chinese pinyin combination

2. Chinese tones

Chinese phonetics learning

Tone is a very important and difficult aspect of learning Chinese. There are four tones in Chinese. The first one is flat; the second one is rising; the third one is falling first, then going up; the fourth one is falling down. You see it more vividly in the above picture. Many characters have the same spelling in Pinyin but have different tones, therefore have different meanings. For instance, when "tang" is the first tone-tānɡ, it means soup(汤); and changing to the second tone- tánɡ, it is sugar(糖); then the third tone-tǎnɡ, it means lay(躺); finally, when it is the forth tone-tànɡ, it means hot(烫). So when you speak Chinese, try make your tones clear, because if you pronounce the wrong tones, it may make the sentences totally means different.

different means different

3. A regular pattern of Chinese phonetics

Chinese can be hard to pronounce and pinyin provides a useful answer to this problem. There are two ways of Chinese pinyin pronunciation, one is phonics, the initials are light and short, while the finals are loud, such as m+a=ma; and another way is the apostrophe, that is, do the mouthing shape of initials, then pronounce finals. Follow these two methods to learn and practice how to pronounce Chinese pinyin.

However, in Chinese Pinyin, it has some special syllables--the overall picture of syllables, they are "zhi chi shi ri;zi ci si;yi wu yu;ye yue yuan;yin yun ying". Read these special syllables should use the overall picture method, that is, don't have to spell these syllables and read them directly.

Chinese Phonetics learning is the foundation of Chinese language learning, so if you want to learn Chinese well, you should pay more attention to this part and master them. Are you tired of learning Chinese phonetics by yourself? Try Chinese phonetics online course here.

About The Author

Mollan Mo

Mollan holds a bachelor's degree in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Experienced and skilled, she utilizes a variety of activities and methods to keep her classes lively. She loves her job and her passion to share her language and culture with others drives her to help her students succeed.

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