Mandarin is the most spoken language in China, so it’s important to learn Mandarin well. Mandarin has been widely known as a difficult language to learn because it has four tones, and each word can have up to 16 different meanings depending on how many syllables are pronounced.
Here are a few tips from us at the School of Language International (SLI) for improved fluency and proficiency in Mandarin tones and characters.
1. Learning the Tones
What are tones?
Tones are the differences in pitch that change the meaning of a spoken syllable. They’re used to differentiate between different words. Unlike intonation, which is used to signal the underlying emotions and attitudes of the speaker, different tones have different meanings.
An example of words with the same pronunciation, but each with their own tones and meanings, are: bā, bá, bǎ, bà (巴， 拔， 把， 爸). Fortunately, you can learn basic Mandarin and tone usage with SLI in a way that is easy for beginners to understand.
How to learn tones?
There are two parts to learning tones: hearing and speaking. Hearing and differentiating different tones depends on each individual because some learners can pick up tones quite quickly, while some students struggle to identify tones for many years.
There are various ways to learn the different intonations of Mandarin characters. Mimicking native speakers is an integral part of practising and identifying different tones. Record your own speech when you practice speaking, and play these recordings back to yourself to learn in your own time. Don’t rush it, as it may cause you to form bad habits that will be challenging to unlearn at a later stage.
When you mimic a native speaker or record yourself, speak slowly and clearly. Learning through exaggerating your speech will help you correctly use the tones when focusing on them. Most importantly, receiving honest feedback from a teacher or tutor can definitely help you improve your use of tones while you are learning. Learn Mandarin online from our Chinese language school in Singapore and receive guidance and feedback from expert tutors.
2. Learning Pinyin
Pinyin is the system that transcribes Chinese characters so that learners can learn how to pronounce Mandarin words correctly. Let’s take a quick look at why this is essential to mastering the language.
Why learn Pinyin?
Pinyin offers students visual cues, which may improve phonological awareness. The Pinyin system allows students to improve their pronunciation and tones by focusing on the sounds of each syllable in a word.
This system is easy for students that grasp phonics: understanding the sounds of words that correlate with the characters. Pinyin also teaches learners to easily type Mandarin characters on electric devices like computers or mobile devices.
3. Learning the Characters
The Chinese characters are more complicated to learn than the spoken language, but it is still essential to learn Mandarin. The ability to read Mandarin characters helps deepen the understanding of a spoken word.
When learning the characters of Mandarin, there are often components that have individual meanings. These components are referred to as “radicals” and “component characters.”
Radicals are traditional characters that are found in a Chinese dictionary. These radicals are the graphics that represent the basic idea of the word. There are about 214 radicals to learn. The best way to learn is by visualising the characters. When it comes to memorising the different individual characters, focusing on the analysis process is vital. Stronger characters will also be easier to remember, so learn the more memorable characters first. Learn Chinese characters with SLI to receive in-depth writing courses.
Master Mandarin at SLI Today
Are you eager now to discover more about how to learn Chinese? If you would like to improve your overall Mandarin fluency, the SLI is the perfect Chinese language school in Singapore that can help you. We offer a variety of courses and classes to learn and improve your Mandarin proficiency.
Our intake for Beginner Level Mandarin classes in January 2022 starts on 24 January. Find course details below:
|7 pm – 9 pm
|Monday to Friday
|1 pm – 3 pm
Enrol in our interactive Mandarin courses to learn how to read, speak, write, and understand Mandarin with us today.