Something I completely forgot to review before going straight into vocab & pronunciation was tones. This is actually the most important and difficult part when learning Mandarin. The alphabet consists of 29 letters (or sounds?) and there are about 5 tones (mainly 4, but there’s a weird 5th). I skipped this review lesson because I had already learned that during my childhood. Anyway, I’ll just review & share this.
- TONE #1 : flat ( in pinyin it would look something like this 一 + i = ī )
Firstly, keep in mind that its very flat & fast. while i was learning, my mom used the illustration of a sheep. “What sound does a sheep make?” Except for this tone it has to be very short. OR you can just think of your first time learning the English alphabet: A is Apple. Say apple, but emphasize the tone used for the A. Repeat a few times, then try to read something in pinyin to practice).
- TONE #2 : increase / slant ( in pinyin it would look something like this á )
When asking a question, you
most likely emphasize the last word or vowel. Keep that in mind when you use this tone. Always raise your voice / emphasize the last bit of this tone.
- TONE #3 : emphasized slant ( more emphasized TONE #2. in pinyin it would look something like this ǎ )
Really? Rea-lly? Emphasize the last part. Look at the picture included and say Really? *If this helps, dip your head down while saying the first half, then go up as you get to the last.
- TONE #4 : decrease \ ( in pinyin it would look something like this à )
Just like the first tone, this one is very fast. If you’re someone who likes being right all the time, you’ll easily pronounce this. Imagine you’ve just won a long and tiring argument; Say Ha! Very fast and sharp. Always emphasize more in the beginning.
I’ll be excluding the fifth tone since it’s probably the shortest and most difficult to explain. I always like to think of those weird moments where you feel like you have to burp, but its soo small and then you just end up making an Uh sound. The fifth tone is so short it’s almost not even there.
If you’d like some websites to learn more about Mandarin tones, click these links provided below:
\\ Tones in Mandarin Chinese (MandarinMadeEZ)