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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Chinese Pronunciation Guide.
In this series, you'll master Chinese pronunciation. Proper pronunciation is essential in Chinese, and in this series, you'll learn it in a fast, comprehensive, and easy way.
In this first lesson of the series, you'll learn about the building blocks of the Chinese pronunciation system that will help you in future lessons.
As you're probably quite aware, Chinese doesn't use an alphabetical writing system like English does. Instead, it uses characters that are comprised of parts which depict physical objects or abstract ideas.
Literacy in Chinese requires the memorization of thousands of components and characters. As you can see, this can be quite daunting for new learners of Chinese.
For example, if you were asked to pronounce this character, where would you even begin?
You'll pick up the writing system eventually, but since we're just focused on pronunciation we need to skip them for now.
We need to start dealing with the sounds of Chinese without the baggage of Chinese characters, and that's where pinyin comes in.
Pinyin is the transcription of Chinese characters using roman letters. This makes learning Chinese much easier, particularly for English speakers. As you begin to learn more characters and improve in Chinese, you'll eventually rely on pinyin less and less. But for now, it's a good place to start.
Now, let's have a look at all the sounds in Chinese.
There are 26 consonant sounds, and 14 vowel sounds in Chinese. You can form every single word in Chinese by using these sounds.
Still seem complicated? Well how about this: of the 26 consonant sounds in Chinese, you *already know* 15 of them. That's right, if you're a native English speaker then you already make these sounds every day.
You can also ignore 7 of the vowel sounds for the same reason.
The only thing standing between you and perfect Chinese pronunciation are 11 new consonant and 7 new vowel sounds. You can handle that!
Now let me introduce Yinru, who will be helping you to master these new sounds.
Throughout this series, Yinru will be giving you native pronunciation examples for you to imitate. But for this first lesson, just sit back and listen to the unique sounds of Chinese:
哪儿 nǎr (where)
小 xiǎo (little)
石 shí (stone)
肉 ròu (meat)
北京 Běijīng (Beijing)
钱 qián (money)
早餐 zǎocān (breakfast)
葱 cōng (green onion)
中文 Zhōngwén (Chinese)
长 cháng (long)
玉 yù (jade)
他 tā (he/him)
累 lèi (tired)
月 yuè (moon)
冷 lěng (cold)
日 rì (day)
楼 lóu (building)
绿 lǜ (green)
In the next lesson, we'll look at the top 5 pronunciation mistakes Chinese learners make. You'll want to make sure not to fall into these common traps.
After that, we'll begin going through the vowels and consonants of Chinese. This is your chance to learn how to correctly say all of the words you just heard.
We'll finish up the series by covering some special topics that will really make your Chinese sound natural!
To close this lesson, here's a question for you.
Why is it important to spend time on learning proper pronunciation, even if you're already an advanced speaker?
The answer...
You will be understood, and this will help you build more confidence as you communicate in Chinese. For beginners, you're creating a strong foundation to build on. And for more advanced students, this is your chance to improve your accent and lose any bad habits you may have picked up.
What is hard about pronouncing Chinese to you? Tell us about it in the comments!
See you in the next Ultimate Chinese Pronunciation Guide lesson!

46 Comments

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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
Pinned Comment
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What is hard about pronouncing Chinese to you? Tell us about it in the comments!

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 09:33 PM
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Hello Roberto,


Thank you for your comment, we're glad that you found it helpful! 😆


Thank you for learning with us, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Roberto
Tuesday at 05:06 PM
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This is wonderful, something I really needed. Saying "哪儿 nǎr " feels strangely enjoyable lol.

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 01:25 AM
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你好 robert groulx!


谢谢 for commenting. We are very happy to have you here. Let us know if you have any questions.


Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

robert groulx
Monday at 12:08 AM
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thanks or the lesson transcript


favorite word is lèi


robert

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 12:32 AM
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Hello Leslie Jones,


Thank you for your comment. The "x" sound is quite tricky, you can find more details on how to pronounce this sound in this lesson:

https://www.chineseclass101.com/lesson/ultimate-chinese-pronunciation-guide-6-new-consonants-part-1/?lp=61


For the vowel part, check out this video:

https://www.chineseclass101.com/lesson/ultimate-chinese-pronunciation-guide-3-chinese-vowels/?lp=61


Hope it helps, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Leslie Jones
Thursday at 07:41 PM
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"xue shang" "student" is hard for to pronounce. I am not sure how to position my tongue and lips to speak "xue" properly.

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 01:33 PM
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Hello HorseEater 76,


Thank you for your comment. Yes there are quite many characters sharing the same sound, in real life, you can almost always figure out the characters based on context. If need be, we can always ask for clarification. 😉


As always, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

HorseEater 76
Friday at 04:26 AM
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So, the confusing thing about some of the vocabulary is the sounds. Like Lou and Rou. (I cannot do the tones because of my keyboard.) So, even if the word sound the same and you don't know which character is which, how would you still be able to figure out what the character was?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 10:23 PM
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Hello rubik,


Thank you for your comment. You heard it right. The "u" in lǜ (green) and yù (jade) are both ü. There is no combination of y and u in pinyin, and when ü appears on its own, we add y in front of it as a consonant, and omit the umlaut, so it becomes yù, but it's actually ü.


Hope it helps, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

rubik
Saturday at 03:04 AM
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Hello,

I don't hear a difference between the u in lu (green) and yu (jade), even though they are different in pinyin (although both are in the fourth tone)--the u in lu has an umlaut : and yu does not.