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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Chinese Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll learn the top 5 Chinese pronunciation mistakes to avoid.
These are common mistakes that students of Chinese tend to make. So pay close attention and make sure that you don't make these same mistakes too.
Are you ready? Then let's get started!
"TONES" Number 1: Tones
Chinese is a tonal language.
The tones are a major challenge for Chinese learners of all levels, but they can't be avoided. Using the wrong tone can give a word a completely different meaning and lead to miscommunication.
吗 ma (interrogative particle)
妈 mā (mom)
麻 má (hemp)
马 mǎ (horse)
骂 mà (scold)
In particular, learners have a hard time with the third tone.
Listen to an example which uses this tone.
It's the most unique tone out of all the tones because the pitch dips and then rises.
你 (slow)
Imagine a ball bouncing on the ground as you make this tone.
Down and up.
We'll discuss the tones in detail in lessons 8 and 9."
"MISPRONOUNCING U" Number 2: Mispronouncing the U sound.
English speakers tend to read the pinyin U like the 'oo' in 'good'.
This is incorrect.
It should be more like the double O sound in the word 'boot'.
u
u (slow)
Whenever you're pronouncing the Chinese U, imagine a little girl pouting and saying 'no' in Chinese.
不 (exaggerate this sound)
You want to round your lips as much as possible.
It's better to overexaggerate than to make the wrong sound.
"PRONOUNCING 人 INCORRECTLY" Number 3: Pronouncing 'people' incorrectly.
Many people tend to mispronounce the E sound in the word 'people'.
They commonly substitute it for the English E as in 'red'.
This is incorrect. The Chinese E sounds more like an 'ugh' sound.
It's identical to the E sound at the end of the word 'problem'.
In fact, the Chinese E is a very special sound because it's the most neutral of all sounds.
It requires the least amount of effort to pronounce because you don't have to move your lips, tongue OR mouth.
All you need to do is relax and have everything in a resting position, and just let your vocal cords do the rest.
e
人 (slow)
We'll take an in-depth look at the vowel sounds in the next lesson.
"PRONOUNCING Q AS CH" Number 4: Pronouncing the Chinese Q as a 'ch' sound.
This is one of the biggest mistakes for students of Chinese.
There are many 'ch' like sounds in Chinese, all of which are distinct.
The challenge for English speakers is to first *perceive* the difference and then to recreate it.
The Chinese Q sound should be pronounced with the tip of the tongue touching the bottom teeth, while the blade of the tongue laying flat behind the front teeth.
We'll break down the differences between the 'ch' sounds of Chinese in lesson 7.
"ADDING AN R SOUND AT THE END OF 吃" Number 5: Adding an R sound to the end of 'to eat'.
Students of Chinese tend to add an R sound in the middle or at the end of a word.
This generally occurs when the speaker isn't used to pronouncing the Chinese CH. The Chinese CH requires you to place your tongue in a position that you're unfamiliar with.
If you're an English speaker, your brain naturally assumes that you're trying to pronounce an English R due to muscle memory. Try to be wary of this when you're practicing the Chinese CH.
We'll cover 'ch' like sounds in lesson 7.
Now you know the top 5 Chinese pronunciation mistakes to avoid.
Try to be careful so that you don't commit these same mistakes. Still feel a bit worried? Over the rest of this series we'll cover all of these topics in depth.
In the next lesson, we'll start learning vowel sounds in Chinese.
Which of these five mistakes is the hardest to avoid? Have you learned any tricks to deal with them? Let us know in the comments.
Stick with us and you'll overcome these quickly!
See you in the next Ultimate Chinese Pronunciation Guide lesson!

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ChineseClass101.com
Friday at 6:30 pm
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Which of these five mistakes is the hardest to avoid? Have you learned any tricks to deal with them? Let us know in the comments.

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ChineseClass101.com
Sunday at 5:41 pm
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Hi, Sam,


The Chinese 'e' sounds like the 'ir' in 'confirm'.

But 'en' is different. So, the 'en' in 女人(nǚrén, woman) sounds like the 'n' in 'UN'.


Cho

Team ChineseClass101.com

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Sam
Wednesday at 8:09 pm
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Would it be safe to say that the Chinese 'e' sounds like the English 'schwa' sound? E.g. fisherman sounds like "fishUHmUHn" and woman sounds like "womUHn"

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ChineseClass101.com
Saturday at 11:38 pm
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Bob Jordan,


I know pronouncing characters correctly is very hard. When you learn vocabulary, you should remember all of the pinyin of them.

But if you learn it by the way to learn it as a mother language, it will be more easier, though it takes time.

I suggest you listen to native speakers who speak good mandarin, like broadcast, and just repeat what you heard.

After you get used to what you hear, I think you will know how to distinguish the tones.

In the beginning of learning a language, listening must be more important than speaking.


Cho

Team ChineseClass101.com

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Bob Jordan
Friday at 5:06 am
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When I listen to the tones being demonstrated, they are said slow and exaggerated. This is easy. Even I can do that. But when I listen to normal conversation, the tones don't even seem to be there. Why can't Chinese speakers make the tones noticeable so that learners can hear them. I'd love to practice tones, but if I'm going to speak Chinese I need to sound like a Chinese and not a schoolchild. How can I speak normal Chinese and include the tones? Also, when I'm speaking, how do I know (as I speak) which tone to use as the words are flowing. There's not enough time to stop and think. Thanks for your help.

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ChineseClass101.com
Friday at 12:32 am
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Hi, Miguel,


You are getting progress!

Keep on working.


Cho

Team ChineseClass101.com

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miguel
Wednesday at 1:20 pm
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excellent lesson. Helped me to pronounce e sound with the mouth position explanation

thanks

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ChineseClass101.com
Monday at 12:04 am
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Hi, John,

Thank you for your message.

For writing, maybe the best way is to write down whatever you what or you see. Practise is important.

And maybe calligraphy will be a fun to you?

For reading, what about finding some interesting books to read?


Cho

Team ChineseClass101.com

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John
Thursday at 8:38 pm
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After my Ukrainian lessons, I find Chinese to be much easier, and lucky for me I do not bring my English baggage with me, since Ukrainian (and to some extent Russian) has made me shed the usual speaking habits. Though I do anticipate problems, I do not fear them as I know each language has it's own set. So.....listening and speaking will be ok, but it is the reading and writing that is gonna be the bug-a-boo !!! What can be more fun??? :-)

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Team ChineseClass101.com
Saturday at 1:29 pm
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Hi Keiko,


Surely even the same audio, different people will hear different sounds. Getting used to the sounds will be a good sign to your listening, I think. Please just repeat what you have heard and get used to it.

Also, by recording, the sounds will never be the exact same one. Especially for the learner who don't know the sounds before, will certainly hear several versions. It's better to follow the most one you've heard.


Cho

Team ChineseClass101.com

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keiko
Sunday at 9:17 pm
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悠好! Ms Cho!

Thank you for your repplying. Especially I could hear "jou" as for "reng". I've been trying to listen and listen,now I think I'm a little used to it's sounds. I'm sorry for my poor explanetion...but I'm always having fun to learning Chinese in English with this program.