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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 (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.
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!