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Correcting Pronunciation Mistakes Should Be Company with the Whole Process of Chinese Lessons

Teachers who have been just devoted themselves to teaching Chinese lessons will often meet the situation that they have no idea about what to teach the students. For example, the students have been learning Mandarin in China for several years and they can speak fluent Chinese. Sometimes they will ask the teacher many questions which are quite difficult to answer. What should you do?

The reason why this situation appears is that the teacher has ignored the most useful “tool”——correcting the students’ pronunciation. Correcting pronunciation has lots of advantages. The most direct one is that it can change the current situation of the students’ speech sound and eliminate the appearance of foreign accent. In addition to this, it can also control the process of teaching and the situation we mentioned above will not appear any more.

Correcting pronunciation is effective for any student who is learning Mandarin in China. No matter the student is in elementary level or in advanced level. If your students have just started learning Chinese lessons, then most of the time should concentrate in correcting pronunciation. Some new teachers of Chinese Lessons may ask why. It is because that the pronunciation will directly influence the study prospect of the students. If the students’ pronunciation is corrected well, it means that you have laid a strong basis for your students and your students will have a bright Chinese learning prospect in the following days.

On the contrary, if the teacher of the Chinese Lessons ignores the process of correcting pronunciation and allows the mistakes to develop continuously, then the pronunciation of your student will go astray. And the consequence will be clear: the more the students learn, the more mistakes he will make. And it will be too late to correct the students then.

If your students can speak good Chinese, correcting pronunciation will be still useful. The author used to be the teacher of Chinese Lessons for many years and has taught some students whose Chinese is quite good. These students even can use idioms and common sayings exactly. But the pronunciation problem still exists in their speaking.

Simply speaking, this problem is determined by the characteristics of Chinese language. Chinese is a tone language, which is a characteristic that many other languages don’t have. And the tones have strong influence on the discrimination of words, which is even beyond the imagination of foreign students.

For example, in the beginning of the Chinese Lessons, teachers will often use “mā,má,mǎ,mà” to frighten students who are learning Mandarin in China, aiming to attract the students’ high attention to the Chinese tones.

Then what about the students? They do make much effort on tones in the process of learning Chinese lessons. But because most of the overseas students have not had contact with tone language before, there will be some students saying, “今天我跟我的mà mà一起去吃饭。” We can say without exaggeration that correcting tone should be company with the learning of Chinese Lessons from the beginning to the end.

According to the experience of the author, the higher level the students are, the less they will mind to be corrected. And some students will ask you to correct their pronunciation in the process of having Chinese Lessons. This maybe because that through many years’ learning Chinese language, they have recognized the characteristic of Chinese pronunciation and learnt the advantages of correcting pronunciation.

However, sometimes your students will tell you clearly that they don’t want you to correct their pronunciation. They may hope to spend more time on improving the fluency of speaking Chinese or they may be extremely confident in their own Chinese pronunciation. For these two types of students, you should emphasize the importance of correcting pronunciation firstly. But if your students still insist on their own opinions, you can only give up. Therefore, when you first meet your students, you had better ask them clearly: Would you mind my correcting your pronunciation mistake?

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