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The Study of Solving the Problem of “Going Out of Tunes” When We Teach

According to my finding, I want to introduce the methods I use as following to the students who study Mandarin.

1. The comparison of Chinese and Western language talking speed

Teachers measure and compare the talking speed of Spanish and Chinese together with students who study Mandarin and find how many syllables of Chinese and Spanish there are respectively in one minute. It can make students have clear perceptual knowledge to Chinese talking speed and consciousness to speak Chinese according to its talking speed.

2. Recognizing the wrong tone by recording

Teachers can record the exact text sentences in students’ cell phones who study Mandarin and ask them to listen repeatedly. After they feel that they can speak completely right, ask students to record their reading in cell phones and compare with the teachers’. In this way, most of the students who study Mandarin can recognize which part they have “gone out of tune”. Then teachers can record the part that students who study Chinese made mistakes again and let students to imitate. Several times later, they can be corrected and they will have the consciousness of not making the same mistake and consult and correct their pronunciation consciously in the next.

3. Training talking speed step by step

To avoid the situation of speaking like a baby, many students who study Mandarin like to speak fluently at the beginning. At this time, teachers should express their understanding firstly and explain the skill of speaking Chinese. For example, every word should be pronounced clearly without swallowing sounds in Mandarin school; there is no liaison between words; “the clear pronunciation and mellow voice” and “speaking in cadence” should be emphasized. After they understand the features of Chinese sentences, students will read slowly firstly and speed up with the teacher after making sure every tunes exact step by step and then read in common speed. The author used to show students who study Mandarin the talking speed of elementary level and intermediate level of Chinese. When they realized the differences, they would like to spend enough time in flow of speech in order to “internalizing” the tone of Chinese sentences. The author always make jokes with students, “拐了,拐了(wrongly turned)” . As long as I say “拐了” and make a gesture of lean, the students will know they are out of tune and say it again. Through this process of teaching training, the phenomenon of going out of tunes of my students had decreased sharply and after one semester (3 months), this phenomenon were eliminated obviously and the students even reached the level of Beijing mandarin.

From the above, tone teaching of Chinese for foreigners who study Mandarin need us to find the crucial reasons without focusing on tone itself. Its crucial reason is not that foreign students cannot grasp Chinese tunes, but that they are influenced by the talking speed and the situation of lacking tunes of their mother tongues. This phenomenon is caused by the difference of the two languages’ talking speed. The truth is they lose the Chinese tunes in talking speed, but not that they can’t pronounce them right.

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