Please Note: This review was produced independently of Rocket Chinese but does contain affiliate links.
If you want to learn to speak a language, then of course the most important thing you have to do is to speak it as much as possible. But with a language like Chinese you have to practice your pronunciation first so native speakers can understand you.
What makes speaking Chinese a bit challenging for most learners is that Mandarin has four tones. One syllable with different tones mean totally different things. For example mǎi means to buy and mài to sell. So how do you learn to pronounce Chinese correctly?
- Step 1: Listen
- Step 2: Imitate
- Step 3: Record Yourself
Listening is the foundation to a good pronunciation. You have to first understand by listening before you can say something correctly yourself in Chinese. You can start the journey by getting to know the basics of Chinese tones first.
Rocket Chinese’s survival kit has a special lesson on Mandarin Chinese tones. Listen to what each tone should sound like, including the “toneless tone”, sometimes referred as the fifth tone.
When listening to the audio lessons, listen carefully and try to hear how different syllables and tones sound like. First listen to just one syllable at the time, then one word at the time. Can you hear the difference between mā, má, mǎ, mà and ma?
The good thing about Rocket Chinese is, that every audio lesson is in a downloadable form. You can listen to it when driving to work, buying groceries or cleaning your house. By listening you will get used to the way Mandarin flows and how standard Mandarin is supposed to sound like. This will help you a lot when you try to pronounce words yourself.
When you start listening to the Rocket Chinese audio lessons, you will notice that you will be given time to say out loud the phrases that you hear. Don’t skip this crucial step! Try to imitate the native speaker as well as you can.
After listening to the audio lesson, go to the conversation transcript. Click to hear the dialogue sentence-by-sentence, trying to speak out loud just like the recording. First round you can look at the pinyin, but next round try not to look at it when you say the sentence out loud. This will help you to remember the sentence when you are in a situation where you have to speak with a native Chinese.
3. Record Yourself
After you have finished the current lesson, you will have to quiz yourself in the testing section. In Hear It Say It! –test you will hear a word said by a native tutor and then you have to record your voice when you say the same word out loud. Listen to your own recording and give yourself a mark based on how you did.
With every lesson you learn with Rocket Chinese, go over these three steps of listening, imitating and recording. Little by little your pronunciation will improve and you have confidence in talking with native speakers. Have fun!