Chinese is a tonal language. Each Chinese character is corresponding to one syllable with one tone, at times to one syllable with no tone. There are four tones and toneless sound. Let’s look at these four tones first.
－ ／ ∨ ＼
Try to repeat and feel the difference among these tones. Believe it or not, this is how we learned when we were in primary schools of China!
Wait! What about the toneless sound? Hold on! I will introduce it in a short while.
Once you have had a feel on these tones, you are ready to look at Chinese syllables.
Often a Chinese syllable consists of somewhat Initial sound and Final sound. In today’s lesson, we will focus on the Initial sound b and m, on one hand, and the final sound a, o and ao, on the other.
Please keep in mind, although the Chinese phonics appear alike that of English, they are expected to be pronounced very different in many cases. Given that, before we move to any Chinese syllables, let’s hear how they sound first.
b — sounds like the word but without t
m – sounds like the m in ‘mother’
a – sounds like the a sound in ‘Aha’
o – sounds like the sound of wha in ‘what’, a similar ‘wɔ:’.
ao—a similar ‘au’ in English phonics
Now let’s put these initial sounds and final sounds together, and see what syllables we can create!
Now so far, you are looking at and listening to toneless sound. Try to repeat more and feel these sounds without a tone.
Do you remember that Chinese character is corresponding to one syllable and a tone/toneless sound? If we add different tones to these syllables, what characters can we get? Let’s find it out!
ma mā 妈 mother
ba bà 爸 father
mo mō 摸 touch
bo bō 波 wave
mao māo 猫 cat
Want to find a way to practice? Why not Contact me for the worksheet. Yes, I have prepared a worksheet based on this lesson. In the worksheet, you will be able to practice what you have learned in this lesson.
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