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I'm pretty much tone deaf how can I learn mandarin?


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I'm trying to learn mandarin. However I'm freaking tone deaf and it's hard as hell for me to differentiate between different words. I just cant quite tell the difference between Ma, Ma, Ma and/or Ma. which Ma? I dont know. They all sound the same to me but can mean different things. I'm so used to spoken english and how forgiving it is, that even when traveling to different parts of the US, I can tell exactly what someone is saying even if they pronounce words differently in their own dialect(most of the time). How should I go about learning mandarin then? Is there a simplified form of mandarin I can learn that does not require such memorization of tones? Do I have to learn the written language to help me remember the spoken word? Please help thanks.

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  • 3 months later...

Hey there! I'm a Native Chinese speaker and I have been teaching Chinese for 6 years so I think I can help you with this! For starters, don't be intimidated by our tones, don't think of them as singing tones, but instead, think of them as the tones we use during our normal conversation. 

1st tone is a high and consistent pitch - similar to the sound you make when you are scared and scream out - "ahhhh"

2nd tone is goes from low to high pitch - similar to the sound you make when you don't understand something - "ah?"

3rd tone goes from high pitch to low pitch then back to high pitch again - similar to the sound you make when you have understood something - "ahh"

4th tone is similar to the sound you make when you are angry - "ah!"

Honestly, I haven't come across a student who is tone deaf so I don't know if this works for you. You can check out this video I made to hear the different tones -  https://youtu.be/EKMwF-zkAhs . Please let me know if you can hear the difference in the tones and if you are able to pronounce them. I would love to find out if this method works for everyone. Thanks! :)

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5 hours ago, threedaysinsept said:

Hey there! I'm a Native Chinese speaker and I have been teaching Chinese for 6 years so I think I can help you with this! For starters, don't be intimidated by our tones, don't think of them as singing tones, but instead, think of them as the tones we use during our normal conversation. 

1st tone is a high and consistent pitch - similar to the sound you make when you are scared and scream out - "ahhhh"

2nd tone is goes from low to high pitch - similar to the sound you make when you don't understand something - "ah?"

3rd tone goes from high pitch to low pitch then back to high pitch again - similar to the sound you make when you have understood something - "ahh"

4th tone is similar to the sound you make when you are angry - "ah!"

Honestly, I haven't come across a student who is tone deaf so I don't know if this works for you. You can check out this video I made to hear the different tones -  https://youtu.be/EKMwF-zkAhs . Please let me know if you can hear the difference in the tones and if you are able to pronounce them. I would love to find out if this method works for everyone. Thanks! :)

谢谢你。你是中国哪里来的?

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2019/6/10 at AM9点48分, hqmmhd said:

I'm trying to learn mandarin. However I'm freaking tone deaf and it's hard as hell for me to differentiate between different words. I just cant quite tell the difference between Ma, Ma, Ma and/or Ma. which Ma? I dont know. They all sound the same to me but can mean different things. I'm so used to spoken english and how forgiving it is, that even when traveling to different parts of the US, I can tell exactly what someone is saying even if they pronounce words differently in their own dialect(most of the time). How should I go about learning mandarin then? Is there a simplified form of mandarin I can learn that does not require such memorization of tones? Do I have to learn the written language to help me remember the spoken word? Please help thanks.

Yes I understand the difficulty you are facing. The 4 tones are the biggest challenge for any new Chinese learners. Lucky you are learning Mandarin as it gets only 4 tones - aware that Cantonese gets 9 of those? 

Suggestion is that try to learn some very basic verbal phrases (such as "Ni Hao" and "Xie Xie") first and put that in use (practice). Gradually your ears will become more and more sensitive to those tones. That's how many people started the journey. 

 

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  • 6 months later...

Learning a language is divided into listening, speaking, reading and writting.

The tone of pronounciation is hard for you, but generally if pronounciation is right, it would not influence the communication. 

As for listening, large number of exercises are required not only for meaning of essence of Chinese character or sentence, but also trying to analyse it from the whole context.  I suggest you to understand more Chinese sentences and different topics, such as What time is it.

Hope you can find the reasonable way suiting to you to learn Chinese.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To learn Mandarin, you must listen more, practice more, and repeat.I have joined the Mandarin group to learn Mandarin, you can add me on WeChat jenniferzhu6, everyone supervise each other and make progress together

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  • 3 weeks later...

If you can tell the difference between the intonation of these four different sentences (in English), then you are not tone deaf :) 

1.) You are sick?

2.) You are sick!

3.) Ohhhh, you are sick?

4.) Darn it! You are sick!

In sentence 1 the "...sick?' part would be tone 2. 

In sentence 2 the "...sick!" would be tone 1

The "Ohhh...." in sentence 3 would be tone 3.

And the "Darn..." in sentence 4 would be tone 4.

 

 

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