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Thanks for your feedback guys, especially you, 陳德聰! 


Do you have any advice on distinguishing between n and ng syllables? I feel kinda stupid saying my name wrong. (I guess I should change my name as well as my nationality).


I've heard the back of the mouth, front of the mouth thing before, but it's never been very helpful for me. I'm just not sure which muscles to tense/relax. I do know that I have issue with both u and ü that I need to work on.


I'm going to look into that 3-2 tone combination. I've been told that I have problems with third tone before. Is the problem that the third tone isn't dipping? I remember reading before that one professor thought he had better success teaching third tone as the low tone instead of the dipping tone, because it doesn't usually rise at the end unless spoken alone. I've just been thinking "aim for a low pitch," but I incorrectly don't actually lower the pitch through the syllable. Does that sound plausible?

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You are doing very good, imo, especially coming from a Westerner. Most of the Westerners I've met can not make the difference between a voiced and voiceless sound (e.g. b, d, g and so on) but you are doing great on that. As for n/ng, as long as you are an English native speaker, it should be no problem, the ng is exactly the same as the one in "-ing" etc.

Some of the issues that I heard were mainly the "u" final, e.g. Chengdu. From what I know, the English "u" isn't corresponding with the Chinese one, so this one might be a bit tricky. About the 3rd tone, it changes in combination with all the other tones, unless the last syllable of a word is in the 3rd tone. Usually, the tones can use "55"(first), "35"(second), "214"(third), "51"(fourth) to describe them, and 3rd  tone + the 2nd tone should change to 21+35, so for example, 美国, it should be "mei21+guo35" aka when saying "mei", you don't have to rise your voice. The only 2 cases that the 3rd tone is read as 214 is when it's a single syllable word, "谁呀?我 wo214" or when the final syllable of a word is in the 3rd tone, “下雨yu214". Keep up with the good work!

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Ok, finally started practicing pronunciation. I'm using fsi for the basics, but it feels like anything longer than a word is too long. I was seriously running out of breath with all the rising and neutral tones put together. Here, I'm reading the first part of the text from my textbook. It was not spontainous tho, I kept rerecording myself, and eventually just stopped once i got all the words right, without too many pauses. In case you were wondering, this is supposed to be Chinese  :mrgreen:


I can't seem to upload it. It's not too big, stops at the end and then says 'No file was selected for upload'. Maybe the forum is trying to tell me it's too bad, and that I shouldn't post it.

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It looks like this thread is active again, so I thought I would contribute my own recording. If anyone has any comments or pointers about it that would be awesome  :mrgreen: Thanks!


In this recording I am reading an excerpt from this article: http://chuansong.me/n/443295944769 . This was my 5th or 6th take. The first few times it was too slow because my reading speed is still kind of low but I didn't want that to be the focus rather than just pronunciation.


My general feeling about my pronunciation is that it's quite good, but it doesn't feel quite perfect and I'm not sure why. When I listen to my own recordings, I don't really notice any mistakes as such, but I can't really tell how natural it sounds either. My private teacher says my pronunciation is perfect, but I don't quite believe her. At least, there are no obvious errors in my pronunciation and the only thing left to do to improve it is some non-obvious fine tuning.


Edit: just noticed that 测量 should be cèliáng but I read it as cèliàng. Whoops.


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@eddyf - my only critique is that the way you speak is very montone. All the tones are strong, clear, and accurate. And that's the problem. There's no sense of intonation. I'm not sure if that's because you're reading while speaking.

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  • 2 weeks later...



Sorry this took so long. I hope you're still interested in having feedback! I hate the weather text so I opted to look at your one about phobias. My concern is really that you were reading/memorization a dialogue rather than just speaking about your normal everyday life. I think this makes it pretty hard to spot problems with flow and prosody, but nonetheless is still good for finding minute pronunciation things. Do you by any chance speak Cantonese?


Again, I have marked in red where your pronunciation may have some issues. * is used to illustrated a non-individual-tone-related issue, such as pronunciation of the vowel, or sentence level intonation/stress. If I haven't put a tone mark, it means your tone was not clearly pronounced, or not identifiable if red and unmarked. So this way, if you see something in red that has the correct tone, it means that you got the tones right but it sounded out of place in the sentence. Brackets were used where you sort of pronounced but didn't really pronounce the enclosed sound.


Wǒmen zhōumò qù yóuyǒng ba. Wǒ bú huì yóuyǒng, lǎoshí shuō, wǒ yǒudiǎn pàshuǐ. Á? Nǐ zhème dà le, jùrán pàshuǐ! Nǐ bié xià(o) wǒ, wǒ shì zhē*nde duì shuǐ kǒngjù. Meige rén nanmiǎn dōu yǒu zìjǐ haipà de dōngxi, ni kěndìng yě yǒu.* Wǒ díquè yǒu, wǒ yǒu kǒnggāo, kǒnggāozhèng, cǒng gáochù wáng xià kàn, wo mashàng hui tóuyūn, shuāngjiǎo fādǒu. Shì a, zhèxiē hǎoxiàng dōu shì tiānshēng de. Jiù s(u)àn niánlíng zài dà, yě méi bànfǎ kèfǔ. Bǐrú shuō, hǎo d(u)ō rén yǒu fēixíng kǒngjùzhèng, qíngkuàng yánzhōng de shè*nzhì bù náng zuò fēijī. Zhè duō bù fāngbià(n) a. En(?), wǒ de hǎo pángyǒu jiù shì zhèyàng. Hái yǒu háo d(u)ō rén yǒu yōubìkǒngjùzhèng, zài xiāxiǎo de kōngjiàn lǐ, jiù huì gǎnjué tòubuguò qì, shè*nzhì yáo zhìxī. Zhèxiē dōu shì bǐjiào chángjiàn de kǒngjùzhèng. Wǒ hái rēnshi rén yǒu máofà kǒngjùzhèng, kà*njiàn tóufa jiù xiàng kà*njiàn guǐ yíyàng.* Nǐ shuō, tà měitián kà*nzhe zìjǐ de tóufa zěnme shēnghuó ne? Shì a, kà*nlái wǒmen liǎ de qíngkuàng hái méiyǒu nàme zāogāo.


A few problem areas:

- You have a tendency to pronounce your first tones, mostly at the beginning of words but elsewhere too, too forcefully, which makes them sound like fourth tones. Sometimes it is less obvious, like in the first sentence, zhōumò still sounds correct in isolation, but as a part of the sentence, you have a spike in pitch there. Other examples are kōngjiàn and tà.


- Your sentence level intonation could use some practice. This involves listening to the intonation of full sentences rather than just pronouncing words individually in the right order. This will help you to sound more natural, but at A2/B1 perhaps does not need to be your main focus for now. I just think it will help if you can get stress on the right words. For example, the sentence "看見頭髮就像看見鬼一樣", your stress should be on tóufà and guǐ, because those are the two parts you are comparing, but instead your stress was on kànjiàn which made it hard for me to understand what you were saying the first time I listened. "bǐjiào chángjiàn" was particularly jarring, because you gave equal weight to both words, when the meaning of the sentence would predict that just "chángjiàn" be emphasized.


- Occasionally, you jump to high or too low when switching from high register sounds to low register sounds. For example, when you have a second tone after a fourth or first tone, you tend to start way too low on it and it ends up sounding like a third tone or just like you're out of breath. Likewise it seems like you sometimes overreach for higher tones after completing a lower one, but this is not as frequent or distracting.


- Overall enunciation. You sometimes are trying to speak too quickly, and it results in you losing lots of sounds, tones and pronunciation of vowels/consonants included. I think when you are trying to work on your pronunciation, you should be focusing on saying everything clearly rather than quickly.


- Your pronunciation of "z" is not standard, and imitates English pronunciation. This is an affricate sound in Mandarin, but you have no stop at the front. You should be pronouncing this as an unaspirated [ts] sound.


- Your third tone throughout was shakey. You are making a proper third tone, but you do not have to pronounce a full third tone every time. In fact, it makes it sound weird if every third tone is fully pronounced. You already know the rule about tone sandhi for two third tones in succession, but the majority of third tones in final position end up losing their rising portion.


- The reason I asked if you speak Cantonese is that you pronounce "e" in péngyǒu and néng as closer to "pángyǒu" and "náng". Either way, this is worth noticing and working on correcting. Also your "e" in zhēnde and shènzhì have * beside them because both times you pronounced them like "zhī(n)de" and "shì(n)zhì".


Also the word 頭髮 tóufà/a ... I have only just noticed now that I'm done that I marked all your no-tones in red. Apparently tóufa is the incoming(?) standard... Feel free to ignore. BUT regarding your no-tones, note that they are not supposed to just imitate the preceeding tone. I recommend drilling more tone-pairs.



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So you're right, your pronunciation is pretty much perfect. I don't think it was monotone, it just sounded like you were reading. The only thing I could notice was that your "e" sounds sometimes like it is too far back, causing it to kind of sound like [ʌ], which is likely more a slip of the tongue than anything accent related. Other than that I only noticed one tone issue aside from 测量 as you already said, which was the final 做.


In terms of feeling more natural, I think it would make more sense for you to record yourself speaking rather than reading. Tell us what you did the past couple of days.

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Dàjiā hǎo, wǒ shì Lín Zhènpú. Zhì shì wǒ de zhōngwén yīn de zi:


Zhì -> zhè

yīn -> fāyīn

zi -> lìzi


朋友你好、為了你好;請你坐好、心聽好; 人的一生、平安好;錢少、夠吃就


用 yǒng -> yòng

人 rěn -> rén

的 dà -> de

就 jiào -> jiù

少 shāo -> shǎo

吃 qū -> chī


You also said 就 instead of "", but I think this is because you memorized the rhyme incorrectly. My suggestion is to work on your jiù pronunciation so that it sounds like "ji(o)u" instead of "ji(a)u".

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@stapler Yeah it definitely doesn't help that I was reading. I think it's not as bad when I'm just in conversation but I do need to watch out for that. Even if my intonation doesn't sound unnatural, I think the range of emotions I can express through intonation is quite limited at the moment. It's really hard to get a chance to practice sounding really angry if you're not a great actor and you never get angry at your Chinese speaking partners  :P


@陳德聰 You sir are a hero in this thread. Especially in your super thorough responses to stapler and others. Thanks for the comments, I can definitely hear what you're talking about. And perhaps I'll try recording myself speaking some time. The trouble is, if it's improvised then I'll probably fail to think of anything to say and sound really dumb. But if it's rehearsed then it will sound like I'm reading again. Maybe the only way to get a truly authentic result is to record a conversation with someone else...

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@ 陳德聰 - thanks for taking the time to listen to my recording and provide so such valuable feedback. Reading it has made me realise that my neglect of speaking has had serious consequences for my ability to speak correctly (of course, right?). I think it's quite easy to become very complacent about how clear one's speaking is, especially when native speakers don't ever point out your mistakes. I'll definitely have to try and pay more attention to the wonky tones you've pointed out.


Next time I'll try and provide a spontaneous conversation instead of reading a dialogue. Hopefully it'll make it even more obvious where I am consistently making mistakes. Just have to build up the courage/nerve to record my unassisted Mandarin speaking.... I'm already terrified.


I don't speak a word of Cantonese. However I too noticed my tendency to change eng to ang. Something I've been trying to work on. However you also mention that my pronunciation of 真的 or 甚至 is ""zhī(n)de" and "shì(n)zhì". I can't actually hear that. My pronunciation sounds correct to my own ears. Not sure how to fix/improve it. - I'm also wondering if all these nasal sound problems are interrelated - and maybe something to do with my underlying native accent.


I didn't realise that my "z"'s were wrong. Something I'll have pay extra attention to. Is it incorrect in a way that makes it sound annoying or uncomfortable, or just 'foreign'?


"En(?)" - 嗯!

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Just have to build up the courage/nerve to record my unassisted Mandarin speaking.... I'm already terrified.

You're doing great. Truly, these are not huge impediments to understanding :) it just needs to be like 10 random sentences you think of off the top of your head.

However you also mention that my pronunciation of 真的 or 甚至 is ""zhī(n)de" and "shì(n)zhì". I can't actually hear that. My pronunciation sounds correct to my own ears. Not sure how to fix/improve it.

I generally recommend pronouncing and holding an "e" sound while gradually trying to add then "n" on the end. If you have been listening to the pure "e" and it starts to change even slightly before adding the "n", you should notice.

I didn't realise that my "z"'s were wrong. Something I'll have pay extra attention to. Is it incorrect in a way that makes it sound annoying or uncomfortable, or just 'foreign'?

Notice I said non-standard and not wrong :) it is instantly noticeable but it is not annoying or uncomfortable. I suspect it could potentially get mixed up with "s" sounds more easily, but I don't think you need to do much to change it honestly.
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I'm originally from Brazil but I grew up in the US. I haven't really been studying for that long, just 2 and a half years all in my spare time while working full time here in the US. But I feel like my pronunciation was mostly set by how I spent my first six months which is by slowly going through Pimsleur, doing each lesson twice. So that's 90 hours dedicated entirely to pronunciation work because I think that's basically all that Pimsleur is good for (the vocab and grammatical structures it teaches you are pretty limited). After that I don't know if my pronunciation really improved at all beyond that point. Maybe it got a bit smoother from doing Glossika which is what I'm in the middle of doing now (I've done about 2400 sentences out of 3000 as of now).

For me learning pronunciation was just a matter of having an obsessive attention to detail and putting in nearly a hundred hours of shadowing work via Pimsleur.

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  • 9 months later...
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I live in China and often run into situations where locals don't understand what I am saying (at all). However, other times I can have long conversations with people without a hitch. Trying to get feedback on my pronunciation from Chinese people is impossible - everyone will just politely say that my accent is very standard and very good. Instead of reading a text I just recorded some speech on one take. I think this is pretty much how I sound when I talk to people in informal situations (grammar etc. mistakes included).


Please give me some feedback on how to improve my spoken Chinese :)


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Your pronunciation reminds me of my own a few years ago, which unfortunately isn't a good thing! People who are used to foreigners speaking, or used to you speaking, or just very patient, will be able to understand most of what you're saying and I presume you'll be able to happily express yourself through fairly complex topics. But because it sounds quite different from how Chinese people speak, I can understand why you'd get a lot of completely blank looks too.


Did you either pick up a lot of Chinese by talking to Chinese people in China, as opposed to formal study? Or spend a lot of time outside China while studying?


Anyway, the good news is you can improve your pronunciation loads and loads if you put the effort in. In fact you owe it to yourself to do so.


- You need to slow down. Yes, some Chinese people speak quickly. But you need to speak more slowly.


- By slowing down, you will give yourself time to pronounce most words fully.


- With time to pronounce most words fully, you'll have to force yourself to say them with the proper tones.


Your tones aren't proper. Speaking more slowly and precisely will mean you've got nowhere to hide. Lots of words just seem swallowed, so you're not giving yourself a chance to say them fully. For instance 当地人: dāng should be longer so the listener has the chance to hear that it's a level, first tone. dì needs to go down, yours doesn't, or only a tiny bit, not enough to let the listener hear that it's a fourth tone. Also your rén starts of right at the bottom and barely seems to rise: it should start higher and move even higher. You should take control over these tones rather than letting them push you around.


You need to go back to pinyin basics for a while. Can you get a tutor? Boring work but: unfold a pinyin table, get the tutor to work through syllable by syllable, tone by tone, for an hour at a time. Will be very frustrating. But with a patient tutor, you will definitely improve over time. Then move to two-syllable words. You might find some useful study material here https://store.allsetlearning.com/ .  Work through the two-syllable words with your tutor. Slowly, grind away at it. Note down the tones or tone-combinations that you always get wrong. Start each class with them if you can bear it. Also make sure that these 'production' exercises are also accompanied by listening ones: get the tutor to say syllables or multi-syllable words and ask you to identify the pinyin and tone. If you can't distinguish correctly when listening, you've little chance of consistently saying these sounds correctly either.


A tutor gives you instant feedback and the opportunity to try to correct yourself again and again. There are other things you can do on your own, just as recording your speech, shadowing other speech, analysing your tones with the free Praat software ... but in my opinion nothing beats boring remedial pinyin work with a tutor.


From personal experience, it's really, really worth putting in the effort. Once you get the pronunciation better, then all the other skills you already have, such as vocabulary, grammar, constructing sentences, will just click back into place naturally.

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How long have you been studying chinese ? Cant tell if your pronunciation is good or not, but after one semester of chinese, I can barely speak a sentence (though I can write around 500-700 hanzi, I believe, I guess I have HSK3 level). So for me, it sounds really good, so Im curious about your study time (didnt check the other ones of this thread)

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Thanks for the comment. I have been studying on and off for the last 10 years. I try to passively maintain my level, but nowadays it tends to come mostly from reading and listening! For me, my speaking ability really came to life living in China, and I have found it hard to obtain that outside of China.



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