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markhavemann

Intermediate Pronunciation Resources

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markhavemann

I was wondering if anybody has come across pronunciation practice books aimed at intermediate/advanced foreign language learners. There is stuff for beginners in every set of textbooks and usually those are fine, and then there is stuff for native speakers which is great too. 

 

The stuff that I have that's aimed at native speakers (for the Mandarin proficiency test that most college students do) is pretty good. They have practice for initials, finals, tones, erhua and sound changes, as well as loads of single character practice and compounds too. There are even some longer phrases but mostly just to demonstrate a particular point.

 

Besides for that relatively basic stuff, they have long paragraphs read at full speed. Obviously for a native speaker this isn't a big jump and they don't need anything in between. On the other hand, for me it's quite a jump going from being able to say individual sounds clearly in isolation to putting them into practice at full speed. 

 

I'm looking for something to bridge this gap. Ideally it would have short phrases, maybe common phrases, at least said slowly and then repeated again once at normal speed. Something in between individual characters/words and full on paragraphs at full speed. 

 

I know that things more or less like this exist for English, but I haven't found anything for Chinese. Has anybody come across anything like this? 

 

 

I anticipate that someone will suggest I find sentences from content that I'm interested in, in an accent that I like, then practise mirroring those over and over while recording myself. This is good advice, but...

  • Firstly, I already do this. It's partly what has made me want something to bridge the gap. 
  • Secondly, there is something extremely useful about having specific examples designed by an experienced teacher, grouped together based on what skill they are trying to teach, and presented in a progressive and useful way. I can see my own students using these for English and how useful it is to have this kind of resource to be able to draw from.  

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imron

Glossika?

 

If you're at HSK 5-6 though, and you can understand the stuff from the Mandarin proficiency exam, personally I'd just go with shadowing those longer paragraphs - but use a tool like Audacity to only practice on smaller sentences at a time.

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agewisdom
17 hours ago, imron said:

If you're at HSK 5-6 though, and you can understand the stuff from the Mandarin proficiency exam, personally I'd just go with shadowing those longer paragraphs - but use a tool like Audacity to only practice on smaller sentences at a time.

 

Mind sharing how do you exactly use Audacity for pronunciation? I'm already familiar with Audacity but curious on how exactly you use it for pronunciation? I mean you can see the tones in a graphical form, so do you just try to mirror the correct tones? Do you actually try to synchronize your own practice with the correct tone sources and see the differences? Or some other manner?

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SunnySideUp

I thought he meant to use audacity to split up long paragraphs into smaller chunks (that's at least what I took away as advice).

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markhavemann
17 hours ago, imron said:

Glossika?

I really love the idea of the Glossika method but I gave up trying to use it a while ago because I just can't stand accent of the speaker. I can't quite put my finger on what I dislike so much about it but I can't get past it (although I do realise it's may not be a good reason to throw out what so many people stand by as a great resource). 

 

17 hours ago, imron said:

If you're at HSK 5-6 though, and you can understand the stuff from the Mandarin proficiency exam, personally I'd just go with shadowing those longer paragraphs - but use a tool like Audacity to only practice on smaller sentences at a time.

  I suspect that I may have to settle for this anyway. I've done some searching on the internet and there really doesn't seem to be anything. 

 

To help explain what I want, here is an example of what would  be a small section of my ideal pronunciation book:

 

Tone combinations might be something that would get a fair bit of focus. For this case we could say third tone followed by second tone. I would imagine a lesson focusing on this to look something like: 

  1. First practise a few words with third tone in isolation (to prime your ear). First slowly, emphasizing the tone, then again at native speed. 
  2. Then practise words with second tone in the same way.
  3. Put them together in words that have a 3 2 tone combination. Eg 赌博 美国 etc. First slowly and then at native speed
  4. Now add characters either in front of or behind words like this to make slightly longer phrases, practised slowly and then at normal speed.
  5. Now have longer sentences, each one should contain one or more instances of words with this pattern. First practised slowly, than at native speed.

Meaning would be secondary here and some nonsense examples could be made up if necessary, to facilitate practising the target skill. 

 

I suppose that it's unlikely that something like this exists for Chinese, and I could possibly put something together for myself but it would take quite a bit of time and effort searching through sentences and books and might fall short anyway.

 

Getting your mouth (and ear) to do what you want is a bit of a physical skill I think and I'm sure that some focused practice like this could really help to improve pronunciation in a really efficient way by building the right muscles and forming good habits in a very focused way. These skills can be gained by accident or on purpose while just using the language, but I think there are more efficient ways of doing it. Even professional athletes don't spend all their time on the field, they spend time doing specific drills and other purely physical exercises to help them focus on parts that are hard to improve on when actually performing. 

 

 

 

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agewisdom
49 minutes ago, markhavemann said:

To help explain what I want, here is an example of what would  be a small section of my ideal pronunciation book:

 

Tone combinations might be something that would get a fair bit of focus. For this case we could say third tone followed by second tone. I would imagine a lesson focusing on this to look something like: 

  1. First practise a few words with third tone in isolation (to prime your ear). First slowly, emphasizing the tone, then again at native speed. 
  2. Then practise words with second tone in the same way.
  3. Put them together in words that have a 3 2 tone combination. Eg 赌博 美国 etc. First slowly and then at native speed
  4. Now add characters either in front of or behind words like this to make slightly longer phrases, practised slowly and then at normal speed.
  5. Now have longer sentences, each one should contain one or more instances of words with this pattern. First practised slowly, than at native speed.

Meaning would be secondary here and some nonsense examples could be made up if necessary, to facilitate practising the target skill. 

 

I suppose that it's unlikely that something like this exists for Chinese, and I could possibly put something together for myself but it would take quite a bit of time and effort searching through sentences and books and might fall short anyway.

 

Getting your mouth (and ear) to do what you want is a bit of a physical skill I think and I'm sure that some focused practice like this could really help to improve pronunciation in a really efficient way by building the right muscles and forming good habits in a very focused way. These skills can be gained by accident or on purpose while just using the language, but I think there are more efficient ways of doing it. Even professional athletes don't spend all their time on the field, they spend time doing specific drills and other purely physical exercises to help them focus on parts that are hard to improve on when actually performing. 

 

Well, that would be ideal but I suspect it wouldn't exist currently. Trying to put something like this together would be too strenuous an effort for very little gains. In terms of cost-benefit ratio, it's definitely not worthwhile.

 

I think the best way would be to home in on your problem areas and work on those. Possibly best to get a tutor to help on:

(a) identifying the problem areas; and

(b) rectifying them.

 

It would definitely be faster to do this rather than to set up a system. If there were a large pool of prospective students interested, then it would be a different story.

 

Anyways, good luck!

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Yadang
1 hour ago, markhavemann said:

Tone combinations might be something that would get a fair bit of focus.

Have you seen the tone pair page on the Chinese Pronunciation Wiki?

 

You might also want to check out the paid pronunciation recordings on the AllSet Learning Site. Might be somewhat close to what you're looking for.

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Flickserve
3 hours ago, markhavemann said:

really love the idea of the Glossika method but I gave up trying to use it a while ago because I just can't stand accent of the speaker. I can't quite put my finger on what I dislike so much about it but I can't get past it (although I do realise it's may not be a good reason to throw out what so many people stand by as a great resource). 

 

The person for Mandarin Beijing is plainly bored and speaks lifelessly. Whilst the grammar patterns are OK, as a training pronunciation resource, it comes up short. You have to speak a bit lazily to reach the right speed which makes it hard for those who care about pronunciation and trying to get it right as far as possible.

 

The tones can be quite flat with subtle changes. Harder for less experienced learned to differentiate the words which means a greater chance of making mistakes.

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markhavemann
2 hours ago, agewisdom said:

Well, that would be ideal but I suspect it wouldn't exist currently. Trying to put something like this together would be too strenuous an effort for very little gains. In terms of cost-benefit ratio, it's definitely not worthwhile.

Yes it does seem that way. It would definitely be quite a project to take on, one which I would be tempted to do, but since there isn't really much like this already, I guess there isn't a big demand for it. As you say, a tutor may be the cheaper and easier alternative if actually putting something like that together may not benefit anyone else really. 

 

2 hours ago, Yadang said:

Have you seen the tone pair page on the Chinese Pronunciation Wiki?

 

You might also want to check out the paid pronunciation recordings on the AllSet Learning Site. Might be somewhat close to what you're looking for.

Interesting. It is a pity that there is no way to preview what the AllSet audio is like, or get an idea how much content their is without actually buying their products. 

 

Being in China, I already have access to the local textbooks which are really cheap ($5-10), recorded by natives and have sometimes thousands or tens of thousands of examples of what AllSet seems to be doing there, although perhaps organised in a slightly different way. 

 

Without having actually listened to what AllSet has to offer I can't say for sure, but it does look like I would run into a similar problem of it not actually bridging the gap between isolated single or double character tone drills and sentences at native speed. 

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philwhite

I'm not at intermediate but I found the BLCUP Road to Success Threshold CD was full of useful practice for tones and combination, albeit a book aimed at beginners.

 

As well as Audacity, you might consider WorkAudioBook for shadowing or for creating Anki cards with help from subs2srs. 

 

Also praat can be useful to get a graphic display of your tones. 

 

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imron
On 2/16/2019 at 10:36 PM, markhavemann said:

It is a pity that there is no way to preview what the AllSet audio is like,

You can find a precursor to John's Allset tone pair pronunciation resources here.  I imagine the paid product is more of the same but more professionally produced (it appears to include PDFs and study suggestions along with audio).

 

On 2/16/2019 at 6:03 PM, agewisdom said:

Mind sharing how do you exactly use Audacity for pronunciation?

There are many different ways!  The way I was talking about here, was taking a longer piece of text then looking at the soundwave and highlighting the part that has the sentence I want to practice (adjusting more or less as needed), then just listening to it over and over on loop a few times making sure I can pick out all the words.

 

If there were words I didn't know, then I'd look them up, and if there were words I didn't catch then I might shorten the audio to just that section and loop it over and over again until I can catch all the words and then go back to the sentence.

 

Once I can listen and understand the whole sentence, then I'd record myself trying to say the same thing.

 

Then I'd listen back to my recording, make a note of where the problems were, e.g. wrong pronunciation, pauses in the wrong place, stumbles in speaking, umms and ahhs etc, and then record myself again making a conscious effort to correct the mistakes.

 

Then I repeat the 'recording, listening, fixing, re-recording' process until I'm happy that I can say the sentence well.

 

Then I'd either a) choose a new sentence or b) extend the current audio to include the next sentence.

 

Option a) is for when I just want to focus on shorter bits of pronunciation, option b) is when I want to practice speaking longer sections of text.'

 

On 2/16/2019 at 6:03 PM, agewisdom said:

I mean you can see the tones in a graphical form,

You can't see the tones in graphical form and I wouldn't want to - just like I wouldn't find it particularly useful to see the consonants or the vowels in graphical form.

 

On 2/16/2019 at 6:03 PM, agewisdom said:

so do you just try to mirror the correct tones?

I try to mirror the correct pronunciation and I try not to treat tones as a separate part of the pronunciation.

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agewisdom

Many thanks for the detailed explanation Imron. I'm going to try learning via Audacity at a later date then. :)

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markhavemann
2 hours ago, imron said:

You can find a precursor to John's Allset tone pair pronunciation resources here. 

Thanks! I'll take a look. 

 

Nice description of the process using Audacity too. 

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markhavemann
6 hours ago, philwhite said:

Also praat can be useful to get a graphic display of your tones. 

I almost didn't see your post. Praat looks really interesting! I downloaded it and put in single words spoken by a native speaker in each tone. The results were pretty cool. Here is a screenshot for anyone who may be interested (you can see which tone it is at the top of each window in the filename): 

 

 991092120_praattones.thumb.png.9ecb60da5f24926463eccd9b840edaa2.png

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Flickserve
On 2/15/2019 at 7:50 PM, markhavemann said:

 

I'm looking for something to bridge this gap. Ideally it would have short phrases, maybe common phrases, at least said slowly and then repeated again once at normal speed. Something in between individual characters/words and full on paragraphs at full speed. 

 

 

There's an Android app called immersive Chinese.

 

Not sure if it is available on iOS. You can toggle  sentences with a different speed - slow and normal.

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markhavemann
1 hour ago, Flickserve said:

There's an Android app called immersive Chinese.

Just another reason to regret being caught in the Apple trap. Doesn't look like there is a version for iOS. It's a real shame because I'd have liked to take a look at it. 

 

Here is a link for anyone else interested: 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.immersive.chinese

 

"More than 4000 high-quality audio recordings, around 5 hours in total" 

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realmayo

I've worked with a tutor using this book before: 汉语正音教程

from Peking University Press.

https://baike.baidu.com/item/汉语正音教程

Comes with CD/MP3.

Pretty good. Pronunciation explanation + example words + contrasting/minimal pairs + practice sentences + short texts

No English but pinyin throughout. Speakers are slow and of course very clear.

I've attached the audio for the chapter on 'u' vs 'ü'.

 

07.mp3

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Publius

@realmayoI found two errors in the recording.

One is zheng4yue4. I presume it means 正月 zheng1yue4.

Another is that in 蘇軾's 《水調歌頭》, 高處不勝寒 is pronounced gao1chu4 bu4sheng4 han2. Sheng4 is the dictionary reading on the mainland. But a decent dictionary will also tell you that 勝 when meaning 'able to bear' used to be (and still is in Taiwan) pronounced sheng1. The sheng1 reading is required in this poem because the 格律 for that line is (仄)仄仄平平. And don't take my word for it. Search 明月幾時有+朗誦 and see how the professionals do it.

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Luxi
On 2/18/2019 at 7:34 AM, Flickserve said:

Not sure if it is available on iOS.

 

Immersive Chinese is available in iOS now, 25 lessons are free, the rest can be purchased for £3.99 (no subscription, just straight purchase).

It looks good.

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