14 October 2012

It turns out those tones are important after all….

Ok so here is what happened.  When I started my awesome Chinese course of study at UNE I had a ‘little bit of the language’  that I had learned 10 years ago.
So I didn’t want to practice tones as that is for language noobs. Fast forward one and half years later and I am having trouble being understood by my excellent language tutor / teacher @ Chinese Mandarin School. BTW my language tutor / teacher has amazing patience and fortitude.
Realising it wasn’t because I didn’t know the vocabulary I was mispronouncing some of the tones / words. So I dug around on the the Internet with my browser for tone practice / drills / worksheets and sounds.  I found this Tips for Remembering the Tones and this  Hanyu Pinyin(汉语拼音)and many more.

Also I searched through my gigabytes archives of Chinese learning resources and found a chart (well several actually). Then we had a lesson and I was told “your tones are not too bad, just a few need improvement”. Well that was reassuring. I emailed the sheet for my teacher to mark the ones that need the most work. It came back very colourful with much for me to work on. Embarrassed smile

From the beginning I knew tones were one of the building blocks of Mandarin learning. A cornerstone of learning is correct tones.  However, I was in denial of this simple fact….because it is boring to do work on your tones alone. All considering I have not come out too badly. I am now quite happy to do some tone work. I am an convert to Mandarin tones. I am a ‘tone again’ Chinese Mandarin Learner.  Praise the tones!
Here is my Chinese teacher’s vid of how to do tones. To be honest the video is a little bland for my taste. It needs more ‘dragons and wizards and stuff’ to make it more interesting.

Awesome Tone Lesson by my Chinese Teacher

OH incidentally around the same time as I had embraced tones this happened . The other week while helping out a local community class of Chinese learners, I was told that my tones were all wrong by one of the members. This is by a non-native speaker of Chinese who has made very little progress in the 12 years he has been learning. If I had been learning 12 years I probably would have learned to read and write Chinese too. Tone Man expert does not read and write Chinese.
I took his insults in my stride as he then started to bray tell me about how many Chinese people had told him that he has excellent tones. If a Chinese person complements you on how good your Chinese is they are just being polite. It is when they don’t comment you can take satisfaction that your Chinese is indeed good.
Also the groups regular Chinese teacher is from the south of China and her first language is not 普通话    pǔ tōng huà    Mandarin (common language) / Putonghua (common speech of the Chinese language) / ordinary speech. Perhaps that is why Tone Man expert is confused.
If Tone Man also knew anything about Chinese culture he would not have bragged about how great his tones and speaking skills are……being humble is considered in polite Chinese society.
Vanity vanity all is vanity…Ecclesiastes 1:2

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