How To Use The Pinyin Tone Chart
Work through only the initials and finals along the x and y axis (not the combined syllables in the middle).
First try to create each sound by yourself.
Reference the diagrams/sound to see if your tongue/air flow is correct.
Make a note of the sound if you find inconsistencies between your sound and Ella's demonstration.
The list of sounds you have now created is crucial for targeting your weak spots in Stage Two. Now the real training begins.
It takes around three weeks of daily practice to develop new muscle memory. This is how you are going to undo your native language accent and learn correct pronunciation. Cramming hours of work into one day and then waiting till the next weekend will not work. The only way to train your muscle memory is frequent short training sessions. Repetition is the only way. You are training your throat muscles. So with that in mind, here's a few more pointers:
Work through the sounds you previously wrote down one by one.
Speak by yourself before you listen.
Make a mental note of where you are wrong or are correct.
If what you spoke is wrong, play the sound again.
Correct your tongue, lips and air using the diagrams/explanation reference.
Speak along with Ella's demonstration. Bring your pronunciation in line with hers.
Repeat until you are happy with your pronunciation and you can consistently produce it accurately before hearing it. Be patient and try to come back to this table regularly!
While playing with the whole syllables, you’ll also notice you have the option to playback each tone. This is where the magic happens. Putting in the effort here with tone training here will have direct consequences on the rest of your Chinese learning. Choose a row or column for one of your listed sounds and work through each syllable’s first ¯, second ´, third ˇ and fourth ` tone individually using the same methods we've outline above.
Improving Your Pronunciation
This is a failproof way to improve your pronunciation. You only have to stick with it. It still takes time to learn each character's individual tone, but this method will also actively train your listening skills. This means that you will be able to soak up more Chinese when listening to any media or in conversations. You will find it much easier to remember the tones, as you'll recognise them unconsciously now. I know the task ahead of you can appear daunting, so take it one step at a time. Go through the table once and create your list if you haven't already. You can do it!
If you appreciate the effort and time we have put into coding, creating, graphics, instructions and recording sound for this chart, please consider supporting us on Patreon. We also offer a bunch of other Chinese learning resources such as an idiom podcast and Chinese character origins. Good luck on your Chinese learning journey!