The 4 tones in Mandarin Chinese

Audio clips

Mimicking sounds gives you a great start in learning a new language.  Students will naturally follow the pitch of a Chinese word when asked to repeat it straight away– but to reproduce the exact sound in the correct tone a few minutes later usually needs further explanation.

Mandarin has 4 distinct tones plus a neutral tone with no emphasis.  See if you can hear the direction of the pitch in each sound.  Is it:  High and level (1st tone), rising (2nd), falling and rising (3rd), or falling (4th)? Good tones make a great impression – have a go!