When and How shall Tones Be Taught in Chinese Learning?

Wen Cao


Chinese is one of the tonal languages. It has 4 syllabo-morphemic contour tones. Many CSL learners and teachers take tones as the most difficult part in mastering pronunciation. Traditionally, teachers tend to emphasize the initial-final-tone or vowel-consonant-tone orders in teaching. However, in my opinion, tones should be clearly and fully taught from the very beginning. In brief, I call it “Tones First”. After explicitly describing the foundational reasons, I will put forth what should be basically considered for enacting the TF principle. In short, the following factors must be taken into consideration: (1) the common segmental units that both L1 and L2 have; (2) tone combinations; (3) the interaction of tone and intonation; (4) the interaction of tone and stress. Reasonable arrangement or design will make teaching and learning more effective. Some examples are given in this article.  


 DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2016-6

Cite as: Cao, W. (2016) When and How shall Tones Be Taught in Chinese Learning?. Proc. ISAPh 2016 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics, 30-33, DOI: 10.21437/ISAPh.2016-6.


@inproceedings{Cao2016,
  author={Wen Cao},
  title={When and How shall Tones Be Taught in Chinese Learning?},
  year=2016,
  booktitle={Proc. ISAPh 2016 International Symposium on Applied Phonetics},
  pages={30--33},
  doi={10.21437/ISAPh.2016-6},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/ISAPh.2016-6}
}