When I first learned Chinese in an academic setting, I had classmates who struggled with Chinese because they glazed over the foundation of the entire language: tones. They had a Western background, and as they struggled to hear the different sounds they would say, “I’m just tone-deaf, that must be the reason I can’t get it.” I thought to myself, “training can overcome tone-deafness – just look at the billions of people in China and Taiwan who can do it!”
Fast forward many years to teaching my kids Chinese. For the most part, they get tones, probably because of brain plasticky. But for words that are spelled the same but are read with different tones, they struggled and needed something more visual to help them along. These two Guess the Tone Game videos are helpful because they directly compare two words that are almost alike but have different meanings. Plus the video has a game show feel where kids can applaud their own efforts.
Whether you are training out the tone-deaf, ironing out some tonal obstacles, or reviewing for fun, these videos are for to enjoy.
This is just a very basic review of tones. It can get more complicated when tones are combined in series and a 4th tone may change to 2nd tone, or a 4th tone could be dropped to a “no tone.” Would it help to make a Guess the Tone game about this? Let me know! And as always, happy learning!