How to Improve Pronunciation Beyond the Basics


As far as pronunciation is concerned, the key goal for most students who join Mandarin classes Singapore is to speak in such a way that others can understand what they are saying. To be able to do the same, you must not only master the tones in single syllables but also in combinations.

If you want your pronunciation to be at least of the acceptable level, if not more, you must recognize one plain truth: pronunciation is extremely important. If you make many mistakes, others wouldn’t be able to comprehend what you are saying.

Many beginners when they see that others can understand what they are saying even after they’ve made many pronunciation mistakes start believing, incorrectly, though, that pronunciation or tones don’t matter much. The others can understand because they can guess what you’re saying. And they are able to guess correctly most of the time because being a beginner you can only speak basic sentences.

However, as you learn more and your vocabulary increases, you’ll become almost impossible to understand if you continue to make mistakes in tones or pronunciation.

So it’s important to get your pronunciation right every time. If you want to improve your pronunciation beyond the basics, you’ll have to understand the gap between your very best performance and average performance (That is, the way you speak normally.).

If your very best performance is of the desired level, you’re almost there. Your problem is not qualitative. All you need to do is practice more to bring your average performance to the same level as your very best performance.

On the other hand, if you very best performances is a few notches lower than your desired goal, you’ve got a qualitative problem at hand. Just practicing the way you’ve been till now will not help. For example, if you pronounce something incorrectly, you’ll continue to do the same, irrespective of whether you practice for less or more number hours. What you need is qualitative training.

The easiest way to fix a qualitative problem is to seek help of someone who can help you. For instance, if you really want to learn Chinese in Singapore, you must seriously consider joining a regular class course.  Alternatively, you can hire a private tutor. However, remember, the second method costs a lot more than first.

In case, neither of these two options are viable for you, the following tips will surely help you:

  • Set goals, restrict your focus – Identify the biggest problem in your pronunciation and then make a plan to fix it. Of course, for this, you must record yourself first.
  • Mimic native speakers – There’s no better way to learn Chinese than by mimicking native speakers.
  • Benchmark yourself – This is extremely important once you cross the beginner’s stage. If you don’t benchmark yourself, you might not be to able to correctly measure your progress—or lack of it.
  • Keep practicing – After you find that your best performance is almost or close to your goals, you must focus on improving the level of your average performance. For that, you need to continue practicing. Remember, reaching this stage means you’ve fixed the qualitative problem, but you still need quantitative practice to bring up the level of your average performance.
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