When I first learned Chinese, I found that the easiest way to remember the four tones and pronounce them right every time was just to practice saying all four of them in a row and keeping that song going in my head.
The more you say ma1-ma2-ma3-ma4, the easier it gets to recall any of the 4 tones independently and you can be assured that your Chinese pronunciation is going to kick ass.
In the following video I demonstrate how you can achieve this easily. I go on to give you examples of putting two tones together in words.
As demonstrated in the video, you can download the Mandarin Chinese Pronunciation & Tone Training here.
And since you're here, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with where the tones fall on the universal tone chart.
Just in case you want to pick up some other languages like Cantonese or Taiwanese in the future, this chart will help you a lot.
As you can see, over time a lot of tones merged with others. So what's left today are just the following four:
|Category:||Ping 平||Shang 上||Qu 去||入 Ru|
|Yin 陰||1st Tone ˥||3rd Tone ˨˩˦||4th Tone ˥˩||merged|
|Yang 陽||2nd Tone ˧˥||merged||merged||merged|
Words in the Yin category (also known as High Class), started with unvoiced consonants in the ancient Chinese language. Words in the Yang category (also known as Low Class), started with voiced consonants in the ancient Chinese language.
Over time, these sounds have changed somewhat, but they still roughly correspond, and will help you with learning other languages that still make that difference (like Shanghainese and Taiwanese).
Most of the tonal languages in East Asia and Southeast Asia actually fit into this universal chart quite nicely.
If you'd like to read more about the Tones in Asian Languages 🌏, I've written an in-depth introduction to the subject covering most languages in the area.
🔥How Glossika Helps with Your Chinese Pronunciation
What is the best way to keep track of these Chinese pronunciation rules? It's as simple as immersing yourself in the language. You'll remember the tones more naturally because you've experienced them. Glossika's spaced repetition training will help solidify your memory of all the intricacies of Chinese. You'll also be able to get optimal results by immersing yourself in your target language on a daily basis.
Mastering Chinese pronunciation can be challenging. However, the more you listen and speak, the better and the more fluent you'll be. Learn everything you need to know in sentence formation through training the thousands of sentences on Glossika. Glossika is an audio-based training platform, so you will learn Chinese pronunciation faster than any other method.
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If you'd like a more hands-on pronunciation course, we strongly recommend checking out Mandarin Pronunciation and Accent Masterclass from Outlier Linguistics. Their founders, John and Ash, are capable linguists and I've been nothing but impressed with the educational content they've put out.