Tone features of Chinese and teaching methods for second language learners

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Abstract

Chinese is a tone language, i.e., pitch cues are used to distinguish different lexical meanings. Chinese tones are important but difficult for foreign learners who acquire Chinese as a second language (L2). This paper provided a systematic discussion on teaching methods, including the teaching methods and materials as well as the teaching sequence of Chinese tones. Based on the tone categories and pitch features of Chinese tones, this paper proposes several effective methods of teaching tones to second language learners. From the perspective of tone categories, there are two methods to enhance tone teaching: (1) applying minimal pairs, which consist of same segments of consonants and vowels but different tones; (2) applying meaningful phrases in the tone order. From the perspective of pitch features, there are three effective methods for tone teaching: (1) utilizing the similarities between musical tones and linguistic tones; (2) utilizing the visual assistance of pitch contours; (3) utilizing multimedia assistance of simple acoustic measurement, which can be realized by a free software called Praat. In addition to tones in isolated citation form, the teaching sequence for tones in non-canonical forms are also discussed. The teaching materials and methods proposed in this paper can help to enhance the efficiency of teaching Chinese tones to L2 learners.
漢語的一個顯著特點是聲調語言,這在對外漢語教學中既是重點也是難點。本文系統地探討了對外漢語聲調教學的方法,包括教學中可使用的材料、手段以及注意事項等。從漢語聲調本身的特點出發,有兩種教學方法可以應用:第一,巧用聲調的最小語音配對,通過辨識詞義和反復朗讀讓留學生熟習國語的四個聲調。第二,巧用按聲調順序排列的詞組或成語,幫助留學生記憶和熟習漢語的聲調。若從音高的特性和呈現方式出發,以下幾種方法也可以幫助留學生掌握漢語的聲調:第一,巧用音樂音高或語調音高和聲調音高的耦合訓練學生的聲調聽辨能力。第二,巧用聲調音高曲線的視覺形象,幫助留學生掌握漢語聲調的調高和調形。第三,巧用簡單的語音測量(在免費軟體PRAAT 下完成)輔助聲調教學。除了標準字調的教學,本文還探討了變調的教學。本文提出的教學資料和方法,能幫助二語學習者更有效地學習漢語的聲調。 Copyright © 2019 The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-66
JournalInternational Journal of Chinese Language Education
Volume5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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Citation

Zhang, L. (2019). Tone features of Chinese and teaching methods for second language learners. International Journal of Chinese Language Education, 5, 45-66.

Keywords

  • Tone
  • Chinese
  • Second language
  • Pedagogy
  • Multimedia assistance
  • 聲調
  • 漢語
  • 第二語言
  • 教學法
  • 多媒體輔助
  • Alt. title: 漢語聲調的特點與對外漢語教學的方法