A Fun Game to Play in Chinese Learning

If you’re a beginner level student learning Chinese with New Concept Mandarin, you may have heard your teacher saying “sì shì sì , shí shì shí ,shí sìshì shí sì, sì shí shì sì shí”, which means “4 is 4, 10 is 10, 14 is 14, 40 is 40”. Right, that’s the fun game we are going to talk about today:“绕口令(rào kǒu lìng)——tongue twister.

While tongue-twisters in all languages take advantage of similar sounding words and syllables to generate confusion, some Chinese tongue-twisters also take advantage of the fact that Chinese is a tonal language. Taken to the extreme, it is possible to create a tongue-twister where all the words have the same sound but varying only in their tones, just like the widely-known one we mentioned at the beginning.

Also, “绕口令(rào kǒu lìng)” is composed by words or phrases that have the similar pronunciations. Here is another popular example: “扁担长,板凳宽,板凳没有扁担长,扁担没有板凳宽。扁担要绑在板凳上,板凳偏不让扁担绑在板凳上(biǎndàn cháng, bǎndèng kuān, bǎndèng méiyǒu biǎndàn cháng, biǎndàn méiyǒu bǎndèng kuān. Biǎndàn yào bǎng zài bǎndèng shàng, bǎndèng piān bú rang biǎndàn bǎng zài bǎndèng shàng). And here comes along with the literal translation: The shoulder pole is long, the wooden bench is broad, the shoulder pole is longer than the wooden bench, and the wooden bench is broader than the shoulder pole. The shoulder pole is tied around the wooden bench, the wooden bench doesn’t allow the shoulder pole to be tied around the wooden bench, and the shoulder pole simply must be tied around the wooden bench.

Although “绕口令(rào kǒu lìng)” is supposed to be read fairly quickly without any pause in between, for beginners, try to read it clearly but slowly at first, focus on the accurate pinyin and variation of tones, and then speed up. A tongue twister practice will be a good way and a fun game to improve your Chinese pronunciation and intonation. You’ll find fun and the sense of accomplishment in articulating it.

Of course, a professional guidance is dispensable when it comes to the learning of pronunciation. Come and join us in a face to face class or online class, follow our professional teachers in learning the Chinese intonations, you will find yourself, in high spirits, participating all kinds of language games, and soon speaking fluent Mandarin Chinese.

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