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Pronunciations Problems In china. Most Americans are completely mystified by the sounds of the chinese language. It is fairly common to hear someone from America imitating verbal chinese by saying “ching-chong” and some gibberish for example. This is largely because pronunciation is so different between english and chinese. As a native english speaker who has spent a large part of my life learning and speaking chinese, I can vouch for how different the pronunciation is between the two languages. However, this isn't just an issue that Americans trying to learn chinese struggle with, chinese students trying to learn english have just as hard a time. The most common pronunciation error made by chinese students in my experience, and the hardest to correct as well, involves the letter “v”. This is because in chinese pronunciation, there is no “v” sound at all! This is made even more problematic by the fact that most chinese keyboards do have the letter “v” on them, but use it for a different vowel, “ü”, which doesn't exist in english! It is very common for chinese students to pronounce “v” like a “w”, for example, “very” often becomes “wary”. Moreover, if it is not “w” that the students pronounce a “v” like, I have often heard it as an “f” instead. Another common pronunciation error by chinese students involves the “th” sound. In chinese there is a “sh”, a “ch” and even a “zh” sound, but no “th” and they often struggle with it. A common example being “thank you” becoming “tank you”. However, unlike “v”, in my experience once they are taught the sound they can usually pronounce it without much trouble. Another common pronunciation error is about tones. In chinese, there are five tones (even, rising, falling then rising, falling, and what I think of as short), and every word has a tone. These can occasionally change because of the word combinations, but every word still has one, and saying the wrong tone can completely change the meaning of the sentence even if the sound is correct. In english, there is no tone system like this, although we do have rhythm, and meter. The idea of a verbal language without tones is often confusing to chinese students as they have usually never experienced or considered a language like that before. As such it's quite common for a chinese student to add tones to english words, especially falling tones which can mash severely with english rhythm and meter. This is also why American stereotypes of chinese speakers of english usually portray their pronunciation as short and chopping. Another problem is that in chinese there aren't really any words that end with the letter “s”. This naturally leads to trouble with plurals, and it is exceedingly common in my experience for students to leave off or mispronounce an “s” at the end of a word. This is only exacerbated by the fact that chinese has a very complicated measure word system that doesn't really have plurals like english does. As such getting students to understand what plurals are, and then have them pronounce them correctly is often very challenging. However, in my experience if beginner students can learn this early on they usually remember it very well and don't require further work on it. The final problem that I have seen is from pronunciation differences between english and Pinyin. Pinyin is a phonetic written version of chinese that uses a modified Roman alphabet, but has very different sounds for certain letters compared to english. For example, the common chinese surname Lee is actually spelled Li in Pinyin. Another major one is the hard A sound in english is usually spelled with an “ei” in Pinyin. This can all lead to spelling and pronunciation being very confusing to chinese students. In conclusion, just as chinese presents some major pronunciation difficulties for english speakers, so does english for chinese speakers. Most of these difficulties are because of a difference between the sounds used for chinese and english and are often not noticed by native english teachers because of that. However in my experience, with a little work – or in the case of “v” a lot of work – they can all be corrected.

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