How To Teach Your Child Good Pronunciation Through Pinyin?

Pinyin learning is a difficult part in early education in China. As many students cannot grasp it well, the result is difficulty in Chinese learning in the future. Today we would look at which methods can better teach children to learn pinyin.

The most important part of pinyin are the 23 consonants, 24 vowels and 16 whole syllables. We must be able to memorise and write them out through dictation. Rote learning for the students is a more difficult thing, most of time I will use fun children's songs or rhymes to help students remember. The lively songs, which instantly attracts the child's attention, helps the children remember the characters and pronunciation, but also inspire their desire to learn.

1. Consonants

First, we have the 23 consonants which are divided into seven groups. These must be memorized.

  • b p m f
  • d t n l
  • g k h
  • j q x
  • zh ch sh r
  • z c s
  • y w

Some of the letters in the consonants are similar and easy to mix up. This is difficult for the children who may not be able to tell them apart. To solve this difficulty, it is necessary to make the abstract letters into something that is more relatable to them. By making these letters look like something else through their shapes, it helps children to strengthen the memory. The song goes like this:

右下半圆bbb,右上半圆ppp,左下半圆ddd,左上半圆qqq。
一个门洞nnn,两个门洞mmm,一根小棍lll。
像个2字zzz,半个圆圈ccc,半个8字sss。
柳条绕圈ggg,一根拐棍儿fff,一根伞把儿ttt,一把椅子hhh,一个气球qqq,一块西瓜xxx,一棵小苗rrr,一根树叉yyy,波浪波浪www。
z加h zh zh zh,c加h ch ch ch,s加h sh sh sh。

2. Vowels

The 24 vowels can be divided into single vowels, double vowels, nasal vowels.

a. 6 Single Vowels: a o e i u ǖ

There are only six single vowels, seemingly easy, but it is also difficult for students when they first encounter Pinyin. To grasp the various characteristics of the single-vowels, illustrations in children's songs can be used to help students more easily remember them. The song goes like this:

圆圆脸蛋羊角辫,张大嘴巴aaa;
大公鸡,哦哦叫,拢圆嘴巴ooo;
水中游来一只鹅,水中倒影eee;
漂亮小i带帽帽,咧开小嘴iii;
树上有个乌鸦窝,翘起小嘴uuu;
小鱼吐个小泡泡,吹起笛子ǖǖǖ。

b. 9 Double Vowels: ai ei ui ao ou iu ie ǖe er

With the basics covered through the previous songs, the child has learned to compare the more complex vowels on their own. For example, when learning ui, and iu students will automatically realise the two are reverses of each other. When learning ie and ei they will also immediately note that the two are reverses of each other. By finding features to compare, students would soon remember the letters making up the vowels. At the same time, in the process of actively exploring on their own, the ability to learn language has gradually increased.

c. 9 Nasal Vowels: an en in un ǖn ang eng ing ong

马匹配鞍an an an
点点头en en en
树下乘凉in in in
蚊子叫un un un
白云朵朵 ǖn ǖn ǖn
小手肮脏 an gang ang
打开电灯 eng eng eng
老鹰飞翔 ing ing ing
天上彩虹 ong ong ong

3. 16 Whole Syllables

zhi chi shi ri zi ci si yi wu yu ye yue yue yin yun ying

The first 10 (top row), are relatively easy to remember as they have the sequence as in the table of consonants. However, the 6 at the back are more difficult as they are not in any order, hence here is another children's song to help:

中秋佳节夜(ye)月(yue)圆(yuan),恰逢秋雨阴(yin)云(yun)影(ying)

The two sentences comprises of all 6 of the whole syllables It is easy to understand and catchy, hence students can easily remember, making it learning them less difficult.