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Chinese Tone Practice

About this Website

Richard Jefferies

When I started learning Chinese a few years ago I looked around for a website (or a program, or a book and CD set) like this but found nothing exactly like what I was looking for. The idea is an obvious one, but until now, with improvements in speech synthesis technology, it would have been impractical for the sheer number of recordings you would have to make using human voice actors. The total number of recordings to represent all the two character pinyin combinations in these questions is 46,985. Having said that, I actually think using a speech engine is even better than a human actor for this kind of exercise because the essence of a minimal pair is that its two parts have to differ in only one phonological aspect, something a human actor could never consistently achieve. As the API for generating the sound files gets better, or I get better at using it, I will update the recordings.

All the definitions used here are from the community-maintained and regularly updated CC-CEDICT dictionary.

What is New in Version 4.0?

(1) I have updated all the recordings using the latest version of the Microsoft speech API.

(2) The website now uses the more pinyin friendly Andika font.

(3) We now hava a Forum where you can leave suggestions, bug reports or any thoughts or tips for learning tones that you think might be helpful.

What Else is New?

If you have experienced any lag issues using this website and you own a Windows computer you might also want to give Character Mine a try. It is a desktop application that brings together character practice, tone testing and flash-card vocabulary testing.

Character Mine Logo
  • Two-way flash-card testing with revision and consolidation tests
  • Character writing practice using mouse or stylus
  • Mǎ or Mà style tone tests
  • Dictionary search that tracks and identifies high-frequency vocabulary
  • Stats module to track your progress
  • Available on an unlimited, free-trial basis.

About Me

I am originally from the UK but since 2001 I have lived and worked in Spain where I am a programmer and database designer in an energy company. I have been studying Chinese since 2007. I have only ever been to China as a sightseer and this is what is behind my interest in devising tools like this for developing speaking and listening skills without prolonged immersion.

- Richard Jefferies
Valencia, Spain