Conference Proceeding

Difficulties with Mandarin tones: learners’ perspectives and speech data analysis

This study investigates beginning level adult Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) learners’ difficulties with Mandarin Chinese tones. Twenty CFL learners enrolled in a first semester CFL course in a U.S. university participated as speakers. Their productions of Mandarin phrases and sentences were judged by native Mandarin listeners for pronunciation and tone problems and were also rated by native Mandarin listeners. A post course survey questionnaire was also analyzed to investigate the learners’ learning experience and their perception of difficulties with Mandarin pronunciation and tones. Results suggest the speakers’ productions of Mandarin phrases and sentences were judged to be most problematic with tones. Learners also reported tones to be the most difficult aspect in learning Chinese at initial stage of learning

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