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Learn Chinese: Introduction to Chinese Pronunciation and Tone

Master the correct pronunciation and tone of the Mandarin language and improve your Chinese speaking skills with language experts.

Learn Chinese: Introduction to Chinese Pronunciation and Tone

  • 3 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Become comfortable pronouncing the syllables in the Mandarin Chinese language

Understanding the correct pronunciation and tone of Mandarin Chinese is essential for beginners learning the language. On this three-week course, you’ll be introduced to Chinese phonetics, tones, and syllables to help build your confidence in speaking Chinese.

Using videos and audio content to enhance your learning, this interactive course will teach you the main rules of spelling and how to correct errors in pronunciation.

You’ll cover useful phrases such as greetings, self-introduction, expressing thanks, love, and apology to help you become more comfortable in speaking Chinese Mandarin correctly.

Understand the basics of Chinese phonetics

You’ll learn the key elements of Chinese phonology, including initials, finals, and the four main tones to help you speak the language more effectively.

As well as this, you’ll learn how to tackle the difficult Chinese pronunciations by understanding how to differentiate similar sounds.

You’ll also improve your Chinese written skills by learning the core rules of spelling.

Use Pinyin to develop your Mandarin pronunciation

Pinyin is a helpful and widely-used tool that uses the Latin alphabet to write Mandarin Chinese. You’ll learn how to use this system to help you accurately pronounce different words, and further your study of the language.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to demonstrate impressive pronunciation of all syllables in Mandarin Chinese, and feel confident in applying words and sentences to daily communication.

This course is part of a series:

Download video: standard or HD


  • Week 1

    Introduction to Pinyin: initials and finals 1

    • Introduction to Pinyin

      Here we introduce the role of Pinyin in the Chinese language. You can learn to pronounce initials "b p m f" and simple finals "a o e i u ü" and how to combine initials, finals and tones into syllables.

    • Initials and Finals 1

      You will learn how to pronounce initials g k h, d t n l, j q x; compound finals starting with a o e and how to express agreements and compliments.

  • Week 2

    Initials and finals 2 and special cases in Pinyin

    • Initials and Finals 2

      Here you will learn how to pronounce initials zh ch sh r; z c s; compound finals starting with i u ü and how to address your family members.

    • Special cases in Chinese Pinyin

      Here you will learn the compound final "er", er-colored words and basic rules of modified tones.

  • Week 3

    Differentiation of similar sounds

    • Differentiation of similar sounds 1

      Do you have any questions about practicing pronunciation? In this part, we'll help you to distinguish similar sounds. Here you'll also be able to introduce yourselves and ask for prices.

    • Differentiation of similar sounds 2

      By learning more similar sounds and daily expressions, you'll be able to gain a systematic knowledge of Pinyin and speak Chinese confidently.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the Chinese phonology and understand the components and structure of Chinese phonology
  • Demonstrate accurate and impressive pronunciation of all syllables in Mandarin Chinese
  • Apply some words and sentences in daily communication
  • Record the pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese with Pinyin and continue your further study with the help of Pinyin

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for beginners who want to improve their Chinese speaking skills, and learn the correct pronunciation of the language.

Who will you learn with?

Professor and Dean of School of Chinese Studies and Exchange, Shanghai International Studies University. Have been working as a teacher of English and later Chinese since 1994.

Teacher at Shanghai International Studies University. Have been teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages for 10 years.

Who developed the course?

Shanghai International Studies University (SISU)

Shanghai International Studies University (SISU), established in 1949, is one of the earliest institutions where China’s higher education in foreign languages took shape.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$109/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 3 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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