How To Teach Your Child Good Pronunciation Through Chinese Pinyin

Pinyin learning is a critical component of early childhood education in China. As many students cannot grasp it well, the consequence is often considerable difficulty experienced in acquisition of the Chinese language during one's formative years in school. As such this post seeks to examine methods which can better teach children to learn pinyin.

The most important parts of pinyin are the 23 consonants, 24 vowels and 16 whole syllables. One must be able to memorize and write these out through dictation. Rote learning typically does not work well for most students, however fun children's songs or rhymes used could foster much more effective internalization. The lively songs, which instantly capture the child's attention, not only helps him/her to better remember the characters and pronunciation, but also deepens his/her desire to learn a whole lot more.

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 look physically similar and thus some children may not be able to tell them apart with ease. To resolve this conundrum, it might be helpful to possibly present the abstract letters as thoroughly relatable constructs. When parallel references are properly drawn between known shapes and figures interacting with one another, the memorization process becomes far more efficient. An example of a song goes like this:






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 and nasal vowels.

a. 6 Single Vowels: a o e i u ǖ

While there are only six single vowels which may come across as seemingly easy, they can still prove to be quite a challenge for students who first encounter them. To grasp the various characteristics of these single vowels, illustrations in children's songs can be used to assist in remembering them. Here is an example:







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

With the basics covered in previous songs, the child should somewhat be allowed to compare more complex vowels on his/her own and arrive at meaningful conclusions. For example, when learning about ui and iu as a pair, students will automatically realize the two are reverse versions of each other. Ditto the ie and ei pair. It is through uncovering distinctive features for comparison that students better recall the letters constituting these vowels. At the same time, in the process of actively exploring by himself/herself, he/she would have subconsciously cultivated a greater level of independence in his/her learning journey.

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 ten in the top row are relatively easy to remember as they follow the "zh ch sh r" sequence as laid out previously in the table of consonants. However, the remaining six in the second row might be a wee bit more tricky as they do not occur in any known order, hence another children's song to the rescue:


The above two sentences which comprise all 6 whole syllables are both catchy and easy to understand, wouldn't you agree?


The above content is contributed by Mdm Wang, who has more than 2 decades of experience in teaching the Chinese language. Visit her site at for more information.


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