IWTYAL 034: How to learn tonal languages

itunesButtonShane asks: “I’m learning Chinese and Thai. What’s the best way to learn the tones, or tonal languages in general?”

In this episode:

  • How to approach learning tonal languages
  • Why top-down approaches beat bottom-up approaches for learning tones

How I approach learning a tonal language:

  1. Make sure you understand the tones in the language you’re learning
  2. Start listening to recorded dialogues from your textbook every day
  3. Work with a tutor right from the start, so you can practise speaking and get feedback
  4. Write down new words and phrases with the tone indicated
  5. Give yourself time to get used to it all!

Resources mentioned in today’s episode:

Olly speaking Cantonese:

Start speaking today

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