Curious why the pinyin for some characters is written with an umlaut which vanishes in similar-sounding words? Is there really a difference in the way we should pronounce these sounds? The answer to these questions and more is revealed in our pinyin practice lesson for today, which will take you on a whirlwind tour through a maze of similar sounding words.

For extra feedback, we've enabled our recording hotline for this lesson to give you an opportunity to get personal feedback on your pronunciation. If you're a premium subscriber call us using the custom PIN number that you'll find on this lesson's text page. Practice reading our sample sentences for this lesson and one of our teachers will get back to you shortly with one-on-one feedback on your pronunciation. And doubtless compliments too.
 said on
December 2, 2009
i don't get it... what does this dialogue mean?
 said on
December 2, 2009
Hi @phonomotility. There is no dialogue for this lesson. Our pinyin practice series consists of occasional podcasts focusing on the proper pronunciation of various sounds which are difficult to produce. We focus mostly on repetitions of the sound and placing them in context.

Others in this series include xi, zi and ri. They're intended for absolute beginners to the language who are still working to master proper pronunciation.
 said on
December 5, 2009
Does 虐待 have the same range of meanings as in English? That is one can be abused verbally as well as physically.
 said on
December 6, 2009
@蓝大卫

真巧合 my friend just sent me an e-mail concerning 虐待, which was talking in particular about a boss mistreating an employee. I'd also like to know the many applications of 虐待.
 said on
December 6, 2009
@蓝大卫&Xiao Hu

各种虐待都可以,包括身体的,心理的,性虐待等等,老板虐待员工也算 :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
December 6, 2009
@Echo,

OK, so it sounds as if it has the same range of meanings as in English.

Hey, I think I can say this in Chinese, I'll give it a shot:

听起来 “虐待“ 有一样 ”abuse“ 的意思.

对不对?

 said on
December 7, 2009
@蓝大卫,

“虐待”听起来和“abuse” 有一样的意思——对 :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
March 11, 2010
If I find only 1/4th of these podcasts useful, do you think I am ready for elementary?
 said on
March 11, 2010
lolita,

I'm a beginning learner and listen to the beginner and elementary podcasts together. After a while the beginner ones are too simple, but I like some of the dialogues. The elementary lessons are more difficult, but I feel like I make more progress listening to them and checking the transcripts. Intermediate is quite far above me though and even with the transcripts I have difficulty following them at all.

Jim

 said on
April 18, 2010
Personally, I find the beginner podcasts generally too easy - I don't find out much new - but the elementary ones are generally way beyond me (I don't understand any of the discussion in Chinese, and often words and grammar are referred to which I've never heard of). Are there some elementary lessons here which are a bit easier? Or can anyone suggest other ways to "step up" to elementary lessons?
 said on
April 19, 2010
杰瑞,

I find myself listening to a mix of the beginner and elementary lessons with the occasional intermediate lesson thrown in when I feel particularly bold. The pinyin practice and speaking lessons are too easy for me as I'm past pronunciation, but the dialogues are ok. I like the dialogue-only recordings for listening practice.

I'd say I've crept from mostly beginner to mostly elementary over the past year. I have a fulltime job so don't know if that is a good rate of progress. Listening and reading is moving faster for me than speaking, but that's probably a consequence of having few opportunities to speak at home. I can tackle the intermediate materials with the transcripts, but don't understand what Echo says during the podcasts and the language doesn't stick in my mind the way the beginner and elementary materials do.

 said on
April 19, 2010
jim and 杰瑞,

I've been meaning to put together a write-up of how we classify lessons for exactly this reason. Short version is that our grading system isn't explicitly progressive in the sense that you can be "done" the absolute beginner materials and immediately understand the elementary lessons. If you're comfortable with the absolute beginners materials you should be able to understand an elementary lesson with access to the transcript though.

We aim to keep the absolute beginner lessons accessible to someone with no previous mandarin training, and characterized by high-frequency vocabulary. The elementary materials are faster and more difficult, but still have relatively simple sentence structures. There are few subclauses and the vocabulary is still somewhat general.

I'd follow Jim in recommending incorporating the dialogue-only recordings into your study plan, and not worrying too much about the pinyin practice or speaking practice lessons (which explicitly focus on pronunciation). If you have suggestions on things you'd like to see us do that would help you both bridge the gap more easily, please do let us know.
 said on
May 12, 2012
The pdf downloaded from iTunes does not have the pinyin for the vocabulary (unlike the one downloaded from this page.)

However, even the pdf on this page does not have any umlauts in the pinyin - can this be corrected, please?

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