Our pinyin practice lesson for today focuses on one of the more challenging sounds in the Chinese language. And the reason English speakers have difficulty with it is fairly simple: there is no good English equivalent. Not that we could think of, at least.

In an effort to help you hunt down this sound and overpower it though, in this podcast we review this sound in all of its strange tonal glory. We first go over the sound in all four tones, and then practice putting it into words and then sample sentences. If you made improving your pronunciation a part of your New Years resolutions way back in January, we think this will come in useful. Just speak along with Echo and disregard the crazy looks your coworkers give you: they're just jealous you're speaking Chinese.

On a closing note, we've enabled our recording hotline for this lesson, so if you're a premium subscriber you're invited to call us using the custom PIN number that you'll find on this lesson's text page. Practice recording our words and sample sentences back for us and we'll have one of our teachers listen to it and get back to you with one-on-one feedback about your pronunciation.
 said on
August 27, 2009
On a side not, we were brainstorming ways to represent this sound in English and Brendan came up with the words "heresy" and "poesy". They're pretty close but not exact. Anyone have any better suggestions?
 said on
August 27, 2009
Another important tip for beginners when pronouncing Pinyin [x] (and for that matter, [q] and [j] as well) is to make sure the tip of your tongue is touching the base of your lower front teeth. A nice, simple illustration of this can be found here.
 said on
August 28, 2009
My teacher told us to spread our mouth wide open and bare our teeth sort of like we're grimacing. Much like the way we make the soft a sound in "apple" only our teeth are closer together and our tongue is behind the teeth as toneandcolor says above.
 said on
August 28, 2009
what a well progressive, flowing, pronunciation, pinyin(xi) lesson.

it would be hard to better both your voices and articulation.

if you are planning other pinyin practice beginners lesson may i suggest the r and the beijing er as the wanr use by echo
 said on
August 28, 2009
@brett,

good idea, this is exactly how Xi is pronounced.o(∩_∩)o...
 said on
August 29, 2009
@Richard,

谢谢 !

We have done "ri" -- http://www.popupchinese.com/lessons/absolute-beginners/pinyin-practice-ri . I like your idea of "er" sound though :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
September 5, 2009
I think sea see or especially c are pretty close.
 said on
May 12, 2012
The iTunes PDF is not the same as the one on the website - it is missing the Pinyin for the vocab.
 said on
May 13, 2012
@dhlsguard-1,

It's the same section of code that produces both files. What has probably changed are your personal settings which are customizing the pdf based on your preferences. Specifically, what vocabulary options are included in the PDF are determined by your "Vocabulary Options":

http://popupchinese.com/account/customize

If you change these settings, they take effect immediately. So deleting the downloaded file and redownloading it through iTunes should get you the most up-to-date version.

Update: it was a problem affecting downloads when logged-out. Have just implemented a fix.

Best,

--david

 said on
May 15, 2012
Thank you, David.

 said on
November 16, 2012
Is the speaking practice hotline still active? I called--using Skype in China--but only got an error message.
 said on
November 29, 2012
Hi David,

I tried the toll-free number again today but couldn't get through. Is the speaking practice feature still available?
 said on
November 29, 2012
@murrayjames,

It should be but it sounds like something is wrong. I'll take a look this afternoon and get back to you soon. Sorry for the delay.

Best,

--david
 said on
November 29, 2012
@murrayjames,

Ok. Looks like it was a configuration issue on our side. The recording system is back up and working. Call away!

--david

 said on
November 29, 2012
David,

Just called, thanks! Had some issues leaving a message: the phone system kept cutting me off after just a few seconds. Eventually I got it to work by speaking very close to the microphone. Hopefully my recording won't be too distorted or peak-y :-)

Thanks again!

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