Teaching Tones

August 26, 2021 No Comments

Teaching tones in Mandarin is extremely important. I like to introduce the idea of tones to students as early as possible so they have the framework to listen.


group of children sitting on chair
Photo by Max Fischer on Pexels.com

Use hand motions to teach the tones. Students use their arms as arrows with their hands pointing in the direction their voice should go.

Listen and Respond. Have students listen to tones and hold up the tone they hear on their fingers.

If students are looking at others students answers, have students put the answer “in their fist” and hold it up only when you say “go” or “一,二,三…”

Pear Deck

For older students, Pear Deck is a great way to engage students and helps them visualize the tones. Check out this interactive Pear Deck on TPT:

Tones Bingo

Tones Bingo is a great way to get students listening. Create a 4×5 table and label the headings 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tone. Give students a list of words to fill out for each tone. Call out one of the words on the list and check students understanding.

Rachel Avrick

Originally from Washington D.C., I moved to Hong Kong when I was 19 to work for a charity in the Philippines. After one year in Asia I had fallen in love with the Chinese language and culture. I lived in Greater China for another 6 years in places like Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. While in Asia, I worked in education, non-profit, and finance. I double majored in Economics and Chinese with a minor in Asia Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Most recently I received my masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. I love creating fun and engaging Mandarin lessons for students especially in elementary.

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Hi everyone, my name is Rachel (aka 卫老师). I have a passion for creating engaging lessons for young Mandarin learners. Lessons with Laoshi provides resources and insight for both parents and teachers looking for unique Mandarin lessons. While Lessons with Laoshi is focused on Mandarin education, I hope it can be a place for both parents and teachers of many different languages to gain insight. Read More