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Teaching the third tone in Standard Chinese: Tone representation in textbooks and its consequences for students

Linge, Olle LU (2011) KINK11 20111
Chinese Studies
Abstract
The goal of this paper is to examine various representations of the third tone in Standard Chinese, both in academic literature and textbooks for beginners, and then evaluate what consequences the choice of representation has for tone instruction. It was found that linguists primarily prefer two models, even though slight deviations were found: either a traditional approach describing the third tone as a falling-rising tone or a model representing the third tone as an essentially low tone.

A survey of fifteen textbooks showed that a huge majority used the traditional (falling-rising) representation of the third tone; only one textbook described the third tone as an essentially low tone. Except for this discrepancy, tone instruction was... (More)
The goal of this paper is to examine various representations of the third tone in Standard Chinese, both in academic literature and textbooks for beginners, and then evaluate what consequences the choice of representation has for tone instruction. It was found that linguists primarily prefer two models, even though slight deviations were found: either a traditional approach describing the third tone as a falling-rising tone or a model representing the third tone as an essentially low tone.

A survey of fifteen textbooks showed that a huge majority used the traditional (falling-rising) representation of the third tone; only one textbook described the third tone as an essentially low tone. Except for this discrepancy, tone instruction was found to be homogeneous across the spectrum of textbooks analysed.

After a careful discussion of the various flaws and merits of the two different methods, it was found that considering the third tone as a low tone would be beneficial for learners of Standard Chinese, mostly because it conforms to the wide distribution of low pitch third tones in natural speech and thus leads to easier rules for tone sandhi that need not be applied as often as those applicable to traditional representation of the third tone.

Finally, it is suggested that the third tone should be described as a low tone for beginners, but that more empirical research is needed in this direction to confirm the theoretical analysis. There is also much research left to be done in the realm of practical tone instruction and how to best convey tones to beginner students of Standard Chinese. (Less)
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author
Linge, Olle LU
supervisor
organization
course
KINK11 20111
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Chinese, Phonology, Tone, Third tone, Teaching
language
English
id
1979823
date added to LUP
2011-10-11 14:07:29
date last changed
2011-10-11 14:07:29
@misc{1979823,
  abstract     = {The goal of this paper is to examine various representations of the third tone in Standard Chinese, both in academic literature and textbooks for beginners, and then evaluate what consequences the choice of representation has for tone instruction. It was found that linguists primarily prefer two models, even though slight deviations were found: either a traditional approach describing the third tone as a falling-rising tone or a model representing the third tone as an essentially low tone.

A survey of fifteen textbooks showed that a huge majority used the traditional (falling-rising) representation of the third tone; only one textbook described the third tone as an essentially low tone. Except for this discrepancy, tone instruction was found to be homogeneous across the spectrum of textbooks analysed. 

After a careful discussion of the various flaws and merits of the two different methods, it was found that considering the third tone as a low tone would be beneficial for learners of Standard Chinese, mostly because it conforms to the wide distribution of low pitch third tones in natural speech and thus leads to easier rules for tone sandhi that need not be applied as often as those applicable to traditional representation of the third tone.

Finally, it is suggested that the third tone should be described as a low tone for beginners, but that more empirical research is needed in this direction to confirm the theoretical analysis. There is also much research left to be done in the realm of practical tone instruction and how to best convey tones to beginner students of Standard Chinese.},
  author       = {Linge, Olle},
  keyword      = {Chinese,Phonology,Tone,Third tone,Teaching},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Teaching the third tone in Standard Chinese: Tone representation in textbooks and its consequences for students},
  year         = {2011},
}