First Steps In Speaking Out Chinese

Pronounce correctly simple key beginner phrases in Chinese useful in common situations
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Instructed by Stefan McCormack Language / Chinese
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  • Lectures 26
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 4/2016 English

Course Description

Course Description

Speaking Chinese is different from most languages because it is spoken using different pitches, known as tones. Foreigners usually find it difficult to speak using the correct tones, this can result in not being understood – frustrating and a waste of the effort and time they put into Chinese.

This course aims to overcome this challenge by making tones and pronunciation core to the lessons and teaching tones in easy, bite-sized chunks, so when you speak out your first few phrases in Chinese, you can be understood.

Benefits of pronouncing Chinese correctly

  • Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language on the planet (Yes, more than English!)
  • You can become a more valuable worker in a variety of industries, especially since China is expanding aggressively into the global economy
  • Enrich your experience of traveling to China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia
  • Open up a new world of Chinese culture and new friends

Building Up Confidence when starting learning Chinese is Key

Tones are central to Chinese. Most foreigners don't pay enough attention to the tones when learning Chinese because they don't have it in their language. Then when they speak, they wonder why they are not understood. Then they get disheartened, think Chinese is too hard, and then usually give up.

By having your first steps in Chinese centred around the tones in a step by step approach where you must speak out what you learn, you will be able to get to grips with it, and greatly increasing your chances of being understood when you speak. When you are understood, this builds confidence and spurs you on to learn more Chinese.

It is best to get the tones right from the moment you start learning Chinese because as you progress, it is time-consuming to unlearn all your mistakes especially when you get used your mistakes sounding right.

Contents and Overview

This course contains 26 lectures and almost 2 hours of content for your very first steps in Chinese. It is designed for anyone who doesn't have any knowledge of Chinese, whose main aim to be able to start speaking simple Chinese.

The lessons use an active learning technique and you'll speak out the words and phrases we learn as we go along. All the course content is stripped down to it's bare-bone essentials and drip fed, so you only get information you need, when you need it, so keeping things simple, clear and practical. Each lesson builds on top of each other, there is a lot of review, so what you learn gets ingrained deeper in your mind, so you don't just forget it.There is constant emphasis on correct pronunciation so that you can be understood in real life.

What are the requirements?

A determination to take an active role in speaking out what is learned

What am I going to get from this Course?

  • Understand and practice using the tones correctly for every word and phrase learned
  • Speak out a few simple common phrases in Chinese: useful when eating, ordering at a cafe or restaurant and at the shops.
  • Be able to write 10 commonly used Chinese Characters
  • Read simple phrases in Chinese

What is the target audience?

  • Complete beginners in Chinese
  • Those who want to start speaking out their first phrases in Chinese 

What are the requirements?

  • No knowledge needed. To enjoy this course, students need to have the attitude when studying this course that pronouncing Chinese tones correctly are very important in being understood

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Agree or disagree
  • Express your opinion that something is good or bad
  • Express that you want or don't want something
  • Say hello and introduce your name
  • Use and write the first three numbers
  • Understand the importance of Chinese tones and exactly how each of the tones are different
  • Be able to use the correct tone for all the words and phrases learned
  • Saying how many people you are and how to order food or drink
  • Express that you like or don't like a specific food
  • At the shops: Buying: Saying you how many items you want
  • Write Chinese characters following the basic rules for writing Chinese Characters
  • Write 10 commonly used Chinese characters
  • Read Chinese pinyin
  • Read simple sentences in Chinese characters

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is meant for people who want to take their first steps learning Chinese with the aim of speaking out a few useful basic phrases. This course is not for those who want to learn lots of vocabulary or main goal is to write Chinese.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: 1. Introduction to the Course

I mention the goal of this course, a breakdown of what you will learn, and a suggestion of how to get the best from this course

Section 2: 2. Agreeing and Disagreeing

I introduce the pronunciation of an 'abbreviated' form of Yes and No with it's tone. Emphasis of the student repeating with the correct tone.

I explain what are Chinese Tones and why they are so important. 


I start with a quick review of Yes and No and their tones, by asking the students a few questions and also to draw out an analogy between the tone for Yes and No.

I show the Chinese character for no, explaining an analogy for remembering the character. Then I explain that how this analogy can be used to remember any Chinese character.


I explain that 'pinyin' is the written form of how to pronounce a character. I use Yes and No as example briefly. Then I explain why pinyin is important for writing characters 


I write the character for 'no' stroke by stroke slowly, explaining the stroke order. The 2nd time I write it, I invite the student to write it with me.


I show the character for 'Yes' and have an analogy for remembering the character. I then give the common way of saying Yes and No, emphasizing the tones.

I then read out some sentences in English and ask the student to agree or disagree using Yes or No in Chinese. I review how the common way of saying 'No' is constructed

1 question

How do you say no with the proper tones/pitches?

Section 3: 3. Expressing something is Good or Bad

Introducing how to say 'Good' with its tone. I describe how the character is constructed. I review the basic rules for writing characters. I write the character stroke by stroke slowly, explaining the stroke order. The 2nd time I write it, I invite the student to write it with me


I introduce how to say 'bad' in Chinese and how it relates to Good. I read a couple of statements asking students to reply using 'Bad' in Chinese


I give the phrase Chinese actually use when they give their opinion about something is 'good', then focus on the tones of the phrase and ask the student to repeat the phrase after me. I read a couple of statements in English and ask the student to reply using 'good' or “bad' in Chinese

2 questions

Expressing your opinion that something is good or bad

Section 4: 4. Saying you Want or Don't Want something

I introduce the pronunciation and tone of 'want'. I analyze the two parts of the character and give an analogy to remember the character.


I write the character 'want' stroke by stroke slowly, explaining the stroke order. The 2nd time I write it, I invite you to write it with me


I review 'want'. Discuss the importance of review for being able to speak well. I underline the use of the same “no/no/'don't” structure in how it relates to 'don't want' and what has already been learnt.

Emphasize the need for you to focus on the tones using 'don't want' and previous material. 

1 question

How do you say don’t want?

Section 5: 5. Using ”I” to express yourself

I introduce how to say 'I', the character and tones. Then how to introduce yourself saying 'I am'. Discuss the verb 'to be' and explain the character for the verb 'to be' is identical with the character 'Yes'.

Introduce how using 'I' before want is more polite

Section 6: 6. Understanding and using the tones

I quickly explain Chinese has 5 tones. Give an example for the 1st tone, which is the 'number 1', then explain the nature of the tone. I use a 'pitch graph' to explain the nature of the 1st tone


I introduce the 'number 2' and the nature of it's 4th tone. I use a 'pitch graph' to explain the nature of the 4th tone


I introduce the 'number 3' and how to recognize that it is first tone


I show how to draw the characters for the numbers 1,2,3. I give simple math questions asking for the answers in Chinese


Referring to the tones graph, I review the exact make-up of each tone giving examples of previous words learned for each of the tones.

I tell a story using the tones to make the tones easier to remember for the students

6 questions

Understanding and Using the tones

Section 7: 7. Phrases for Eating & drinking

Review of how to say 'I want' with analysis of the tone pitch graph. I introduce how to say 'I want one/three item(s)


I introduce how to say person/people. Eliciting the students to say 1 person and 3 people using the 'items' structure.

I show how to draw the character for person/people

I explain the 'number 2' of items special case.


I draw the character that means 'mouth'. I introduce how to say 'Eat' and how it is related to the mouth character & how to say 'meal' and how it is related to the 'food' character. I introduce how to say 'Eat a meal'. I elicit from you how to say: I want to eat / I don't want to eat.

I introduce 'restaurant' and how the character is composed


I introduce 'Rice' and the character's construction. I elicit from students how to say 'I want cooked rice'.

I introduce how to say 'good/bad food' and the cultural aspects of eating at someone's home.

I elicit from students how to say 'The rice is good/bad '.

6 questions

Phrases for eating and drinking

Section 8: 8. Using 'you'

I introduce how to say 'Noodles' and explain the logical behind the word's construction. Eliciting 'Noodles are tasty, I want to eat Noodles'


I draw the character for 'water' stroke by stroke slowly, explaining the stroke order. The 2nd time I write it, I invite the student to write it with me.

I elicit students to say 'I want to drink water'. I introduce how to say 'hot and cold water'. I explain the tone change rule for two 3rd tones beside each other

I elicit students to say 'I want cold water' and 'I don't want hot water, I want cold water'.

I introduce how to make suggestions using 'eat' and 'drink'


I introduce how to say 'you' and how to use it during introductions, how to say hello, and review the tone change rule for two 3rd tones beside each other for previous words learned and for hello.

I elicit from you how to say 'I eat rice, you eat noodles'


I introduce the structure of a Yes/No reply question and the 5th tone and forming questions about 'what do you want to eat'.

1 question

Using You and asking Yes-No questions

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Instructor Biography

Stefan McCormack, iTunes Rise Of China Podcast Host

Hi Everyone,

I speak more Chinese than I do English on a daily basis. I lived in China for 4 years, experienced first hand and saw what worked and didn't work for foreigners learning Chinese. I also have 2 years teaching experience, teaching business men English. I came to realise that a lot of teaching materials and methods aren't suited for the needs of Westerners. So, I created this course for Westerners that lead busy lives and need to know the most practical building blocks of Chinese in a way that can be picked up easily and quickly.

I am founder of, programmed and launched an iTunes beginner app for learning Chinese and host a podcast on iTunes called the 'Rise of China', where I interview a whole variety of people about their experiences living and doing business with China, and we discuss a lot about Chinese culture and society.

I love traveling and living in different countries. I've travelled in about 25 countries and I've lived in India, Colombia, Canada, Spain, France, U.K and Ireland. I found that learning the language of the country allowed me to delve deeper into the culture and open up a new exciting world of possibilities, experiences and friendships.

I hope you by learning Chinese, can open up and enter a whole new world of intrigue and experiences!

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