I'm having trouble acquiring both Mandarin pronunciation and tones (hampered by the opacity of Pinyin for beginners).
I've learned various languages to various degrees and some people consider me to be "good at languages". I thought I was a pretty good mimic. But I find learning the pronunciations and the tones of polysyllabic words and phrases just too much at once at my beginner level.
I thought it might be worth trying to learn each independently and then combine them. I could do this to some degree when I had a local friend helping coach me but he's gone back to Beijing now.
I'm looking for a way to take a Chinese word or phrase, strip out the consonant and vowel sounds, but leave the "tone contours", something like humming or whistling or replacing every syllable with "da" but in the original tone for that syllable.
I think this might work for some Chinese learners (probably not all since we have unique ways to learn languages depending on our talents etc) since English does have similar tones at the phrase level that are only about nuances, emotions, etc, and those are easy to mimic, but dealing with the unfamiliar Chinese sounds simultaneously makes them too hard to grasp.
An answer might be how to ask a new Chinese friend to help me do this, or it might be a way I can use my netbook computer to help me with it when studying alone.