Today I mistook 化学 for 滑雪.

That's it.

How can I train my ears to better hear tones when people speak Chinese? Sometimes, the tones aren't pronounced to a level where I can physically hear them/have enough time to hear them.

So, how can I train my ears to hear tones more easily?


2 Answers 2


It will come with more exposure. Watch movies/shows, listen to music, talk with people via voice-chat or in person.

One of the ways I trained myself to recognize the tones is to listen to the same tone, but with different sounds.

For example: biao1 shen1 zhong1 ying1 then he2 ma2 qie2 liu2 etc.

I found this was really helpful when trying to become more familiar with how each of them sound. I also used this when I started practicing the actually production of words.

Don't give up! Eventually it'll come with exposure and time.

  • 1
    How can I find a resource to listen to the tones from like you did? Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 19:45
  • I'm not sure, I don't really remember, but when I am tutoring people on tone pronunciation, I use the "listen to the same tone" strategy and it seems to work for that (at that time) :( To be honest when I would learn a word I would practice saying it out loud a lot. Listening to yourself is also a good source of input, so if you get used to listening to yourself saying the tones correctly after you have learned how to say them correctly that is also good practice when a Chinese person is not available.
    – milk
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 3:33

The best way is to experience these mistakes as many as possible. This would have a deep impact on you even hardly forgotten.

There's nothing you need to do with your ears. Just let yourself make more mistakes and then tell yourself never make that again.

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