I've recently started studying Chinese, and I'm having trouble hearing the tones for words with multiple characters. For instance, I have trouble hearing the difference between 汉语 (hànyǔ) and 韩语 (hányǔ), or 哪里 (nǎlǐ) and 那里 (nàli).

Is there an SRS deck available for learning tones for multi-character words?

Ideally the front of the card would just be the audio for a single multi-character word, and then the back of the card would be what the characters/tones are.

edit: I should add that I am mostly fine with hearing individual characters in isolation. So when hearing 汉 (hàn) and 韩 (hán), or 哪 (nǎ) and 那 (nà), I can almost always tell the correct intonation. My only problem is when hearing multiple characters together.

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    I asked this on Chinese-forums.com: chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/…. However, I got no response, so I thought to ask here as well.
    – illabout
    Dec 23 '19 at 12:22
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    I use TOFU Learn for something similar; it might work here.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Dec 23 '19 at 12:46
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    Ideally, we would have a community of learners in your position, and this sort of question would go in the chat. Language StackExchanges doesn't seem to attract a big community of positions similar to yours, unfortunately, as it is quite rigid in controlling content. Questions on learning methods for Chinese are not really on topic on Chinese StackExchange, maybe languagelearning.stackexchange.com will accept something like this.
    – dROOOze
    Dec 23 '19 at 14:10
  • @droooze maybe open a question/channel for people share experience only.
    – sylvia
    Dec 23 '19 at 16:45
  • @droooze Thanks for the heads up. I was worrying about this when I posted the question. Maybe an admin could move the question to languagelearning.stackexchange.com for me?
    – illabout
    Dec 24 '19 at 0:12

The website


was useful for me for learning to recognize the tones. You can practice your listening skills doing the following exercise. You have to press Play and you will hear a word (you can repeat as many times you want) and you have to choose which tone you heard. Then, it will show in the bottom if you were right or wrong and the actual word you heard. I think if you create an account you can also use it for multiple syllable words. I believe after some days of practicing, your skills for recognizing the tones will improve quickly.

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Sometimes I feel it’s hard to get why western people have difficulties in learning tones, because it’s natural for me. Maybe you need to change your mentality a little bit? Imagine if you’re signing with 4 tones (or 5 if you include neutral tone), you need to sing on the right tone to make it sound right. If you can sing, you should be able to master the tones.

I don’t know how you learnt Chinese. For me, other than being a mother-tongue, I remember when I learnt the Chinese alphabets in school, we need to read it out loudly in four tones everyday. Whenever I learn a character, we learn it in four tones, and learn characters in every tone, and make words and sentences out of it. I was grown up in a small town in the northern China, where kids speak dialects in school, but transferred to a school in one of the capital cities in grade 4, where kids speak mandarin in school. I didn’t take a single day to learn how to communicate in mandarin because it is just how you read books out loud. Some classmates came to help me, but found that I didn’t need help and they got surprised. The dialect I used to speak mainly differs in tones with mandarin. So, the story told me tone is really not that hard, and maybe the environment is more important. When you are in the right environment, your brain can force you to adapt, and over time, the environment can help you reinforce and develop feeling for the language subconsciously without trying too hard. If you’re in China, go out and talk to people. If you’re not in China, watch Chinese dramas or YouTube channels in mandarin, leave it on even when you’re not watching, and indulge yourself in that language environment. Over time you will find yourself speak the right tone without trying.

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