Over the last year or so, I’ve been thinking about making an online drill for Mandarin tone pairs. I don’t think I’m very unique in that I had the four tones down within in pretty short time as long as they were in isolation, but struggled with pairs of tones for a long, long time. The homework book for Far East Everyday Chinese I included a pretty useful drill for pairs of tones, that got the wheels turning in my head. It was really useful for me, and it’s not really anything that would have been that difficult to put online. Being the procrastinator that I am though, it’s still not done.

Fortunately for all of us though, John had the exact same idea years earlier and got it done. He just put up a new section, titled “Mandarin Chinese Tone Pair Drills” ,on his site.

The main idea behind these drills is that learning tones of individual characters is not enough. Learning tone combinations is the key. Mastering those combinations necessarily involves extensive practice with tone pairs. A mastery of tone pairs will lead to significant progress with any number and combination of tones in succession. Although I was not fully cognizant of the exact process at the time, I believe it was this method which lead to my own successes in correctly producing tones of Mandarin Chinese in succession.

It’s very similar to what I was thinking of, but it’s clear that he put far more work into the presentation than I ever would have. It has neat little graphics with mirror effects, little flash buttons for each mp3, and better yet, it’s also offered as a free download. It was clearly the result of a lot of hard work. Thanks, John!