Praat is a great sound recording software developed by Dutch engineers (praat means “speak” in Dutch).
It has many uses, but we will use it with the single purpose of polishing our tone pronunciation in Chinese.
Praat is completely free. You can download it here
Once you have downloaded and installed it in your computer, follow these easy steps:
Open Praat and these two windows will appear.
You can immediately close the window on the right. We will not be using it.
Then a new window will appear.
We are ready to record!
So, let’s say we want to practice our first tone. Remember that the first tone in Chinese is a high-pitched sound that doesn’t go up or down. We represent it with a flat line like the one on the “i” in pīnyīn.
Fantastic! Now you know how to practice and self-correct your tones.
You can also record whole words and even sentences (up to one minute).
The blue line should always look like the tone marks on the pīnyīn transcription of the words you record.
You can listen to the complete recording by clicking on the two bars below, or if you want to listen to part of the recording, drag your mouse along the section of the graph you want to hear.
Another window will appear.
You can see your recording is saved on the Objects list.
Then click on View & Edit on the right.
A new window will open up.
Here you can actually “see” your recording. You have two graphs. The one below shows you a blue line. The blue line indicates whether your pronunciation is correct or not.
Since what we recorded is a first tone ( ā ) the blue line should also appear flat, like the tone mark on the “a” ( — ) . If the blue line is flat, it means that the pronunciation is correct.
Let’s try with a second tone.
We know that the second tone is pronounced like a question, that is, the sound rises ( á ), so the blue line should look like this ( ´ ).
Why don’t we try now with the third tone?
Remember that the sound must first go down and then rise at the end, just like the tone mark ( ǎ ).
Ok, great! Now let’s do the fourth tone. Your voice should drop from very high to very low ( à ).
So let’s get started!
Practice your tones as much as you can. Now it’s easy and fun!
Practice your tones with Praat
Now concentrate on the window on the left.
Click where it says New and click on Record mono sound… from the drop-down menu.
Now click on Record and start speaking into the microphone. For example say “ā”. Click stop when you finish speaking.
You can Name your recording and then save it by clicking on Save to list.