Self-Guided Chinese Learning for Kids: Consonants Video

Sara from LA reached out to us recently to find a solution for her daughter Mia’s struggles with basic pronunciation. For example, “jīdàn (鸡蛋) egg” and “zǐdàn (子弹) bullet” would be pronounced the same. As the majority of new learners do, she was creating the same sounds for the “j” as she did for the entire “z, c, s” family. We have since made a video to assist her at-home studies.

Since people from each country have specific pronunciation habits, learning Chinese pinyin can be hard for non-heritage learner, specially for children. They are often confused by the Chinese consonants: “z, c, s” and “zh, ch, sh”. Thus, we have made a consonant guide to help your child.

Here are 3 ways for children to learn the correct pronunciations for the most commonly mispronounced consonants.

First, show these two images to your child and let him/her observe where the tongue should be. Note that all the two groups begin in a similar position.

1.Consonants “z, c, and s” are produced with the tip of the tongue. Place your tongue just behind the upper front teeth.

pinyin pronunciation

2.Consonants “zh, ch, and sh” are produced on the back of the tongue but the tongue has a curled shape and is kept between the teeth and hard palate.

pinyin pronunciation
Then if the children cannot differentiate them yet, it’s fine. We have made a video to let your child watch the mouth shape of the teacher when she pronounces these consonants.

Help your child to imitate and practice how she is pronouncing each one. Be sure to check on how his/her pronunciation sounds compared to the teacher’s pronunciation.

Lastly, the Children can also practice pronunciation frequently by forming words and making sentences such as the ones below:
Group 1:


Wǒ xǐhuān zǐsè.
我 喜欢 紫色。
I like purple.


Wǒ xūyào yì zhānɡ zhǐjīn.
我 需要 一 张 纸巾。
I need a tissue.

Group 2:


Cìwèi hěn kě’ài.
刺猬 很 可爱
Hedgehogs are very adorable.


Xiǎoniǎo yǒu chìbǎnɡ.
小鸟   有 翅膀。
Birds have wings.

Group 3:


Zhōnɡguó de sīchóu fēichánɡ yǒumínɡ.
中国   的 丝绸  非常  有名。
Chinese silk is very famous.

shí wù

Wǒmen bùkěyǐ lànɡfèi shíwù.
我们  不可以 浪费 食物。
We cannot waste food.

We hope this guide helps support your child in learning how to pronounce historically difficult consonants in the Chinese language. We know it will be useful for beginners so save it for later or share it with other young learners in your life.

You May Want to Learn More :

“Learn Chinese Pinyin-Consonant”
“It’s déjà vu “all over again”: How and when to use “再” and “又” ”
”How Children Can Overcome the Difficulties of Learning Pinyin?”

HSK 1 quiz

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