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Pronunciation Course for Chinese Speakers

Free 21-Day English Pronunciation Course for Chinese Speakers


Is Mandarin or Cantonese your first language?

Do you believe people sometimes have trouble understanding your English?

Improve your English pronunciation in 21 days with this free course. The goal of the 21-Day English Pronunciation Course for Chinese Speakers is to improve intelligibility and raise awareness of common pronunciation challenges faced by people who speak Chinese as their first language.

Again, the goal is to improve intelligibility and raise awareness of Mandarin or Cantonese speakers' common pronunciation challenges.

Why did I say the goal twice?

Because this is not intended to be a magic cure for all your speaking problems, instead, expect significant improvement in your English-speaking intelligibility. In other words, by the end of this course, people will be able to understand you better when you speak English.

Over the next 21 days, we will target twelve specific sounds (four consonants, four vowels, and four consonant clusters) that often give Chinese speakers trouble. When you practice each sound, you will complete five different activities:

  • Minimal Pairs
  • Vowels
  • Syllable Stress
  • Reduced Sounds
  • Tongue Twisters

The sounds of English do not exist in a vacuum, so we practice these sounds on the word level and sentence level. These activities will improve your understanding of American English stress patterns, reduced sounds, and speech music.

There are a multitude of Chinese dialects with distinct features. This 21-day course is a general guideline, so feel free to tweak the recommended daily practice based on your needs.

If you would like more ideas on how to work on your pronunciation outside of this program, you can jump to the section Additional Resources for Mandarin or Cantonese Speakers.

Do You Need This 21-Day Pronunciation Course?

Many English language learners believe pronunciation is their biggest weakness.

A student recently confessed, “If I improve my pronunciation, my English will be perfect.

She was wrong.

The fact is you might NOT need to work directly on your pronunciation.

Listen to these three speaking samples from Chinese speakers preparing for the TOEFL iBT. The original questions can be found on TST Prep’s official website.

Read the summary below each response and compare your pronunciation.

01, Male, Chinese, Switching Jobs

This 21-day pronunciation course is a good fit for this English language learner. He started strong, but as the response progressed, it became apparent that he struggles with pronouncing words with more than one syllable, like narrow, vision, creative, and environment.

02, Male, Chinese, Talking About Swarm Intelligence

Like most English language learners, this student struggled with the /th/ and /r/ sounds. However, I am not convinced this course would fit this student well. He might want to complete this 21-day course, depending on his goals. His speech was mostly intelligible, but he struggled to link words and syllables. Tongue twisters and reduced sounds are the two activities that would benefit him the most.

03, Female, Chinese, Comparing Physical and Digital Books

This student does NOT need help with her pronunciation. She spoke clearly, linked words together, and varied her intonation.

If you want feedback and pronunciation advice from an experienced teacher, send an email to Josh at [email protected].

The 21-Day Pronunciation Course for Chinese Speakers

The Speaker English collection of sound practice includes 18 consonant sounds, 20 vowel sounds, and 25 consonant clusters. These are the sounds of American English.

Consonants: p, b, t, d, k, g, v, l, r, z, s, h, dʒ (dg), m, n, w, j (y), f

Vowels: æ (a), eɪ (A), e(ɛ), i: (ee), ɪ (i), aɪ (ai), ɒ (o), ɘʊ (O), ʌ (u), Ʊ (oo), u: (oo), aʊ (ow), ɔɪ (oi), ɪə (eer), ə (“uh”/schwa), ɜ: (er), ɔ: (aw/or), a: (ar), eə (air), ʊɘ

Consonant Clusters: zh (ʒ), ng (ŋ), sh (ʃ), ch (tʃ), th (ð, voiced), th (θ, unvoiced), bl, br, st, sw, cl, cr, dr, fr, fl, gl, gr, pl, pr, tr, sk, sl, sm, sn, sp

Each day, you will complete various activities on four different sounds.

Even though there may be other sounds you struggle to pronounce well, we have selected 12 sounds most Chinese speakers find challenging. This represents a large sample size that will target current weaknesses and improve your overall intelligibility.


  • p
  • l
  • h


  • æ
  • a:
  • i:

Consonant Clusters:

  • dr
  • ð
  • cl
  • sm

Follow the links below and complete the given assignments. Set aside approximately 30 minutes each day to complete all activities.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14
Day 15 Day 16 Day 17 Day 18 Day 19 Day 20 Day 21


Additional Resources for Chinese Speakers

It is important to note that this 21-day pronunciation course is not a one-size-fits-all solution. I encourage you to tweak this plan based on personal preference.

Regarding particular sounds, I have highlighted sounds often identified as troublesome for Chinese speakers.

Consonants: p, b, t, d, k, g, v, l, r, z, s, h, dʒ (dg), m, n, w, j (y), f

Vowels: æ (a), eɪ (A), e(ɛ), i: (ee), ɪ (i), aɪ (ai), ɒ (o), ɘʊ (O), ʌ (u), Ʊ (oo), u: (oo), aʊ (ow), ɔɪ (oi), ɪə (eer), ə (“uh”/schwa), ɜ: (er), ɔ: (aw/or), a: (ar), eə (air), ʊɘ

Consonant Clusters: zh (ʒ), ng (ŋ), sh (ʃ), ch (tʃ), th (ð, voiced), th (θ, unvoiced), bl, br, st, sw, cl, cr, dr, fr, fl, gl, gr, pl, pr, tr, sk, sl, sm, sn, sp

If you went through the pronunciation course, you know there are five activities to complete each day:

  • Minimal Pairs
  • Vowels
  • Syllable Stress
  • Reduced Sounds
  • Tongue Twisters

While these activities are helpful, Chinese speakers (Mandarin or Cantonese) should focus on consonant clusters and speech music. Chinese syllables often end with a vowel which makes consonant clusters incredibly difficult to pronounce (playpu - ray). Inserting vowels between consonants is a tough habit to break. Go through the pronunciation practice for all consonant clusters on the Speaker English site, and pay special attention to minimal pairs. It will help you distinguish between a single consonant and a consonant cluster.

People from Chinese language backgrounds often have trouble with American English speech music. Word stress, syllable stress, and intonation patterns are essential parts of communicating your ideas in English. Since Mandarin and Chinese speakers don’t distinguish between more and less important sounds and words, their speech often sounds robotic. Prosody (also known as speech music) is an often overlooked area of English that people from China should focus on. Pay special attention to the reduced sounds activities on the Speaker English site and mimic the prosody of the native speaker.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or feedback below. I’m always learning :)

Download the PDF version of this 7-day mini-course.

Plus the PDF-version of every single English sound for free.