I’ve noticed that if I don’t visit my mother for a couple of weeks, my Mandarin goes “off key” due to lack of practice, and it takes me a few attempts to hit the right tones again. I’ve also seen how challenging the “four tones” of Mandarin can be for anyone who didn’t grow up listening to the language. We had some fun over the recent Chinese New Year holiday trying to teach Alf and my non-Chinese friends how to construct simple sentences in Mandarin–with hilarious results that I wish I’d caught on video!
With Layla, I assigned names and actions to each tone– (1) was a steady high, like you were prancing about in the meadows; (2) was like going up a roller coaster; (3) was the “old lady voice” and (4) was an affirmation that required a fist pump. With Z, I’ve been so busy that I’ve left it mostly to our tutor, and his tones are a little wonky. The tutor’s asked me to up the exposure and I’ve found a link to this delightful series called Yun Cai Mian Bao, or Cloud Bread, which Layla used to watch. I love the animation and the sweet simplicity of the storylines.