Why chants and not songs? Spoken Chinese uses four tones to express meaning. The rising and falling melody of songs interferes with learning these tones, making chants the optimum tool for memorization. LoopSkool Chinese chants are recorded by professional male and female voice artists from Beijing with standard Beijing accents, the desired accent for learners of Mandarin Chinese.
Why rhythm? For millennia, humans have used rhythm as their go-to tool for memorizing large chunks of information. Look back in history and you’ll find most cultures used some form of rhythm-based system for handing down their oral traditions. Unfortunately, we lost this art with the invention of the printing press: with the widespread availability of books, people thought, “I don’t need to keep huge amounts of information in my head any more. I’ve got my books!”
The problem is, when you’re learning a second language, you still DO need to keep huge amounts of information in your head: new words, sentence patterns, phrases, idioms, etc. So we’re bringing rhythm back in a big way.
So is LoopSkool Chinese just about listening to chants? You’re asking yourself, “Wouldn’t that make LoopSkool passive, ineffective learning like most of the Mandarin learning apps in the top 25 ranked apps?” You’ve got every right to ask that question. And the answer is, LoopSkool is partly about listening, but it’s also about a whole lot more.
First, you listen to a chant a few times. This will ‘etch’ it into your mind. It’s like when you get those annoying advertising jingles in your head and they just won’t go away. Once you’re at that point, it’s time to see how well you’ve memorized the sentences you’ve learned in the chant.
These activities will give you a full workout in English translation, sentence order, using the correct tones … Whoa! Hold on. “What are these tones they keep talking about?” you might be asking in your head right now. A perfectly reasonable thing to ask at this point. Well, spoken Chinese has four tones. So a sound such as ‘ma’, for example, can have a different meaning if you say it with a rising tone, or a falling tone, etc. To speak Chinese, you really need to master these tones.
Don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you think. In fact, with LoopSkool Chinese, it’s about as easy as you can get. We would even go so far as to say we designed the whole app to make it as easy as possible for you to not only learn, but to master these tones. Yes, MASTER them! A bold claim but one we’ll stand by.
By the time you work through the activities, you’ll be dragging and dropping the correct tones to parts of sentences, spotting which tones are not correct, using pinyin to spell … Sorry, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. ‘Pinyin’ is just a Chinese word that refers to the use of the Romanized letter system (the same written letters we use in English) to represent Chinese sounds.
You don’t need to be able to read Chinese characters to learn to speak Chinese. The word ‘pinyin’ is itself an example of pinyin. Pinyin is used by Chinese children in China before they can read and write Chinese characters, and it’s a great way for you to learn to speak Chinese. And yes, you’re absolutely 100 percent correct if you just said to yourself out loud, “I bet LoopSkool Chinese is going to help me not only learn pinyin but also MASTER it!”
Finally, once you’ve listened to a chant and done the activities for it, you’ll unlock the timed test for that chant which will track your accuracy and speed and tell you if you're ready to move on to the next chant.
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