Counting in Chinese for Kids – The Essentials

19 Jul

There are three simple steps to help make counting in Chinese for kids much simpler. The first of these steps is for your child to learn is the four pinyin tones, which will help him or her pronounce the Chinese characters numbers correctly. The second is to know the proper pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese numbers by listening to the language. The third step is to constantly listen to and interact with fluent or native Chinese speakers. It is best to do this every day for maximum assistance.

Counting in Chinese for kids in some ways can be easier that counting the numbers the way they are used to doing so. This is because with English numbers, after reaching the number ten, the numbers get more difficult in terms of twelve or twenty where the numbers are variations that combine numbers together. Chinese characters numbers are just putting together variations of 0 through 10 to write and speak the bigger numbers. Mandarin Chinese numbers put together two or more of the first ten numbers to make other numbers. For example, to reach a number such as 11, it would be added and written as 10 + 1; alternatively, the numbers are combined through multiplication, such as with 30, it would be written as 3 x 10; or the numbers are combine all together through multiplication and adding, such as with 45 where it would be 4 x 10 + 5. Mandarin Chinese numbers are said in a specific order similarly to English where the hundred is first then the tens followed by the ones, so 486 would be four hundred eight ten six.

The Chinese characters numbers are scripted using pinyin, which shows what tones are used to represent the pronunciation. Mandarin Chinese numbers use five tones. The first of the five tones makes a flat and high sound. The second pinyin tone is when the inflection in your voice goes up. Whereas in the third tone the inflection dips. In the fourth tone, the inflection in your voice goes down harsh and fast. The last one has no tone and is quick. These five tones are shown by using letters or symbols on or above the word of the Chinese characters numbers, and this is where counting in Chinese for kids can get a bit tricky. The number one, which is “yi,” uses the first tone and is expressed by an “i” with a “-“ above the letter. Two in Chinese is “er,” and it uses the fourth tone. The pinyin uses an “a” above the “e” to show the pronunciation. The number five is written as “wu” and pronounced using the third tone, which is expressed by a “u” above the “u.” Eleven, or “shi” in Chinese, uses the second of the five tones, which is shown with an “a” over the “i.”

These are just examples of the tones that are used for all the numbers and are formulated differently depending on the Chinese characters numbers that are being used. Counting in Chinese for kids can be easily picked up if they have the proper school or tutor with the proper lessons to accompany the teaching, and the best way is to have the program customized to the child’s level. So make sure your child is getting the most out of each of their Mandarin Chinese language lessons.


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