A Summary of Researches on Mandarin Tone Acquisition


Speech perception and production
Tone acquisition




Tone acquisition has always been a difficulty and focus of second language acquisition. Many studies have used the way of tone production or perception to reveal the influence of mother tongue experience on tone acquisition. Based on the review, this article discusses some experiments on tone production and perception, reveals the significance of these studies and explores possible future research directions.


Hsiao Y, 2008, The Phonological Assessment of Preschool Children and the Factors of Materical Words (Master’s Thesis). National Kaohsiung Normal University, Chinese Taiwan.

Chang C, Chung Y, 1986, Revised Preschool Language Scale-Chinese Version and its Related Studies. Bulletin of Special Education, 2: 37–52.

Cheung H, 2000, Three to Four-Years Old Children’s Perception and Production of Mandarin Consonants. Language and Lin-Guistics, 1(2): 19-38.

So LKH, Zhou J, 2000, Putonghua Segmental Phonology Test. China: Nanjing Normal University.

Zhu H, Dodd B, 2000, “The Phonological Acquisition of Putonghua (Modern Standard Chinese),” Journal of Child Language, 27: 3-42.

Zhao Y, 1922, The Experimental Research Method of the Tones of Chinese Speech. Science, (9): 871-882.

Liu F, Liu B, 1924, Four Tone Experiment Record, Qun Yi Bookstore Press, Shanghai.

Clumeck H, 1980, “The Acquisition of Tone,” In G. H. Yeni-Komshian, J. F. Kavanagh, and C. A. Ferguson’s Child Phonology, Academic Press, New York, 1: 257-275.

Zhu H, Dodd B, 2000, The Phonological Acquisition of Putonghua (Modern Standard Chinese). Journal of Child Language, 27(1): 3-42.

Wong PS, Schwartz RG, Jenkins JJ, 2006, “Perception and Production of Lexical Tones by 3-year-old, Mandarin-Speaking Children,” Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48: 1065-1097.

Chao Y, 1930, A System of Tone Letters. Le Maitre Phonetique, 45: 24-27.

Pierce LJ, Kline D, Chen JK, et al., 2014, Mapping the Unconscious Maintenance of a Lost First Language. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 111: 17314-17319.

Barry JG, Blamey PJ, 2004, The Acoustic Analysis of Tone Differentiation as a Means for Assessing Tone Production in Speakers of Cantonese. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 116: 1739-1748.

Yeung HH, Chen KH, Werker JF, 2013, When Does Native Language Input Reorganize Phonetic Perception? The Precocious Case of Lexical Tone. J. Mem. Lang. 68: 123-139.

Gandour J, Harshman R, 1978, Cross Language Differences in Tone Perception: A Multidimensional Scaling Investigation. Lang Speech, 78(21): 1-33.

Peng G, Zheng HY, Gong T, et al., 2010, “The Influence of Language Experience on Categorical Perception of Pitch Contours,” Journal of Phonetics, 38(4): 616-624.

Choi W, Tong X, Samuel AG, 2019, Better Than Native: Tone Language Experience Enhances English Lexical Stress Discrimination in Cantonese-English Bilingual Listeners. Cognition, 189: 188-192.

Wang Y, Li M, 2011, Native Koreans’ Perception of Putonghua Yangping and Shangsheng. Language Teaching and Research, (1): 9.