Hui Shi

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Sam F Stack

Committee Co-Chair

Xiangying Jiang

Committee Member

Ugur Kale

Committee Member

Joy Faini Saab

Committee Member

Heiko Everwien ter Haseborg


Learning Mandarin Chinese tones is a big challenge for English speaking learners. The average tonal production accuracy is reported to be about 70 percent for intermediate-level learners and 40 percent for beginning-level Chinese learners. The Chinese tonal proficiency significantly influences the learners' communicative effectiveness, including listening and speaking, but research often overlooks tonal production. This study proposed and tested a novel method of teaching English-speaking learners to pronounce Mandarin Chinese tones. This teaching method includes a Chinese tones bookmark, and a 30--50 minutes in-class training module. The research undertook five cycles of Design-Based Research (DBR) implementations with 31 public school students, adult learners, and Chinese teachers. Two audio recordings, one pre-training and one post-training, were collected and compared through the paired samples t-tests. Interviews, surveys, and class observations were adopted to determine the participants' attitudes toward the training and the teaching model. The results revealed that the designed teaching method was effective to improve the tonal production accuracy of English speaking K-12 children and adult learners. In addition, the results indicated that the participants' attitudes toward the designed method were positive. This study contributes to the current Chinese tonal teaching repertoire and presents a flexible, practical method for teachers to use when instructing students on Chinese tones.