Listening contest

Level: Intro

Time: 5 - 10 minutes

Organization: Pair Work

Aim: This activity targets beginner students and help them increases their awareness on pronunciation (sounds and tones). To speak out in pairs decreases the pressure to perform, and increases their confidence over time. It also builds class rapport among students.

(The example of words is taken from Mandarin Express Intro Level A Student’s Book. Teachers can prepare their own lists of words which target specific pronunciation areas.)

Preparation: This activity can be arranged at beginning of each class. Teachers tell students that it is a warm-up.


  1. Direct students’ attention to the page. 
  2. Teachers pick one pair of words and read them aloud.
  3. Then teachers read one word and ask students which word it is. Teachers can do another demo if necessary.
  4. Break the class into pairs.
  5. Each student in the pair takes turns to read aloud one word in the list, and ask the other pair to identify the word.
  6. Teachers walk around and give help.


Different pronunciation areas:

  • Differentiating four tones
  • Changing a fourth tone into a second tone
  • Changing a first tone into a second tone or a fourth tone
  • Changing a third tone into a second tone
  • Pronouncing the neutral sound
  • Practicing the "r" sound
  • Practicing connections between tones

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