Improving your pronunciation is an important goal when learning a language, and due to the reliance on tones this is even more so the case for Chinese, so obviously feedback is essential if you are to improve. The problem with obtaining feedback, though, is that people are all to quick to praise your Chinese ability without offering any constructive criticism. Or if you are in a position were you have a teacher or a friend that you can ask for feedback, it might not always be a convenient time for them. There must be a way that we can appraise our own Chinese ability?
What you should on a regular basis is record yourself speaking Chinese. Then you can listen back to the recording and pick out the mistakes yourself. Spotting mistakes in your pronunciation is much easier listening back to yourself, than when you are actually speaking Chinese and worrying about the many factors of speech such as grammar, word usage and pronunciation. You’ll also probably find that some words that you were sure you were pronouncing correctly, were in fact incorrect.
There is a great free audio recording program called Audacity that is available for both Windows, OSX and Linux. using Audacity you can record your voice,play it back and also save it out as an MP3 for listening back later.
To record your voice with Audacity all you need to do is select your microphone as the input device in the settings and you can start recording, to save out as MP3 you will need to install an MP3 encoder.
If you are using the Quicktime 10 in OSX, then there is audio recording functionality built in. Simply choose File > New Audio Recording, then hit the record button to start.
When listening back the aim is to find incorrect tones and other repeated mistakes. After listening back to yourself, re-record the same passage of text correcting the mistakes or problems that you found earlier. Try doing this every day (or as often as possible given your schedule) with a new passage of text and your Chinese is sure to improve in no time!
Let us know your results after trying out this method!
If you know of any other software for voice recording, or if you have any trouble with the software below then please leave a message below in the comments section.