Chinese has a huge range of versions, dialects and accents, but most have a good or native understanding of mandarin. 

Mandarin is primarily a northern Chinese language and has no links with English, which makes it very difficult for Chinese speakers to learn and pronounce English.


Chinese use symbols instead of letter, so the concept of an alphabet may not already be known to Chinese learners.  The concept of using letters to build sentences makes spelling and writing a real challenge.


Almost everything connected to phonology is different for a native Chinese speaker.  Many English phonemes do not exist, making the pronunciation difficult, as the mouth is not used to moving in such specific way.

Stress and intonation patterns are very different as Chinese is based on tone and pitch within its phonemes to change the sound and therefore changing the meaning of the phoneme or word.  English only used pitch to highlight emotion and mood.  The change in pitch of vowel changes cannot change the meaning of the word.

Difficult sounds

Like many other non-native speakers, there are more vowel sounds than in Chinese which makes words with similar sounding vowels difficult for a Chinese speaker to identify and speak.

Pay attention to the differences in pronunciation between 'l' and 'r' and also between 'l' and 'n;, for those from south china.  Identifying the difference in sounds is very difficult therefore spend more time on the meaning.

Learners often speak with a long drawn out vowel when the word ends with a consonant sound, such as 'pill', or they can add an extra vowel sound on the end.  For example 'pilliiii' or 'pilla'.

Most Chinese speakers using English often have a very heavy accent which often means that even with perfect grammar, native English speakers can have difficulty understanding them.  This can be overcome by using simple vocabulary with few syllables and consonants.