Empirical Studies on L2 Mandarin Chinese Production

What Can We Learn from Them?


  • Xiaoshi Li Michigan State University
  • Qian Luo Queen Mary University of London
  • Jie Liu College of the Holy Cross
  • Catherine Ryu Michigan State University




Mandarin Chinese tone learning, tone perception, tone production


This paper delineates an overview of Mandarin Chinese tone production empirical studies over the past three decades that reported the varying patterns of difficulty for L2 Mandarin learners. In this review, we investigate 19 studies chosen based on our selection criteria by analyzing the key factors in relation to the four main perspectives; namely, learners, instructors, target forms and researchers. We also analyze the patterns and issues found in this investigation. This overview aims to illuminate the current picture of L2 Chinese tone production and its complexity. In light of the insights garnered from this review, we propose a set of suggestions for future research and discuss broad implications for pedagogical approaches to tone learning.

Author Biographies

Xiaoshi Li, Michigan State University

Xiaoshi Li is Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages, Michigan State University.

Qian Luo, Queen Mary University of London

Qian Luo, Lecturer, School of Languages, Linguistics, and Film, Queen MaryUniversity of London.

Jie Liu, College of the Holy Cross

Jie Liu, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages andLiteratures, College of the Holy Cross.

Catherine Ryu, Michigan State University

Catherine Ryu, Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages, Michigan State University.


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How to Cite

Li, X., Luo, Q., Liu, J., & Ryu, C. (2020). Empirical Studies on L2 Mandarin Chinese Production: What Can We Learn from Them?. Researching and Teaching Chinese As a Foreign Language, 3(1), 23–49. https://doi.org/10.1558/rtcfl.38718