Varying Shades of Hearing

An Overview of Tone Perception Studies in L2 Mandarin Chinese


  • Xiaoshi Li Michigan State University
  • Qian Luo University College London
  • Jie Liu Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
  • Catherine Ryu Michigan State University



Mandarin Chinese tone learning, tone perception, experiment design


This paper provides an overview of 18 studies from over five decades that have investigated L2 Mandarin Chinese tone perception and the factors influencing it. We examine (1) varying patterns of difficulty of L2 Chinese tone perception and (2) the experiment designs that researchers have used to assess their reported patterns of difficulty. This review delineates the complexity of the current picture of difficulty in L2 Chinese tone perception. By analyzing a set of key issues that this investigation has unveiled, we propose new directions for future research that can enhance experiment designs and pedagogical approaches to tone teaching, while illuminating their intimate connections.


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How to Cite

Li, X., Luo, Q., Liu, J., & Ryu, C. (2022). Varying Shades of Hearing: An Overview of Tone Perception Studies in L2 Mandarin Chinese. Researching and Teaching Chinese As a Foreign Language, 3(2), 113–133.




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