The best way to memorize Chinese tones is to treat each tone as part of the word. Whenever you learn a new word, remember three pieces of information: how to write the characters, what they mean, and what they sound like.

For example, the word 高兴 (gāoxìng; happy).

The three pieces of information you’ll need to remember are: (1) the characters 高兴; (2) its meaning, which is “happy; and (3) the sound of this word.

(1) Characters (2) Meaning (3) Sound
高兴 happy

Press the play button to hear the sound for 高兴.

For the sound, it’s critical to hear it repeatedly and commit it to memory.

Do not just try to memorize the pinyin dacritic marks gāoxìng! It’s never going to work as well as memorizing the actual sound.

You need to memorize the AUDIO representation of the word in Chinese, not the VISUAL representation of the word in Pinyin.

The pinyin is just an aid to help you get to the right tone. Ultimately, what matters is how the word sounds like, not how it is written in pinyin.

And you remember the sound by listening to it repeatedly!

An easy, effective way to help you commit the sounds of various Chinese characters to memory is the Ka Chinese tones app.

It features hundreds of levels to help you remember the tones of different characters. You’ll stop mixing up tones and start speaking pitch-perfect Chinese.

The app is built to feel like a game. It has over a hundred levels, and you’ll find yourself swiping and breezing through bite-sized tone practice exercises whilst collecting fun things and upgrading your dragon mascot.


Use it for just a few minutes a day, but keep at it. By the time you reach the final stages of the app, you’ll have achieved completely mastery in tones. Very soon, all your pinyin-related struggles will feel like a thing of the past.

Best of all, Ka is free. With its engaging games and exercises, Ka makes remembering tones feel like a fun challenge rather than a boring, tedious task.