Singapore is blessed with having Chinese, Malay and Tamil as one of the three major languages to learn; however, most prefer the use of English as it is the Language of International Communication.

Even so, Singaporeans are fairly adept at their mother tongue, with many emerging as bilingual. Out of all three of the official languages, it can be argued that the Chinese language is the hardest to master, especially the listening comprehension part.

Scroll down to see how you can help them master their Chinese listening comprehension!

Listening comprehension can be tricky to master due to:

  • Chinese speakers have a variety of non-standard accents – 普通话 (Putonghua), standard Mandarin that nobody uses anymore except in the school
  • A single syllable language with four different tones
  • Different word choice has a different meaning

Oh, and let’s not forget the usage of slang terms in everyday conversation.

With all these challenges, it’s no surprise that many students are struggling to pass the PSLE Mother Tongue Listening Comprehension. Hence, we have noted down several tips and tricks for students (or any parent) to improve their (child) listening comprehension skills.

1. Use text guides

Watching Chinese movies or TV series with subtitles is a great way in improving one’s language listening skills and vocabulary. The most important aspect is to understand the main meaning of the word.


By using this method, you can check words and phrases you’re unfamiliar with and look them up for other examples.

Start with easy materials such as cartoons or children movies and make sure you understand the meaning of each sentence. After a while, move on to something more challenging: close-captioned movies and TV shows with fast-paced dialogue. Below are 10 Chinese TV shows we recommend:


  • Nirvana in Fire (琅琊榜);

  • The Legend of Zhen Huan (甄嬛传;

  • The Journey of Flower (花千骨;

  • The Legend of Qin (秦时明月;

  • The Disguiser (伪装者;

  • I am a Singer (我是歌手;

  • Hurry Up, Brother (奔跑吧,兄弟);

  • Where Are We Going, Dad? (爸爸去哪儿);

  • If you are the one (非诚勿扰);

  • The Brain (最强大脑);

2. Exposure technique

The only way to get used to pronunciation is by exposing yourself (or your child) to the language every day.

The idea here is to get a “feel” for the language – recognizing where to pause, how long the sentence should be, being comfortable with the speech intonation etc. – as opposed to learning new vocabulary or grammar structures. Some great resources include:


  • Chinese music – Spotify is the best place to find Chinese songs; just type in “Chinese playlist”, and you’ll get a list of recommended songs.

  • You can also check out FluentU, which turns authentic videos into personalized language learning lessons!

  • Chinese podcast – This is for intermediate and advanced level students who should have the basis of the language covered.

  • Chinese radio station – Tune your radio channel to any Chinese language station – 883Jia, YES 933, Capital 95.8FM etc. You can also use the online radio stations – 卡卡思RADIO, and VintageRadioSG.

chinese radio

3. Practice your pronunciation

One of the bases of learning the Chinese language is to learn Chinese pinyin.

Here’s the reason why: if your pronunciation is incorrect, nobody can understand what you’re saying, which affects your listening comprehension.

There are four different tone levels in each Chinese word and gives a different meaning for that particular character. Use a pinyin pronunciation guide as you listen to audio recording materials.

Once your pronunciation becomes standard, and you have developed a good accent, you will find yourself catching and understanding the words more accurately and at a faster pace.

4. Increase your vocabulary

chinese radio

If your child is an intermediate to advance level in Mandarin, you might want to consider investing your money towards an audiobook service subscription. An advanced Chinese language student has already grasped the simplified Chinese writing style and can make out the most common Chinese words. So, it’s good for them to constantly challenge themselves by learning new Mandarin words.

Audiobooks are a great way to do that; it encourages your child to process Chinese words through passive listening. They can also even slow down the audio to hear the words through active listening as well.

Send Your Child to SLC!

Many Mandarin success stories have occurred in SLC. Children come to us struggling with Chinese, and we transform them into fluent speakers who are able to communicate well in the Chinese Mandarin language!

We at SLC offer the most comprehensive Chinese Mandarin classes, with educators of the highest quality to teach in a way that is suited to your child’s needs.

Our approaches and philosophy in teaching is truly in a class by itself, which is why we are able to help your child turn into the exceptional students that they were always meant to be.

Book our comprehensive and all-inclusive Online Diagnostic Assessment today so that we can help your child reach their full potential!