Thank you, Robert you are a most excellent teacher, and we are fortunate to have you hear to help us out with theses many questions.
I recommend to the Rocket Team that they make up a new title or Badge beyond even Black Hero to say maybe "Most Honored Learning Ambassador." Or perhaps, if growth continues they can hire you to proctor the Chinese course. It is very helpful to have someone to quickly settle these kinds of questions.
In that same vein, may I share what I think is a learning insight for me, to see if it is valid?
I've been doing the Chinese course for over two weeks now, but still need much more work on the tones, and other pronunciation subtleties my ears can hear but my tongue cannot yet match.
For the last three days I decided to redo the first lessons concentrating more on the tones. The first and third tones are usually distinctive and I'm okay with them.
The second tone sometimes seems sort of ambiguous and not distinctively rising dramatically in pitch as much as being longer than the forth tone which is most distinctive to me by it's dramatic short staccato burst. So then by process of elimination I"m figuring if it is not the 1, 3, or 4 tones and has a duration longer than the 4th tone generally does then it must be second.
From experience with other easier languages I know this is not the right way to recognize the second tone because any rule that long is not going to be possible to use in real-time conversation where one can not go back and think about the possibilities.
Sometimes I can hear a small rising of the pitch in Tone 2 but it is certainly not yet as distinctive as the other three yet,
Another issue with the tones that I'm at the "initial awareness of the issue" stage but not anywhere near proficiency is the difference in pitch changes between words or syllables versus changes during the word. For example, Tone 4 is easy in this regard because in the examples so far Lin always starts at the highest pitch level and then dramatically and perhaps even slightly more loudly "sings' the first tone for a longer duration than the second tone or forth tone.
The third tone starts lower in pitch, drops and comes back up in a U "shape.
The charts shows the second tone starting lower and moving up which I sometimes hear, but I also hear differences in starting tone pitch that may either be random or following some other pattern I do not understand yet. Perhaps resetting in preparation for an upcoming rise or fall?
So what do you think? Am I on the right track?
Oh, also with
I keep thinking I am hearing a soft "Qu" sound at the beginning not a simple "h;"
And then a pitch or tone drop for the ying. Maybe even a volume (loudness) drop?