A student wrote me the following email:
I am having trouble distinguishing between the sound of “ai” and “ei”. In your lessons, examples such as , “Ai” “Tai” “Duo Gei” and “Wei Shen Me” are all sounding to my ears very much the same as the sound I use in Australian English for “way” or “day”. But for instance when I hear “Shang Hai” the “Hai” sounds a bit closer to “Hi!” rather than “Hay”.
I guess the sounds I am used to and the Chinese sounds are not exactly equivalent anyway, but can you clarify for me how much difference there is between “ai” and “ei” in Chinese? And just like in Australia is there a difference between what you hear on the street versus how a more educated person might speak?
See my video response: