Ruohui Xu

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Major project:

Tone-da: Language Instrument for Learning Chinese

Tone-da is a flute-like language instrument designed for non-tone-language background learners of Chinese. It is not only a project about how to use musical elements to help people learn Chinese tones, but a new Chinese learning system that begins with tone-learning. There are only 5 tones in Chinese. Comparing to the complicated written characters, Pinyin(over 300 Chinese combinations of vowels and consonant sounds) and grammar, it is the simplest part to begin with. By making the learning tool into an instrument, Tone-da transforms the learning process from ‘speaking’ language into ‘playing’ language. The musical scores for Tone-da are pictorial scenarios wordlists based on the most realistic life in China. It aims to create an easy, fun and practical learning experience of Chinese and help people to build up their confidence in oral Chinese communication.


  • I am a designer who is always seeking for the potential of interdisciplinary projects. Growing up on a university campus, I have been always exposed to interdisciplinary culture and met experts from different fields. Via talking to them, I found great opportunities of how design can interact with knowledge from other disciplinary. In my graduation project, I collaborated with students of linguistics from King's College and musicians from Royal College of Music and design a 'Language Instrument' that teach people Chinese through musical methods.
  • Previous degrees

  • BE Industrial Design, South China Agricultural University, 2015
  • Experiences

  • Internship, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co.,Ltd. Automotive Engineering Institute, July 09 to Aug. 15, 2014; Internship, Electric Appliances Division, Midea Corporate Design Company, Foshan, Guangdong, May 12 to July 07, 2014; Internship, Guangzhou ISAR User Interface Design Company, Aug. 16 to Aug. 30, 2012
Royal College of Art