This paper investigates the acquisition of Spanish prosodic patterns by Chinese learners. Pitch plays different linguistic roles in Mandarin Chinese and in Spanish. In Chinese the tonal contour of individual syllables is lexically contrastive. In Spanish the tonal contours characterize utterances and convey pragmatic functions. Conversely, Spanish has lexically contrastive stress which serves as anchoring points for local pitch excursions. In this paper we find strong evidence for the hypothesis that Mandarin learners of Spanish interpret the contours of Spanish words in citation form as a lexical property of individual syllables. This interpretation leads these learners to employ contours with a tonal rise in the stressed syllable and a fall on the post-tonic syllable. For instance, a word with stress on the penultimate syllable is produced as having a rising tone on the penultimate syllable (=tone 2 in Chinese) and a falling tone on the final syllable (=tone 4).