Learning a new language is just like acquiring any other skill; it takes time, immense practice, and a step by step process. Every language has its unique significant elements, grammar rules, sentence structures, scripts and text that make it different from the rest. The Chinese language is considered to be one of the most difficult languages to learn because of the complex script. Learning a language is divided into three stages- learning to speak, learning to read and learning to write. While the script has got nothing to do with learning to speak the language, but if one really wants to learn the language as a whole then all three stages must be accomplished. When beginning your journey on how to learn Chinese Pinyin online it is important to make a note of all the stages and aspects involved.
Learning to learn a language also requires 4 very distinct practices:
All four are equally important and play an important role in the overall learning and understanding of the language. When it comes to speaking the Chinese language, you can take help from a number of resources available online, enroll in live classes or also connect with a native speaker around you or over the internet. It’s the writing part that needs individual practice. There are over 50,000 characters in the Chinese language and learning each requires a lot of time. This is the main reason that most beginners prefer to learn the Chinese Pinyin instead of the traditional Chinese characters. When researching on how to learn Chinese, you will find most people suggesting how to learn Chinese Pinyin online and it’s definitely an effective way to start your learning process.
What is Chinese Pinyin?
Chinese Pinyin uses Roman characters in place of traditional Chinese characters based on the original pronunciation. The word ‘Pin Yin’ literally translates to ‘spell sound’ in Mandarin Chinese. Thus, spelling out Chinese characters using Roman letters for better understanding and learning is Chinese Pinyin; also the Romanization of Chinese characters. For example:
Pinyin: xué xí zhōng wén
Chinese Pinyin has been in use for a very long time and historically used to help Western learners understand Chinese. Pinyin was officially recognized by the government during the 1950’s and also included in elementary schools to better learning and improve pronunciation. With the coming in of digitalization, pinyin has proved to be of any greater advantage.
Why is it important to learn Chinese Pinyin?
Any person wanting to learn the Chinese language will most certainly want to be able to not just speak but also read and write. This is where the Chinese pinyin comes in! Reading and writing the traditional Chinese characters is immensely time consuming and complicated for a learner, the Chinese pinyin is much easier and also accepted and understood by native Chinese speakers. It also greatly improves one’s pronunciation and can thus improve your Chinese speaking skills too. Additionally, when typing Chinese on a phone or any digital tool, drawing the characters is a difficult task, where as the Pinyin is easy to type and understand too.
Pinyin helps a learner reinforce the proper pronunciation of certain characters and phrases. Using a Chinese dictionary also becomes much easier for those who know Pinyin.
How to learn Chinese Pinyin Online?
Before you begin your language learning it is important to take note of certain things. The Chinese Pinyin can look extremely confusing as there are several letter combinations that do not exist in English. For example- ‘xi’, ‘qie’, ‘cui’ are all perfect in Pinyin but absurd in English! Additionally, certain letters are also pronounced in a different way, for example the English letter ‘C’ is pronounced as ‘ts’ in the word ‘pits’.
As a Chinese Pinyin learner you must not equate the English letters to how they are used in the English language. For example:
‘Xi’ and ‘Si’ may appear to be rhyming words but in Chinese ‘Xi’ is pronounced as ‘see/shee’ and ‘Si’ is pronounced as ‘sih/suh’. So, it’s best not to try and apply any English rules!
When learning Chinese or the Chinese pinyin it is also very important to pay attention to the four different tones plus a neutral tone. Chinese is a tonal language and a wrong use of tone can completely change the meaning. Even though the word may be spelt the same, the tone can make it change meanings. The four tones are:
- High level tone
- Rising tone
- Falling-rising tone
- Falling tone
The best way of learning any language, including Pinyin, is to do speaking practice as much as possible. One cannot really use the proper grammar and sentence structures unless it is practiced every day. The Chinese Pinyin definitely helps in faster learning and is a much easier way to get a learner started. The pronunciation of Chinese characters is also extremely complicated and pinyin helps smoothen that out!
Points to consider when learning Chinese Pinyin online:
- When taking up a course online to learn Chinese Pinyin make sure you choose the right level. If you are a beginner start with the basic course, or else evaluate your understanding and choose a course level accordingly.
- Make a playlist of tapes and audios in Chinese and practice your listening skills.
- Do as much speaking practice as you can. No online course can help unless you practice speaking, preferably with a native.
- Follow a step by step procedure. Missing out or skipping on any step will create a rift in your learning.
- Pay attention to the following things and make sure each of these is included in your course structure:
- The different tones of Chinese language
- The essence and use of Single Vowels
- The initials b, p, m and f
- Initials d,t,n,l
- Initials g,k,h
- Initials j,q,x
- Initials zh,ch,sh,r
- Initials z,c,s
- Initials y,w
- Finals ai,ei,ui
- Finals ao,ou,iu
- Finals ie, ue, er
- Finals an, en, in, un
- Finals ang,eng,ing,ong
- Finals ia,iao
- Finals ian,iang,iong
- Finals ua,uo,uai
- Finals uan,uang
- The Tonal rules
- The Spelling rules
This is correct series and the proper steps by step procedure to follow when learning Chinese pinyin. It gradually takes the learning one step further at a time and helps a learner grasp the rules and the proper usage properly. The Chinese pinyin though looks familiar to the English alphabet, it is important to not consider the two exactly the same. It’s essential to let go of the English pronunciations and structures to be able to fully learn the Chinese Pinyin.
There are certain pronunciation rules that must be adhered to at all times when learning the Chinese Pinyin. For example:
Use of y and w
If there is no initial before the finals starting with an ‘I’, the y shall be added as an initial. In case of other vowels after the ‘I’, the ‘I’ will be changed to y:
ia – ya ie – ye iao – yao
iou – you ian – yan iang – yang
iong – yong
- no vowels after ‘I’:
i – yi in – yin ing – ying
Just like that are rules for the use of the punctuations and rules for abbreviations too. When learning make sure the writing part of Chinese Pinyin goes hand in hand, this will help in better learning and improve your Chinese Pinyin language skills. It may seem complicated in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it’s much easier.
When struggling with the question, how to learn Chinese Pinyin Online, consider and weigh the different options available to you. There are numerous websites and applications solely dedicated to helping people learn Chinese Pinyin. With the ever increasing demand and popularity and more and more people wanting to learn the Chinese Pinyin, there is no dearth to the number of sources providing help. Just ensure you enrol with a website or application that has been certified and has a good number of students. If possible, get in touch with some existing or previous students to get a better idea of what to expect and what all is in store for you. There are also several websites that help you connect with native Chinese speakers, practicing with a native is definitely a brilliant way to practice. You can connect over Skype or even over the phone; if possible schedule face-to-face lessons too!
Channels like YouTube are full of videos and tutorials that help people learn the Chinese Pinyin. You can follow any of the many channels and join a group of learners. Posting an ad in your local network can also help you get some helpful leads! The Chinese Pinyin is accepted the world over and there are people across the globe wanting to learn the Chinese Pinyin. You can connect with likeminded people online and form a study group or even plan practice sessions. The more people you practice with the better and faster your learning will be. Use the numerous how to learn Chinese Pinyin online learning tools and ace your language learning lessons!