I’ve decided to study Chinese. Do you recommend having the pinyin over the Chinese characters turned on? This of course means I’ll mark words known based on that but perhaps I can’t read them without pinyin (is that bad in your experience?)

I’m doing that in Japanese. I have the “furigana” on top of the characters and decide whether I know a word based on pronunciation. Everything depends on your goals, of course, but I think this is a very good strategy. My advice would be for you to learn the basics of the characters (radicals, e.g.) and a few basic ones. After that, read mostly based on the pinyin, don’t worry if you can’t read the characters, and do consider words “known” based on pinyin. Now and then, try to spot familiar and easy to recognize characters. You’ll find that you can recognize more. Depending on your goals, you can keep on studying characters separately as you learn the language. I think this is much better and more natural than to try to master the characters first and then begin reading. Back in the day you had no choice but nowadays technology is your ally.

I’m totally leaning towards just leaving the pinyin on there and letting it help speed up my reading new material. The easier the better. I don’t need much convincing. Thanks for the reply.

First question - Yes. Second question - No real problem to do this, not bad.

See here for the studies behind what you are asking:

I would advise against leaving Pinyin on. If you do, it’s likely you will find seeing them above the characters has become a habit that is very difficult to break. This is not my opinion, but based on an article by Jared Turner Pinyin over Characters: The Crippling Crutch – Mandarin Companion . He also talks about this in his excellent podcast Podcast – Mandarin Companion (which had Steve Kaufmann on as a guest as well btw.)

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I would strongly advise against using Pinyin above the characters if you plan to learn characters. I have done so in the first couple of weeks and I “recognised” the words based on Pinyin. When I switched Pinyin off, it came as a shock that I did not recognise the characters at all. Lingq makes it so easy to look up words, there really is no need for Pinyin. I do not use Pinyin, but I look up words all the time.

I agree with leaving pinyin off. I use pinyin in my anki flashcards to learn something, but for reading I leave it off (also turn off spacing in the text! real chinese doesn’t have spaces)