Pinyin trainer

I have been looking through the lessons for Chinese and can’t find what I am looking for. Which is something that will teach me pinyin. Is there something like that here.

I’m trying to break Chinese down into small chunks and while I wasn’t going to concentrate on pinyin I am finding not knowing it a handicap.


No there isn’t.

This is how I’d explain pinyin, and learning Mandarin.

There are 412 syllables in Mandarin, most of which have an initial sound and a final sound.

Pinyin breaks these 412 syllables into an ugly form of romanisation often depicted around a charting of the initial and final sounds -
eg - combinations of Mandarin Chinese initials and finals

Most of the 412 syllables of Mandarin are very easy to pronounce, a few are very tricky to learn to pronounce accurately.

If you want to learn the tricky ones here is the best guide → Chinese Pronunciation - Sinosplice

The 412 syllables are spoken into life using different tones.

Learning tones is tough.

Never believe anyone who says they can successfully teach adult, non-heritage, language learners to truly master tones.

You have to internalise tones over a period of many thousands of hours of listening. That’s just the way it is. I’m but a messenger on this point.

Teachers will tell you Mandarin has 4 tones, plus a neutral tone. I’m not sure why they don’t just say 5 tones. In reality, most of the 412 syllables are only ever spoken into life using a few different tones, some are only ever spoken with 1 tone. This gives Mandarin around 1300, or so, actual syllable-sounds to use. In comparison, English has about 5000.

Mandarin compensates for a lack of variety in syllables by making the majority of it’s vocab two syllables. English, in comparison, has the majority of it’s usage as single syllables. In this way, and contrary to popular belief, there is never much confusion using romanisation to depict Mandarin in writing, nor to use it as a reading tool.

Speaking Mandarin is really tough to do well. Especially if you come from languages without tones. Most non-heritage language learners fail spectacularly at speaking Mandarin, mostly because of tones. My only advice here is two-fold :

-To speak well - first listen, a lot. Then imitate what you hear. When you don’t know words, be in the habit of guessing the sound+tone before reading. Listen some more, and pay close attention.
-Be in the habit of regularly recording yourself and compare against native speech.

If you want to break Mandarin learning into “chunks”, my best advice is in this thread: