Why learn pinyin ? I think their are 8 simple reasons.
- You need pinyin to look up words in the dictionary. If you hear Chinese words and phrases in everyday speech and you would like to look it up, then you need to know the hanyu pinyin equivalent.
- Digital Chinese input is best done through pinyin. Young Chinese people are forgetting how to write Chinese characters because Chinese input is fastest through pinyin.
- Learning hanyu pinyin gives you a broader framework for learning Chinese. Pinyin encompasses all of the potential sounds that can be made in Mandarin Chinese. This is immensely powerful and empowering. It gives you a sense of the lay of the land. Basically, having a “name” for the different sounds is very useful. Imagine learning to paint without having names for different colors?
- Learning pinyin builds confidence. When you first start learning Chinese, the sheer information overload can be very discouraging and disorienting. By showing you all of the potential sounds in Chinese, it gives you the sense that Mandarin Chinese is not infinite, and hence manageable. After you learn pinyin, all Chinese words begin to have more context.
- Learning pinyin improves listening comprehension. When you are able to distinguish the pinyin sounds, that means you’re listening with precision.
- Learning pinyin improves your pronunciation. Pinyin is intimately linked to pronunciation.People who are unable to identify the pinyin for a word, are usually unable to pronounce it effectively. Which makes a lot of sense if you think about it. How are you going to actively recall something, if you’re unable to passively identify it?
- Failure to learn pinyin creates a long-term “debt” which taxes your Chinese learning progress. Pinyin is a useful tool that advanced learners can always rely on. Whether it’s looking up a word, or jotting something down quickly to review later, capturing Chinese words in pinyin is an essential shortcut. Why would you deprive yourself of it?
- Failure to master pinyin puts a ceiling on your potential. No matter how big your vocabulary gets, it won’t matter. Without mastering pinyin, you will confuse similar sounding Chinese words (with drastically different meanings). And even if you know what you want to say, you might still not be able to pronounce it accurately. Fluency means selecting and deploying words with precision.