ChineseTones recommend you learn standard Chinese Mandarin first (watching real-life videos and practicing listening and speaking, because it’s best to learn whole phrases and sentences in context). Meanwhile, you may need some knowledge of Pinyin, if you are a newbie learner.
Chinese Phonetic Alphabet is the national standard for Chinese Pinyin and is also the international standard stipulated by the United Nations for spelling Chinese special terms and names of persons and places.
Chinese Pinyin is a way of writing Chinese that is easier for foreigners to read. The details will be explained in the following courses.
Learning Pinyin is a necessary step for learning Chinese. It helps you to master the standard pronunciation of Chinese characters. After mastering Pinyin, you will be able to read Chinese books that have Pinyin, learn Chinese characters by looking in the dictionary and thus enter a new world of Chinese learning.
Chinese characters include picture based (pictographic) characters, picture/sound (pictophonetic) characters and combined meaning characters. For example, the character "口" is based on a picture of an open mouth, so it is a pictographic character. But you only know how to say it by reading Pinyin, in this case so you can see how important Pinyin is for learning Chinese.
When learning Pinyin, you should be aware of certain limitations:
1. Pinyin does not represent English pronunciation and should not be pronounced according to English conventions. You are advised to learn Pinyin phonetic conventions, bearing in mind that many sounds have no equivalents in English.
2. Since Pinyin is based only on the sounds of Mandarin Chinese, Pinyin is unsuitable for other Chinese spoken dialects, because the sounds do not correspond to their speech.
Pinyin is a way to represent Chinese characters and express the sounds in the Chinese language using the alphabet. There are other systems to express Mandarin, but Pinyin is the most accepted and widely used. Once you learn Pinyin you will know how to pronounce any word in Mandarin using a Chinese dictionary. Pinyin is also the most common way to input Chinese characters into a computer.