https://www.duolingo.com/Car3434

Do you think there should be pinyin when you hover over the Chinese words?

I personally think this would be very helpful. I have trouble remembering the tones for new characters, and would like to be able to have quick reminders without having to get out a translator.

April 16, 2018

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/OstenCramer

In general, I discourage people from using the hoover function. I think it is better to just get the question wrong, and repeat it until you get it right. But that's not necessarily the way everyone likes to learn.

That said, I like the idea of having pinyin better than I like the idea of an English translation, since the pinyin will be precise and accurate, while English translations of single Chinese words are usually either useless or misleading. Especially for double checking tones, I can see the utility in this. However, I think it might be better if you just listen to the audio file with the word, and practice hearing the tones. I often can't remember the tone precisely if you just asked me to give you a number, but I can say the word, and recognize the tone when I hear my voice say it.

For me, however, I found that typing characters in Chinese was actually more helpful for my pronunciation associations. (Sadly, this doesn't include tones, at least with the widely available IMEs). When I was a student early on, I used to write the pinyin in the margins for all the characters I didn't know. I didn't make much progress this way. Flash cards helped a bit more, but they were kind of slow. Typing was really helpful for me because I had to start by thinking the word I wanted to type, and then come up with the pronunciation that worked.

This addressed the problem I had very well, but it was one of two possible problems that students of Chinese usually have. The first problem is knowing lots of characters that you don't know how to say, and the second problem is knowing how to say lots of things that you can't write. Because of my academic work, I have a lot of characters I know that will simply never come up in regular every day conversations, and it left me stumbling for them when I was talking to colleagues. It's also common for students who are focused on history or literature to develop reading skills far beyond their speaking skills. And students who already know Japanese or Korean often know the meanings of characters, if not how they are pronounced. (I have the opposite problem - in Japanese I know the meanings of all the Kanji, but I'm cheating, and just reading them as Chinese characters, so I'm behind on learning their readings.) If this is your problem, then typing will definitely help.

On the other hand, if you have the problem of knowing how to say things that you can't write, typing can kind of be a pitfall. It allows you to just type the pronunciation you know, and automatically get a character, which you might be tempted to not pay that much attention to. I've also had this problem before, and so I overcame this by doing calligraphy exercises, where I practiced writing a character with a brush (using water on a stone) over and over again, in almost a meditative way. This in-depth engagement with a character when I already understood the word helped a lot to associate the character with the word I was saying.

Both of these approaches are things you can always try out for yourself and add to your study regimen, and supplement your pinyin learning. I've found that the calligraphy method is actually very useful for memorizing tones in particular, because I tended to synchronize my writing with the tone of the word as I say it. For example, a character with rising tone, I elongate the pronunciation, exaggerating the rise, just as I make a motion with my brush moving upwards. It's a silly game, but it definitely helped my associate the right "feeling" of how to say the word with the right feeling of how to write the word.

April 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/VastOcean

All good points. I would caution, though, against trusting the audio implicitly. Quite often words (or characters, as it were) are pronounced using a tone that does not match the actual tone that should be used. Thankfully, from what I've seen the tone shown with the pinyin is accurate, just not the audio. But don't worry: if you say it wrong, having a native speaker point it out to you will help fixate that particular word in your memory ;p

April 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/gea123gea

in sentences you do not hear tunes only when you pronounce one word.

April 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Edgaratc

i would do as you recommend, but the hearts system really doesn't help.

April 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/fallingleaf_271

Well said! +1 Lingot

April 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/COTOBVKI

Have you tried the Bopomofo input method? It has the tones and it's widely available.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bopomofo

April 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/G.Turner

Bopomofo takes a lot of additional learning, and is not commonly used with simplified mandarin.

April 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/DavinChau

I miss having a list of chinese characters contained in the lesson when you press on the light bulb next to the lesson button.

April 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidi453404

I do too. It was nice to be able to look them up online before I started the lessons, since they don't bother telling us what they mean until we're expected to translate a sentence. Reminded me of grade school. We got our vocab list on Monday and would be expected to not only be able to spell/say them correctly but use them in a sentence by Friday. I liked the structure of it.

May 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageAmbrosia

Pinyin would be very useful to learning the pronunciation of the word and associating a character to its romanized pronunciation. However it should be integrated in the beginnings of Chinese but should be slowly eased out as some learners might start to have a dependence on pinyin for pronunciation but not memorizing the pinyin.

April 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Hannita96

definitely agree on this. People I know who have taken chinese usually learn pinyin at the start. seems to be pretty helpful.

April 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/phb2013

Yes, having both English and pinyin displayed would be very helpful.

April 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageAmbrosia

The English translations for Chinese hats tees and phrases is mediocre at the very least...not the most accurate or straightforward.

April 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Hannita96

I think there should be a lesson on pinyin first. Near the start. My friends who have taken chinese classes have learned pinyin first and apparently even chinese kids when first learning chinese learn pinyin so I think it is really important and helpful and should be added to the course more .

April 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageAmbrosia

I can attest to that. When I went to Chinese school as a kid, pinyin was used in our textbooks to help us associate the sound to the character. It is pretty helpful but we shouldn't depend on pinyin to pronounce Chinese characters.

April 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Hannita96

maybe if it was a bonus lesson that would be good, so people can choose if they want to learn it or not and wont be too relied on. I do think it'd be really helpful though.

April 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/OstenCramer

This is a really good idea, especially since Chinese is only offered in English for now, meaning there will probably be lots of learners from other languages using English on Duolingo to learn Chinese. And since pinyin doesn't follow standard English phonology, it can get confusing.

April 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Japan_is_Perfect

Having the pinyin is a brilliant idea, they should really take it into consideration. If I know how to pronounce the word, I know what it means.

April 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Heidi453404

I would also like to see them add pinyin. There are a lot of Chinese words that sound similar to me [like jing, qing and xing]. In keyboard shortcuts they said you can play the sentence slower by pushing ctrl+shift+space. I don't know about other language courses but it certainly doesn't work for Chinese. Pinyin would help connect sound and character pronunciation for me. Even if I misheard the speaker, I could check the pinyin and know what was meant. They really do speak quickly.

May 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Flydragon14

No. I think there should be an option for that if the learner wants it, but otherwise no. For me personally, I don't want to use or see pin yin when learning a new chinese character/word if at all possible. I feel its easier to just go off of what I hear to know how the character is pronounced. I've also read quite a bit of articles talking of why it's best to learn chinese characters without pin yin. However, not all the audio for this particular chinese course is completely accuarate, I assume because it is still so new.

April 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SiennaMorris

Yes! This would be very helpful. Unless there is a secret way of knowing tones when reading a character that I don't know yet (that would be so great), remembering the tones is the most difficult aspect of learning Chinese for me.

April 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/macleon

Yes! There should be an option for pinyin, hanzi, or both available on hover. Please let me know when it is done.

April 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageAmbrosia

Han zi is basically the Chinese characters you see right now when you complete the lesson...it’s already there. Now we’re just debating a Pinyin addition.

April 20, 2018
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