Pinyin and tone reference websites

 

"ma" in pinyin with different tone marks and corresponding characters

Learning pinyin is often one of the first steps in learning Chinese. Pinyin provides a way to learn pronunciation and is nowadays one of the most common ways of searching dictionaries and inputting Chinese on computers or mobile devices.

  • The website pinyin.info provides comprehensive coverage of the topic, with links, conversion tools, tips, recommended reading, and more. Under “Rules” there are two tests, but the grading comes out wrong for me on both (maybe my computer’s fault?).
  • The website learnchineseeveryday.com has a Flash-based pinyin table with audio.
  • The website lost-theory.org has a pinyin table with wav. audio.
  • The website studypond.com has a pinyin table with Flash audio.
  • The website quickmandarin.com has a pinyin table with Flash audio. They also have pinyin/tone quizzes (beginner and advanced).
  • The website popupchinese is somewhat different in that clicking on an initial or final in their pinyin chart will show you all the characters either beginning with that initial or ending with that final.
  • The website yellowbridge has an introduction to pinyin, with links to tables of initial, finals, and tones (all with audio), and to a pinyin chart with zhuyin equivalents. Clicking on a combo of initial and final will show you the most common characters with that pronunciation.

Diagram of tonesRecognizing tones is one of the harder aspects of learning Chinese for English-speakers. For self-learners, it can be even more of a challenge. Here are some things to help.

  • The website archchinese.com has a Flash-based multiple-choice tone tester. I like that it shows you the whole word afterwards.
  • The website shufawest.us has a Flash-based multiple-choice tone tester. They also have a dual-tone tester for two-syllable words. The audio is not as good as Arch Chinese.
  • The BBC has a Chinese tone “game” that is essentially a Flash-based multiple-choice tester. Choose from one-, two-, or three-syllable words. For total newbies, they have a tone mini-guide.
  • The website pinyinpractice.com has a Flash-based tone tester with multiple-choice or type-in options. You can choose one- or two-syllable words.
  • The website quickmandarin.com has a Flash-based multiple-choice tester. It seems that speed may also factor into this one. Tone-testing is also an option in their “Blue Quiz.”
  • The website trainchinese.com has a Flash-based tone tester. Choose from one or two syllables (which they oddly call “pinyins”), or a combination.

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