How to Use Pinyin Master



Main Menu

From the Main navigation screen you can go directly to any of the six major sections.

Click on one of the section titles to explore that section in more detail. Click on the "more..." tab at the top of the screen to customize some of Pinyin Master features.

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More - Preferences

The "more..." card allows you to customize some of Pinyin Master features.

General information and remarks are contained in the text field at the top of the screen.

If you are using a computer which can display Chinese characters, then you can use the "Chinese Font" section to modify the Chinese font settings. A partial list of Chinese fonts is displayed.

Click on the plus sign to the left to add a new font to the list. To remove an unwanted font select the font and click the minus sign.

The Chinese font size can also be modified.

A sample of the selected Chinese font and size will be displayed in the area to the right.

When the cursor is placed over a button Pinyin Master shows text hints which explain the button's function. You can adjust the delay before these hints are displayed in the "Help" section labeled "Hint Delay".

You can also specify your preference for the help mode; either the text help feature, or animated based assistance if you prefer.

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Introduction to Tones

This section introduces the tonal system used in the Mandarin dialect of Chinese. Each tone is described in detail with examples.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to learn more about the individual tones used in Mandarin.

Clicking on the speaker below the graph will play a random sample of the tone and graphically demonstrate the correct vocal structure. The pinyin spelling of the sound will also be displayed.

To adjust the sound level, click on the speaker in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

The first tone is a high, steady tone.

The second tone start at mid-range, and rises gradually.

The third tone is low, and rises slightly.

The fourth tone begins high, and falls sharply.

Speaking with the correct tone is essential when communicating in Chinese, so work in this section until you become familiar with the tones.

When you feel confident with your ability to distinguish the four tones, try the tone recognition exercise in the Practice Section.

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Sounds and Tones Exploration

This section introduces the individual sounds used in the Mandarin dialect of Chinese. The sounds are grouped phonetically by the initial sound component.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to learn more about the individual sounds used in Mandarin.

Each initial sound component is described using reference examples from English. The correct pronunciation of each can be seen and heard by clicking on the small movie icon to the left of the screen.

In addition to the initial sound all other sounds using that initial component are shown at the center of the screen. Clicking on any of these sounds will play that sound in the selected tone or tones.

To adjust the sound level, click on the speaker in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

Tones can be selected by clicking in the numbered boxes on the left of the screen. A tick in the box will display sample characters which share that particular sound and tone combination. It also will signal Pinyin Master to play the sound using that particular tone.

Some sound and tone combinations do not exist in Mandarin; therefore, when a sound is clicked it is possible that not all tone combinations ticked will be played. Also, some sounds maybe grayed-out indicating that that particular sound does not exist for the tones ticked.

When a sound is selected a magnifying glass will appear next to the movie icon. Click on the magnifying glass to examine more Mandarin words and phrases which use the selected sound.

There is a great deal of information presented in this section. Take your time. When you fill comfortable with your ability to associate the Mandarin sounds with their Pinyin spelling test your knowledge using the exercises in the practice section.

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Sound Table

Most Chinese syllables are made by combining an initial and a final, or vowel, sound. In this table the initial sounds are grouped along the left, and the vowel sounds along the top of the screen. A dot at the intersection of an initial and vowel indicates that a sound exists for that combination.

Click at one of these intersections to hear a syllable composed of the combination of an initial and a vowel sound. You will also see the proper Pinyin spelling of that sound displayed on the left of the screen

To adjust the sound level, click on the speaker in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

By combining initial sounds and vowel sounds the Sound Table displays all the possible sound combinations used in the Mandarin dialect of Chinese.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to display the possible sound combinations for an individual tone.

In the "All Tones" section the sound will be played in all existing tone combinations otherwise the sound will be played in only the selected tone.

You are encouraged to become familiar with the sound combinations. Click vertically column by column until you are comfortable with the vowel sounds and spelling. Clicking horizontally row by row will develop a better understanding for the sounds which begin with the same initial.

As this is a standard phonetic table, some Pinyin spellings may not be readily apparent. The vowels beginning in "i", "u", and "u umlaut" when not used in combination with an initial take on the spelling "y", "w", or "yu" respectively. All these sounds are grouped according to the first spelling.

There is a great deal of information presented in this section. Take your time. When you fill comfortable with your ability to associate the Mandarin sounds with their Pinyin spelling test your knowledge using the exercises in the practice section.

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Pronunciation Drills

The short phrases used in this drill are designed to develop tone recognition and pronunciation skills. The four character phrases are grouped by sequential (1,2,3,4), and mixed tone order.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to go directly to either the sequential or mixed tone section. Each section consists of eight pages containing five phrases per page. The Pinyin spelling is in the left column and the Chinese characters are grouped along the right.

Click on the page number at the bottom right to jump to another page in this section.

Click on one of the speakers to the left to hear an entire phrase. Alternatively, you may click on any individual pinyin word or Chinese character to hear its pronunciation.

To adjust the sound level, click on the speaker in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

Work with the Pronunciation Drill Section until you become familiar with the tone patterns. When you feel confident with your ability to distinguish the four tones, try the tone recognition exercise in the Practice Section.

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Exercises - Tone Recognition

This practice section challenges your ability to distinguish the four tones (high, rising, low, falling) and neutral (represented here by the number 5) used in the Mandarin dialect of Chinese.

Begin the practice by clicking on the pen and paper icon in the lower middle of the screen. A dialog box will prompt you to enter your name and select the sound groups to practice.

After making this selection you will hear a Chinese syllable composed of a random sound and tone combination.

If you need to hear the sound again click on the speaker icon to the right of the screen. If you didn't hear it adjust the volume using the speaker icon in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

After hearing the sound and tone combination, click on the number corresponding to the tone you just heard.

If your selection is correct a point will be added under the tick on the upper right of the screen.

If incorrect a point will be added under the X. The correct tone number will then be hilited and the sound played again. Listen carefully as the sound is repeated to familiarize yourself with the often subtle differences in Mandarin tones.

The program will continue to present you with new sound and tone combinations. Each practice exercise is programmed to conform to the special learning needs of the individual. Regular practice with this exercise will help develop the tone recognition skills required to be confident with the Chinese language.

When you are ready to go on click the stop icon at the bottom of the screen. This icon appears only during the practice mode. The program will analyze your performance and present you with a report which you may print out or discard.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to try another practice exercise.

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Exercises - Sound Recognition

This practice section challenges your ability to recognize the correct pinyin spelling of a given Mandarin syllable.

Begin the practice by clicking on the pen and paper icon in the lower middle of the screen. Initially you will be allowed to select the sound groups with which you wish to practice. You may make modifications to the sound groups by clicking the icon on the left of the screen at anytime.

After making this selection you will hear a Chinese syllable composed of a random sound and tone combination.

If you need to hear the sound again click on the speaker icon to the right of the screen. If you didn't hear it adjust the volume using the speaker icon in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

After hearing the sound, click on the correct pinyin spelling for the sound you just heard.

If your selection is correct a point will be added under the tick on the upper right of the screen.

If incorrect a point will be added under the X. The correct spelling will then be hilited and the sound played again. Listen carefully as the sound is repeated to familiarize yourself with the proper pinyin representation of the sound.

When you are finished click on the stop icon at the bottom of the screen. This icon appears only during the practice mode. The program will analyze your performance and present you with a report which you may print out or discard.

There are 3 sound recognition practice exercises. You may select the one that most accommodates you learning needs.

This practice section challenges your ability to recognize the correct pinyin spelling of a given Mandarin syllable.

Begin the practice by clicking on the pen and paper icon in the lower middle of the screen. A dialog box will prompt you to enter your name and select the sound groups to practice.

After making this selection you will hear a Chinese syllable composed of a random sound and tone combination.

If you need to hear the sound again click on the speaker icon to the right of the screen. If you didn't hear it adjust the volume using the speaker icon in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

After hearing the sound, click on the correct pinyin spelling for the sound you just heard.

If your selection is correct a point will be added under the tick on the upper right of the screen.

If incorrect a point will be added under the X. The correct spelling will then be hilited and the sound played again. Listen carefully as the sound is repeated to familiarize yourself with the proper pinyin representation of the sound.

The program will continue to present you with new sound and tone combinations. Each practice exercise is programmed to conform to the special learning needs of the individual. Regular practice with this exercise will help develop the sound recognition skills required to be confident with the Chinese language.

When you are ready to go on click the stop icon at the bottom of the screen. This icon appears only during the practice mode. The program will analyze your performance and present you with a report which you may print out or discard.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to try another practice exercise.

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Exercises - Pinyin Scramble

There are 3 sound recognition practice exercises. You may select the one that most accommodates you learning needs.

This practice exercise challenges your knowledge of the Pinyin spelling system.

Begin the practice by clicking on the pen and paper icon in the lower middle of the screen. A dialog box will prompt you to enter your name and select the sound groups to practice.

After making this selection you will hear a Chinese syllable composed of a random sound and tone combination.

If you need to hear the sound again click on the speaker icon to the right of the screen. If you didn't hear it adjust the volume using the speaker icon in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

After hearing the sound, click and drag the pinyin letters which form the correct pinyin spelling into the boxes at the top of the screen.

When you are confident that you have the correct spelling then click the "Check Answer" button on the right.

If your spelling is correct a point will be added under the tick on the upper right of the screen. If incorrect a point will be added under the X. Listen carefully as the sound is repeated to familiarize yourself with the proper pinyin representation of the sound.

You will be given 3 chances to assemble the correct pinyin spelling for each sound, after which the program will assemble the correct spelling for you.

The program will continue to present you with new sound and tone combinations. Each practice exercise is programmed to conform to the special learning needs of the individual. Regular practice with this exercise will help develop the sound recognition and pinyin spelling skills required to be confident with the Chinese language.

When you are ready to go on click the stop icon at the bottom of the screen. This icon appears only during the practice mode. The program will analyze your performance and present you with a report which you may print out or discard.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to try another practice exercise.

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Exercises - Typing Challenge

There are 3 sound recognition practice exercises. You may select the one that most accommodates you learning needs.

This is a timed exercise which challenges your knowledge of the Pinyin spelling system.

First adjust the time which will be allotted to enter the spelling using the up and down arrow icons near the time display at the lower left of the screen.

Begin the practice by clicking on the pen and paper icon in the lower middle of the screen. A dialog box will prompt you to enter your name and select the sound groups to practice.

After making this selection you will hear a Chinese syllable composed of a random sound and tone combination.

If you need to hear the sound again click on the speaker icon to the right of the screen. If you didn't hear it adjust the volume using the speaker icon in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

After hearing the sound, type the correct pinyin spelling for the sound you just heard in the white box at the center of the screen. Click the "Check Answer" button or type "return" from the keyboard (the "enter" key if you are using a PC).

If your spelling is correct a point will be added under the tick on the upper right of the screen.

If incorrect a point will be added under the X. The correct spelling will then appear above and the sound played again. Listen carefully as the sound is repeated to familiarize yourself with the proper pinyin representation of the sound.

The program will continue to present you with new sound and tone combinations. Each practice exercise is programmed to conform to the special learning needs of the individual. Regular practice with this exercise will help develop the sound recognition and pinyin spelling skills required to be confident with the Chinese language.

When you are ready to go on click the stop icon at the bottom of the screen. This icon appears only during the practice mode. The program will analyze your performance and present you with a report which you may print out or discard.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to try another practice exercise.

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Exercises - Pinyin Concentration

This practice exercise uses the familiar concentration matching game metaphor to challenge both your knowledge of the Pinyin spelling system and your ability to distinguish the tones used in Mandarin.

Begin the practice by clicking on the pen and paper icon in the lower middle of the screen. A dialog box will prompt you to enter your name and select the sound groups to practice. Then choose a degree of difficulty, either moderate or difficult.

The goal of this exercise is to clear the cards off the screen by matching the card concealing a Mandarin syllable to a card hiding its correct pinyin spelling.

How fast can you make the appropriate matches to clear the cards from the screen?

Click on a pair of cards to uncover the sound representations underneath. Some cards hide pinyin words and others Mandarin sound files represented by a small speaker. Click on the speaker to hear the sound associated with the individual card.

If you can't hear the sound you may need to adjust the volume. Click on the speaker icon in the main control area at the bottom of the screen to raise or lower the sound level.

After uncovering two then cards click the "stop watch". This will pause the timer and remove cards that make a good match or return the cards to their original position.

Regular practice with this exercise will help develop the sound and tone recognition skills required to be confident with the Chinese language.

After you have cleared all the cards from the screen or when you are ready to go on click the stop icon at the bottom of the screen. This icon appears only during the practice mode. The program will then analyze your performance and present you with a report which you may either print out or discard.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to try another practice exercise.

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Phrase Dictionary - General

This section provides a select sample of Mandarin phrases, their pinyin pronunciation, and English translation. It is provided as a supplement to the Pinyin Master and is not intended to be a complete reference resource, but, hopefully, will be a benefit to students of Chinese, as well as those who plan to travel or conduct business in a Chinese speaking country.

Click on one of the tabs at the top of the screen to switch from "English-Pinyin" to "Pinyin-English", or import another dictionary by selecting the "more options" tab.

Then select a category from the list provided at the upper left of the screen.

Additional dictionary categories can be downloaded from the Pinyin Master web site <http://www.csulb.edu/~sanpaoli/pym/pym.htm>.

Click on any entry to display details in either pinyin or English.

If you are using a computer which can display Chinese characters, then the Chinese will also appear, otherwise this area will be a jumble of strange symbols.

You can select a particular Chinese font by clicking on the "more.." tab in the "Main Menu" screen, or by option clicking on the Chinese text box (control clicking for PC users).

If there is an associated sound file for this entry then a speaker icon will appear to the right of the screen. Click on this icon to hear an accurate pronunciation of the entry.

If you can't hear it you may need to adjust the volume. To adjust the sound level, click on the speaker in the main control area at the bottom of the screen.

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Phrase Dictionary - Personalize

This option is provided for those who wish to import supplemental dictionary data. Click on one of the other tabs at the top of the screen to select either the "English-Pinyin", or "Pinyin-English" dictionaries.

Additional dictionary categories can be downloaded from the Pinyin Master web site <http://www.csulb.edu/~sanpaoli/pym.html>.

Only properly formatted data from ASCII text files should be added. One entry per line. Each line consists of four tab delimited items in the following order:

  1. pinyin spelling,

  2. Chinese character,

  3. English equivalent, and

  4. name of sound file (empty if no file exists).

To import a supplemental dictionary category, click on the "+" icon to the right of the screen and follow the directions provided. The path to the files is hard-coded, so any changes in the file location will disrupt the program.

To delete a category, click on the minus icon.

Category titles can also be modified.

Caution! For any changes to be permanent the Pinyin Master program must be copied and run from a write enabled volume. Any changes made running the program from the CD-ROM will only be temporary.

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For technical support or if you have additional questions please contact Jeff Winters (winters@ms1.showtower.com.tw) or Sanpao Li (sanpaoli@csulb.edu).

Copyright © 1998 Sanpao Li & Jeff Winters

Last Updated: August, 1998.