Literacy - Pinyin & Characters

Practising Chinese characters. How to write pinyin and characters on your PC.

Chinese characters for children and kids - learning to read and write Chinese

Why read this article? (please note a pdf is available below - scroll down)

·          You are looking for new resources for learning Chinese characters ( in schoosl with children)

Chinese Calligraphy – resources to consider - links to other websites

Looking to do some Chinese writing / calligraphy with your class, school, after-school club?  Then create your session using these links and resources to ensure the children are engaged in its history, beauty and the technique involved.


Why not check out the following links:


Character Sentence Pattern Practise tip

This useful exercise for practising sentence patterns in a fun and motivational way was sent in by Paul Tyskerud of Dartford Grammar School

• Type out the sentence patterns/structures that you are studying at the moment (at lease font size 20) leaving spaces between each character.

• Print them out (about 8 copies for a class that has 8 tables or more if you like) and then cut out each character

• When you have cut out all of your characters, shuffle them and put them in an envelope. You will need an envelope for each table/group in the class. Copies of some typical characters Paul has used are attached.

• Write on the white board the sentences that need to be found/put together in English and tell pupils the first team to correctly piece together the sentences wins a prize/merit mark (give the quietest team a merit mark to encourage good behaviour!).

Whilst this may be a fairly old technique, it does always seem to get a very positive results from students. It also ticks the following boxes:

• Kinaesthetic learning

• Team work

How to write Pinyin WITH tone marks on your PC

Here are a couple of excellent tools to help you write pinyin with tone marks.

1. Pinyinput

Pinyinput is an excellent tool to easily produce pinyin with tone marks. It was written by a user of called Imron Imron has written an excellent and easy to use tool for producing pinyin with tones. It can be used in what is called a ‘checked’ and ‘unchecked’ mode as follows:

Checked Mode:

Only accepts (mostly) valid pīnyīn (mostly valid in that it only checks for correct combinations of initials and finals, and not valid/invalid combinations of tones). When typing, if you place a number at the end of a pīnyīn syllable then Pinyinput will automatically convert the correct vowel in the syllable so that it has the appropriate tone e.g. Typing Ni3hao3 will produce the output Nǐhǎo.

Unchecked Mode:

How to write Chinese Characters and find Chinese Fonts on your PC

There are different ways of getting your computer to write Chinese characters.

1. Microsoft Office Input Method Editor (IME)

All Microsoft Office applications allow you to set up your PC for pinyin Input for Simplified AND Traditional Chinese characters. Once set-up you will be able to ‘switch’ from using English to pinyin input.

How do I set-up my PC? 

A simple set-up guide for a typical Window XP PC is attached to this article

If you have older versions of Windows or Vista there are some excellent guides available on Pinyin Joe’s website Pinyin Joe also has some additional useful tips about how to efficiently use the pinyin input and ways that you can adjust setting to allow for faster or slower input methods.

Once Set up, how do I type?

Launch Word.

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