HSK 4 PDFs Pinyin

So there has been a lot of discussion on up to which level Pinyin should be used in teaching materials in addition to Chinese characters. We currently have pinyin additionally to the characters up to HSK 4. The new HSK 4+ level will not have Pinyin anymore.
I would be interested to hear everyone’s opinions about this. Some thoughts from me, why we decided to keep Pinyin until HSK 4. Most other teaching materials stop using it much earlier - which has lead to many issues at our schools in Beijing and Shanghai and that is what lead us to this decision

  1. It is good practice for people who often see pinyin (unfortunately often without tone marks) and characters together. To learn characters at a higher level, the a very important part is to accept characters as MY language. The best way to practice this is by learning how to look at characters first and ignore Pinyin. There is Pinyin in so many places even in China from road signs to subway stops. To learn to block out the pinyin and focus on characters because “I am a Chinese language speaker and characters are my way of reading” was a very important skill for me to learn when moving from “pretty good” to “fluent”.

  2. It reinforces correct pronunciation for people who have many characters, but no pinyin with tone marks (I think writing Chinese in Pinyin without tone marks should be made illegal, but the Chinese government does not seem to agree with me) around them. The longer we learn without pinyin the more characters we start to actually remember the wrong pronunciation (or more likely wrong tone) for. When working in a pinyin less full of Chinese characters world one starts to forget tones. To be reminded of what the actual real tone is is good.

  3. It is more inclusive. Students who struggle with characters get the chance to catch up. Otherwise the risk is that higher level classes are full of people with great reading skills, but much lower speaking and the higher speaking skills just keep stuck in the lower levels. The result are very unbalanced classes where some students in HSK 4 can read at HSK 5 level, but speak at HSK 2 or the other way round.

Of course the disadvantage is that when practicing to read Chinese characters the “temptation” of looking at the Pinyin is there. You are less “forced” and have to focus yourself on making sure you read characters only and use the Pinyin as backup only.

Now, these are our thoughts and while we have been doing this a while, we are by now means perfect and would love to hear other peoples thoughts.
What do you guys think? Should Pinyin be deleted from HSK 4 teaching materials?

Its easy to do…

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I can see valid reasons for both and I don’t think either is right or wrong so it’s good we talk about this.

I’d remove it after HSK 2 so we remain consistent with the exam. Ultimately teachers can type the pinyin if needed.

The one argument I do like for keeping it though is the fact it drills home the tone. It’s very easy to let this slide.

Difficult one


I would suggest to write the pinyin like a footnote on the sIides. If there are no pinyins, you are sometimes too lazy to lookup each little tone, or might get a character wrong at all.
Or maybe you could delete the pinyin partly in a lesson, or you could add the pages with pinyin a second time.
I am only HSK1/2, but I already see the need to say goodbye always to read the pinyin mainly. I can’t look away if it is there.
Btw my German-Chinese teaching books have no pinyin at all. :see_no_evil:, only the German translations next to it. So I don’t like to use them so much, because it is so much work to look up and make sure all tiny things. I write footnotes in my book, everything I looked up.

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Interesting subject:

  1. Good practice to ignore pinyin
    Is this possible?!? :laughing:

  2. It reinforces correct pronunciation
    It is super important to keep reinforcing pronunciation/tones but students get caught up in learning how to read characters (I am one of these students). A course I did earlier this year had pinyin under everything, and I remember how massively annoying I found it to not be able to practice reading. But, at the same time I realised I needed to embark on a “tone correcting” mission, and realised that using the pinyin sometimes would ultimately help my Chinese get better .

  3. It is more inclusive
    Although I don’t really buy into the reasons you listed, a super important factor for everyone to consider is that I read traditional characters :wink: so my answer to this depends on whether there will be traditional materials ready for me to consult seperately (or even just a word document with lesson contents that I could throw into google translate).

How about a compromise solution - do some slides with pinyin, some slides without? Traditional characters could replace the pinyin :smile_cat: . I also like Sonja’s suggestion of a smaller footnote with pinyin!

I also have a hard time reading the characters if I have the pinyin right above it on texts and sentences, I guess I’ll just get used to it with time.

I think pinyin will still be needed on the “new words” screen at all levels, right?

What about if on those higher levels characters only have the pinyin above the new words introduced in the lesson instead of in the whole sentence/text?

I still have a long time to get there though :rofl:


My usual speaking is absolutely rubbish and my pinyin pronunciation almost as bad, but I love characters and have been trying to use characters as much as possible from HSK1. Being able to speak Chinese is great; being able to use Chinese shopping websites in the future is better! :face_with_hand_over_mouth: :grin:

Honestly, I don’t have an issue with either pinyin being included or excluded at any level of classes as I’m still at a level where pinyin is included. But I know a Chinese teacher who has a class that has stuck at the same HSK level for years as they refuse to learn characters. They just want to speak. That’s a little sad as part of the joy of the Chinese language and culture is the story behind the characters. So I like @Sonja-Mandarin-HSK_3 ’s suggestion of putting pinyin in footnotes, potentially as a transition from the beginner levels to higher levels. Having no pinyin in the very first class would be a bit intimidating!

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@Vicki-Mandarin-HSK_2 , :rofl: :rofl:, don’t worry, the topic is about what to do in HSK4+ really. As I am extremely interested in the different ways people learn any things I answered.
E.g. I am a visual learner, I call myself “a reader”, I am very slow in the beginnings as I want to perfectly know details. So I know my tones, I am carefully speaking/singing them (I love the first tone :wink: ), I am absolutely strict with details when I check myself with hc. (hackchinese). I know in the (very) long run I will be a winner. But for now I still envy those you simply speak and do “the real thing”. But everybody has to follow her/his own way of learning.
Therefore- don’t talk so badly about your present level, at least tell it differently, “at the moment my speaking is still…” :sunglasses: :star_struck: :rofl: :kissing_heart: It makes a huge difference in your attitude, and things could and maybe will change very quickly…


If we’re learning new words, then I would like to see the pinyin, but otherwise, I wonder if it would be possible at higher levels to just have the tone mark above the character, as a reminder, without the pinyin. My biggest trouble is remembering the tones, because while I can type the pinyin to get the characters fairly easily, it’s easy to forget the tones.


Welcome to the Flexi Forum @Francis-Mandarin-HSK_2 . It’s great to have you here.
Thanks a lot for the feedback and that’s a very good suggestion. We will keep that in mind when creating the new Beijing and Taipei city versions.

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I see that the no pinyin choice has been implemented for HSK4+ classes. That’s great for simplified readers, but a little difficult for me.

Is there any chance of providing traditional materials? Alternatively, if you can send me the pdfs in native form (ppt?) I could convert them to traditional as I go through the course and send them back to you when done :slight_smile:

Secondly, it is a bit unusual not to show the pinyin or tones for the new words - I don’t think that makes sense to me



I personally am quite happy that pinyin is gone - even for new words. This forces me not to be lazy and look up the words I don’t know using my phone’s handwriting input before each class which helps me to cement them in my memory.

However, I think that @Chloe-Mandarin-HSK_5 is absolutely right and that there should be a traditional version. Hopefully it won’t be too much effort to convert.


I’m also a Chinese learner. I get rid of pinyin since HSk2. It makes me less depending on the pinyin because in the exam or book, you wont see much pinyin


we dont have the HSK 4 materials in traditional because so far there has not been so much demand for that. I think also converting them into it will be quite a bit of work.
If you want to do it for yourself we can give you the materials though?