Does Pinyin Spelling Matter in Self-Teaching in Chinese as a Foreign Language

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


To date, the utility of Pinyin in teaching and learning Chinese as a foreign language (CFL) is still under debate. This study sought to enhance the understanding of Pinyin's role in CFL self-teaching by investigating the association of Pinyin spelling with word meaning inference among non-alphabetic L1 CFL learners. Fifty-four Japanese-speaking university first-year CFL learners completed one test consisting of five paper-and-pencil tasks, including Pinyin spelling, phonetic radical knowledge, semantic radical knowledge, single-character word meaning inferencing, and contextualized multi-character word meaning inferencing. Correlation and regression analyses yielded three major findings: (1) Pinyin spelling was significantly related to single-character word meaning inferencing, over and above phonetic and semantic radical knowledge. (2) Semantic radical knowledge was directly related to contextualized multi-character word inferencing. (3) Pinyin spelling was indirectly related to contextualized multi-character word inferencing via single-character word meaning inferencing. The results suggested that Pinyin spelling does matter in CFL self-teaching, even for non-alphabetic CFL learners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-70
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2024


  • Chinese
  • foreign language
  • Pinyin spelling
  • self-teaching
  • word meaning inferencing


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