My Chinese teacher’s semester is coming up, and a request he often gets in class is to have a way for people to practice correctly. It’s difficult to know if you are pronouncing something correctly, and if you practice the wrong way too much it tends to be hard to undo.

Depending on how you go about learning Chinese (Mandarin), you’ll probably start with how to pronounce pīnyīn (the romanization of Mandarin. For example, 谢谢 == xièxie). However, the pronunciation of letters in pīnyīn do not match English, and it’s easy to forget how the components sound.

To try to solve both of these, we put together a version one site called ChineseFirstStep.com.

Right now it is a basic social networking site for people studying Chinese (we have many many more ideas for the site). The site’s current focus is around his lessons and cultural teachings, but is open to anyone who wants to learn, or has an interest in Chinese.

One of the icing parts of the site is a simple Flex application I threw together that shows how to pronounce pīnyīn. I think it’d be very helpful for anyone learning pīnyīn. Here is the initials and finals tables.

It’s a simple extendable app that gets used within the lessons. Anyone who knows Flex can tell that it was pretty easy to throw together - thumbs up for Flex.

The site is / will be designed for English learners learning Chinese, and Chinese learners learning English. If you fall into either of these categories, I am curious to hear your feedback on the site, and what you think might help you with your studies.

Please drop me a comment if you have time.