I haven't posted about Pinyin (the romanisation of Chinese characters) for some time. Thought I would raise a few observations for comment.
Remember the tones with 5 new letters
Here is the weird bit, tones in pinyin are represented with those fiddly little marks over letters that we don't use in English, we find them hard to remember. There are plenty of learners who learn a lot of vocabulary but don't know the tones, they can remember "hen" remember the sound but not the little tick mark that goes over the 'e'. Of course you get those that can but there are plenty of people that don't. Actually a lot of Chinese people that use use pinyin on a daily basis for texting or as in a hanzi computer input method never bother with the tone marks and don't know the rules for where to put them and probably don't know how to input the tone marks on a computer, they don't need them.
Now for the weird bit, all you need to do is add five more letters to your alphabet and you can remember the tone if you remember the pinyin spelling. ying1guo3 tells me how to say England and the tones to use. After all we use letters for numbers in number bases above 10 so FF in base 16 is 255 in base 10, so why not use numbers to help writing and memory? I never bothered setting up a computer so I could type those little tone marks. If I write pinyin with a pen or computer I use numbers and that really really really helps you remember the tones.
It is not a Crutch
It seems a popular misconception amongst some people who haven't learned Chinese or only been learning for some time, that pinyin is a crutch for learners. In reality it is a tool and a tool that Chinese people use themselves, it is used to enter Chinese characters into mobile devices, used as an input method for typing Chinese on computers by most Chinese people, used in Chinese character dictionaries etc. etc.
Older Chinese who don't know pinyin are at a disadvantage, they may have to use a writing tablet to write Chinese etc. etc. so investing time in learning pinyin and learning it well is not going to be a waste.
If someone doesn't progress to learning characters don't blame pinyin.
The Chinese advantage
In Chinese every syllable counts, has a meaning, is a building block. If you master pinyin quickly you can hear words and have a very efficient way to look up the words you have heard in a dictionary