Many students who study Chinese find the hardest part of learning Chinese to be writing the Chinese characters (Hanzi). Although currently China and Singapore are using the Simplified Chinese characters, there still exist many mind boggling Chinese characters that are comprised of many strokes.
Some candidates for the most complicated Chinese Character include:
The first two actually have 64 strokes each, and it would be hard to find a competitor that has more strokes than 64. (If any reader finds out, please inform me!) Incidentally, the first character is made up of four “Dragons”. The third character in the list has 52 strokes, which is not too bad.
However, all three have repetitions of a single word, and hence are not that complicated in the strictest sense of the word.
If we are looking at the most complicated (non-repetitive) Chinese word, I think the title belongs to Biang, which is used in the term Biangbiang noodles. I have eaten it once in a Chinese restaurant in Singapore, it is a bit like dry Ban Mian.
Biang has 58 strokes, and as one can see, is nothing but simple. Thank God this word is not commonly found in spelling tests!
The biggest headstart a child can get is at Primary 1, in the Singapore Education System.
This is because prior to Primary 1, there is no standardized education system, and hence students have a varied depth of knowledge. After Primary 1, students enter the public schooling system, and hence have much less extra time to study in advance to get a headstart.
Hanyu Pinyin is a romanized way of writing Chinese characters, using the English alphabet. It is extremely useful in this current century, since most users will be using Hanyu Pinyin to type Chinese characters on the phone or computer.
Also, students from English speaking backgrounds are highly advised to study Chinese in advance before Primary 1, as naturally they would be at a disadvantage in Mother Tongue compared to their Chinese speaking classmates.
Hanyu Pinyin has many rules of “grammar” and cannot be written anyhow. One of the rules is encapsulated in this Hanyu Pinyin poem:
（1）有a 不放过； （2）没a 找o、e； （3）i、u 并列标在后； （4）单个韵母不必说
Intonations is the hardest part of Chinese Pronunciation, as Chinese words have four tones. “Ma” in the four different tones means totally different things. “Ma (First Tone)” can mean mother 妈, “Ma (Second Tone)” can mean numb 麻, while “Ma (Third Tone)” can mean horse 马! For completeness, “Ma (Fourth Tone)” may mean scold 骂! Hence, from this example it shows how important Hanyu Pinyin is.