I am a total beginner in Mandarin (2 classes) and am still struggling to understand anything when the teacher speaks. Anyway, I am currently learning a few words/phrases and I write them down in pin yin.
the teacher also writes these words in the other style (not pin yin - can't remember how you call it). I find the other style mind boggling (I am very confused and don't recognise anything).
Anyway, should I concentrate on learning to speak and write in pin yin and then later advance to this writing style or should I try it from day 1?
If you learn the pinyin and recognise the characters you can use character input systems on your laptop and phones which are 100 times easier than writing the characters. Chinese students are probably not going to learn how to write as they did in the past. I know in my own college that they hope to phase out character writing to be completely replaced with using pinyin and laptops etc.
It helps, reading-wise. I've found this the case for Russian. I am able to more easily transliterate other Cyrillic languages (Ukrainian and Bulgarian among them), although I admit I am a long way from being able to conduct a conversation in any of them. I do struggle when the Cyrillic is italicized, but at least there are computers to help.