Pinyin is the Romanization of the Chinese characters based on their pronunciation. In Mandarin Chinese, the phrase “Pin Yin” literally translates into “spell sound.” In other words, spelling out Chinese phrases with letters from the English alphabet. For example:
Mandarin Learning Tips Blog
The short of it is that there are many, many variables that go into how long it’ll take for you to learn Chinese. However, to become fluent, experts estimate that it’ll take 2,200 class hours. If you put the rest of your life on hold and focused only on studying Chinese – at 5 hours of practice a day, it would take you 88 weeks.