This talk will present a report of two very different studies that both focus on Chinese lexical tone. The first examines the role of tones when native Chinese speakers decide whether two characters are homophonic. The results not only raise questions about the nature of tonal representation in the mental lexicon, but also the way in which the relationship between orthography and phonology is represented differently to alphabetic scripts. The second study proposes a new version of pinyin for teaching Chinese where tonal information is captured in a way that can be better remembered by second-language learners. Empirical support for this technique will be provided.