© 2015 Informa UK Ltd. All rights reserved. Two competing approaches to the analysis of the phonological structure of Mandarin syllables have been put forward. The first and more traditional approach is that a syllable can be segmented into initial consonant, medial glide, nucleus plus coda and tone. The second approach does not distinguish the non-compulsory medial glide as an independent element. To compare and evaluate these two different approaches, the development of phoneme-level awareness was investigated in 67 Mandarin-speaking children in Year 1 of school (mean age: 6;9) and Year 5 (mean age: 10;1). Results showed that at school entry some children were sensitive to glides and to a lesser extent to codas; their number increased by Year 5. This suggests that spoken language experience is enough for some children to acquire the representation of glides and codas; this is consistent with the traditional model of the Mandarin syllable, with both glides and codas as independent elements. However, the children's task performance was generally rather poor, even in Year 5, suggesting that development of phonemic sensitivity in Mandarin speaking children is not substantially improved by increased literacy experience.