Mandarin Chinese Resources
Chinese For Us
Everyone studying Chinese should download Pleco on their phone. It’s easily the best dictionary app available, but it can do so much more than just help you look up the meanings of words. The core features are free to use, but there are a number of add-ons (some paid) which makes it even more useful. Some of these are SRS flashcards, OCR which lets you look up words using your camera, audio recordings, document reader, screen reader, handwriting recognition, and more. This is the one app that pretty much everyone agrees is a must-have.
LangCorrect is a free community-driven writing site where users can both contribute to editing others’ work and receive feedback on their own writing.
After writing your piece, you may submit it to receive feedback from other site users. In order to ensure accurate feedback, multiple users can cross-check the corrections that were made and add comments.
Volunteers and Patrons have access to writing in up to 10 languages, but typical users can write in a maximum of two languages at a time. Everyone is encouraged to both write and correct others’ work on the site.
If you are looking to improve your writing skills in one of the over 100 languages available, trying out this resource is a must! However, if you’re studying a less common language and not finding many users to give you corrections, consider trying the exercise section in italki’s community features.
The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.
You won’t find a better free option for learning Chinese than HelloChinese. This app has a ton of content and engaging exercises that will have you practicing Chinese immediately. It’s great for beginners and covers a lot of material; including reading, writing, listening, speaking, vocabulary, grammar, and even parts of Chinese culture. Not only that, it’s actually fun to use.
Lingo Bus is an online Chinese learning platform specifically designed for children between 5 and 12 years old. Their immersive online lessons, well-designed curriculum, engaging materials, and excellent teachers would make them my top choice for anyone interested in helping their child learn Mandarin.
Learning Chinese Through Stories
Learning Chinese Through Stories is an excellent podcast for immersive Chinese study. In each of every one of their 9 levels, from Low Novice to High Advanced, the two narrators speak only in Chinese. You will learn to understand new concepts in stories, songs, or grammar explanations through context rather than translations.
Listening to the podcast is like being welcomed into a conversation between friends — the narrators have great chemistry and truly seem to enjoy what they are doing. They speak at a relatively natural speed, but articulate clearly and provide numerous examples that will give you the confidence to apply each new concept to different situations.
Several episodes are available directly on their website with accompanying transcripts of the story or song being studied — but, by supporting them on Patreon you can receive full transcripts of every episode with vocabulary annotations and more. You can also listen on Spotify or Stitcher, but check out their website to understand more about the levels and how to use the podcast first.
Forvo’s mission is to improve spoken communication across cultures. Anyone can explore pronunciations of millions of words in over 390 languages with maps displaying where each speaker is from. The site also organizes popular categories and essential phrases for when you don’t have a specific word in mind.
As a registered user, you can contribute to the site by pronouncing words or phrases in your native language or by requesting pronunciations in a specific language. You are also encouraged to vote on audio files in your native language to help others identify the best pronunciation. For those of you who enjoy using Anki, Forvo allows you to download mp3 files to use in your learning endeavours.
Forvo also has an e-learning course for French, Spanish, and English; you will find three levels and a group of topics with sets of the most common words in your target language. Using an SRS flashcard system, you will be able to learn the pronunciation of these words and view an example of how to use them in a sentence.
If you are looking for a pronunciation reference guide, look no further than Forvo’s extensive database!
Chinese Grammar Wiki
Chinese Grammar Wiki develops its pages in the same spirit as Wikipedia, and it is probably one of the most comprehensive grammar resources you will find for level A1 to C1 Chinese learners. Furthermore, all of the content is free to be reused as long as it follows their Creative Commons License.
Each article is clearly organized with a table of contents and a sidebar with keywords and references to similar topics. They start with a brief explanation, and then they provide numerous examples of how the grammar would appear in context — these examples dive into the nuances of the language and give you a bigger picture of how to apply the concepts to your everyday life. Depending on your style, this could be less intimidating than, but just as effective as, the in-depth grammar explanations in other resources. You can even use the examples to create Anki flashcards!
Also, for anyone who has struggled with the particle “了”, you will be pleasantly surprised to find 30 articles on Chinese Grammar Wiki, plus links to research, textbooks, and other websites for further reading.
Make sure to bookmark this website for a quick reference during your study sessions!
Yoyo Chinese is probably the most established and popular website for online Chinese courses. Yangyang has helped hundreds of thousands of students learn Chinese and her videos have been viewed millions of times. There are several different video-based courses available which include interactive quizzes, clear explanations, and tons of practice, with each progressing in difficulty. I think the conversational courses are especially good value.
TutorMing is an online Mandarin school that offers classes 24 hours a day, with qualified teachers, using unique content. I took two classes with them and came away very impressed. I learned new things about Chinese culture, despite having lived in Beijing for a few years. However, it’s not the cheapest option, so those on a tighter budget may want to look elsewhere.