Mandarin Chinese Resources
DeerPlus, also known as LingoDeer Plus, is a cute, gamified app from the makers of Lingodeer. It sets out to teach you words, phrases, and grammar through 11 different games, but it’s best used as a supplementary tool.
You’ll drill vocabulary, build phrases, select the right particles, decide if a sentence is grammatically correct or not, do conjugation exercises, answer listening comprehension questions, and more. What you won’t do is learn the material prior to being tested like you do with LingoDeer (review), DeerPlus’ sister app.
DeerPlus is a fun supplementary tool that would work well alongside most resources, but especially LingoDeer. However, it’s a shame that there aren’t SRS features in what is essentially a review app.
A word of warning: you can study in a range of languages, but not all the games have been translated. We were shocked when we switched from studying Japanese via Spanish to Japanese via English and discovered grammar and “integrated” games in addition to the five vocabulary and phrase-based ones we had been playing.
Learn Chinese From Movies
Learn Chinese From Movies makes it easier for intermediate and advanced level students to start incorporating movies into their study routine. They add English, Simplified or Traditional Characters, and Pinyin subtitles to play over the top of various Chinese and international movies. I’ve found it to be helpful to bridge the gap between intermediate study materials and native movies.
Hanbridge Mandarin is an online Chinese school. They offer 1-1 online classes with professional teachers. It’s a good option for people looking for a Chinese tutor, but it’s not my top choice. Personally, I decided to sign up for classes with TutorMing. Though, those who prefer a cheaper option without a commitment might prefer italki.
Mango Languages is a pretty good resource with numerous languages available along with their regional variations. It’ll work the best for beginners or for those interested in studying a few languages at the same time. Anybody past the intermediate level won’t find Mango Languages very useful.
ChineseSkill Word has 70 categories of SRS flashcards to help you memorize vocabulary faster. Like all SRS apps, it follows your natural forgetting curve, reviewing vocabulary at different intervals depending on how well you remembered it during the last review session. Although it is available on Apple and Android mobile devices, the one for Apple does not seem to have been updated for the newest version of iOS, so it is missing a lot of functions.
Each card contains pronunciation by native speakers and an example sentence containing the word. You can read simplified or traditional characters and choose to display either the translation, pinyin, or Chinese characters on the front of each card. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t leave much room for customization, and unlike other apps that provide attainable goals for each session, ChineseKill Word’s sessions seem to be as long as the number of words in a deck — this could be as few as 19 cards, or as many as 2482.
If you are looking for an app with an attractive interface and set decks of vocabulary, then ChineseSkill Word may be a reliable, inexpensive option for you. However, with a little more investment you can use Pleco, which is still the best flashcard app and dictionary for Chinese learners — it provides in-depth definitions, multiple example sentences, any word you can think of, and customizable SRS.
Chinese Boost provides grammar articles and Chinese learning blog posts. You can search the Chinese grammar articles by HSK or CEFR level, keywords, characters, parts of speech, functions, and several other tags. They also have over 40 blog posts that focus on improving the effectiveness of your Chinese study techniques.
The site only has about 50 grammar articles. The articles themselves have lots of examples, but they seem more lengthy than they need to be. In contrast, the website Chinese Grammar Wiki appears to say more with fewer explanations, relying on examples and context to clarify different grammar points. Chinese Boost could be used as a supplemental resource to Chinese Grammar Wiki if some concepts require more explanation.
Other than the grammar explanations, Chinese Boost’s Chinese learning blog has some useful tips to add to your language-learning toolbox. They also have a Hanzi Chinese Characters to Pinyin Conversion tool, which can be very helpful when making Anki flashcards or other self-study resources.
Everyday Chinese provides a free YouTube channel and purchasable courses. The teachers ensure that you learn how real-life mandarin is spoken, even in the most basic lessons — you will hear the voices of Chinese speakers ranging from 7 to 60 years old so you can train your ear to different vocal ranges and accents.
On the YouTube channel, you can explore idioms, cultural nuances, HSK content, and more. Some of the videos seem like a list of words or phrases, but most contain valuable tidbits or grammar points. For beginners, they have 39 free intro lessons that seem to lead up to the Everyday Chinese 101 course that you can buy on their site.
The videos may not always be as engaging as those in YoYo Chinese or Mandarin Corner, but they cover a lot of grammar and vocabulary words. They also mainly use Chinese in the upper-level videos to help with your listening comprehension, which is not always the case in other videos.
On the website, there are free MP3s, quizzes, and PDFs that accompany the YouTube videos. There, you can also purchase the courses, which contain videos, quizzes, word reviews, dialogues, grammar points, language tips, and cultural notes. The HSK courses, in particular, seem to be well done, although you do end up paying about $60 for only 20 days of content.
Learn with Oliver
Learn With Oliver is a simple website that offers SRS flashcards with audio recordings by native speakers, random videos and articles with a list of keywords, choose your own adventure stories, writing practice with corrections by native speakers, and progress tests. The flashcard words and sentences seem to have been randomly chosen rather than curated to specific learning goals, so they are probably better used as enrichment than as a primary learning tool. The site as a whole is probably best for learners who already have a good grasp of basic vocabulary in their target language.
The mixed exercises use spaced repetition to first introduce you to new words, then get you practicing through various word order, fill-in-the-blanks, listening, writing, and multiple-choice activities. Each “card” (more like “page”) allows you to see an overview of each word with example sentences.
A cute perk you will receive after completing each day’s lesson is a “reward link,” which is typically a cute or funny picture on Reddit.
If you’re looking for alternatives to some of the features on this site, LangCorrect may have a larger community of language learners to support you in improving your writing, Readlang and the Zhongwen Chrome Extension will help translate words on most websites, Yabla will teach you languages through video clips, and sites like Readle (German) and Du Chinese can help with your reading comprehension.
Conversations - IWTYAL
Conversations by I Will Teach You a Language is a downloadable program that uses Comprehensible input (CI) as a strategy to improve your language level. Comprehensible input is when you consume second language material that is just above your current level, which in IWTYAL’s case, is about A2-B1 on the CEFR scale.
The Conversations program includes material of a manageable length with full transcripts and English translations. It is 20 chapters long and follows six characters, two of whom have just moved to the countryside from the big city. You will listen to realistic dialogues between the characters and learn everyday colloquialisms and slang. The characters have a variety of accents within each language, and they speak at a relatively natural speed. The series has the same content in each language, but there are variations based on cultural differences.
IWTYAL probably has good quality materials, but it is quite expensive compared to other CI resources. Intermediate learners can check out innerFrench, Japanese With Noriko, Russian With Max, and Dreaming Spanish for some high-quality, free alternatives. Chinese learners might want to check out Du Chinese and The Chairman’s Bao for graded readers with audio.
Glosbe is a dictionary that serves over 6000 languages. Most words have a list of definitions, conjugations, declensions, and similar phrases (although these phrases are hit or miss when it comes to how relevant they are to the initial entry). Many of the entries are created by community members, who can add and edit translations, example sentences, pronunciations, and images. Also, the site does not use text-to-voice pronunciation — as a result, some words may not have any pronunciation.
It’s important to note that some of the content is not checked by the creators, such as the example sentences. Be careful if you are trying to learn new phrases from these lists, as although many of them are correct, there are a few that may lead you to learn inaccurate vocabulary or grammar. Additionally, less commonly studied languages may be listed as available, but only contain a few lines of content.
Overall, Glosbe may be a helpful tool if you can’t find dictionaries that specialize in your target language. However, SpanishDict is a far more comprehensive option for Spanish learners, as is Pleco for Chinese learners and Kanji Study for Japanese. You can also check out Forvo, a dictionary resource for native speaker audio files that has strict rules on community contributions.