How to learn Chinese in the most effective, easiest way is a question many people ask.
No doubt, learning Chinese can be great fun, and a truly rewarding experience. Once you get started and learn the basics, things quickly slot into place.
Yet, it’s wise to follow the tips and advice of those with experience in such matters—and that’s one of the reasons why we have taken the time to ask 50+ top bloggers what resources they use to get ahead in learning Mandarin Chinese.
And what’s more, we’ve put it the results together in a great infographic for your easy reading!
If you don’t read anything else on this page, do have a look at the results of our survey and our experienced blogger’s top 5 recommendations—all of which have, in fact, been frequently recommended by a wide variety of people.
Reviews of the most popular resources recommended by our survey participants follow and be sure to keep a look out for a detailed review of these top 5 products.
Keats Chinese School: Founded in 2004, Keats Chinese School is one of the top Mandarin Chinese language schools in China which offers both one-on-one immersion Mandarin courses and small group Chinese classes. Located in Kunming, Keats welcomes around 40% returning students each year due to the excellent teaching quality. Keats develops personalized exercises and materials exclusively for one-on-one students to meet their learning goals and requirements. The small group classes cost only USD 650 for 16 weeks with the student visa provided. If you want to learn Chinese in China, Keats should come up to the top of your list.
eChineseLearning: Learn Chinese 24/7 from anywhere in the world with eChineseLearning, the largest online Chinese language school in the world. eChineseLearning provides one-to-one Chinese lessons via Skype with professional native Chinese teachers. Tens of thousands of students from over 100 countries from age 3 to 86 have enjoyed the high quality service of eChineseLearning. As a premier online Chinese school, eChineseLearning always focuses on the customers’ needs, offering them the best language learning experience and helping them achieve their Chinese learning goals in an incredibly efficient manner.
Since the founding in 2006, Hanbridge Mandarin has provided thousands of Chinese learners with high-quality campus-based courses, online Chinese classes, and intensive Chinese cultural immersion programs. Utilizing easy, fun and rewarding methods, we work hard to ensure our students can understand, use and ultimately master Mandarin communication skills.
Skritter: Learn to write Chinese characters faster than Confucius himself! You choose the vocabulary lists, you set the pace, and Skritter handles the rest. Say goodbye to forgotten characters, tone mistakes, and your pile of flashcards. Say 你好 to the your path to character mastery!
The top recommendations for other categories include:
MDBG is comprehensive on-line dictionary which offers the ability to look up a huge number of words or phrases in Chinese, Pinyin or English.
Pleco app offers two free, convenient dictionaries where words can be looked up live: the popular open-source CC-CEDICT, with over 100,000 frequently-updated entries, and its own PLC dictionary, with 78,000 more detailed entries and over 20,000 example sentences (with Pinyin).
Line Dict is a popular desktop dictionary, which offers Eng-Chi and Chi-Eng instant translation, and is associated the well known text messaging Line App.
1. New Practical Chinese Reader book series: The first volume of the long-awaited revised edition of the popular Practical Chinese Reader series is finally available, with 70 lessons in six volumes and tuition from an absolute beginner to an intermediate level. This series frequently receives regular recommendations.
2. Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy: This book endeavours to explain in great detail what the Chinese language and its ancient writing system is all about and is recommended by one of the experts in learning Mandarin, Mark from http://pinyn.info (Pinyin Info) He says: “Understanding this book will help inoculate readers against the complete nonsense about the language that is unfortunately common even amongst teachers.”
3. Chinese Made Easier: This book aims to differ from most other Chinese textbooks by making the content of each lesson is intensely practical, offering only useful vocabulary relevant to everyday needs. It also tries to make grammar explanations as simple and clear as possible.
4. Chinese Characters: Learn & Remember 2,178 Characters and Their Meanings: A systematic, building block-style book for mastering and remembering the meaning of more than 2,000 of the most common Chinese characters. The book offers advice about beginning with the simplest of strokes and progressing to the extremely complex.
In addition to these books, many people recommend students of Chinese to read children’s book on a regular basis.
1. FluentU: FluentU claims to bring language learning to life and make it enjoyable with real world videos, offering video content that’s entertaining, timely, and ideal for language learners.
The programme is a database of YouTube videos in Mandarin, with its primary advantage being that it provides subtitles in Chinese characters.
2. CCTV video-learning Chinese: This series of entertaining, fund and easy to follow video teaches 300 of the most commonly spoken Chinese phrases to teenagers. It is hosted by a popular foreign Chinese speaker.
1. Chinese Pod: ChinesePod is a web-based Chinese language-learning service platform comprising three key components: audio lessons, mobile and online review tools, and live speaking practice with Mandarin Chinese teachers. It has just added a You Tube channel and a blog.
2. Slow Chinese podcast: This podcast is a “cultural” podcast of about 120, free episodes, cultural in the sense that it deals with subjects having to do with the ancient and modern culture of China rather than focusing on topics of everyday life such as how to shop or order at a restaurant.
Chinese grammar Wiki is a practical, free, comprehensive online resource for Chinese grammar with an ever increasing 1680+ articles. It is organised by part of speech and difficulty level, with clear, practical examples of usage, and claims to be working hard to make Chinese grammar learner-friendly and accessible to all.
Italki: italki is an educational technology website that helps foreign language learners connect with online teachers and native-speaking language partners; whilst not specifically designed for learning Chinese, it’s still one of the most convenient and, probably, also one of the cheapest ways to find people to practice Chinese with.
WeChat:As mentioned above, WeChat offers voice and group chat, free calls, video calls and the obligatory message stickers and is especially popular with the younger generation looking to instantly chat in and learn Chinese.
Anki, Pleco and Memrise are a collection of language learners frequently recommended by a variety of people that share mnemonics, pictures, videos and audio material. Some of these sites are freely editable and anyone can make and share sets of flashcards, add words or create memos.
Skritter: allows the student to learn how to correctly learn to write the strokes needed for Chinese characters and has the ability to suggest corrections to any mistakes if they appear.
Perapera Chinese Popup Dictionary-Chrome/Firefox: Pera Pera is a fast plug-in, pop-up dictionary and study tool available as a free add-on for both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. You can go to a webpage in Chinese Mandarin and point at a character you don’t know until a small grey window appears with the pronunciation and meaning of the character.
Zhongwen Chinese English Popup Dictionary: Zhongwen is similar to the above except that it that it only works in Chrome.
Taipei Times bilingual news: Offers two different languages for each news item and also has “Word of today” to
explain difficult words in the news articles.The site uses Traditional Chinese Characters.
CNTV: CNTV is the website of the national Chinese television network, where you can find a wide variety of Chinese news and TV shows using simplified Chinese characters although, as the website is only in Chinese, it can be difficult to follow unless you can already read Mandarin.
Some bloggers individual opinions about Chinese learning:
Note: These are just the top recommendations from our survey, but below you can also see tips and resources from different bloggers who, in total, recommended over 100 different amazing resources, about how they learn Mandarin Chinese. These bloggers are living in Mainland China, Taiwan and other places around the word and have lots of interesting stories and tips to help you learn the language and know about matters related to China.
The blogs and comments below are organised in alphabetical order of the blog name.
You can follow any or all of these blogs if it’s helpful for you to learn the language–happy reading!
- Jennifer from A Broad Abroad
Jennifer is an American woman who lives in Qingdao with her Chinese husband and their two darling daughters. She shared her stories living in China with her family and more.
I’m honoured to be chosen among the bloggers. My Chinese is not very good but I try my best. Here are mine: – Hanzi wall chart – Chineasy – My very own Chinese husband, who is very useful in regards to teaching me informal conversational skills
I don’t know if this counts, but I try to guess what’s happening when I watch Chinese TV. That’s always fun too!
Looking forward to seeing the Infographic you create!
Best regards, Jennifer (JQ from A Broad Abroad)
- Cat from A China Cat
An English girl in Guangzhou, Cat went to China to learn a new language and see what life in the tea capital of the world was like.
The top three resources I use to learn Chinese are:
-Pleco (not the flashcards, I don’t learn like that – but if I need to know a word I just look it up and screenshot it)
-Chinese colleagues – I work in a Chinese office so I learn a lot from overhearing conversations and talking to people
-WeChat Moments – just trying to read peoples WeChat moments and translating what I don’t know is good practice and vocabulary building.
As you can see I’m not really a ‘text book’ learner, although as a complete beginner I used a book called ‘learning Chinese Characters from Ms. Zhang’ and I was using the HSK Pleco flashcards.
I hope it is helpful for you. Have a great weekend,
- Charlie from Bamboo Compass
If you are planning to travel to China, then we suggest you to take a look at Bamboo Compass – The Definitive China Travel Guide
Chinese co-workers (ask a lot of stupid questions and use Mandarin as much as possible and you will improve a lot faster than with any other resources)
- Clark from Clark Nielsen for the Win
Clark was teaching English in China for two years, now he is living in Thailand with his Chinese wife. He has also published two books A Quick Guide to Teaching English in China and Yes China!
I had actually written a similar blog post a few years ago, though some of these resources may no longer be active: http://blog.clarknielsen.com/five-web-resources-for-learning-chinese/
Something I would add to that are newsletters. About and Transparent Language both have “word of the day” e-mails they send out. And eChineseLearning does a weekly lesson that’s a little more in-depth.
- Brittany from Brittany’s blog
Brittany grew up in America and, after a year of exploits in Beijing, attempting to learn Mandarin and acclimate to Chinese culture, she since relocated to Hong Kong, where she is an online editor for WSJ.com.
Hi, I would say my top 3 resources are
Qingwen (a mobile app Chinese dictionary that easily toggles between Mandarin/Cantonese, and simplified/traditional)
nciku, an online dictionary, with sentence examples, etc., although it seems to have been bought by Line http://www.linedict.com/dict.html#/cnen/
Music! I just listen to Chinese songs and try to follow along with the lyrics, which I sometimes print out with the characters, the pinyin and the English translation to help learn it better. A lot of them can just be found on YouTube (or YouKu if you’re in the mainland).
Hope that helps.
- Carl from Carl’s blog
Carl is a NAATI-accredited Chinese-English translator and NAATI/IELTS trainer residing in the cultural hub of Melbourne, Australia. In his spare time he enjoys getting involved in the community through language exchange and intercultural meet-ups, and making new friends.
My answer would be:
– Good teachers
– Good books
– Good friends
If you are lacking one of those three you will find it hard to make progress.
Hope that helps,
- Charlie from Charlie on Travel
Charlie is a traveller, freelance writer and house sitter. She was an ESL teacher in Taiwan before she decided to write about travel full-time in her blog.
Lovely to hear from you, and of course I would be happy to share my top three resources for learning Chinese. As follows:
2. Language Exchange / Couchsurfing
3. AnkiDroid Flashcards
I look forward to seeing the post!
- Charlie from Chengdu Living
Charlie is now living in Chengdu, Sichuan province and runs a popular blog Chengdu Living! In his recent podcast, he discussed with his friends about their Chinese learning tips and experiences.
Sure, the top three resources I’ve used to learn Chinese are:
2. The “New Practical Chinese Reader” series of books
3. Memrise, an online flash card application, for studying HSK words.
I would be happy to share your Infographic when it’s available!
- Joel from China Hope Live
Joel and Jessica, a North American couple with a background in Intercultural Studies are trying to make a life in Qingdao, China.
Our top three most used resources:
– Pleco (Reader, flashcards)
– Perapera Chinese Firefox/Chrome plugin
– intentional lifestyle: your language rises or sinks to the level you need. We spend 90% of our social time with Chinese who don’t speak English, live and work in 100% Chinese environments (i.e. not in the districts where most foreigners live), and find ways to use Chinese at home (bilingual bedtime stories for the kids, etc.). People who aren’t married should get Chinese roommates, imo. And we have a weekly tutor. http://chinahopelive.net/2009/08/20/the-best-decisions-we-ever-made-in-china-1-ditching-the-laowai-ghetto
- Key from China Hush
China Hush is a very popular English site about the latest Chinese news and stories, and includes different topics about what has happened in China lately.
I use Google translate for stuff that I know in English but not sure how to say in Chinese, (vice versa).
Wikipedia: general learning, Chinese included.
Just read a lot of Chinese news, articles, etc. Maybe WeChat, read what people link and post on their moments
11. Anna from China’s Lost Panda
Anna is a fluent Chinese speaker. You can watch her interview in Chinese on An Hui TV. Her blog is especially dedicated to living in rural China. She also published a book recently: MaoMao and the Nian Monster.
My Three Chinese Learning Resources were:
Chinese Children’s Books.
Those books always come with pinyin and the text is very simple. A lot of them have very simple stories, but for very early beginners the Chinese Children Picture books are great. They have a picture with the Chinese word and pinyin under it. The advantage of learning with this material is, that we don’t focus on the English translation. We learn like children do, looking at the pictures and remembering the word and Chinese character.
Chinese TV Shows and Movies.
The best way to improve Chinese Listening comprehension is to watch Chinese TV shows. Advanced learners should go for Chinese News, but in intermediate and even beginners should watch as many Chinese TV shows as possible. There are different resources like youku 优酷 (www.youku.com), tudou 土豆网 (www.tudou.com), Leshi TV 乐视网 (www.letv.com) and more. Some movies even come with English subtitles which helps in the early stages of learning. Watching Chinese TV shows and Movies helped me a lot to get used to the rhythm of Chinese.
If you like music, listening to Chinese music is a great way to learn. I started my Chinese journey by listening to Chinese music and printing out the lyrics. Many songs repeat a lot of vocabulary which makes it easy to learn new sentence structures and words. Plus it is a fun way and not as dry as looking at books.
- Georges from China Non-Stop
Georges is now living in Changsha, Hunan Province. He shared his observations, reflections and analysis of his life in China in his blog and YouTube channel.
Sorry but I don’t work on my Chinese online.
(In fact I believe learning Chinese is not really useful, I will make a video to explain why).
The best resources I used to learn a little Chinese are book from Beijing University Press. They have really good resources including reading books with Pinying, Chinese characters and audio.
I think it is useful to study Chinese if you live in China you need to know some basic Chinese for your everyday life.
But even you speak Chinese language you remain a foreigner and this gives you some advantages and some disadvantages.
It means there are many jobs you cannot do and for these jobs you don’t need to speak Chinese.
It means if you open your business you need a Chinese partner and it doesn’t matter that you speak Chinese or not…
Speaking Chinese could be useful if you work in a Chinese company abroad or if you want to impress on your CV…)
- Anne from Chinese For Families
Anne love children, teaching, history and anthropology. Chinese for Families is the site she created that is dedicated for help families learn Chinese at home together.
I would be happy to make recommendations you can use. I have the following sites/resources that I make available for the public:
The Best Stuff for Kids to Learn Chinese – http://chineseforfamiliesblog.blogspot.com.au/ This is my blog where I make product recommendations on resources I actually own and use. Nothing is promoted here unless I really own it and have used it to teach students. I frequently get asked to make product recommendations but don’t use the site for this purpose.
My Twitter feed teaches 3-5 Chinese radicals a week covering all 214 in 1 year (simplified and traditional)@CHforFamilies. I reTweet posts from other sites/feeds that I find relevant to the beginning to intermediate range student.
My Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ChineseForFamilies features articles/links about learning Chinese, raising Asian American children and civil rights topics. It also features the #APHistory with links to articles relevant to students studying AP World History or AP American History – my school offers courses in these subjects for expatriate American children.
My Youtube Channel features videos by my students and some content for general knowledge https://www.youtube.com/user/ChineseForFamilies/videos
My recommendations – top 3 products:
1.Pleco for Android or IPhone/IPad – hands down the best dictionary on the planet for Chinese. The full Pleco package (Reader, stroke order diagrams, etc. is recommended for beginning to intermediate students).
2. Skritter – everyone learning Chinese and Japanese should use it.
3. Key from www.cjkware.com. This specialty Chinese word processor was created for college students learning Chinese. I use it will all my students over the age of 10 who are approaching intermediate level (on the ACTFL scale) and all adult students. It is simply the best way to start reading and expressing yourself by typing to learn. It has a mouse over dictionary, text to speech capability, auto glossary functions, supports Traditional, Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Korean. It is used by hundreds of universities and government training programmes in Mandarin. I use it daily.
The best type to learn curriculum is made by IQ Chinese and is called Go Chinesehttp://www.iqchinese.com/. This comprehensive curriculum has 8 progressive levels available in Simplified and Traditional. I use it with my older students and they find it fun and engaging. I usually don’t recommend curricula because I have never found something that is “quite right” and therefore wrote and published my own. But Go Chinese is the closest I have found to a fabulous progressive product that can be use continuously for years. It is a great supplement to any curriculum in use.
- Adam from Chinese Learn Online
Here are my answers to “Top 3 Resources to learn Chinese”
Chinese Learn Online: Progressive Course
mdbg.net Online dictionary for supplementary vocabulary
Skype: For online practice with other Chinese speakers
- Ollie from Chinese Musings
ChineseMusings is a blog to help people to learn Chinese. You can also check out Ollie’s ebook “Chinese character etymology” where you’ll see stories and pictures for 150 of the most important Chinese characters.
Thank you very much for your kind email – I’d be happy to contribute! My 3 favourite resources for learning Chinese are:
http://www.yes-chinese.com/tzg/ for stroke order
Please let me know when you’ve finished the Infographic so I can share it with my readers.
- Kendra from Chinese Reading Practice
Kendra has been in China more than ten years and now lives in Beijing. She writes short and interesting Chinese stories in Chinese and English for Chinese learners, all with explanations.
– Perapera Chinese dictionary plugin for Chrome
– mdbg.net dictionary
– Pleco flash cards
- Amber from Chocolate Chick in China
Amber is an English teacher in Hangzhou. She shares amazing stories with her Chinese and expat friends in her blog.
1) Chinese friends
2) watching Chinese dramas
3) Chinese cue cards app on my phone
- Niel from Confused Laowai
Niel started learning in January 2008 at University. He founded a popular Mandarin Learning blog called “Confused Laowai” to help other learners of Chinese.
thanks for including me. My top 3 resources would be:
1) Hacking Chinese (http://www.hackingchinese.com)
2) HanziCraft (http://www.hanzicraft.com)
3) Hanping App (Chinese dictionary for Android)
- Celso from Conquer China
Celso is from Brazil and now he works in Shanghai. Conquer China is one of the best websites dedicated to business in China and Chinese culture.
Tips for Successful Chinese learning
On the mobile Pleco App (https://www.pleco.com/) Great application for learning Chinese. Mixture of dictionary and flash card learning. It is free and available for both iOS and Android.
The Android version contains a lot more features like character scanning and flash card learning. The iOS version is still free, but all extra features must be paid for separately.
On the Desktop For the desktop there is Rosetta Stone software. The only advantage of this method is that you can train your pronunciation by speaking to the software, which will then tell you if you got it right or not.
Some people have reported this software to be not good, but I had a positive experience with it during the beginning stages of my learning. Online Chinese Courses The best place to learn Chinese for free is online. I have found a number of resources over the last 2 years all of which have helped me one way or the other.
CCTV Learn Chinese http://cctv.cntv.cn/lm/learningchinese/01/ Has a great little video series, which walk you from the very first steps with “Nihao” and “XieXie” to more advanced conversational skills.
The Series “Growing up with Chinese” is both funny and quite educational, since it teaches a bit of characters and grammar as well. YouTube YoYO Chinese https://www.youtube.com/user/sloppycheng There are literally hundreds of Chinese courses on YouTube.
My favourite one it YoYo Chinese with YangYangCheng. What I like about it is that they go out into the streets interviewing people in Chinese. This is nice, because it gives you a chance to hear native Chinese people speaking in their natural speed, which is what you will have to deal with in China.
Books for Chinese Learning Basic Chinese by Yip Po Ching / Don Rimmington Again there are many books out there for learning Chinese. In the last three years I have used a half a dozen of them, but my favourite one continues to be this one. Chineasy http://chineasy.org/ European language speakers can use this book to get acquainted with Chinese characters. It uses graphics in order to teach the origin of the characters, making it easier to memorize them.
- Timo from Crazy Chinese Family
Timo is from Finland and is married to his Chinese wife. He writes about the experience of being a foreigner in his Chinese family.
I am actually not that much into online resources but here the three I tried out:
I am mostly studying with a real book in my hands and self made character cards through which I go on a daily basis.
- Sarah from Diaries of a Yang Xi Fu
Sarah is from UK and spent a year teaching at a Chinese middle school in Nanjing. She is now married to her Chinese husband and shares experiences about her Chinese learning, her pregnancy and more in her blog.
Yeah, not a problem. Here goes:
1.) I am a massive fan of NuliNuli (www.nulinu.li) for learning new vocabulary and revising learnt vocab. You tell it what you know and what you’d like to learn and it does the rest. It’s particularly good for HSK preparation.
2.) YellowBridge memory games is great for quick recognition of characters. I usually do matching the Hanzi with the English meaning, but you can also match the Hanzi with the pinyin if you choose.
3.) Weixin. Apart from the first two I’ve mentioned, I don’t use other web-based resources, just books and physical resources. But over the last few years I often used Weixin 附近的人 to find nearby Chinese people (in the UK) to chat with and this really increased my colloquial vocab.
- Dan from Dan in China
Dan has been studying Chinese for more than five years. You can visit his blog to know about his Chinese learning and his life in Beijing.
– mdbg.net dictionary
– Hanping Chinese dictionary for Android
– YellowBridge.com Chinese dictionary
- Chris from Fluent in Mandarin
Graduated from the University of Cambridge, Chris is passionate about Mandarin learning. He is very active in his blog and YouTube channel where he shares lots of Chinese learning tips for free! He can also speak Cantonese!
Top 3 Chinese learning resources for me would be:
1) Wenlin reading software on the PC/Mac
2) Pleco dictionary for my phone
3) Anki flashcard software for PC and iPhone
- Vladimir from Forever a Student
Vladimir is an advanced Chinese learner. He blogs about language learning (mostly Mandarin Chinese) and language related interviews. You can also learn Chinese from his YouTube channel.
Only three resources! That’s hard. I love minimalism, but to name only three.. hm. It depends on the level of the student too I think so it’s really tough!:)
I would say:
– A good digital dictionary: 電花， 文林，ctext.org, Google translate， 中文 chrome pop-up dictionary
– Subtitled talk shows/news; Chinese talk radio: 康熙來了，小燕之夜，Focus全球新聞; 中國廣播公司
– Chinese friends
I also have a YouTube channel for those who like to learn about Chinese characters, but that is just a supplement to learning, not a top tool I’m afraid. Either way if you like, feel free to take a look: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu-aYuOZd9stUmFs9D3pHng
- Eleni from Greek Meets Taiwan
Eleni shares amazing love stories with her Taiwanese boyfriend in South Africa in her blog. She recently shared her experiences about using different Chinese learning apps in this article.
My top three would be:
– Memrise by Memrise
-Chinese Skill- Learn Mandarin Chinese by Skill Co LTD
-Learn Chinese by Codgent
Let me know if you require any other information! And when you do release the Infographic, please do tell me! I’ll definitely share it! 🙂
Have a lovely day and hopefully chat soon! 🙂
- Olle from Hacking Chinese
Olle is the founder of Hacking Chinese, one of the most popular blogs about Mandarin Chinese learning on the internet. A must read blog if you are serious about Chinese learning no matter what level your Chinese is now.
I’d be happy to provide you with my top three learning resources. It of course varies depending on what level you’re on and what you’re focusing on, but this is meant to target “normal” learners at a relatively low level.
– Pleco (the dictionaries in particular)
– Skritter (handwriting characters)
– Italki (or any other way of finding natives to speak with)
27 Olly from I will teach you a language
Olly started learning languages when he was 19 years old. He spent time in France, Brazil and Argentina and, later on, in Japan, learning the languages as he went.
Thanks for the email. Here are my submissions:
1) Fluent U
3) iTalki (for speaking practice)
28.Jana from Jana’s blog
Jana is an American musician, artist, polyglot, world traveller, and kindergarten teacher currently living near Tokyo, Japan.
-LINE Dict Chinese-English Dictionary (http://www.linedict.com/#/cnen/home)
-Good old-fashioned pencil and paper for writing characters
Thanks for inviting me to contribute, and I’d love to see your post once it’s published. 🙂
- Joann from Outside-In
Joann started to learn Chinese 22 years ago and has been living in China for the past 12 years. She is also the author of the book “Survival Chinese Lessons“.
Thanks for asking me to participate informal survey.
My top three would be:
Pleco iPhone app
mdbg.net online dictionary
Carl Gene blog http://carlgene.com/blog/ (a source of useful vocabulary).
- Grace from Just Learn Chinese
Grace is a native Chinese speaker. She is one of the well known Chinese teachers on the internet. Her blog is full of amazing Chinese learning resources such as podcasts, interviews, tips and tricks etc.
I can only answer your question from a teacher’s perspective. I don’t use these tools to learn Chinese myself since I’m a Chinese native. But I can vote for top three tools as my to recommendation below:
Pleco flash cards
tools on purpleculture.com
- Kari from Years Gone by
Kari lived and taught in China in 2013 -2014 where she spent almost every weekend travelling and meeting new people. In 2015 she moved back to the States to work on getting a degree in Diagnostic Ultrasound.
As answer to that first question you asked. The three places I look first when trying to learn Chinese are:
1. Online lecture / education sites like ChinesePod. It really helps to hear the way a word should sound, instead of trying to sound them out yourself. Chinese is all about the pronunciation.
2. Textbooks and children’s education material. I love the children’s activity books I picked up in China as they are usually colourful, require me to look words up and learn sentence structures people actually use. The textbooks for English learners to work on their Chinese are often filled with things that made my students and co-workers giggle (grammar wise that is) so even though they really help organize and pace learning the grammar can at times make you speak Chinglish.
3. Translation dictionary apps like Pleco. Help when you need to learn a word or character.
I use lots of websites, lots of different books and have recently been trying to see if I can find people to do language exchanges with (an hour of my native language practice for an hour of yours). It’s harder to find people in the US who are willing to trade an hour for an hour but I am still hopeful. After all I’ll be heading back to China at some point (maybe before or after I finish my current degree plans), and I NEED to still be able to talk to people while I’m there.
I hope that you get replies from everyone, and good luck
- John from Language Mastery
John has been learning and teaching languages for over a decade. Make sure you check out his podcast where he interviews different language experts for valuable language learning tips!
iTalki: A massive network of language tutors and teachers with ratings (so you can find a good tutor) and excellent scheduling tools with time zone support (so you both show up on Skype at the right time). • FluentU: Authentic videos with interactive subtitles that let you save and practice contextual vocabulary. LingQ: Browse content from the LingQ library or import your own, save vocabulary, and more.
- Leona from My Lonely Planet
Leona is a language student, studying Spanish and Chinese at Nottingham University. She was living and studying in Qingdao, China before and loves Chinese language and culture.
In regards to the top three resources, Pleco flashcards are great.
For reading practice, I read the articles my friends share on WeChat moments.
I also have a book which is called Chinese Characters. It breaks down the most common characters into their components and tells the story behind them(早 for example is morning and the character shows the sun coming up from the horizon).
Also have a great day,
- Jo from Life Behind the Wall
Jo is from the USA and now works in Hangzhou. The “Life behind the wall” blog is Jo’s thoughts and experiences of a Black American woman in China
That is hard. I learned Chinese from being around Chinese people. I haven’t used and formal websites or programmes. I guess Baidu dictionary app on my Smartphone is all I use.
- Howard from Lost in Shanghai
Howard recently relocated with his family to Shanghai, China from Detroit, Michigan, USA. He passes along interesting stories and photos about his new life in Shanghai with his family.
So I hate to say this Yang, but I bailed on learning Mandarin. My main reason is that I started making Chinese friends who speak varying levels of English, and they talk for me. Also, I find the Chinese people so ridiculously friendly and helpful, that I don’t really find I need to speak Mandarin. That said, I do use iTranslate, and 2 books in a pinch. They are “Chinese/English Visual dictionary,” and “Say it Right in Chinese.” Not sure if that counts, but there it is. Take care.
36. Eva from Mandarin 2 English
Founded in 2002, Mandarin 2 English site not only provides high quality Chinese/English translation services but has developed their own curriculum for Chinese learners.
- Nathalie from Mandarin Reflections
Nathalie is from Canada. She writes about her exciting life with her Chinese husband from Shanghai. She recently redesigned her blog so make sure you check it out.
Here are my top resources for learning Mandarin:
-mdbg.net (yes, also using this site!)
-My in-laws and husband (not sure if you can use this answer but thought I would include it)Hope this helps! Good luck with building the new Infographic and gathering all that info. Looking forward to seeing it completed.
- Marta from Marta Lives in China
Marta is from Spain now she lives between Suzhou and Shanghai. She is a fluent Mandarin Speaker and likes blogging in English and Spanish.
This time I received your email 🙂 Thanks for writing!
Well, I don’t know if I can be of much help! My time as a Chinese student was a long time ago and back then I didn’t really use any app or software, but the plain old paper dictionary!
Now when I want to check some word I usually check www.nciku.com (well it is not even called nciku anymore, it seems it was bought a few months ago and now it is called Line dictionary) or Google translate. If I feel I need to improve my reading or my listening I just read a book (on paper) or watch a movie or TV show on youku.
- Steph from Monkeys and Mooncakes
Steph created a beautiful blog about learning Mandarin and Chinese culture. She wrote a great article recently about 7 great resources for learning Chinese.
Sure, happy to pass on my Top Three Sources. Here they are: -yellowbridge.com (talking Mandarin-English dictionary, animated stroke order) -Google translate (for copying pinyin/tones) -chineasy.org (when coming up with ideas for teaching Chinese characters using a visual approach) Let me know when your Infographic is published. Sounds like a great resource!
- Yocelyn from My Chinese Boyfriend
Yocelyn is a Mexican American part-time blogger, comic artist, photographer, and graphic designer who is always looking for her next creation. For the past five years she has been in an intercultural relationship with Chinese boyfriend Baohong Huang who also goes by the name Tony. Described as her muse, she enjoys writing and illustrating about her daily struggles being in a cross-cultural relationship.
The Infographic sounds like a great idea! I would be happy to give you my input.
My top three sources are:
-Ninchanese is a new learning app
-New Practical Chinese Reader book series (there are also YouTube videos to help with listening online for each chapter)
- Kimberly from Nama Mama
Kimberly is an American lady with her Tibetan husband and their one year old daughter in Jiangsu Province.
Let me see, the top three resources I use to learn Chinese are
Hanpin Dictionary (on my phone)
HSK Flashcards (also on my phone)
Chinese TV (on the off chance I can find something worth watching)
- Jan from Ogles & Observations
During the summer of 2013, Jan and her family moved to China for a two-year post. They are now living in Guangzhou, the beautiful city in southern China.
Here are some of the best ways I have learned Chinese:
Tutor in a small group of 3-4 people. I was able to focus on this full time for 6-months. Modules included conversation practice, grammar, character reading, and listening. It was intense, but a great way to get the basics down. We used the Integrated Chinese book series.
Pleco flash cards – they are the best because some of it is just rote memorization. It’s also a handy tool to link in with the vocabulary lists in your text book (most textbooks’ lists have already been made in Pleco, you just have to search for yours).
Chinese Soap Operas – I loved watching Bu Bu Jing Xin on YouTube with the characters in subtitle. It was fun to watch and helped me to connect words they were saying with characters on the screen.
Now that I’m living in China, my best form of learning is to communicate with actual Chinese people. My best teacher has been my ayi/nanny. She is patient and interested in helping me to improve my Chinese. I’ve been told that when I speak the phrases she has taught me, I have a local accent!
- Mark from Pinyin Info
Mark is a Mandarin Learning expert! His site Pin Yin.info is a guide to the writing of Mandarin Chinese in Romanisation form. Make sure you check out one of their funny articles: Why Chinese is so damn hard: http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html
It’s hard for me to narrow my list to just three items.
The software I use most frequently for Mandarin is undoubtedly Wenlin. http://www.wenlin.com
I made a list of useful material for Mandarin learners a few years ago. My recommendations still stand:
As the list above shows, in general I’m a book guy. But the book I’d most recommend to those wanting to learn Mandarin isn’t a simple reader, or about vocabulary or grammar; it’s a vitally important debunking of myths associated with Chinese characters: The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy, by John DeFrancis. Understanding this book will help inoculate readers against the complete nonsense about the language that is unfortunately common even among teachers.
I hope this helps. Good luck with your site.
44.Ray from Ray H to the C
Ray Hecht is an American based blogger who has lived in Shenzhen for several years. He writes about his hobbies and experiences as an expat. His eBook is Pearl River Drama: Dating in China – A Memoir , about dating in China. His hilarious photo series on Chinglish — bad English translations found around China — have proved to be very popular online.
My top sources for studying Chinese? Chinesepod.com and Berlitz flash cards I suppose, but more so living in China and practicing
- Furio from Sapore Di Cina
Note: First hand information about learning Chinese, travelling or working in China. Furio writes his blog in three different languages: English, Italian, and Spanish.
sure. I’ll stick to free resources:
Chinese Grammar Wiki – for grammar
Anki – for flashcards
CNTV – for videos
- Scott from Scott H Young
Scott is a writer, programmer, traveller and avid reader of interesting things. Watch here where Scott speaks 4 different languages in 3 minutes video! (Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese and Korean).
Anki (w/ Mastering Chinese Characters decks)
- Selly from Selly’s Little World
Selly can speak 4 different languages: English, Mandarin, German and Polish. She is passionate about Mandarin study and now lives in Wuhan, China.
My top three resources have changed quite a bit over my four years of studying Chinese but right now they are:
My friends here in China
WeChat articles which I translate with Hanzi Reader
I try to use many different resources but right now those three are the ones I especially focus on which my friends consider both a pain and a pleasure 😉
Glad I could help and do send me on that Infographic, I’ll be sure to share it.
48. Xinyu from Slow Chinese
Xinyu is the founder of the popular Slow Chinese podcast .They can be read in Mandarin at a slow speed and are favoured by many Chinese learners.
thanks for your email. What you do is really interesting, I can’t wait to see the result! XD
I am Chinese, so consider my THREE RESOURCES only a reference, and they’re not for learning basic Chinese, instead Chinese culture and people.
– Slow Chinese podcast!
- Emily from Small Town Laowai
Emily is now living in a small town in the southern part of China with her family. She also likes singing Chinese Songs in KTV occasionally.
Here are my top three resources for learning Mandarin:
– Chinese Made Easier textbooks
– Pleco app
– people! (chatting with shopkeepers, local friends, etc.)
Best wishes on this endeavour!
- Sarah from Speak up Chinese
Speak Up Chinese brings you authentic Chinese through online classes straight from Beijing. A great resource if you are looking for tips and inspiration for your Chinese study!
Zhongwen: Chinese-English Popup Dictionary (Chrome plug-in)
I should also mention, http://speakupchinese.tumblr.com is the blog for www.speakupchinese.com (just launched), so this is a resource that we recommend for live speaking practice with teachers in Beijing. However, you can keep it simple and use the above three – that’s fine.
- Serina from Taiwan Xifu
Serina shares her amazing life with her family in Taiwan in her blog. Got a question you want to ask Serina about living and working in Taiwan? You can get in touch with her at her blog Taiwan Xifu.
– Taipei Times bilingual news
– Flashcards (the old fashioned cardboard kind)
– Google translate
– Making notes of unfamiliar words in conversation and looking them up later
Thank you for your patience with this.
- Margherita from The Love Blender
Margherita was born in Italy. After living in Italy, Denmark, Beijing and Hong Kong, she is now currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.
As for learning Chinese, I have a private tutor that comes to my place once a week and we mainly focus on conversations and new words for me to learn. As my job keeps me very busy, I unfortunately almost never have time to study during the week on my own and review things. I guess I am not the best student in this period 🙂
I hope my answer satisfies you. Thank you for your email and your kindness.
- Fraser from What Happens in China
Fraser has created his new blog “What Happens in China” recently. His blog is fun and an informative piece about his adventures as a Chinese Studies graduate from the University of Sheffield heading to China to find work.
My top three resources are:
http://www.thechairmansbao.com/ – awesome website making newspaper reading easy!
Pleco Flashcards – great to use when you have a spare couple of minutes
Baidu Music – the best way to listen to Chinese music and has all the lyrics built in to help improve your listening and practice translations!
Hope this helps,
- Ingrid from Work Travel Balance
Ingrid has been living in China with her husband in Shanghai for one and half year. She has travelled more than 23 countries and her blog is notes from living in China and travelling the world.
Here are three top things that Chris and I do to help improve our Mandarin:
– Pleco App – Using it as a dictionary to look up words in Chinese and English
– WeChat Translate – We use WeChat’s built in functions to translate Chinese messages that we receive
– Post-it Notes – We write Chinese characters and pinyin, and then place it on items around the house
Hope this helps!
- Steve from You Are Not From Around Here
Steve has been travelling in more than 90 countries! You can find where he has been in his blog but is now living in Beijing.
Here’s my three:
For absolute beginners Grasp Chinese (graspchinese.com) is an encouraging way to get used to saying a few phrases • Memrise.com gives you a good grounding in reading, writing and listening • Pleco Dictionary is useful for looking up words once you’re out and about practicing speaking
- Greg from En Route To Fluency
Greg’s blog is dedicated to “make Chinese as easy and as natural as possible” as he said in the “About” page! He shares lots of tips and tricks for Chinese Study.
Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I would be quite happy to provide my top three resources for learning Chinese 🙂
– Video Games
Hope this helps! 😀
Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.
57. Albert from Laowai Chinese
Very interesting post indeed! I’m also a big fan of Pleco, MDBG, and I’m going to be trying out EverNote next. I have a feeling that will be a great tool.
Albert is the founder of the popular Chinese learning blog “Laowai Chinese”. He is also the author of a book entitled “Chinese 24/7: Everyday Strategies for Speaking and Understanding Mandarin”. Albert is based in Guangzhou (a city in southern China), and serves as the director of Peizheng College’s drumline
58. Laura from Our Chinese Wedding
Laura is a British-German editor and journalist based in Nanjing. In her personal blog “Our Chinese Wedding“, she writes about the intercultural relationship with her Chinese husband from Inner Mongolia, who currently lives in Beijing, and all the funny anecdotes of planning a wedding with her seriously superstitious Chinese family.
In order to successfully learn a foreign language it is vital to have a language environment. Here are my top three suggestions of how to create a language environment for yourself.
Watch movies: I watched so many movies while studying Chinese at uni, I have lost count. They teach you many colloquialisms, daily language and phrases. My personal recommendations if you like action and martial arts is anything with Jet Li 李连杰, Donnie Yen 甄子丹 and Daniel Wu 吴彦祖 or Takeshi Kaneshiro 金城武. Some movies off the top of my head 赤壁；叶问；新宿事件；窃听风云；色，戒； 霍元甲， 让子弹飞.
Listen to music: On the way to work or before you go to sleep, listening to music can do wonders for your listening skills. Especially if you use some of your free time to look up the lyrics of the songs you are listening to. Some of my favourites span a broad range of styles, from 周杰伦, 王力宏, 萧敬腾, Miss Ko in modern pop/rock/hip-hop to 王菲，张学友，刘德华， and 邓丽君(甜蜜蜜 is her most famous song), if you like a bit more classic, also 王若琳, who covers old songs.
Online dictionaries: MDBG.net is a great resource when you have a sentence and are unsure how to break it down and which is the verb, noun etc. MDBG is flexible in that it will give you a word per word analysis, and you can do hand-writing as well. However, I have found that MDBG translations can on occasion be inaccurate or simply wrong. So I use a backup dictionary, iciba.com, a fabulous and high-quality Chinese dictionary whose only failing is that it is not as flexible – it can only recognise exactly identical words, no breaking down of full sentences. So, a combination of the two will usually work well.
Aside from these tangible resources, the best way is simply to go out there and meet Chinese friends. Having a Chinese husband helps a little as well, though not as much as one might think 😉
So, I think this is really all that I have to say – I hope this helps and thank you again for including me, am so happy!
All the best,
59. Mark from Toshuō
Mark Wilbur was the founder and academic director of Pagewood English School in Taipei, ran HR at an ed-tech start-up in Beijing and is now a software engineer at Verbling in San Francisco.
The beginning is usually more structured for people and it’s upon hitting the intermediate level that it gets confusing, so I’ll share what helped me at that point:
1) Online chat programs—The wonderful thing about chat programs is that you have a written copy of each conversation that you can study later. You can look up words you don’t understand and you can take a second pass and what your friend wrote and go from understanding 80% of it to all of it. Unlike books, the language people use when chatting is very similar to how they speak. So after you can model your spoken language after what you saw in the chat.
2) The 國語日報 (Guóyǔ rìbào) is a FANTASTIC resource! It’s a newspaper aimed at school children in elementary and middle school. Every character is annotated with phonetic symbols. If you’re in Taiwan or even if you’re in the mainland and you’re willing to tackle traditional characters in exchange for more interesting material, read the 國語日報! http://www.mdnkids.com/
3) KTV (i.e. karaoke in a room with your friends). I’m not much of a singer yet, but I love the experience of going out to KTV with my friends and I think music really does help the vocabulary stick.
60. Susanna from The Inner Mongolian .
Susanna, who is from Scotland, discovered her husband and a new life in Inner Mongolia.
I use Pleco most of all, as a dictionary and I use its flashcard system to remember new words. There’s also a good app called ChineseSkill which is a bit too easy for me but I use it anyway to practice sentence structures etc, and there have been a few words and structures there which I didn’t already know. Finally I use WeChat to practice chatting, and subscribe to some services like iMandarin which has fun bilingual articles and quick Chinese lessons.
61. Logan from Eazy Chinese.
Logan Murphy is a native Texan and graduate of the University of Texas in Austin. He has a passion for travel and foreign languages and has spent the past five years in Taiwan, teaching English and learning Chinese language and culture.He also published a book here: Unlocking Chinese in 28 days.
My top three resources for learning Mandarin Chinese are:
1. Pleco…if you only buy one Chinese learning app, this is the one you need to get! It’s dictionary is great, and so are other paid features such as the flashcard expansion. Get it, and improve your Chinese instantly!2. Comic books…I’m a nerd and I love comics, and reading them in Chinese is perfect for practicing Mandarin and having fun! I’m currently reading 七龍珠, or Dragon Ball. It’s a blast!3. My wife!…Being married to a Taiwanese woman is my top Chinese learning resource, as I am constantly in “Chinese mode”. Plus, she is the fastest, and prettiest dictionary I could hope for, lol!
Our top 3 recommended resources for learning Chinese are Pleco, as the depth of it’s resources can’t be matched and it’s great to access on the go, Hacking Chinese as this blog has some great articles with some top tips and finally WeChat as it allows me to practice my Chinese on a daily basis and make real connections with real people, also its translate function means it’s an accessible resource even to beginner/intermediate Chinese students.
The top three that I use on a day to day basis are Pleco (of course!), WeChat and HelloTalk.A lot of people have mentioned Pleco and WeChat already but HelloTalk is a little less well known. Basically it’s a mobile app for finding language partners – it’s very slick and there are many many Chinese people looking for English exchange partners.For beginners one of the best resources I know of is the free assessment at WaiChinese. This is one of my companies. We’ve set up a way for anyone who wants to get feedback about their spoken Chinese to take a short test and receive back advice on how they can improve their pronunciation and tones. It’s all graded by a native Chinese speaking teacher and is an amazing diagnostic tool for anyone who speaks Chinese.
Here are three resources for learning Chinese.
Study every morning: When I first started studying Chinese, I woke up an hour earl every morning to study. Time is most important resource.Read simple materials: I found that once I began reading graded readers in Chinese, my Chinese language ability accelerated at a very fast pace. The low levels only use 300 basic characters.Instant messaging: Chatting with people in Chinese was immensely helpful in learning how to use words, phrases, and strengthen your character recognition skills. This helped me to learn how to sound natural in a lot of my speech.
Sure thing!My top three resources are:
(1) Pleco. I have several dictionary apps on my phone, but Pleco is the one that I use most often. I use it to practice my characters every day, and I credit it with having improved my writing. The reason that I prefer Pleco over other tools is not just its automated tests, but the fact that I can get break-downs of the characters (to see what components they contain) and then see in which other words a character is used.
(2) Perapera. I also try to read a fair amount of Chinese on the Web, often when preparing Mandarin Weekly, and the Perapera plugin for Firefox has been invaluable. It’s flexible, easy to use, and provides a surprisingly complete dictionary, including foreign terms.
(3) WeChat. Yes, WeChat is (obviously) a chat program, and I use it to keep in touch with my friends and colleagues in China. But I also use it to improve my reading of Chinese: I’ve joined several discussion groups about programming, and while I’m mostly a lurker, I often look at the discussion, and try to understand what they’re saying. I have learned many colloquial terms in this way, and also surprise myself by how much I can already understand, after only one year for formal Chinese study.
I will choose these three resources: bab.la online dictionary , Chinese TV shows and talking with Chinese.
In addition to a solid textbook series like PAVC, NPCR, or Boya (which is a given, of course), I’d say the below are three must-have resources:1) Recordings of authentic native speakers which you can practice imitating. Glossika is a good resource for this, as are TV shows and movies.
2) Pleco and whatever add-ons are useful for you.
3) A reliable resource for learning characters, like the upcoming Outlier Dictionary of Chinese Characters.Hope this helps!
My top 3 resources:
2. Native friend or tutor for feedback
3. Reading articles/shared content on Facebook
Honestly, I’ve never been a big user of apps or software when learning Chinese. I like to keep my approach simple and I think talking with people is still the best way to learn. I simply kept a stack of flashcards that I reviewed on a frequent basis and whenever I learned new words or phrases when talking with my Chinese friends or coworkers, I would add them to my flashcard stack. After that, my goal was to use the new words or phrases I learned as soon as possible. In addition, my favorite way to keep my reading up is to read interesting articles I see on Weibo or Facebook. Quite often, the material on social media will be less formal and you can learn words that are more commonly used in everyday life.
70. Qian from Go Chinese Mandarin
Our top 3 resources from your list are:
1. human interaction
71. Nadine from MandaLingua
In our experience taking Chinese language lessons with a Chinese teacher (native speaker) is the best and most efficient way to learn Chinese. Which additional resources you use to improve your Chinese pretty much depends on your target. Would you like to improve your speaking, writing or reading skills. Our recommendation cover all skills.
To get vocabulary / reading / writing / phonetic:
Pleco Flashcards & Dictionary (mobile app)
Using Pleco one can set up individual flashcards or use the flashcards provided by Pleco (e.g. the HSK flashcards for HSK 1-6)
For proper speaking and grammar:
Language exchange partner
With a language exchange partner you will enhance your speaking and listening skills and you can check, if your grammar is correct.
To improve listening & reading:
Watching Movies / Daily Soaps in Chinese
Ask your language exchange partner or any other Chinese native speaker for a movie / daily soap recommendation.
Watching movies you already know is also very helpful. As you know the story line of the movie, you can focus on the language.
72. Amy from Mandarin Taiwan Study Abroad
Method #1: Language Exchange with a local partner + Friend
It’s great to get out of your bubble and hang out with someone local to Taiwan and/or mainland China. You can explore the city and each other’s interests all while swapping your knowledge of each others languages to help build your real-life vocabulary.
Method #2: Don’t ask for the English Version
Whenever your heading out to each, don’t cave to the restaurants eagerness to accommodate you with the English menu. You might have to struggle through a few “Bone Soups” before you actually get something you like, but the drive to get something delicious will have you memorizing both the good and the bad dishes in Chinese faster than you can say egg roll.
Method#3: Watch TV
We’ve found that this is the ultimate study excuse. While being lazy and lounging on the couch, you can also be “Productive” by choosing to watch a local TV series or film rather than your favorite show in English. Both English and Chinese subtitles are still useful as they both still make you work on listening and comprehending in different ways. Exposure to a language is always good, even if it is a nest in your own bed all day!
73. Vivien from Mandarin Chinese School in london
“I would have to say
– Good learning material that offers good structure and logic especially before Intermediate level
– Good tutor to guide you through and build up your speaking confidence from Day One
– Convenient revising tools on smart phone such as Quizlet for vocabulary flashcards, Pinpin for pronunciation training, and Skitter for writing characters”
By the way, if you want to recommend any other great resources to learn Mandarin Chinese, feel free to leave details in the comment section; or, if you want to contribute and us to link back to your website, you can email us or contact us via the contact page.