Have you always wanted to learn Chinese, but could never find the time or budget to attend language classes in person? If you’re looking for creative ways to continue your Chinese language learning, this guide to the 75 BEST Chinese language learning tools is exactly what you’re looking for.
With thousands of different online tools, learning Chinese online has never been easier than before. With this guide, we’ll show you 75 of the best language learning tools. All of these tools range from free to $500+. Search using the categories below or scroll down to see the list.
Taking a course in the native language is one of the best ways to really grind the gears and start learning a new language. There are plenty of great Chinese language blogs out there, but a course adds some much-needed accountability. Different courses will offer different advantages, so it’s a good idea to take a few different courses to truly reap the benefits.
The problem with most textbook-based courses is that you’re often taught lessons based on a certain set of vocabulary words they want you to learn. This is nice but not always practical. That’s where ChinesePod comes in.
Instead of giving you vocabulary-based lessons, ChinesePod delivers incredible life-based lessons that will not only teach you new vocabulary but also the most colloquial way to say an idea or phrase. You’re listening to real Chinese speakers through the podcast and interacting with other Chinese learners in their forum.
ChinesePod has a growing library of over 3,500 audio and video lessons with titles such as “How to Sound Polite”, “Road Rage Chinese” and “Comforting Someone”. Like I said, very practical and useful lessons.
Rocket Languages offers great Chinese lessons with fun tools, tips, and audio lessons. The app includes interactive audio lessons and do a great job “gamifying” learning by giving you points and earning badges. It’s a fun and relatively inexpensive way to learn the Chinese language and definitely worth giving the free trial a try.
This is one of the biggest online Chinese schools in the world. Learn Chinese 24/7 from the comfort of your home. They provide Skype lessons with a private native Chinese-speaking tutor. You can focus on Survival Chinese Lessons, Chinese Cultural Lessons, Chinese Immersion Program, specific tests (HSK), or even business Chinese.
GoEast Mandarin’s Chinese language courses combine self-learning with experienced Mandarin teachers. GoEast has been teaching online and in Shanghai since 2012, to tens of thousands of students. They’re rated 4.9 out of 5, and offer over 50 different Mandarin courses.
Rosetta Stone has evolved from a simple computer program to an integrated learning system that you can take with you on your phone, tablet and computer. It’s a tried-and-true method that helps you learn by association, not translation (which is key to fluency). Rosetta Stone Chinese is expensive, but I’ve enjoyed it.
The Pimsleur method of learning is an integrative form of auditory learning where you study for thirty minutes per day. They present phrases in the new language, and then phrases in your mother tongue to help you learn with repetitive methods. If you’re an absolute newbie, this is a great way to start learning the sounds.
The Chinese teachers at Silk Road Start are experienced at helping learners develop confidence using Chinese to accomplish their goals. Join a small group of other learners of a similar level via Zoom. Teachers are based in Xi’an and also host many short-term study groups on university campuses during non-pandemic times.
Tutor Mandarin is a tutor service that teaches students how to speak Chinese using an innovative app and desktop software. Different courses include beginner to advanced, spoken Chinese, business, HSK, and children’s Chinese, all taught 1-on-1 with Chinese professional tutors.
This listen-and-repeat approach to help with Chinese fluency is a great tool to have to practice speaking, listening to and writing Chinese. Glossika offers courses targeted to business people and travelers as well as the average language learner.
The Chinese Teachers website has over 200 native Chinese teachers to help teach you Chinese! Their effective and convenient platform is great for beginners and those just getting into learning Chinese, and the price is often better than an in-person tutor.
The Michael Thomas Method has been used by Hollywood actors (so it has to be good, right?) and it breaks Mandarin Chinese down into its component parts, making it easier to learn, especially as a beginner. You learn how to easily form sentences in Mandarin Chinese, without homework, books, or heavy memorization.
Reading books or newspapers in Chinese is a great way to challenge yourself and improve your reading skills (also, check out our guide dedicated to how to learn to read Chinese better). While it might not be a good idea to dive into articles solely written in Chinese, it’s recommended to start simply, with picture books and newspapers with transcripts. The following online tools are extremely helpful in learning to read Chinese.
If you really want to improve your Mandarin Chinese reading efficiency, The Chairman’s Bao is an excellent tool. Instead of reading through pointless stories, you can catch up on the latest news of the day, written in Chinese!
These newspaper articles offer learners the chance to read about many different topics, from business, science, and sports. Each article is graded based on the HSK level so you can choose only those that fit your level.
The Chairman’s Bao works on a desktop, but it really shines as a mobile app. Download and take your Chinese reading on the go!
The Remembering Simplified Hanzi book covers the meaning and writing of 1,000 of the most commonly used characters in the Chinese writing system. If you have problems remembering how to read/write characters, this is an excellent method.
The Mandarin Companion graded-reader series of books is a fun way to read Chinese whether you’re a child or adult. Great stories combine with good illustrations to make this a must-have for both you and any child-learners.
This building block styled book will help learners remember over 2,000 of the most commonly used Chinese characters. It also gives advice to remember simple Chinese character strokes and how to progress to complex Chinese strokes.
Chinese Breeze is another set of graded readers similar to the Mandarin Companion series (see above). They have a better selection but aren’t as entertaining – they’re also available in both paperback and Kindle version.
If you’re a visual learner who loves memorization study techniques, then using flashcards and dictionaries is for you! Flashcards allows for repetition, while dictionaries let you search a word, study it, and memorize it. Dictionaries and flashcards go hand in hand and are wonderful tools to use to challenge your vocabulary skills.
The Pleco dictionary app is a great tool to practice vocabulary as well as writing in Chinese. Pleco allows you to look up Chinese words live using your video camera (via OCR), or by drawing them on the screen. They have a huge database of Chinese dictionaries, recordings, and flashcards, making this one of the best tools out there for learning Chinese.
The dictionaries come with over 130,000 words, and over 20,000 example sentences in pinyin. They have free dictionaries for download as well as a 22,000 English-Cantonese dictionary.
One of the best parts about this dictionary is that the free version has a ton of benefits already, and you’ll get even more benefits with the paid version!
The Anki flashcards app is the most commonly used app to learn Chinese (or any language) out there. Anki uses spaced repetition and lets you customize the flashcards with pictures and different audio. Create your own cards or download other collections.
Memrise is another wonderful flashcard tool that let’s you customize and create flashcards with pictures, audio, and text. It’s probably one of the best-designed flashcard apps. There is a free and a paid version, which is $60 per year, and there are numerous languages available.
MDBG is a great dictionary in that it works with translating English to Chinese very well and provides pronunciation of Chinese characters. MDBG has Mandarin pinyin, and is one of the best dictionaries to learn Chinese.
The LINE dictionary is a great tool to use on the go and throughout the day. It gives you phrases and idioms of the day, and news and cultural items. It’s more complex and has more content than Pleco.
The ZDT program let’s you create your own flashcards. This is a great tool to have in addition to other programs; in that you can create your own flashcards based on characters you’re having trouble remembering.
This Chinese dictionary and thesaurus translates Mandarin into English. It’s simple and basic, but it is a good dictionary to have on hand if there’s anything you need to quickly look up with more accuracy than Google Translate.
If you’re on an on-the-go learner, then mobile apps are the best tools to use to learn Chinese (in addition to being great on-the-go Chinese voice translators). Apps are great in that because there’s such a wide variety of them out there, you can have multiple apps each targeting different skills and areas of learning. Some apps allow you to speak to native Chinese locals, while others help with your reading and writing skills.
Skritter is one of my favorite apps for learning Chinese – particularly learning how to write Chinese. The app uses spaced repetition and tracks your progress to be very personalized, making it easier to notice your improvement and progress.
In addition to writing, the app acts as a sort of flashcard app that quizzes you on pronunciation and character recognition. You can download specific lists (for example, a list for HSK 4 vocabulary) or create your own custom list.
Skritter is a bit of an investment, but once you start to see your improvement it will easily become worth the money.
This is a great app to learn Chinese pronunciation and pinyin. Listeners can hear any pinyin sound for proper pronunciation. It also comes with a guide to help you with your pronunciation.
HelloTalk gives learners a wonderful chance at speaking to a native from China in Chinese, without having to leave your home! Best of all, it’s FREE! There are paid features, but talking to other natives is free.
This app is a great way to enhance your vocabulary and grammar skills and is especially good for beginners. ChineseSkill offers many different exercises and puts words in context, making it easier to understand.
This app is an exciting way to learn Chinese characters. Instead of learning in a repetitive manner, Zizzle transforms the characters into stories with heroes. These visualizations are funny and an exciting way to learn Chinese.
This app is great to have for those of you constantly on the go. Their Chinese consultants are available to answer your questions whenever you need. The classrooms are live and with a real Chinese teacher.
This computer software is specifically developed to help people learning both Chinese and Japanese. It’s designed for processing simplified and traditional Chinese and has popup dictionary functions.
This website allows you to copy and paste a Chinese website into their search bar. Then, they’ll translate the entire website into English for you. This is a great tool to have if you’re studying Chinese and need a simple English translation.
This popular Chinese app allows you to send and receive text messages, video messages, and audio messages. Connect with Chinese users (there are hundreds of millions!) to chat in Chinese and make a new type of “pen pal”!
This Chinese dictionary mobile app is simple to use and lets you toggle between Chinese and English quite easily. It’s great for beginners and is great for on the go learning.
This app offers eight engaging games to help with essential vocabulary and conversational skills. It has over 1,000 vocabulary words, audio clips & 40 hours of games. Great fun!
Listening to Chinese is just as important as writing, reading, and speaking it. By consistently hearing the native tongue, you’re exposing yourself to more Chinese than you otherwise would have if you were only to read and write in the language. Allowing yourself to get used to hearing the language will only benefit you in the long run. For more useful info, check out our guide to the best podcasts to learn Chinese.
FluentU is one of the most powerful tools out there for learning Chinese. FluentU comes with movies, music videos, TV shows, and more, to help you enhance every single aspect of the Chinese language.
You can improve writing skills with certain add-ons as well as improve your reading skills. You can click on any subtitle and automatically see a definition with multiple examples. Their flashcards come with mini games as well!
FluentU has thousands of videos to take advantage of. The site is simple and straight forward, and comes at an affordable cost for what you receive in return.
Because these videos are so varied, FluentU really hits the nail on the head for a well-rounded approach to learning.
Cost: Basic $15/month, Premium $30/month
YoYo Chinese offers easy video lessons for English speakers and over 800 audio and video lessons. Their curriculum is easy to follow, with simple and clear instructions. This website is great for beginners and for those of you just getting started.
Learn, discover, and explore with Yep!Chinese. These 15 minute audio lessons are a great way to improve your listening skills. The topics are diverse, and learners have a chance to study Chinese culture and news in addition to various other topics.
Through repetitive tunes, Rapid Mandarin makes use of songs to help you learn how to speak Chinese. Through this repetition, you become more and more accustomed to speaking with these phrases.
These free audiobooks are a great tool to have to enhance your Chinese listening skills. Volunteers read the books from around the world, so you can listen to one of your favorite classics read in Chinese in the native tongue.
Similar to YouTube, these TV shows have subtitles and is a great way to listen to the language being spoken. Although geo-restricted, there are ways to watch Youku from outside China that also work with TuDou.
This radio lets you tune in to stations all over the world, and is especially convenient for those of you learning Chinese listening. Browse the different Chinese stations, pick one you like, and listen away.
You can choose between free and paid podcasts on PopUp Chinese. It’s one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes & comes with various other Mandarin study tools.
This website provides videos available for playback to help you with your Chinese listening skills. You can also select words from the subtitles if you’re stuck on a definition or character.
This cultural podcast offers 120 free cultural episodes about ancient and modern Chinese culture. It’s different than most in that it really dives into the cultural aspects of China and, as the name suggests – it’s spoken slowly.
Tapping into the Chinese TV Network is a great way to listen to native speakers talk in Chinese about the news. You can learn about current events in China at the same time. This method is recommended for more advanced learners.
This website publishes daily news articles, which are great to have and easily accessibly from your home. They also have thousands of videos available in Chinese, and is overall a great tool to take advantage of.
This course offers podcasts in Chinese to help you improve your listening skills. They have over 1,200 video and audio lessons, offer PDF lesson notes, and have energetic hosts to make learning fun and engaging.
Repetitive, monotonous learning can get quite boring, quickly. Playing games in Chinese is a great way to change up your learning environment and allow you to have fun! From games challenging your writing skills, to expanding your vocabulary, these games are some of the best out there to learn Chinese.
Chinese Writer by trainchinese is one of the most fun ways to practice writing in Chinese. It’s an interactive writing game where users have to trace falling characters before they hit the bottom of the screen.
You collect points the more characters you trace correctly! It’s easy to play and a great way to diverge from monotonous learning.
In addition to being a good game to play, the trainchinese app also offers a great dictionary and flashcard functionality that will give you other ways to study your Chinese as well.
Cost: Free, $.99 for additional features
This game encourages animal vocabulary and learning. It comes with over 25 animals and their sounds, and the correct pronunciation for them. Kids will love this type of Chinese learning!
Ninchanese offers over 3,500 lessons in how to read, speak, and understand Chinese. Users learn to count, eat at restaurants, ask for the time, etc. Read my NinChanese review.
These tested and proven games have over 5,000 words to help you learn Chinese. Each game is fun and interactive, and compliments grammar, vocabulary, and speaking skills. They also offer flashcards among other helpful learning tools.
This website, which can be used for multiple languages besides Chinese, offers over 500 free games and activities to help you learn Mandarin Chinese. From songs, puzzles, matching games, and bingo, this website is a fun language learning tool!
Guides and forums that help with Internet search, translation, and various other tools are great additions to have with other tools to help you learn Chinese. It’s inevitable that you’re going to get stuck at some point during your studies and need to search for something on the Internet. That’s why these guides and forums are some of the best ways to answer any questions you have. From search engines to chatting with locals, here are the best guides and forums to learn Chinese.
These forums are quite popular, with over 300,000+ posts. Whether you have a question about culture, studying, or living in China, this forum will get you the answer.
Forum topics include anything from grammar, Chinese history, Chinese language services, and various topics like listening and speaking. Simply ask any question you have, and someone will give you an answer. You can also search through old posts to see if someone has already asked and answered any question you might have.
Take advantage of this forum! If you’re ever stuck on anything, this forum will help you quite quickly due to its popularity.
This great resource is a good addition to many of the other tools on this guide, as it shows learners Chinese grammar in a structured way. This is a great way to clear up any grammar confusion you may come across.
This is a humorous way to learn how to live and work in China. John Pasden offers free resources to learn Chinese, such as how to learn tones, grammar hurdles, and the learning curves to learning Chinese.
This website offers translations of various sentences to help enhance your reading. They have a ton of variety; it’s great if you’re looking to learn to translate different sentences.
This website is the Chinese version of Google. You’ll have access to movies, TV shows, and more. If you’re looking for something specific, this is where to look.
This website is a great guide for finding other Chinese learning tools. You can look up flashcards, learn about Chinese culture, and even get a Chinese name.
This website offers interesting reading material in traditional Chinese characters. Their website is in Chinese, so if you’re up for the challenge, I recommend this website for more advanced learners.
This website is a great tool to have as it offers guides and links to help you learn Chinese. They also give information about China such as the cost of living, health and safety, traditions, and transportation.
From characters, songs, reading, and courses, this website offers the best tools to learn Chinese and helps motivate learners to continue studying and learning,
This website has it all! From Chinese pinyin, Chinese writing, Chinese speaking, Chinese reading, grammar, and song lyrics, this website is a great guide to many different language tools.
This forum is a great way to improve your writing in that native Chinese speakers read your writing and correct it for you. They give you feedback and give helpful answers as well.
This website connects students and teachers from around the world, so it’s possible to interact with a teacher from your own home. There are over 100 Chinese teachers and over 500 tutors.
This question and answer site is a great tool to have if you’re stuck on something while learning Chinese. You can ask any question, and a native Chinese teacher will answer it for you!
You can search for specific Chinese expressions on this website and have a native Chinese speaker pronounce it for you, so you can hear it said correctly.
This forum not only allows questions and solves answers, but they have online teachers available, Chinese videos, and blogs, all great tools to help you learn Mandarin.
This forum covers tons of different language skills, from culture, grammar, exams, business Chinese, and more. It’s a well-rounded tool to have to learn Chinese.
From games, quizzes, audio and video lessons, vocabulary, and pinyin & tones, this website covers it all. It covers all of the basis and groundwork for learning Chinese.
Last but not least, internet browser extensions are a must-have when learning Chinese. These add-ons help you translate words, challenge you by surprising you with random translations, or tracks your progress. They offer variety and a great way to help you learn Chinese.
These website plugins, one for Firefox and one for Chrome, are wonderful tools to install when learning Chinese. Simply add the plugin, and the plugin translates Chinese character definitions and pronunciation when you hover over it.
If you’re ever stuck on a word while reading something on the Internet, using this extension will save you the time and hassle of having to look up that word in a dictionary.
This chrome extension is good for advanced learners who want to continue to challenge themselves. The extension tracks progress, allows you to highlights words, reviews through repetition, and let’s you create your own library of texts.
This chrome extension is exciting in that it changes a percentage of what you’re reading on the web to your target language, in this case, Chinese. You never know which words are going to be translated, making it a great way for random review.
The Internet is full of wonderful tools to help you learn Chinese online! Hopefully this list has given you confidence to find whatever kind of tool you’re looking for on your journey to Chinese fluency.
Whether you’re on a strict budget and are only looking for free tools, or interested in in-depth courses to challenge your language skills, there are a ton of different options for you to choose from. Stop hesitating and start your language learning today!
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