Here is a collection of my favorite resources for learning Mandarin Chinese online. Just by using these resources I think you could go from total beginner to fluent. As you progress I suggest you create a study plan and change it up every few months based on your needs. Your listening, speaking, reading and writing will build off each other and grow together.
Chinese Class 101 is one of my favorite podcasts for learning Chinese. Each lesson begins with a dialogue at normal speed which is then repeated at a slower pace. The podcast’s host then reviews the dialogue and explanations on specific vocabulary and grammar points. This tried and true method to practicing a language makes this a great addition to anyone’s language learning plan.
- Chinese Dictionary
Our favorite online dictionary is the LINE dictionary (and of course our favorite Chinese dictionary app is Pleco). First off, why do you need a Chinese dictionary when you can just use google translate? One word: examples. Both the LINE dictionary and Pleco dictionaries are full of examples to help you understand how the words are used in context. Oftentimes Chinese words (just like English words) have multiple meanings and the meanings may not line up exactly with English. The more you can read a word used in context, the better you will understand how to use it. That’s why extensive reading is so beneficial.
Coursera has online Chinese courses offered by some of the top universities in China including Peking University (think: Harvard of China) and Shanghai JiaoTong University. The courses are free to take with an option to pay for a certificate. Taking an online Chinese course is especially helpful for beginners to give some structure to your learning. As an intermediate or advanced learner it can help get you over a slump. I usually recommend using an online course to ensure some structure in your learning and supplementing it with other resources.
- Du Chinese
Of course we had to include ourselves here! Du Chinese is primarily a tool for Chinese reading practice. You can improve your language skills by reading stories and following along with native speakers. We recently added playback features and offline access. With Du Chinese you can go through our courses and start with Ni hao and work your way up to college-level reading skills.
Netflix is nearing world domination. First they started creating their own content in English, then they were creating amazing content in Spanish (Narcos!!) and surprise! They also make great content in Chinese. There is an entire page dedicated to Chinese content and using the learn languages with Netflix plugin you can learn Chinese through movies and TV series on Netflix. The plugin lets you skip straight to dialogue, read along with Chinese and English subtitles and define words. It’s really awesome.
There will always be a place for straight memorization when learning Chinese (or any other language), but a big part of your study can also be enjoying Chinese content. The best speakers often watch Chinese media, read Chinese content and of course speak it often. YouTube has videos to help you learn lessons and to just watch Chinese content. Some channels that you can check out include: Shuo Shuo Chinese, Learn Chinese with Yimin and
Chinese music has been exploding in recent years (in a really good way). As with other music scenes around the world, the music in Chinese speaking countries has grown both in quantity and variety. Discovering Chinese music that you enjoy may take a little bit of effort, but once you find great songs you’ll begin learning words and pronunciation in an effortless way! Another really cool thing about music is that there may be songs you listen to now with little understanding, and when you listen to them a few months (or even years) from now you’ll be surprised about your understanding. You can find Chinese music on any major streaming service. Try looking up a few of these artists to see what you think: Wang Leehom, Will Pan, Jay Chou, Jolin.
- Facebook Groups
Joining together with a community of learners is a great way to keep yourself motivated and get help when you’re stuck. Have you ever heard that teaching something is the best way to truly learn it? Participating in a group or forum will also solidify your own understanding of concepts. Try the Learn Chinese group which is the most popular one on Facebook and where we are frequent contributors.
Those are some of my favorite resources for learning Mandarin Chinese. What are yours? Let us know if there are any other methods you enjoy using to learn Chinese in the comments down below! Subscribe to Du Chinese for more tips and Chinese reading practice.