Let’s be honest, learning Chinese is not super easy, despite what that guy you hate at work keeps telling you. There are, however, some awesome online tools to help you read, write, speak and basically smash the Chinese language. Here are our favorites.
THINK: Hacking Chinese
Hacking Chinese provides some nifty tricks for Chinese learners to beat the evil Mandarin system. Presented in clear English by Olle Jinge, a Swedish native who’s annoyingly fluent in Chinese, the website gives learners tips and strategies from a foreigner’s point of view, as well as learning resources for improving Chinese listening, writing and reading skills.
WATCH: FluentU Chinese
FluentU Chinese is the go-to website for your Chinese language binge watching needs. It has a tonne of videos of all genres and fluency levels with both English and Chinese subtitles. The content is current and relevant, so no more CCTV war dramas for you!
WRITE: Arch Chinese Learning System
Learning to write Chinese is a total bummer. Who knew you had to do the strokes in a certain direction and order? Arch Chinese is here to hold your hand, almost literally. The resource, popular with Ivy League schools in the US, boasts a tool with animated character writing. Every character also comes with a voiced recording, so you can practice pronunciation at the same time. Winning.
READ: The Chairman’s Bao
The wonderfully-named Chairman’s Bao is an interactive online newspaper geared towards Chinese learners. The regularly updated articles are labeled by HSK level, and range from elementary (dear, Watson) to advanced. You can also switch to Cantonese if you’re really sadistic, highlight a character to get the pinyin and definition, and sort by topic.
SPEAK: Rocket Languages
The gem in Rocket Languages’ lofty crown is its audio lessons and pronunciation practice. They're specifically targeted at getting you to the level of having a real-life conversation with a real-life Chinese person. Scary, we know! The pronunciation tools will get you speaking like a native in no time. You can therefore look forward to sounding like a pirate if you live in Beijing.
LISTEN: Chinese Voices
Speaking of the Beijing accent, you might have noticed that it’s very, very hard to understand, even for other Chinese people. If this is the wicked world you live in, Chinese Voices might just save your sanity. The podcasts are recorded by native Beijingers, nice and slowly. There’re also talking about everyday matters, which makes a nice change from the complex Chinese idioms you’ll come across on regular Chinese podcasts.
YellowBridge is a designated dictionary website with a whole host of sexy bells and whistles. When you look up a character, you’ll not only get a list of its various meanings (no doubt numerous and contradictory), but also info on possible pronunciations, frequency of use, and an animation of stroke order for writing. It’s even got a thesaurus if you’re into dinosaurs.
PLAY: Digital Dialects
Learning Chinese is fun, said no-one ever. You can give it a fair go though on Digital Dialects, an online language learning website with a range of audiovisual games to help you master basic phrases, vocab and grammar.
Italki is an awesome online resource for connecting with Mandarin speakers via Skype. You can either pay an affordable rate for one-to-one lessons with a qualified Chinese tutor, or freeload to your heart’s content with a free language partner.
Memrise is yo’ boy for getting Chinese nicely bedded into your brain. It uses a simple Q&A system (with multiple-choice As) and other crowd-sourced resources such as flashcards to help your Chinese get, and stay, ‘membered.
Sometimes you just hit a wall when you’re struck with a burning question you can’t find the answer to. More often than not, some smartarse on Chinese-forums.com will be more than happy to publically tell you the answer. The active community is comprised of native speakers and expert learners. It’s like having a show-off tutor on hand whenever you need one.
CONQUER: Global Exam
If you’re going legit and taking the HSK exam, Global-Exam will get you up to speed. The online learning tool offers specialized training for specific exams, a progress tracker plus test drills under real time conditions.
There you go. Consider the Chinese language conquered.
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