Looking for a up-to-date overview of learning resources for Mandarin Chinese? Here you’ll find a list of must-have resources for every autonomous learner of Chinese. It’s the product of my own experience learning Chinese and blogging here on Kaohongshu.
PS. Of course this list isn’t complete and it probably never will be. Please let me know if any relevant Mandarin Chinese resources are missing or if I should correct any information provided here. Even more resources you’ll find in part II of this series.
Mandarin Chinese resources
Table Of Contents
- Books about learning Mandarin
- Chinese learning forums
- Listening Material (podcasts, music, audiobooks)
- TV & Video
- YouTube channels
- Online Tutors and Language Partners
Books about learning Mandarin
- Hacking Chinese: A Practical Guide to Learning Mandarin – The unofficial bible for learning Mandarin by Olle Linge from Hacking Chinese.
- How To Learn Chinese: A Guide To Unlocking Mandarin – A practical guide to learn and understand Chinese characters, explaining the evolution of the characters without oversimplifying or Chineasy style mnemonics.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. They help me to support this blog, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Chinese learning forums
Chinese learning forums: here you can ask questions, share knowledge and connect with other learners. You got a particular Mandarin learning problem you’re struggling with? You need help with a translation? Here you’ll probably find the right answer and the help you need.
- Chinese Forums – Longstanding forum for learners of the Chinese language. It’s hard to find a Mandarin-related topic that hasn’t been covered on this forum.
- Chinese Stack Exchange – Another longstanding forum for students, teachers, and linguists discussing the ins and outs of the Chinese language. Extensive list of topics and questions.
- Pleco Software Forum – Online community of Pleco dictionary users.
- Reddit’s r/ChineseLanguage – Questions and answers on almost any topic related to Mandarin.
- WordReference.com – For any linguistic questions related to Mandarin and translations between Chinese and any other language.
- Duolingo Chinese Forum – Online community of Duolingo Mandarin learners.
“Speaking Chinese but without the tones”? Just kidding. If you’re working on your pronunciation, these links can help.
- Hacking Chinese – A practical guide to Pinyin by Mandarin expert and teacher Olle Linge, explaining common traps and pitfalls. [free]
- Chinese Pronunciation Wiki – Online resource for pronunciation, tones, and Pinyin sorted by language level (A1, A2, B1). Extensive resource that is still growing. [free]
- Mandarin Chinese Tone Pair Drills – Progressive method that helps elementary and intermediate students practice tone pairs, designed by John Pasden. [free]
- Yoyo Chinese Introduction to Mandarin tones and tone pairs [free]
- Mandarin Tone Trainer – Online exercises to train recognition and pronunciation of Mandarin tones. [free / $$$]
- Pinyin Master – Gamified app that helps improve pronunciation and listening skills by comparing similar sounding words which are easily mistaken. [free]
- SpeakGoodChinese – Browser application to train Mandarin tones, offers instant visual feedback and tips for your pronunciation. Voice settings can be problematic. [free]
The good news: there’s an overabundance of Chinese spoken audio. The bad news: it’s hard to find “comprehensible input” that fits your interests and language level. Here’s an overview of podcasts, Chinese music and audiobooks.
Mandarin Chinese podcasts for beginners
Mandarin Chinese podcasts for intermediate learners
- Mandarin Corner – YouTube channel and website [free/donation]
- Learn Chinese through stories – Short stories with separate explanation [donation]
- Learn Chinese with Da Peng – vocabulary-focused podcasts with a variety of topics [free]
- Popup Chinese – Chinese podcasts sorted by language level [free / $$$]
- Learn Chinese – Easy Situational Mandarin Chinese Audio Lessons – Limited number of short dialogues with vocabulary introductions [free]
- Dong Chinese (media section) – Youtube videos with transcripts for various levels [free / $$$]
Mandarin Chinese podcasts for advanced learners
- Zero to Hero Chinese library: YouTube videos with transcripts for listening practice [free / $$$]
- Slow Chinese: Cultural podcast for advanced learners. Website offline, audio-files still accessible [free]
- Chinese Colloquialised – Weekly podcast about cultural topics, transcripts included [free]
- MandarinPod – Podcast for advanced Mandarin learners by Sishu Mandarin from NYC.
- Talk Taiwanese Mandarin with Abby – Podcast for advanced Mandarin learners. Donate to get full access to study sheets. [free/donation]
Music is probably the most pleasant form of language immersion. Tastes differ though, here are some random suggestions.
- Kaohongshu Music Library – My private selection with song lyrics.
- Top Chinese Songs 2020 YouTube Playlist – Recent hit songs.
- Top Chinese Songs 2019 – Recent hit songs.
- Top Chinese Songs 2018 – Recent hit songs.
- Chinese hit songs (very long list) – Compiled by a Chinese music fan on YouTube.
- Teresa Teng greatest hits – A little cliché but surprisingly accessible music for Mandarin beginners.
- Xiami Music – Discover Chinese music.
Here’s an overview of Mandarin spoken audiobook websites. Most audiobooks found here definitely qualify for advanced listening. For learners that haven’t reached that level yet listening to the audio of graded readers might proof a better choice.
- Ximalaya – The audiobooks from the popular Chinese website Ximalaya are mostly free of charge. You can find books like children’s tale The Little Prince, the best-seller The Alchemist or the famous Chinese novel To Live and even oral Chinese class listening material (and lots and lots more). Mostly advanced listening. [free / $$$]
- 得到 (Dedao) – This Mainland Chinese app is a popular knowledge serving platform that provides online audio courses and podcasts with transcripts, also available as browser application. Some podcasts are for free. Mostly advanced listening. [free / $$$]
- lrts.me – Like Ximalaya this website is entirely in Hanzi, but you can enjoy an impressive supply of audiobooks like Sherlock holmes and Franz Kafka. [free]
- Pingshu8 – Another Hanzi-only website with a large collection of Chinese audiobooks (Star Wars, 1001 Nights, The Old Man and the Sea, Chinese children’s stories), mostly advanced listening. [free]
- diantai.ifeng – Collection of classics and more modern works of Chinese literature, advanced listening. [free]
- LibriVox – Chinese audiobook collection, advanced listening. [free]
- Loyalbooks – Here you find some Chinese classics by Lu Xun and other works, advanced listening. [free]
- Audible Chinese audiobook collection – Audible collection of Chinese audiobooks, plenty of choice and probably easier to find what you’re looking for, mostly advanced listening. [free / $$$]
- Kuo’s Audiobooks on YouTube: Harry Potter in Mandarin Chinese [free]
TV & Video
Chinese TV & video platforms
The following video platforms offer an overload of Mandarin content, their websites mostly are Hanzi-only.
- youku.com – Mainland Chinese online video and streaming service platform similar to YouTube with its own streaming services for TV shows and movies. [free / $$$]
- tv.cctv.com/live – Watch live Mainland Chinese television just like you’re in China. [free]
- iQiyi – Mainland Chinese video platform based in Beijing. [free / $$$]
- Tencent Video – Mainland Chinese video streaming website, also available in English. [free / $$$]
- viki.com – American video streaming website that specializes on Asian TV shows and movies, with English subtitles. [free / $$$]
- tv.sohu.com – Mainland Chinese video platform based in Beijing. [free / $$$]
- iyf.tv – Movies, series, documentaries and more, usually lacking English subtitles for Chinese. Many “non-Chinese” content with Mandarin subtitles. [free]
- PPTV – Mainland Chinese video streaming website. [free / $$$]
- 56.com and Tudou – Mainland Chinese video sharing websites, both headquartered in Shanghai, where users can upload, view and share video clips. [free]
TV shows and series
This is my selection of some commonly recommended Mandarin spoken TV shows and series.
Mandarin Chinese TV shows and series for beginners
- Peppa pig in Chinese – The well-known British preschool cartoon in Chinese
- Baby bus – Cartoons for children in Chinese
- Chinese Songs for children
- Chinese Stories for Children: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Three little pigs, Journey to the West
- 爸爸去哪儿 – popular TV-series called “Dad where are we going?”
Mandarin Chinese TV shows and series for intermediate learners
- 外国人在中国 – CCTV docuseries about foreigners living in China
- 爱情保卫战 – Mainland Chinese live-show where couples fight out their problems on stage (2010)
- Happy Chinese – educational melodrama produced by the Chinese TV channel CCTV to teach Mandarin to foreigners (2009)
- 新葫蘆兄弟 – newer adaptation of the Chinese cartoon “Huluwa” (2016)
- 惹上冷殿下 – Mainland Chinese “idol drama” called “Accidentally in Love” (2018)
- 绅探 – Detective series set in Shanghai in the 30s called “Detective L” (2019)
- 我的前半生 – Mainland Chinese drama series called “The First Half of my Life” (2017)
- 欢乐颂 – A Mainland Chinese drama about five women who live on the 22nd floor of an apartment complex in Shanghai called “Ode To Joy” (2016)
- 爱情公寓 – a sitcom from Mainland China called “iPartment” (2009)
- 下一站是幸福 – Mainland Chinese television series about a love story between an accomplished career woman and a younger man, English title: “Find yourself” (2020)
- 我只喜欢你 – Mainland Chinese TV-series called “Le Coup De Foudre” (2019)
- 世界青年说 – Mainland Chinese talk-show that hosts a panel of foreigners living in China, holding discussions in Mandarin on various topics and issues called “A Bright World” (2015)
- 奔跑吧兄弟 – Mainland Chinese reality game show called “Running Man” (2014-2016)
Mandarin Chinese TV shows and series for advanced learners
- 锵锵三人行 – Famous talk show produced in Hongkong (1998 – 2017)
- 铁齿铜牙纪晓岚 – This Mainland Chinese historical television series is about philosopher-politician Ji Xiaolan and based on events during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor in the Qing dynasty. English title: “The Eloquent Ji Xiaolan” (2002 – 2010)
- 雍正王朝 – Mainland Chinese historical television series called “Yongzheng Dynasty” (1999)
- 走向共和 – Mainland Chinese historical television series about the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the founding of the Republic of China called “For the Sake of the Republic” (2003)
- 人民的名义 – Mainland Chinese TV drama series about government corruption, considered as the Chinese version of House of Cards. English title: “In the Name of the People” (2017)
- 精英律师 – Mainland Chinese drama series called “The Gold Medal Lawyer” (2019)
- 都挺好 – Mainland Chinese family called “All is well” (2019)
Chinese lessons on YouTube
These YouTube channels offer Mandarin video lessons and are worth checking out. Difficulty level, use of English, teaching experience, teaching style and pace vary. In my personal YouTube top 10 I discuss them in more detail.
- Yoyo Chinese – beginner / intermediate
- Everyday Chinese – beginner / intermediate
- ChinesePod – beginner / intermediate
- Mandarin Corner – beginner / intermediate / advanced
- ChineseFor.Us – beginner / intermediate
- Learn Chinese with Yi Zhao – beginner
- Grace Mandarin Chinese – beginner / intermediate
- ShuoshuoChinese说说中文 – beginner / intermediate
- Mandarin With Miss Lin – beginner / intermediate
- Chinese Zero To Hero – beginner / intermediate / advanced
- ChineseEddieG汉语艾迪 – beginner / intermediate / advanced
- eChineseLearning – beginner
- Chinesewith-Xiaolu – beginner / intermediate / advanced
- Learn Chinese with ChineseClass101.com – beginner / intermediate
Online Tutors and Language Partners
Tutoring platforms help to match teachers to students who want to learn a new language. They allow you to book classes directly with a (Chinese) teacher. Usually, these lessons are more like complementary learning sessions than a structured, step-by-step course.
- Italki – An online tutoring platform with probably the biggest range of teachers to choose from. [$$$]
- Verbling – An online tutoring platform similar to Italki. [$$$]
- Preply – Find native speakers and certified private tutors. [$$$]
- Amazingtalker – An online tutoring platform that connects students with language teachers. [$$$]
- HelloTalk – Phone app for finding language tandem partners. [free]
- Instant Mandarin – A 1-to-1 online Chinese learning platform with certified Chinese tutors [$$$]
- Tutoroo – Find a native language tutor near you or online [$$$]
- GoEast Mandarin – Mandarin courses: live classes combined with self-learning, small groups and one-on-ones [$$$]
Even more resources you’ll find in part II of this series.