Looking for a more or less comprehensive overview of learning resources for Mandarin Chinese? I hope this list can help you to find the tools you need or try out something new. 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.
Mandarin Chinese resources
Table Of Contents
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.
Best Mandarin Chinese Learning Resources for Tones
“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 / $$$]
- Pinyin Master – Gamified app that helps improve pronunciation and listening skills by comparing similar sounding words which are easily mistaken. [free]
- SpeakGoodChinese – Browser application to train Mandarin tones, offers instant visual feedback and tips for your pronunciation. Voice settings can be problematic. [free]
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Listening Material
The good news: there’s an overabundance of Chinese spoken audio. The bad news: it’s hard to find “comprehensible input” that fits your interests and language level. Here’s an overview of podcasts, Chinese music and audiobooks.
Mandarin Chinese learning resources: Podcasts
Mandarin Chinese podcasts for beginners
- ChinesePod – An enormous library of podcasts [free / $$$]
- Coffee Break Chinese: partly free content, Chinese-English [free / $$$]
- I love learning Chinese – Out-of-date website but lots of audio material with transcript and vocabulary list. Not only for beginners [free]
Mandarin Chinese podcasts for intermediate learners
Mandarin Chinese podcasts for advanced learners
Mandarin Chinese learning resources: Music
Music is probably the most pleasant form of language immersion. Tastes differ though, here are some random suggestions.
Mandarin Chinese learning resources: Audiobooks
Here’s an overview of Mandarin spoken audiobook websites. Most audiobooks found here definitely qualify for advanced listening. For learners that haven’t reached that level yet listening to the audio of graded readers might proof a better choice.
- Ximalaya – The audiobooks from the popular Chinese website Ximalaya are mostly free of charge. You can find books like children’s tale The Little Prince, the best-seller The Alchemist or the famous Chinese novel To Live and even oral Chinese class listening material (and lots and lots more). Mostly advanced listening. [free / $$$]
- 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]
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese with TV & Video
Mandarin Chinese learning resources: 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 / $$$]
- ifsp.tv – Movies, series, documentaries and more, usually lacking English subtitles for Chinese. Many “non-Chinese” content with Mandarin subtitles. [free]
- PPTV – Mainland Chinese video streaming website. [free / $$$]
- 56.com and Tudou – Mainland Chinese video sharing websites, both headquartered in Shanghai, where users can upload, view and share video clips. [free]
Mandarin Chinese learning resources: 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
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)
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese on YouTube
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.
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Textbooks
- 中文听说读写| Integrated Chinese – Mandatory textbook for introductory Mandarin in many college-level language programs in the USA, consisting of four volumes (1, 2, 3, 4) with text-, work- and character workbook.
- New Practical Chinese Reader – Set of textbooks that progressively teaches reading, writing and listening. It consists of 70 lessons in six volumes (text- and workbook), covering beginning to intermediate levels for three years of instruction (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
- Boya Chinese – Series of textbooks consisting of 9 volumes: 2 elementary books, 2 pre-intermediate books, 2 Intermediate books and 3 advanced books.
- Developing Chinese – This series includes 28 volumes with altogether 34 books and is divided into three levels (elementary, intermediate and advanced) and five series (comprehensive, listening, speaking, reading and writing). “Nationally planned” textbooks for higher education in Mainland China.
- Colloquial Chinese: The Complete Course for Beginners – Textbook focusing on real-life Chinese communication for beginners (2020 edition).
- 实用视听华语 | Practical Audio Visual Chinese – Taiwanese Textbook series consisting of 5 volumes, non-simplified characters and annotated with Pinyin, Zhuyin (BoPoMoFo) and Tongyong Pinyin.
- Conversational Chinese Dialogues: Over 100 Chinese Conversations and Short Stories – Textbook with conversational Chinese for beginners (incl. English translations and Pinyin), dialogues deal with real-life situations like setting a meeting, renting a car, visiting a doctor etc. Suitable for extensive reading too.
- Beyond the Basics: Communicative Chinese for Intermediate and Advanced Chinese Learners – Chinese textbook for more advanced learners covering a broad variety of conversation topics like childhood, movies, politics and crime.
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Books about learning Mandarin
Best Mandarin Chinese Learning Resources: 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.
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Dictionaries
Mandarin Chinese learning resources: Dictionary apps
- Pleco – Dictionary app with handwriting recognition, Hanzi stroke animations, audio pronunciation, document reader, flashcard system (premium feature), full-screen handwriting input and live camera-based character search (premium feature) and other features. [free / $$$]
- Hanping Chinese Dictionary Lite – Dictionary app with Chinese handwriting recognition, Hanzi stroke animations, audio pronunciation, soundboard for Pinyin and other features [free] or Hanping Chinese Dictionary Pro with even more Hanzi stoke animations, AnkiDroid Flashcards support and additional premium features. [$$$]
Mandarin Chinese learning resources: Popup dictionaries for browsers
Mandarin Chinese learning resources: Web dictionaries for Mandarin Chinese
- Chinese Pinyin Converter – Not a dictionary but a tool that helps you reading difficult texts by adding Pinyin, highlighting tones, extracting vocabulary lists etc. [free]
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Grammar
Yes, Mandarin Chinese does have grammar.
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Reading Material
When it comes to improving your reading skills in Mandarin the main challenge is to find proper texts that suit your level and needs. Paid online resources tend to offer a wider range of materials and additional features. Below I listed some free and paid resources with an indication of their difficulty level.
Mandarin Chinese reading resources: Free online resources
Mandarin Chinese reading resources: Non-free online resources
- The Chairman’s Bao – Comprehensive news-based graded reader for students of Chinese, lots of new articles added weekly (all levels)
- Du Chinese – Popular Mandarin reading app, intuitive and practical interface, includes English translations (all levels)
Mandarin Chinese reading resources: Graded readers and more
One thing that cannot be stressed enough is the importance of reading when learning Mandarin, especially so-called extensive reading, which is basically reading as broadly as you can within your level. Not just for more advanced learners, but for beginners too! That’s where graded readers come in. They help your brain to adapt to Hanzi, speed up your reading and – perhaps most importantly – to grow your vocabulary.
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Flashcards & Vocabulary Training
The following apps operate with a spaced repetition system to help you handle large quantities of new vocabulary. Each has its unique features:
- Pleco – Its built-in flashcard system allows you to create flashcards quickly based on dictionary entries. Very comfortable if Pleco is already your dictionary of choice. The flashcard feature is a paid add-on module that includes HSK word lists. [$$$]
- Skritter – Skritter (for Android and iOS) also provides a built-in flashcard system and lots of pre-made word lists to choose from. The app does a good job on introducing new vocabulary with examples too. Skritter’s “core business” is improving Hanzi writing skills though. [$$$]
- Anki – Supposedly less user-friendly, but very effective flashcard tool once you know how this free computer software works. Plenty of shared decks for Chinese provided by other learners you can profit from. Anki is also available as app for Android (free) and iOS ($$$).
- Daily Chinese – Simple & effective vocabulary trainer providing helpful ready-made word lists for intermediate and advanced learners who want to expand their vocabulary in specific areas, from economics to sports and computer software. [free / $$$]
- Chinese Flash Cards Kit for HSK Levels 1 & 2 – Actual flashcards for Mandarin learners who prefer the old-school way (which is completely fine).
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Writing Characters
Learn to write Chinese characters by using “old-fashioned” books or an app like Skritter that instantly corrects every wrong stroke or dot (and more beyond):
- Skritter – Probably is the number-one application for writing and understanding Chinese characters, also well-known for its spaced repetition supported vocabulary training. [free / $$$]
- Reading and Writing Chinese (2,349 Chinese Characters and 5,000+ Compounds) – Guide to reading and writing Chinese characters, both simplified and traditional, study book as well as resource for reference. [$$$]
- Scripts by Drops – A popular app that introduces Chinese characters and radicals, offering a gamified learning experience for visual learners. [free / $$$]
- Daily Mandarin – A very basic app, designed to practice writing all level HSK characters. [free]
- Kangxi – A game-based app that helps you group characters by their radicals. [free]
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Apps for Mandarin Chinese
A selection of popular and less popular apps that give a taste of the language and help expand your Mandarin skills in an entertaining way.
- HelloChinese – A gamified learning app for absolute beginners with many free lessons. [free / $$$]
- LingoDeer – Language learning app that offers a solid introduction to beginners, many features behind paywall, similar to Duolingo. [free / $$$]
- NinChanese – A gamified learning platform that is based on the HSK curriculum. [free / $$$]
- Pandanese – Vocabulary training platform, browser-only, with free trial. [free / $$$]
- Drops – Learn vocabulary through mini-games and mnemonics, free version is limited to one 5-minute session per day. [free / $$$]
- Memrise – A gamified flashcard app that uses spaced repetition to support your vocabulary learning. [free / $$$]
- Learn Chinese – ChineseSkill – A learning app for Mandarin Chinese beginners offering a variety of mini-lessons. [free / $$$]
- Infinite Chinese – A learning app based on interactive mini-games. [free]
- Super Chinese – A gamified learning app with animated videos and thematic lessons. [free / $$$]
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: Online Tutors and Language Partners
Tutoring platforms help to match teachers to students who want to learn a new language. They allow you to book classes directly with a (Chinese) teacher. Usually, these lessons are more like complementary learning sessions than a structured, step-by-step course.
- Italki – An online tutoring platform with probably the biggest range of teachers to choose from. [$$$]
- 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. [$$$]
- HelloTalk – Phone app for finding language tandem partners. [free]
- Instant Mandarin – A 1-to-1 online Chinese learning platform with certified Chinese tutors [$$$]
Best Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese: HSK
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