As the old saying goes: The master teaches the trade, but the apprentice’s skills are self-made (师(shī)傅(fù)领(lǐnɡ)进(jìn)门(mén)，修(xiū)行(xínɡ)靠(kào)个(ɡè)人(rén)). In language learning, the mentor’s and the learner’s effort are the two most important things, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make the most of the tools at their disposal. As a Chinese teacher all these years, I have always kept an eye out any Chinese learning APPs that might help my students.
Recently I find one such APP that I think is great for self-learning: Du Chinese, an APP for improving Chinese reading and learning in general, and I’d like to walk you through my review.
What are the advantages of Du Chinese?
What immediately jumped out to me is the APP’s simplicity. The functions are not too complex, making it extremely user-friendly. With only 4 main tabs, users can easily find the content they’re looking for, and after exploring for only a few minutes I was quickly able to grasp almost all of the functions. Learners who are on the go and are looking to make the most out of their limited time will find the user interface to be very user friendly.
Du Chinese’s logical progressions and rich content are also its strong suits.
New users are prompted to choose their Chinese level, following which they will be directed to content that matches their ability. This means that the burden of selecting which content is appropriate for learning is not on the users – they don’t have to sift through mountains of inapplicable material to find something that they can actually learn from! Whether lessons or stories, there is a clear designation of expected proficiency and even the relevant HSK level. Users can adjust their level any time, and in doing so filter the content they are directed to accordingly.
The second advantage of Du Chinese is the rich content available, rich in terms of both quantity and quality. This is especially noteworthy given the fact that the APP is free! Having explored other available options, I can tell you that it’s difficult to find a balance between appropriate pricing and legitimate quality; however, when I tried Du Chinese’s free lessons, the functions and different ways to learn were truly incredible. There are so many things that users can do, such as adjusting the speed, viewing the English translation, and hiding the pinyin to push learners to improve their fluency and natural language recall. The articles and stories maybe simple, but this means that every learner can use them to fit their habits or needs.
How do I suggest Du Chinese improves in the future?
Even though I think Du Chinese is really great for self-learners, and the content is very useful as-is, I hope that more detailed explanations and insight into the teaching points will be added in the future. I believe that if the Du Chinese team can make these tweaks, it will become even more popular.
My favorite features of Du Chinese
Saving words and setting study goals are my favorite Du Chinese features, and are worth highlighting.
When the users study articles, they can save and consolidate words that they want to review, and can access those words in the second tab at the bottom of the APP. As a Chinese Mandarin teacher, I know the importance of consistently reviewing unfamiliar words while they are still being processed in the brain, and I always push my students to study those words again and again. To me, the ease with which students can learn, review, and even re-learn words makes “saving words” my favorite feature.
As for each student being able to set their own study goals, this is done in the settings tab. Once again reflecting the strong logic with which this system was designed, learners can choose their study goals so that the content pushed by the system matches what they want to do. I’ve always believed that students can only achieve their goals if they actually set goals, and this is especially true for students who may find more motivation from outside sources to learn Mandarin rather than internally. As such, setting study goals is the perfect place to start.
If you are looking to improve your Chinese reading and listening by yourself, or are already doing so, this APP is a good choice for you. The articles and stories are short and interesting, so even if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, you can still study one or two lessons per day, confident that you are learning appropriately for your current Chinese level. You can enhance your reading and listening skills, learn new words, and expand your grammar proficiency in the process.
Give it a try now:
I’m a professional Chinese language teacher from eChineseLearning. If you have any questions about Chinese learning or just want to say “hi” to me, please add my WeChat: jenniferzhu6.
About the Author:
Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience with eChineseLearning.com, an online Chinese school providing customized 1-to-1 Chinese lessons. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages.
About the Author:
Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience with eChineseLearning, an online Chinese school providing customized 1-to-1 Chinese lessons. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages.
General Chinese (Beginner Level)
General Chinese (Intermediate Level)