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How to Learn Chinese from Anywhere: Must-Have Mandarin Chinese Language Apps

Jul. 13, 2018

Let’s face it: The Internet has changed everything. And, “everything” includes Mandarin Chinese language learning! Years ago, the classroom and textbooks were the only resources available to begin learning Chinese. However, with recent online resources emerging, learning Mandarin Chinese is easier and more accessible than ever. Chinese language learners can now take online lessons, learn 1-on-1 with a professional teacher in China from their living room, and supplement their personal Chinese lessons with blogs, websites and apps. Since mobile apps are the most accessible and convenient to users, I would like to introduce some Mandarin Chinese language-learning apps that have helped me over the past few years as I’ve learned Chinese.

Here are three Chinese-learning apps that have helped me with my speaking skills:

1. 汉语拼音游戏 (Hànyǔ pīnyīn yóuxì) Chinese Pinyin Game

HSK 3 quiz

This game has helped me improve my pronunciation of pinyin through the comparison of similar sounds that are easy to misunderstand. By solving problems in the form of quizzes, my ears have gradually been trained begin recognizing Chinese pronunciation. It’s been a real game-changer!

• methods for quickly mastering pinyin;
• conveniently practice your pronunciation;
• browse the pinyin study section.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.0 or later.

2. 魔力小孩拼音 (Mólì xiǎohái pīnyīn) Magikid

HSK 3 quiz

With more than 30 million users, this app is tested and trusted. Yes, it may be designed for kids, but it’s good practice for all! As I practice the initials, finals, overall reading, and the combination of the objectives, they all come together to make a magic card animation. There is a fun test, the option to read aloud, handwriting practice, singing, and pinyin learning. It’s simple, but effective.

• Learning through magical games: Defeating the magician; starting the Ferris wheel; and completing the study through playing games.
• Rich in content: 1076 Pinyin combinations; 174 cognitive problems; and a Pinyin challenge test.
• Original children’s songs: 40 original pinyin children’s songs.
• Step-by-step: the default setting one day class mode; memory; combination; strengthen; repeat; cycle; parents can freely control the time of each child’s learning.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 10.0 or later, Android 4.0 or later.

3. 正音万里行 (Zhèngyīn wànlǐ xíng) Zhengyin Miles

HSK 3 quiz

A voice assistant application developed to help Chinese beginners learn and practice Chinese phonetics.

• exercise class grouping;
• comprehensive and more targeted lessons;
• improve the user’s voice practice experience;
• system intelligence and accurate scores earned;
• user management function;
• view learning report anytime; anywhere after log in;
• categorized learning reports.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later, Android.

Here are three apps that have helped me with my reading skills:

1. 汉语技能 (Hànyǔ jìnéng) ChineseSkill

HSK 3 quiz

ChineseSkill is a free mobile app for learning Mandarin. Its curriculum consists of 45 topics focusing on learning vocabulary and grammar through context, and using a gamification mechanism similar to the language learning platform Duolingo.

• It’s game-based.
• ChineseSkill uses mini-games that test your listening; reading; writing and speaking skills throughout the process.
• Task-driven: Materials are divided according to various skill points, linking learning motivation to winning desires.
• It’s effective: Every project can be learned and reviewed in a short period of time; making learning a huge investment in distracting time.
• It’s comprehensive: It supports both traditional and simplified written Chinese; giving users complete control over the character system they want to learn.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.0 or later, Android 4.0 or later.

2. Pleco 汉语词典 (Hànyǔ cídiǎn) Pleco Chinese Dictionary

HSK 3 quiz

It is the ultimate Chinese learning companion: an integrated dictionary / document reader / flashcard system with full-screen handwriting input and live OCR, from a company that’s been making the world’s best mobile Chinese learning apps since 2001.

• Powerful merged search: support for wildcards and full-text search by Chinese characters, pinyin or English for words. In addition, you don’t have to flip through all of these dictionaries to find a word, just simply type in your search term and immediately get a list of combined frequency sort results.
• Full-screen handwriting: use the entire screen of the device instead of just a small box. Very accurate and highly-tolerant stroke order error.
• Flashcards: use a button to create cards from any dictionary entry, import premade word lists, use advanced memory techniques such as SRS, and learn various modes, including fill-in-the-blank and tone practice.
• Absolutely no ads.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 9.0 or later, Android.

3. 学中文 (Xué zhōngwén) Hello Words

HSK 3 quiz

It provides Chinese learners with the learning and practice of HSK, business and life vocabulary in Chinese, helping Chinese learning to quickly accumulate vocabulary.

• Hello Words returns to the origin of word memory, eliminates all the complex functions, and maximizes the memory and training functions of the most basic vocabulary. The operation is minimal and very fast. Open the app and begin to practice Chinese words. It’s as simple as that!
• Hello Words includes an HSK vocabulary outline / daily Chinese vocabulary / business Chinese vocabulary, compatible in four languages: Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 7.0 or later, Android 4.0 or later.

One app in particular has helped me with my Chinese character writing skills:

1. 写汉字游戏 (Xiě hànzì yóuxì) Chinese Writer

HSK 3 quiz

You can learn how to write thousands of Chinese characters with this app. Characters are divided into packs ranked by difficulty according to the official HSK standards.

• Ease of use
You can review everything that you viewed, including the stroke sequence diagram, and test it at your own pace. Characters you made the most mistakes on are highlighted at the top of the list.
• Educational goals are well-defined
Chinese writers can test 7,600 Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese characters and provide stroke sequence diagrams.
• English interpretations and high-quality recordings for each possible pronunciation.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 9.3 or later, Android.

So, now you know the seven apps which have been the most helpful as I’ve been on my Chinese language learning journey. I hope you can download these and begin using them on the bus, train, waiting room, or wherever else you may have some time to practice your Chinese on-the-go!

HSK 3 quiz

1. Read the dialogue and answer the question below:

Lucy: Nǐ tōngguò shénme fāngshì xuéxí pīnyīn ne?
Lucy: 你通过什么方式学习拼音呢?

Denny: Wǒ yòng zhèngyīn wànlǐ xíng xuéxí pīnyīn.
Denny: 我用正音万里行学习拼音。

Lucy: Tā shì shénme ne?
Lucy: 它是什么呢?

Denny: Tā shì yígè  ________.
Denny: 它是一个 ________。

Which answer best fits the missing word which Denny would use to respond:

A. 游戏 (Yóuxì)

B. 书本 (Shūběn)

C. 应用 (Yìngyòng)

See Answer Analysis

―Written by Philip Reed―
Philip Reed is a Mandarin Chinese student in Beijing. He has been studying for one year in China and before that had an interest in Chinese at university in the U.S. He loves Chinese music and cultureand can sing a few Mandarin songs at the KTV when he has free time!

More Resources to Learn Mandarin Chinese Online:
Chinese Alphabet
WeChat: A Gateway into Chinese Language and Culture
iPhone vs. Google Android Phone

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I don’t know about the other apps, but I’ve had Pleco for years. It is my ‘go to’ app for learning Chinese. It has dictionary, flashcard, and optical recognition capabilities. And the tech support is pretty good too!

Thanks for sharing. You could try to use other apps and they will help you in different ways.

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