The Best Chinese Language Learning Apps (2018)

Which mobile app do Chinese learners find to be the most helpful? There are a ton of amazing Chinese learning Android and iOS apps out there. However, their usefulness is usually limited to the goals and habits of those who are using them. The key to learning with these apps is to find what works for you, and what doesn’t. Accordingly, you can then separate these apps by their strengths and weaknesses, their purposes and their main training targets, which will save you time and energy that you can then give to proper learning.

So here it is, my dear readers, my recommendations of the best Chinese language learning apps that are available right now. Some of these apps may be a surprise, while some are quite popular. Make sure to return to this article from time to time as we will be constantly updating it with the latest apps we will test.

Chinese Reading Apps

Du Chinese

Du Chinese is a revolutionary app will help you to improve your Chinese reading skills.

duchinese
I am impressed by the clean design and user interface. It is easy to use and loading material takes only seconds. You can read by yourself or listen to an audio recording and read along. The characters and pinyin layout look very comfortable. You can easily turn the pinyin on and off and switch Chinese characters between Simplified and Traditional. It supports English translations for single words and sentences. All sentences have been carefully translated and they stay as true as possible to the original Mandarin.

The reading material topics are quite interesting, covering daily conversations, Chinese culture, current events,the latest trends, funny stories, and regular life in China. They are marked by difficulty, ranging from newbie to master. Each session is also labelled from HSK level 1 ~ 6+. It is easy to find material for your level.

Chinese Characters Apps

Zizzle

If you have trouble memorizing Chinese characters, then Zizzle will definitely help you.

This app breaks down characters into their component parts. Then, they use images and a short story to help you remember these components. Most of the stories are ridiculous or funny enough to be memorable. Each tone is represented by a certain animal which helps you remember the character. It also teaches characters that build up from smaller to more complex characters in a logical way.

zizzle

I am in love with this app, and its method taught me characters that I have tried and failed to learn in the classroom. It presents an effective, novel, and fun way to learn and memorize Chinese characters. If you are total beginner, I can safely say you will know hundreds of characters in few days and be able to read them confidently.

Use the promo code “DIGMANDARIN10” to save 10% on all three-month and annual subscriptions, as well as packs.

Chinese Dictionary Apps

Pleco

The dictionary app will probably be one of the most useful and frequently used ones for people learning Mandarin; Pleco may be the app most frequently recommended for this function. It allows you to quickly look up a Chinese word or character wherever you are.

pleco

Key features:

  1. Chinese handwriting recognition: the option to hand write instead of typing in pinyin is very useful when searching for characters you don’t know.
  2. OCR: it allows you to look up unknown Chinese words ‘live’ using your device’s camera, or tap-lookup words in a still image.
  3. Stroke order guides: to help you find out how to write the Chinese characters in the proper order.
  4. Flashcard system: insanely powerful / customizable system, making it extremely easy to add new flashcards from dictionary entries or to import pre-made vocabulary lists.

Chinese Listening Apps

Chineseclass101

No doubt that Chineseclass101 is one of the most well-structured podcast Mandarin courses available today. With language instruction podcasts, you can improve your pronunciation and boost your listening comprehension skills.

ChineseClass101 has an extensive collection of audio materials covering all levels. By having access to different levels, you can choose the best one for you. Each lesson has notes that include the key grammar point broken down clearly along with Chinese cultural insights. The lesson dialogue will help you understand real life conversations in China and will definitely help you improve your listening skills. It also offers an interactive voice recorder tool, which lets you record your pronunciation and compare it to that of a native speaker.

class101

Chinesepod

Chinesepod is another example of podcast Mandarin app. The quantity of lessons is pretty big. It even has more interactive exercises for learning new words and phrases. In ChinesePod, the amount of Mandarin speech in each lesson is increased step-by-step. Even lessons for Upper-Intermediate students have  English explanations which are quite helpful! Advanced students may enjoy the Mandarin-only podcast lessons.

Gamification Apps

Hello Chinese

Hello Chinese is a powerful learning tool that can help you overcome the fear of learning Chinese. This app focuses on daily life topics. It starts from basic pinyin, so that even if you are a total beginner or have absolutely no background in Chinese, you can still learn with it. What is special is that this app allows you to listen and record your own voice, and to help you check automatically if your pronunciation is correct. It`s a comparatively easy way to measure your pronunciation. The studying process is not boring. Learners are not overwhelmed with information. Lessons are taught in a very precise and careful manner. What`s more, there are many exercises and quizzes to help you consolidate all that you have learned.

hellochinese

Chinese Speaking Apps

Hello Talk

Have you been learning a new language for a while, and feel like it’s time to start practicing and using it? That’s where Hello Talk can help. It is a language exchange app that has over one million users. It’s easy to find natives from China willing to help you practice Chinese.

hellotalk

Key features:

  • Voice and Text chat
  • Moments, like the group chatroom
  • Translation and Transliteration: Translation allows you to read in English what someone typed in Chinese in case you didn’t understand it. You can use the transliteration option when a native speaker writes Chinese to you, to instantly see the pinyin.
  • Voice recognition system: You can simply speak and the system will attempt to convert that to text to send to your language partner.

These are my top Chinese language learning apps. I bet you also have your own picks. What would you recommend to fellow Chinese learners? What apps do you think are worth the time and the money? Just comment below and let us know your favorites. Maybe your picks will make this list one day!

BENJAMIN GIBBS

Benjamin is a language and culture enthusiast. He has been learning Mandarin Chinese more than 6 years. He lived in Shanghai, HongKong and Singapore.