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The Best Chinese Language Learning Apps (2024)

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.

The Best Apps to Learn Chinese ( by function)

  1. Chinese Reading Apps
  2. Chinese Characters Apps
  3. Chinese Dictionary Apps
  4. Chinese Listening Apps
  5. Gamification Apps
  6. Chinese Speaking Apps

Chinese Reading Apps

Du Chinese

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

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.

Save 10% on your subscriptions to Du Chinese with the promo code “DIG10”.

Chinese Characters Apps


Skritter does really well with teaching correct stroke order and focusing on the muscle memory that should be formed when learning new characters. The lists of vocabulary are expansive, and I can really appreciate that the vocabulary are taken straight from textbooks. This would be a useful resource for language learners who are using a particular textbook in their classes. They could look up if their textbook is in the database, and draw vocabulary right from there. It offers lists from 393 different books. The lists are organized by popularity, learner level, and alphabetically. You simply chose a list and start learning.

Another great feature Skritter offers is the ability to track your progress. They keep track of how many characters are introduced, how many are practiced, and how many are memorized. You can also study the words offline, and the progress will be synced when connected again. You can look up your progress by the day, week, month, and year.


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.


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


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.


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.

More translator apps review: the good, the bad, and the absolutely useless

Chinese Listening Apps


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.



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.


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.


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

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Pico seems to be recommended a LOT, but I don’t like its business model. After you download the basic dictionary (which IS good), you don’t get anything else until you pay up, and pay up and pay up. (It’s called “nickle & diming you to death” where I’m from.)

    I don’t expect all the others to be free, but I sincerely wish Mr. Gibbs would tell us the cost of each – at least the cost at writing. I have a few apps of the “freemium” type on my phone. Some let you go rather far before the price wall pops up. Others hardly let you get your feet wet. It can be frustrating. (I don’t want to pay or pay much because the study of Chinese is a hobby. I have no delusions of fluency during this incarnation.)

    1. Hi Theo, reading your comment is a pleasure. I learned a lot as a non-native speaker:

      nickle & diming you to death
      before the price wall pops up
      get your feet wet
      have no delusions of fluency during this incarnation (oh this is my favorite)

      What fun and beautiful language!

      1. Dear Darker:
        It’s been quite some time since I posted that thumbnail review of Pico. In fact, I had forgotten about it. Coming across your response was a unexpected delight. I gave up on any attempt at regular study of Chinese while moving between cities and jobs last summer. Where I’m at now, Guangzhou, a new set of friendly, native faces have said,”You should learn some Chinese.” I didn’t reply with “It’s just a hobby,” fearing that it might to taken as an insult to Chinese culture or – worse – a sign that this “foreign guest” of The People’s Republic was not in full support of the “Chinese dream.” (This also explains why I’ve returned here: these fine folks are – as always – right.)

        I don’t care for ANY ideology, actually, unless there’s one called “Idiom-ism.” My brain is stuffed full of English ones. As you must know, Idioms make any and every language richer – but also much more difficult to learn. Only in computer languages (as far as I know) is the literal meaning of a word, phrase, or sentence the ONLY meaning. And I must wonder: once AI empowered robots have provided the “adult supervision” that our infantile species so desperately needs, will they then “cleanse” human language of all its troublesome idioms? Personally, I’m not worried. For, by then, I’ll be either dead (perhaps having chocked to death on a particularly nasty complex sentence) or waiting for the same in the “”Home for the Linguistically Limited & Terminally Confused.” May your own end be much more glorious.

  2. I like Pleco because it has defined one time prices and lots of available features. They don’t “nickle and dime you to death” because you don’t pay Pleco monthly or annually like all the other apps and services out there. Pleco has specific prices for specfic features and then… that’s it. You only buy what you need. And you don’t keep paying to use it! Since I bought it, I can see why it’s highly recommended. The various features have been immeasurably useful and I know it’s a long term minimal investment. Some other apps that look useful, I have been putting off until I have more extended time to focus on them, one at a time, because they cost so much per month or year. Pleco was a bargain in comparison.

  3. Dong Chinese by Peter Olson. Not many of the apps mentioned here properly explains the actual origin of the word you’re looking at. Chinese is based on pictures (or combinations of pictures) and it makes it sooooo much easier when you know picture you’re supposed to be looking at, and how pictures combine together to give the meaning / pronunciation of the character. (e.g. hao3 = woman and child together = “good”). Give it a try!

  4. Thanks so much for the reviews, they’re really helpful.
    But I’m finding that I download some apps and, while they offer some great features, they don’t have essentially what I’m looking for. Which of your ones above do you recommend for the following needs: I am learning from a textbook with a teacher. Basically I want an app that I can use to build my own vocab list as I go through the textbook, including flashcards of simplified characters with pinyin and definition. I already have a stroke order app, so now I’m looking for one that I can use just to test myself on the words and characters from each chapter of my textbook while I’m not at home with my book and computer.
    Can you recommend one for that?
    Thanks so much.

    1. Perhaps you can try quizlet, but you should create or import the vocabulary list from textbook by yourself.

  5. Thanks to this article for bringing me to Digmandarin! Detail and helpful information
    I think u spent a lot of time to use these apps in order to review all of them. I’m using Hanzii – english to mandarin chinese translator. Very good for beginners because of having pronunciation, examples attached, the English to Chinese translator is also appreciated by many people I can learn both 4 skills with this Chinese app
    So glad to be here and introduce my favorite app

  6. ‘Hack Chinese’ is another great platform to learn Chinese words. It is aimed exclusively at learning characters, it allows you to learn new words effectively and revise the words you’ve already studied. It is built to be used every day and it allows users to track their progress by providing stats on the learning process.

  7. I really like Hello Chinese, but I also use a new app I found on Play Store called Mandaread that a friend recommended. Its very straight-forward, but it helps me review the chinese characters I’ve been learning.

    Love digmandarin! Thanks for all the useful information!

  8. I’m glad to see a comprehensive list of Chinese language learning apps! I’ve been looking for a decent app to help me improve my skills, and will definitely check out a few of the ones on this list. Do you have any personal experience with any of them?

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