Chinese is now the fastest growing language for second language learners, consequently there has been some really incredible learning apps developed for Chinese. Here is a list of 5 can’t-do-without Chinese learning apps. I still highly recommend that language learners consider formal education, learning Chinese is a journey and often requires personal guidance. That being said these apps are a great place to get started, awesome supplements and good way to maintain your Chinese between semesters.
1. MEMRISE, IOS and Android, Free
First on the list is Memrise. This is an awesome app for learners of all levels and introduces words in a very clever way. For each new word and character it introduces several mnemonic devices to help you remember the character, definition, tone and pronunciation. The program builds on itself, first you will learn the radicals that make up Chinese characters, than single character words, and then words made up of the multiple characters. Learning radicals is very important, it has been shown that students that memorize radicals first have a much easier time remembering new characters and words after. Lastly it uses adaptive teaching methods, so you review the words you struggle with more often than the words you learn easily. There are over 100 courses in Chinese, some better than others, from personal experience I can say there are great options for Survival Chinese, HSK of all levels, and courses on specific tasks such as menu reading.
2. PLECO, IOS and Android, Free to $79.99
From what I’ve seen this is the very best Digital Chinese to English dictionary and is totally indispensable for any language learner or expat living in China. The free version comes loaded, including hand writing input, flash cards and audio for pronunciation. You can choose to add-on several features and extra dictionaries individually or as packages. These include live translations with your phone’s camera, a document translator and stroke order diagrams.
3. QUIZLET, IOS and Android, Free
This is a classic and useful for students of any level for nearly any subject. There is a great way to turn Quizlet into powerful Chinese writing learning software. You can create or download one of the many flash card packs with Chinese characters, then test yourself using the Chinese hand writing input on your phone. This is the best resource I’ve found for testing your ability to write characters from memory and is very customizable.
4. CHINESE SKILL, IOS and Android, Free
Do you love immersion learning software like Duo Lingo and Rosetta Stone? Unfortunately Rosetta Stone costs an arm and a leg and Duo Lingo doesn’t support Chinese. This app is very similar to those programs and does a great job teaching introductory Chinese. Chinese Skill uses a variety of techniques that incorporate writing, tones, reading, listening and speaking.
5. FluentU, IOS, 8$ to $18 per month
This is the one app on the list that I haven’t used, but looks seriously cool. The downside is the pay wall, there is some limited free content, but the bulk of it needs to be paid for. FluentU takes their content straight from pop culture on the web, including viral videos, news articles and music. It ranks it by level and turns the them into teaching tools, providing realtime translations with videos, quizzes based on the content and flashcards. It also includes traditional lectures, and is coming to Android soon!
There you have it, my very favorite Chinese learning apps. There is more than one on this list that I find essential for my personal learning. If you are serious about taking your Chinese to the next level, come talk to us at the Confucius Institute. We have tons of classes at all levels, great instructors all of whom are native speakers, and lots of traditional resources in our library.