I wanted to start a thread where we share our favorite study tools/apps/websites. I was inspired to do this since I just recently started using Hack Chinese and I feel like it’s been such a catalyst in my studies, so I’d like to share some of my favorite resources and see if anyone has any resources to recommend! We’re all in this together after all
These are my top four gems (除了LTL) ：
Pleco — I’m sure everyone has this already. It’s a must-have for all Chinese learners out there.
Hack Chinese — I really can’t believe it took me this long to find this tool. It’s an SRS with tons of built-in lists so if you’re using a Chinese textbook, all of your vocab lists are very likely in Hack Chinese already so you can very easily add them to your study stack. The best feature though is how it learns which words you already know and which ones you struggle with, thus giving you a very clear overview of what your vocab arsenal looks like. Also there’s a 50% off promo through LTL that ends in a few days!
Mandarin Companion Graded Readers — These graded readers are seriously life-changing. I used to think that it’d be a while before I could try reading books in Chinese, but their lowest-level readers are written using only 150 basic characters! So even suitable for HSK2 level.
You Can Learn Chinese Podcast — This podcast does not actually teach you Chinese—it teaches you how to learn Chinese. They interview top linguists and people who have been learning Chinese for decades and discuss the science behind learning Chinese. Very interesting and very motivating.
These are definitely my top tools for learning Chinese, and they all work extremely well in conjunction with my LTL classes. Let me know if you have any questions on any of these, and please share your favorite tools as well!
By the way, I’ve been looking for more extensive reading resources, like The Chairman’s Bao and DuChinese. Anyone have experience with either of these apps?
That’s a great and thanks so much for starting this.
For me I am at a very busy work phase at the moment so I don’t have time to study formally. However due to my work I quite often read Mandarin, which does include characters that I don’t know (or used to know and now forgot).
I use Pleco then to study them while looking them up. For me the important thing is to never copy and paste characters I don’t know into Pleco or any other translation software.
What I do instead is a bit strange maybe, but works great for memorization and I do recommend to all our Mandarin students.!
Write the character into the air with my finger while looking at the character once. At the same time I dissect it into its radical parts as that makes it much easier for me to remember.
Close my eyes and write the character into the air without looking at it, using the radicals as a memorization guide. Sometimes have to repeat that several times until I got it.
Go to my phone, open Pleco’s hand writing section (the process takes usually about 10-20 seconds) and write the character there and look it up.
Amazingly quite frequently I will not be able to hand write it there because I already forgot it. I then repeat steps 1-3 until I can.
When looking up several characters this is a lot slower than copy and paste however after it I do actually remember the characters for at least a few days and if I encounter it again a few times during that period that refreshes my memory and I tend to actually remember it long term.
Du Chinese + Hack Chinese for characters.
I’ve actually enjoyed listening to songs in Chinese lately on Spotify and Youtube. I normally always have music on when working so for it’s a nice way to absorb Mandarin as I work passively almost.
I go through phases with apps/tools but Hack and Du are the ones that stuck long term for me.
HSK Online was good for me at one stage and I am vowing to get back into Skritter soon (they have a big update coming and also have Japanese options too).
Hack Chinese as my daily reminder for Chinese. Great!
there a packages from HSK 1 to 5.
I am using chinesimple HSK2. (Don’t mix up with chineasy which looks similar)
I’ve payed once! something like 23 € for the PRO version.
It includes something like skritter !! and has many, many ways to practise and look up characters and radicals. I can practise also to write pinyin with the right tones, play around with sentences and short stories, look up basic grammar.
In the beginning aiming at HSK1 test, I had huge problems to remember tones.
There it is:
for me it was absolutely perfect as a beginner learning on my own only, without a teacher, to remember tones and give some sense to the tones. Each character is divided into its parts, radicals and smaller. Each character has a story about a representative animal for each tone. Each story includes the tone, meaning and sound of the words.
And I am still keeping my now 480 day streak alive in Duolingo switching between all my languages.
Pleco is also great for beginners to test your tones and pronunciation.
The micro works perfect to look up characters if…
Pleco is still a bit overwhelming for me, although I can see that it is perfect.
Up to now I am using LEO mostly as a dictionary, which includes all my languages to German side by side.
Very interesting @Sonja-Mandarin-HSK_3 I never heard of Zizzle App. Is it only up to HSK 1? Has anyone else learned with them so far?
HSK 1 and 2 is covered completely, HSK 3, I don’t know, could be complete, 4 to 6 has been started only. They have started lists for a lot of textbooks as well. It has been a while since the last development and new package of characters. I still use it to look up characters if I mix up the tones or to understand how the characters are built. The HSK1 or 2 includes much, much more than the official list, as you learn all the split up characters, the bits and many involved words and radicals. I am “a reader” and especially love the scripts of languages.
Thank you for starting the thread!! i’m definitely going to check out Mandarin Companion Graded Readers and Chinesimple
As a beginner (HSK 1-2), I wanted to ask if anyone is using ChineseSkill app? it’s a relatively new app and everyone on tiktok recommends it I’ve tried the free version so far, and I like the section with short dialogues for daily life, also different arcade games for character memorization.
Don’t have much to add to everything that’s already been mentioned, but here are two youtube channels i use to learn more:
One of them is How native Chinese write Chinese characters? - YouTube for understanding how native chinese write on paper, since i can barely differentiate the characters written in such a fast way, let alone write myself. this channel is really helpful and introduces some logic behind this fast way of writing
I suppose many people know already about ShuoShuoChinese channel, with a lot of tips for grammar and pronunciation, but i especially love this playlist What I miss about China - Slow and clear Chinese listening HSK3/HSK4 with subtitles - YouTube for practiciing listening (even the videos that say hsk3-4 are ok for beginners because of slow pronunciation and subs!)
Mandarin Companion introduced me to graded readers and the feeling to be able to read a whole page understanding 99% of the content just after a few months of studying Chinese is super gratifying and encourages me to keep learning! Graded readers and Pleco are my main tools along with many people teaching through Youtube.
I’ve been using Chinesefor.us for self study, which was the first recourse I found before LTL classes. They have short videos and quizzes on topics up to HSK3 as well as pronunciation and character practice. I like it so far - it seems quite systematic and comprehensive and I can go over the videos as many times as I want. I’m also using Hack Chinese as many others have mentioned.
This is super interesting - please keep sharing. I started learning Mandarin with a paper dictionary and a Nokia phone in 2002, so this is very useful for me too. I dont know as much about study tools as I should. However, finding an effective way to study Mandarin is super important for progress.
Immersion and good teachers are two obvious topics that apply to pretty much everyone, but how to use which apps best is probably quite an individual choice - and takes a lot of time to get right.
If any of you have a few minutes time, you could start a topic about a specific app you like and write about how you use it, whats good/bad and then everyone can share in that topic regarding that specific app, ask questions etc.? I created one for Hack Chinese, but I don’t use it myself so far, so still hoping for someone else’s experience to be written @Kateryna-Mandarin-Intro @Manuel-Mandarin-HSK_2 @Maria-Mandarin-Intro @Sonja-Mandarin-HSK_3
I use both The Charman’s Bao and DuChinese although not so much with The Chairman’s Bao. Not to knock it, but I prefer DuChinese I’d say they are similar apps but DuChinese has so much more with the pinyin (on/off) switch and the translation if you need it on top. With the Chairman’s Bao I often wondered which part of the sentence gave which part of the translation and so I went to another translate app and came up with a totally different translation - I also sent some questions to support and got a response like “you can submit a question” which left me wondering if there were real people working there or what. It’s probably my fault … If I were stuck on a desert island and had wifi and only that app it’d be better than nothing. I asked a Chinese teacher to look at it and one day was blocked and another day open (What?) The “articles” that it gives you, are maybe not the most interesting i.e. “Elderly Woman Eats Huge amount of Red Dates Annually” (sound interesting?). The articles are pretty small (150 字）and cover HSK 1 to 6. Then they quiz you on the article (how many 斤？What province? How old is she?) and it can “read” the article to you. About $40/Quarter. It also asks grammar questions. Nifty app (android/apple). Chinese culture everywhere - no joke.
I also am reading a kindle graded reader (might be Mandarin Companion). Reading is really rewarding but difficult. By the time I look up the character I forgot where it the chapter (on the page) it was from. Perhaps I just need a more quiet place.
I used www,italki.com as it’s super flexible but teachers vary in ability and $$$. I really like skype (1:1) as they’ve been doing communications way longer than zoom. iTalki also can use qq or weChat or they have their own platform too. Of course you can find some pros or cons to most any app but if you’re shy you might find iTalki teachers too quick to correct your mistakes. （$10-40/小时）
I used fluentu but it’s just videos (lots of videos/movie clips) and it’s pretty cool if videos it your thing。 It gives the pinyin and 汉字 [hàn zì] as well as traditional and simplified Chinese. Do you like watching youtube videos on your PC? Fluentu might suit you. I doesn’t work in China unless you’re a VPN expert or live near HK. This can be a real time waster. They also bombard you with marketing e-mail. Every day expect to get an offer for what they just sold you the day before for less. ($10/月）
I just recently started using Hackchinese and from what I’ve seen in the first few days, it seems like a good supplement for SRS but I’ve only got a few days into it.
I try to give you what I remember the prices are, but prices may vary, they might be having a sale next week. What are YOUR learning goals?
Do you have any Spotify playlist recommendations? I’d love to listen to some Chinese music as well, currently I only listen to classical Chinese music but that doesn’t have any lyrics. Actually, is there an LTL Spotify account we can follow? It’d be fantastic if maybe the teachers could curate a playlist or two, I’m sure many of them have used songs in their lessons before.
Hey Marco - we actually started making Spotify playlists off the back of our Top Chinese Songs blog and it proved to be more popular than we expected. We ended up picking up over 100 followers from this playlist alone.
The link to the Spotify playlist is here
It’s only 12 songs but they are 12 hugely popular songs to know. I think I’ve sung 小苹果 at KTV 100 times over already!
This is a good nudge for us to create some more playlists! Thanks and hope it’s useful.
PS - a song I recently discovered that I loved was You Exist in My Song by Wan Ting. We made a YouTube video for it translating the song to English to use as a study tool. Beautiful song.
Hi Marco! This is Marine from LTL Beijing, I actually created the LTL Spotify myself with several playlists requested by students such as: Traditional Chinese, C-pop, Disney songs in Chinese, rap/hip hop as well as a Study Playlist. This is the link to our Spotify.
It is a work in progress, but what other playlists would you like to see?
Hi Marine, thank you so much!! These playlists look really cool, I will certainly listen! As for playlists I’d like to see, maybe one with trending songs? I’d say songs that are playing on the radio right now, but not sure if the radio is still a thing in China (or anywhere else, really…)
Well I’m not sure about the radio myself! But I can definitely make a playlist with trending Chinese songs, adding that to my list of projects
I use Skritter every single day. By far my favorite daily app.
For learning I prefer Italki. I have found great one on one tutors and teachers and have noticed a big leap in my learning. I have 2 sometimes 3 classes per week.
Lastly I like HelloTalk. A great place to find a language exchange partner.
I have a special spreadsheet for study tools. Here are some of my favorites.
I agree with @Kimberly-Mandarin-HSK_4. Skritter is by far the most useful tool to review characters but also quite expensive (there are other newer alternatives like TofuLearn and Inkstone if that is an issue). If you don’t care about writing at all, Hack Chinese is perfect.
I have originally learned how to memorize characters by following the methods (storytelling and memory palaces) outlined in this book: Learning Chinese Characters. The other tool I use daily is the Outlier Dictionary for Pleco that breaks down each character for you so you can memorize it. Thanks to these strategies (and daily Skritter practice) I’m now able to read at HSK4/5 level.
For reading, my Preply tutor and I have been using HSK Reading. Like others, I also try to read graded readers daily - for HSK4 I highly recommend Journey to the West by Jeff Pepper. There are many other books by this author for all HSK levels and even free audio versions of these books.
If you’re preparing for HSK (or if you just want to improve your grammar), the two best resources I found is the Chinese Grammar Wiki and Chinese Zero to Hero (I purchased the Ultimate bundle and it’s absolutely worth it. They also have a few free courses).
Speechling is great for practicing listening and pronunciation. You can get free feedback on 10 recordings every month. If that’s not enough or you just want an immediate feedback, you can also try this free Pronunciation Training tool written by yours truly. Currently it supports Chinese and Japanese
Last but not least, this is not really a study tool but I use Evernote for anything related to learning Chinese (meeting notes with tutor, homeworks, exercises, daily log etc).