20 June 2016


Learning Chinese is made so much more interesting and easier by the many good apps available today. As learning tools to complement one’s Chinese lessons, these apps are very helpful in providing daily Chinese language inputs, repeating the inputs again and again until learners memorise the materials well, and providing a checking system of how much one has learned. Below is a list of apps that complement Chinese language study well:

1. Intelligent Flashcards: New Practical Chinese Reader

This app accompanies Chinese language courses that use the textbook series New Practical Chinese Reader. It helps learners practice vocabularies learnt in each chapter of the book, from book 1 to book 5.

It is a paid-app that costs $51.99, bundling 5 levels of 60 lessons altogether, a worthwhile investment. It uses a flashcard system that helps learners recall words learnt, very helpful while revising the reading and writing of new Chinese characters. It also contains native speaker sound files for each word. In addition, it contains stroke animation that illustrates how a word is written. Plus, it also tracks learning progress. Suitable for beginner learners.

Chinese language app
Chinese language app

2. Mandarin Chinese by Nemo

A good app for beginner Chinese learners. It allows beginner learners to learn the most basic Chinese expressions, from saying hello to asking where one comes from. It is also handy for travellers who just want to learn some basic expressions.

There are topic specific phrases, such as for shopping, restaurant, or hotel scenarios. However, these options are locked unless you purchase the pack for $14.99.

Moreover, this app allows users to record themselves while saying the words, in order to enable users to listen to their own recording and compare it to the native speaker sound file. However, this function is of limited use as it does not automatically compare the recorded sound against the native speaker sound file and check for its accuracy.

Chinese language app
Chinese language app

3. Memrise

Another useful app for beginner Chinese learners. It has a range of Chinese courses to choose from, especially helpful in revising new vocabularies and learning some new expressions suited to user’s course level, based on HSK or textbook series. It also contains more specific courses, such as Restaurant Survival, Chinese idioms, and Chinese provinces.

For those struggling with remembering the Chinese words, this app provides illustrations that help learners associate the word with a picture.

Chinese language app
Chinese language app

4. Decipher

For continuing learners wishing to improve their reading skill and expand their vocabularies, this app offers daily articles written by Chinese teachers across a variety of Chinese and international news adapted from various newspapers. Users can choose the level of articles from Easy to Advanced. The articles are short so perfect for quick daily reading.

The best part of this app is that the articles contain native-speaker sound files and word meaning (just tap on the unfamiliar words to reveal its meaning and pronunciation), and users can store those new words for revision. However, as the articles are short and simplified, the writing style may be different from actual Chinese newspapers.

Chinese language app
Chinese language app

5. Chairman’s Bao

For advanced learners, this app provides newspaper articles suitable for HSK levels 3 to 6. Like Decipher, the articles are also written by Chinese teachers and are of high quality. There are many technical articles. Some useful features of this app include:

  • Users can select categories that interest them, such as business, science, or social. Users can also sort the articles based on the level of difficulty.
  • Native-speaker sound file that reads the article from start to finish.
  • Just tap on any words that you want to know the meaning of and a pop-up will appear showing the meaning of the word complete with sound file, and the ability to save the word into user’s word bank.
Chinese language app

6. FluentU

For those who learn better through videos and audios, this app is for you. There are 6 levels that users can choose from, from Newbie to Native levels. Users can also choose topics that interest them, such as entertainment, culture, or health. Furthermore, users can also choose formats that interest them most, either commercial, music videos, news, and so on.

The best feature of this app is that it introduces users to 10-20 words in each video or audio and repeats the words via a short quiz to aid retention, testing character recognition, pinyin, word meaning, and sentence structure. When learning is paused, it can be easily resumed without having to start all over again.

As each lesson is short enough, regular learning is easy. Plus, learning progress is tracked and it can be resumed where it is left off. Sourcing from a variety of real-life formats means users can learn how to apply the words and expressions realistically. The app mixes videos from Mainland China and Taiwan, so watch out for the difference.

Chinese language app
Chinese language app

7. HelloTalk

Here’s an app that enables users to learn to speak Chinese with native speakers. Likewise, the app also enables local Chinese to practice their English with you. Users can see a list of fellow users to do a language swap with and contact them to become a language partner or send them a message to start talking. Users can chat via a variety of methods (text, voice messages, voice call, or video call). The app also has a function to correct writing errors. Another convenience is that it has a function to translate written messages from English into Chinese, vice versa, and to pronounce them as well. Users can also edit the app setting in finding language swap partners from location to age.

8. Pleco

Pleco is a dictionary that can be used by beginner Chinese learners and advanced learners alike. To use the app, simply put in the word to search and a list of suggestions appear. The dictionary includes native speaker sound files and some words include examples of sentences in which the word can be applied.

This app contains add-ons such as optical character recogniser that allows users to look up words from images using phone camera, or to look up words by writing for a price of $22.99 and $14.99 respectively. Another useful add-on is their specialised dictionary, such as Cheng & Tsui English-Chinese Business Lexicon for $30.99. Sample is available for download. The only inconvenience is that users cannot search for the word they have in mind, but to scroll down to find the word they are looking for.

Chinese language app
Chinese language app

See also Most Interesting and Useful Chinese Learning Apps for Kids.

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