15 smartphone apps to teach yourself Chinese
Learning a new language is never easy, but Chinese can be one of the hardest for English speakers to master as it requires not only learning to speak a new language but also to read and write using an entirely different set of characters. Learners don’t have to go it alone, however. As the popularity of learning Mandarin has exploded over the past few years, so have the number of helpful resources catered to language learners that can aid in studying, learning, and practicing key language skills. Even better, many of these resources are available over a smartphone, making it possible to learn at any time and from anywhere and often at no or a very low cost. Here we highlight just a few of the best Chinese language learning apps out there today, offering language learners the chance to use flashcards, look up words, draw characters, and practice vocab on-the-go.
Pleco is one of the best Chinese dictionaries currently on the market and, amazingly, it’s also free. Through the app, language learners can look up words, read documents, practice with flashcards, and even get help with writing Chinese characters.
Expose yourself to Chinese language news programs, music, and more through this great app that connects you via iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android to some of the top U.S.-based Mandarin radio stations.
WCC Chinese Flashcards with Audio:
Practice learning Chinese bigrams (two-character combination words) with flashcards and audio support that will boost both your spoken and written Chinese. Currently the app offers access to more than 20,587 bigrams, with audio that showcases a variety of different pronunciations.
Learning to read and write Chinese characters can be challenging, but apps like this one can help. Chinese Writer uses a game-like format to challenge users to quickly draw characters. At present, the app offers access to more than 5,300 simplified and traditional characters, each with English explanations and proper pronunciation.
Chinese Vocab Free:
For beginning language learners, mastering basic vocabulary is essential. This app is an excellent way to do just that, presenting thousands of words that users have to correctly translate into one language or the other.
Shi Zi is an excellent tool to help students of Mandarin learn to read Chinese characters. To aid in memorization, the app displays the characters next to shapes of the physical objects they represent, organizes them into related groups, and tests users time and time again to reinforce learning.
Play & Learn Chinese:
Want to make learning Chinese a little more fun? This app can help, turning language lessons into fun games that will help you build vocabulary and memorize basic phrases.
Using Pinyin, this app will help learners more easily understand the meaning of Chinese words and characters as well offering the correct pronunciation for thousands of tricky characters.
This dictionary and flashcards from Trainchinese can be an invaluable resource for language learning, as they make it possible to easily bring vocabulary study with you anywhere you go.
This award-winning software is a must-have for language learners attempting to master Mandarin. It offers over 2,100 vocab words, a basic dictionary, flashcards, study planning, several different practice modes, and stats on your progress.
This game allows you to save the world (virtually, anyway) while you practice Chinese vocabulary, pronunciation, and reading.
Laokang Tone Test:
Correct pronunciation is very important in Mandarin, as many words can have vastly differing meanings based on inflection and pronunciation. This application lets you practice speaking, comparing your pronunciations against correct examples.
My Chinese Coach:
Test yourself, play games, look up words, and much more through this user-friendly program.
Join ChinesePod online, download the app to your phone, and get started on tackling thousands of lessons for learning Mandarin. ChinesePod also includes course management and testing tools to ensure you stay on track throughout the learning process.
If you need to review your language lessons, Fuxi can be a big help. The application organizes your vocabulary words into sets, creating a system that keeps you practicing the right words every day through flashcards and quizzes