to Learn Mandarin
There are literally thousands of websites out there dedicated to teaching you Mandarin, but which ones are actually worth your time? Which ones can helps you really improve your language skills and what elements of the Chinese language do they focus on?
For the purpose of this article we've only included free websites and have left out the obvious ones like YouTube or indeed LingoClass.co.uk!
5. BBC Languages - Chinese
- Easy to follow video content
- interesting approach to teaching
- Mostly targeted at beginners
- Limited amount of content
The BBC is a recognised institution in the UK and in many other countries. Anyone who has taken GCSE exams will more than likely be familiar with BBC Bitesize, their answer to helping students study for exams in a logical and easily digestible way.
BBC languages aims to take the same approach to teaching language, in this case Mandarin. For the most part this is a very useful tool and despite it's limited amount of content, it does present a very effective way to learn Mandarin online for free.
The site itself contains basic lessons on how to read and write and learn useful phrases as well as Chinese news and entertainment. One of the most notable things about the BBC site is that it actually has a whole area dedicated to teaching children in a fun and engaging way so anyone wanting to start their children on the Mandarin learning path would be well advised to take a look and see what they find. Further content includes translated TV manuscripts and mini courses.
4. Hacking Chinese
- Lots of content
- Good advice from other learners
- Caters to all levels
- More advice than learning content
- Some elements require payment
Hacking Chinese is a great little website dedicated to helping students of all levels improve their Mandarin speaking, listening, reading and writing for free!
While this is no easy task, Hacking Chinese takes a clever approach in the form of detailed articles dedicated to very specific elements of language learning. For example, you can find long, informative articles on the radicals in Chinese characters or the common sounds that are mispronounced by non-native Chinese speakers. All levels are catered for and broadly speaking, there is something for everyone; if you look hard enough you'll almost certainly be able to find something that targets the language elements you want to improve.
Another strength of Hacking Chinese is it's network of students who often feedback through channels such as Facebook and Twitter, giving advice to new learners and forming a helpful community of likeminded people. There's also a rather helpful newsletter you can sign up to that provides regular tips and tricks for learning Mandarin.
3. Website 3
- Lots of detail in their method
- Well explained
- Content organised according to HSK
- Structure is difficult to follow
- Focuses heavily on grammar
Chineseboost is a great website for learning Mandarin. It originally started as a blog for Chinese learners but developed its own learning resource section to help students improve their language skills.
The content on offer is all free and for the most part very informative. It includes a lot of detail and can be organised according to different character sets, ability levels or by HSK exams. Once you start exploring, there is no end to what you can find, with lessons targeted at learners from HSK1 to HSK6!
The only drawback of the system is its structure, which can be slightly confusing. Where other sites have a logical progression from one lesson to the next, this one makes it very easy to get lost down a rabbit hole of Mandarin learning. But hey, maybe that's not such a bad thing after all!
2. China Edu Centre
- Structured lesson content
- Excellent value for a free site
- Perfect for beginners
- Targeted at beginner learners
China Edu Centre is designed to teach Mandarin students using structured lesson content. Of all the sites out there that do this, this is one of the most useful, and best part is it's completely free!
Beginners will find helpful lessons on various topics such as greeting, ordering food and the importance of pinyin. Each short lesson is complete with essential phrases, including pinyin and Chinese characters. Audio examples are also used and a discussion of related vocabulary is detailed at the end.
While beginners and lower intermediate learners will undoubtedly find this site useful, more advanced learners would be advised to search for more challenging content, perhaps using a paid service such as one of the apps detailed here.
1. Chinese Grammar Wiki
- Clear, easy to follow content
- Well structured
- English explanations are excellent
- Focuses only on grammar
Chinese Grammar Wiki is, in our opinion, one of the best websites out there for learning Chinese online. Not only does it very clearly explain often overlooked elements of the Chinese language, it does so in an engaging way that actually makes the lessons easy to apply in real life.
Grammar is often the stuff of textbooks, unexciting and not essential for communication. However, when explored and mastered properly, it can really help students to sound more natural in their speech and improves their comprehension greatly.
The website itself is almost listlike in its format, with a clear hierarchy of content split into different difficulty levels. As such it's very easy to progress through and even more advanced students are likely to learn something useful at the lower levels (this goes back to this content often being overlooked).
We recommend you start at the beginning and work your way through, whatever level you are. If you get to the end there is also a book created by the same people who run the site. The fun never stops!
Now you have some great websites to help you learn Mandarin in your spare time, why not further improve by booking some classes with one of our Mandarin teachers?
We offer both private and group classes for all levels and will be happy to help you find the best way for you to study. We hope to see you soon!