Chinese characters

The Ultimate List of Resources for Learning Mandarin Chinese

ElzetteAugust 25, 2020

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Learning Mandarin Chinese? Get started with this comprehensive list of resources.

Online courses

Chinese Zero to HeroChinese Zero to Hero provides comprehensive video courses based on the HSK standard course curriculum.

ChinesePodOne of the most popular Mandarin Chinese courses out there, ChinesePod offers situational video lessons, audio lessons, an interactive dictionary and a ‘Say it right’ series to help with correct pronunciation.

Yoyo ChineseYoyo Chinese offers 6 structured 6-month courses to take you from beginner to conversational fluency. This includes beginner to advanced conversational courses and character courses to help you start reading in Mandarin Chinese.

Chinese Class 101ChineseClass101 offers a big library of Mandarin Chinese audio and video lessons. You can access some lessons for free, but a Premium account unlocks useful extras like line-by-line audio dialogue, quizzes and spaced repetition flashcards. A Premium Plus account gets you 1-on-1 access to a teacher and a personalized learning program.

DigMandarinDigMandarin offers a range of Mandarin courses, including courses focused on HSK test training, vocabulary and grammar. There are also a lot of free resources to explore on the site.

Mandarin BlueprintThis video curriculum is made up of 6 unique phases that build on one another, including pronunciation, character building, vocabulary building, sentence building, paragraph building and story building. You can choose between a monthly and annual subscription after a 7-day free trial. The course is designed for absolute beginners and promises to take you through to a HSK 4 pass level.

edXedX offers a variety of free Mandarin courses with the option of adding a verified certificate for a fee.

Rosetta StoneRosetta Stone is a very popular, well-established language learning tool. The 12-month and longer subscriptions include access to unlimited languages, which is really useful if you are learning more than one language.

Living Language –  Living Language is a well-known name in language learning. This multimedia Mandarin course is great for language learning on the go. It includes 9 audio CDs, 4 books and access to online resources such as flashcards, games and interactive quizzes.

FluentULearn with authentic, engaging Mandarin Chinese videos. Interactive captions allow you to learn new words in context. FluentU is subscription-based but offers a free 14-day trial.

ChineseFor.UsChineseFor.Us offers classroom style video lessons for a structured learning approach. The site offers some free lessons with a Premium subscription unlocking all content.

CudooOffers a comprehensive Chinese Mandarin language bundle. 


Chinese Grammar WikiProbably the most comprehensive online resource for Chinese grammar out there. The best thing? It’s free. Also available in print and Kindle

Schaum’s Outline of Chinese Grammar A great supplementary resource to use alongside your textbook.

Basic Patterns of Chinese GrammarA good reference guide to key Chinese grammatical concepts and common errors.

Yufa! A Practical Guide to Mandarin Chinese Grammar This book offers an overview of the major concepts of Chinese grammar. It is divided into 2 sections: core structures and practical uses. It also includes exercises to help you practice the concepts introduced.


Below are some of the most commonly used Chinese Mandarin textbooks. The most appropriate textbook will depend on your level, your goals and often your teacher or course instructor’s preference. 

For tips on how to choose the best language textbook, check out this article.

HSK standard course textbooks and workbooks

New Practical Chinese Reader

Boya Chinese 

Integrated Chinese

Kuaile Hanyu


The Chairman’s Bao –  A comprehensive news-based graded reader for students of Chinese. The Chairman’s Bao is subscription-based, but one sample lesson per HSK level is unlocked if you would like a trial first.

Chinese Reader’s GuildThis site offers graded Chinese reading material in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese. The articles include audio recordings and English translations. Chinese Reader’s Guild is free to use for a limited number of articles. A premium subscription unlocks all reading material.

Mandarin Companion Improve your Chinese reading skills with graded readers. The series includes familiar classics such as Emma, Great Expectations and The Secret Garden as well as some original stories.

Chinese BreezeGraded Chinese readers currently available in 4 levels. The website has not yet been updated with level 4 books, but I have spotted some on Amazon here.

Du ChineseA Chinese reading app supported by audio, a look-up dictionary and English translation. Lessons range from Newbie to Advanced.

Decipher ChineseThis app offers graded Chinese news articles. It’s free with limited access, but you can also sign up for a monthly subscription to access all content.

Chinese Reading PracticeGraded articles with Pinyin, pop-up translations and English translations. Article levels range from beginner to advanced.

HSK ReadingPractice reading with free HSK-based Chinese articles. You’ll find articles from HSK level 1 to 6.

Pleco graded readers Pleco offers paid add-ons for a selection of graded readers and abridged versions of some classic works of Chinese literature.

Mandarin BeanOffers Mandarin Chinese reading materials for  HSK 1 -6. All lessons are free to access and there are a lot of useful features such as audio recordings and downloadable transcripts, as well as the ability to toggle Pinyin support on or off and switch between Traditional and Simplified characters.

Chinese Short Stories for BeginnersA collection of 20 easy-to-read Chinese short stories for beginners. The stories include Pinyin support and English translation below each paragraph.

11 Chinese Short StoriesA collection of 11 simple short stories for beginner Chinese learners.

Online tutoring

ItalkiAn affordable online tutoring platform that connects students with language teachers. 

RypeBook 1-on-1 lessons with professional language teachers. You can start off with a free 7-day trial.

Preply – Find native speakers and certified private tutors.

FluentCityOffers Beginner Chinese group courses and private online tuition for more advanced levels.

Instant Mandarin – Offers 1-to-1 live online Chinese lessons.

Learn Chinese Online


PlecoA must-have Chinese dictionary app with flashcards, OCR look-up, graded readers, a document reader and more.

LINEA free online dictionary with LINE messenger

MDBG MDBG is a free online English to Chinese dictionary that also offers other useful tools such as flashcards, quizzes, text annotation and Chinese text input.

Mandarin SpotA free Chinese dictionary and annotation tool.

YellowBridge – Offers an online dictionary as well as other tools such as memory games and flashcards.

Writing practice

SkritterA subscription-based character-learning app that helps you learn Chinese and Japanese characters. Handwriting recognition allows you to trace out characters with your fingers and get real-time grading. If you have a ChinesePod subscription, you can import your ChinesePod vocabulary to practice in Skritter.

Exercise Book For Writing Chinese Characters: Tian Zi Ge –  A notebook with standard “Tian Zi Ge” paper for practicing Chinese writing. 100 pages, each page has 10×14 squares/page.

HiNativeHiNative is a global Q&A platform for language learners. You can connect with native speakers from around the world and have your writing and pronunciation corrected.

Mandarin Chinese Characters (Collins Easy Learning)This book introduces the most common 250 Chinese characters and includes practice grids to help you learn how to write them correctly.

Tuttle’s The First 100 Chinese Characters  – A character book for beginner students that introduces the first 100 characters. Includes step-by-step stroke order diagrams and special boxes with grid lines to help you practice writing them correctly.


NinChaneseA gamified learning platform based on the HSK 1-5 curriculum.

HelloChineseA gamified app for absolute beginners.

LingoDeerLingoDeer focuses on grammar alongside vocabulary for a holistic learning approach to language learning.

Drops – Learn vocabulary through word games with mnemonic associations.

MemriseA gamified flashcard app that uses spaced repetition to help you remember vocabulary. While you can sign up for a premium subscription, you’ll also find a lot of content for free on the app.


AnkiA spaced repetition flashcard program. Anki is very flexible and cards can include text, images, sounds, videos, and LaTeX equations. Anki is free for web and Android, but the iOS version is paid ($25).

QuizletQuizlet is a free flashcard app. You can create your own flashcards or access user-created content.

VocAppA flashcard app that uses spaced repetition and multi-sensory input to help you learn vocabulary in your target language. Read a full review here.

Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 1: HSK Levels 1 & 2Master HSK 1 -2 vocabulary with 349 hole-punched flashcards on an organizing ring. Includes audio recordings and a study booklet.

Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 2: HSK Levels 3 & 4The second volume of the Chinese Flash Cards Kit includes a set of 273 flashcards to help you learn 1,360 intermediate-level words and sentences. 

Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 3: HSK Upper Intermediate LevelThe third volume of the Chinese Flash Cards kit introduces a further 448 characters and audio recordings of 2,240+ example words and sentences.

HSK vocabulary

HSK Vocabulary (汉语水平考试词汇表)A useful HSK vocabulary app (iOS). HSK level 1 is free, thereafter you’ll pay $0.99 per level or $2.99 for the bundle. There are many similar apps available on Android if you do a quick search in the store.

HSK 1-6 Full Vocabulary GuideThis vocabulary guide contains all 5000 HSK vocabularies grouped by level from HSK 1-6. It includes Pinyin and English translation. 

HSK Academy – A useful online resource for HSK test preparation. Here you’ll find vocabulary lists by HSK level, quizzes, practice tests and more.

Books about language learning

Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World, Benny LewisPolyglot Benny Lewis shares his secrets to fast language learning.

Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It, Gabriel WynerGabriel Wyner shares techniques that will rewire your brain to learn new languages more easily.

YouTube channels

Learn Chinese With EmmaEmma Xue shares fun Chinese lessons, recommendations and Chinese vlogs.

Chinese Buddy Learn Chinese with catchy songs.

Mandarin Corner This channel offers plenty of Mandarin learning resources, including HSK vocabulary.

Mandarin HQAngel Huang shares short videos to help you learn real spoken Chinese.

Fluent in Mandarin Chris Parker shares tips and lessons for learning Mandarin and Cantonese on his channel.

Steve KaufmannSteve Kaufmann is the founder of LinQ. His channel is full of useful language learning tips and discussions.

Chinese audiobooks

Find a selection of Chinese audiobooks available on Audible here.


VikiA fantastic resource to watch dramas from Mainland China and Taiwan for free. You can pay for a subscription to watch ad-free. You’ll also find Korean and Japanese content on Viki.

Netflix – Netflix has a good selection of content from Mainland China and Taiwan.

This article has some good information on where to watch Chinese television series online.


Melnyks ChineseThis podcast features situational Chinese audio lessons by host Serge Melnyk.

Coffee Break ChineseThis audio podcast follows Chinese learner Mark as he gets to grips with learning Mandarin with the help of his teacher, Crystal.

Two White Chicks in China –  Hosts Hollie and Nora answer your questions about living and working in China in this podcast series.

iMandarinPodGreat for Intermediate to Advanced learners. This podcast introduces topics around Chinese culture.

You Can Learn Chinese PodcastJared Turner and John Pasden of Mandarin Companion discuss how to teach yourself Mandarin.

Chrome extensions

Language Learning with NetflixA Chrome extension that allows you to watch Netflix with 2 subtitles on at the same time. 

Zhongwen: Chinese-English DictionaryA pop-up Chinese dictionary that supports integration with Skritter and includes links to the Chinese Grammar Wiki.

Standardized tests

Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (HSK; 汉语水平考试)The HSK is China’s standardized test of Standard Chinese language proficiency for non-native speakers. There are currently 6 levels, although a plan to add an additional 3 levels has been announced in 2020.

The Test Of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL)The Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL) is Taiwan’s national standardized test of language proficiency for non-native speakers.


Confucius Institute – Contact your local Confucius Institute (usually associated with a university) to see what Chinese language and cultural courses they have on offer.

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Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese

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