Chinese is a group of languages belonging to the Sino-Tibetan language family that is divided into numerous varieties and dialects that vary greatly. About 1.2 billion people, almost one fifth of the world population, speak a variety of Chinese as their first language. Standard Chinese, which is based on Mandarin (the most common form of Chinese), is the official language in China and Taiwan, as well as an official language in Singapore and of the United Nations.
Chinese is a tonal language, so syllables can have many meanings depending on the intonation used. Mandarin Chinese has 4 tones plus a neutral tone, while other varieties like Cantonese have 6 tones. Pinyin, which is a system that uses the Latin alphabet to spell Mandarin Chinese, can be a valuable tool to help you learn the correct pronunciation of Chinese.
China is a fascinating place with over 5000 years of history. Chinese culture, food, design, literature and architecture have had an immeasurable influence on the world. In addition to the historical and cultural importance of China, it is currently one of the world’s most influential countries from an economic perspective.
Free Resources to Learn Chinese
Free Learning/Studying Apps
LingoDeer – iTunes – Google Play – This app is a fantastic and structured introduction to Chinese, featuring HD audio by native speakers. Users can learn in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Pinyin., and it works offline.
Tinycards – iTunes – Google Play – Tinycards is a free flashcards app, from the creators of Duolingo, which uses spaced repetition and nicely designed “decks” to help you learn anything, including foreign languages. Tinycards uses gamification, like Duolingo, which makes it fun and easy to use.
Memrise – iTunes – Google Play – Memrise is a really fast, fun and free language learning app/website that is sure to get you hooked. There is a visual flashcard component which also incorporates audio from a community of native speakers. Memrise uses spaced repetition and is really effective at drilling vocabulary and phrases into your memory.
Learn Chinese by 50 Languages – iTunes – Google Play – This app is great for beginners (A1-A2) to increase practical vocabulary which is useful for managing everyday situations (at a store, restaurant, bank, doctor, etc). With the free version, you will have access to 30 complete lessons.
Chinese Learn Online: Mandarin Course – iTunes – This is the app version of the very popular Chinese Learn Online podcast course that has helped millions of people.
Standard Mandarin – iTunes – This app aims to help you learn Mandarin Chinese pronunciation and speak like a native speaker, without an accent.
Learn Mandarin Chinese Phrasebook – iTunes – Google Play – This useful app will help you learn Chinese words and sentences with recordings made by native speakers. The free version has 200+ practical phrases.
HelloTalk – iTunes – Google Play – HelloTalk is a global language learning social network that connects you with native speakers of other languages so that you can practice your speaking and listening skills with native speakers via text/audio messages and free audio and video calls. The free version allows you to choose one native language and one target language.
Internet Polyglot – iTunes – Google Play – This free app uses lessons, games and pictures to teach foreign languages to beginners. Although Internet Polyglot is far from a standalone language learning tool, it is a useful supplement to help you to learn and retain vocabulary.
Free Chinese Dictionary/Translation Apps
Chinese English Dictionary & Translator – iTunes – Google Play – This free app works offline and provides detailed definitions, example sentences and pronunciation guidance for Chinese & English words, as well as flashcards for learning.
Google Translate – iTunes – Google Play – Google Translate offers online text translation between 103 languages by typing, offline translation for 59 languages, camera translation for 38 languages, image translation for 37 languages, conversation translation in 32 languages, and translation of handwritten characters in 93 languages. The app also has a phrasebook which allows you to save translated words and phrases for future reference in all languages.
iTranslate – iTunes – Google Play – iTranslate is a leading free translator and dictionary app that provides translations for text in over 100 languages. Other functionality includes transliteration, sharing, favorites, history, and audio in both male and female voices. Voice to voice translations and the use of offline mode is not available with the free version.
The Free Dictionary By Farlex – iTunes – Google Play – This dictionary and thesaurus app provides millions of precise definitions, drawn from the most trusted industry publications and sources, including idioms, slang, and etymology of words. The Free Dictionary works offline and offers additional functionality like voice search, sharing, games, word of the day, and more.
Learn Chinese with ChineseClass101.com – This is a fun and helpful set of videos to add to your regular Mandarin Chinese language learning regimen.
Learn Cantonese with CantoneseClass101.com – This is a fun and helpful set of videos to add to your regular Cantonese Chinese language learning regimen.
Gateway to Chinese Grammar Lessons – The University of Texas at Austin compiled this collection of free video lessons to teach beginner Mandarin Chinese grammar.
Edupedia World – The Edupedia World youTube channel offers a very comprehensive set of free Chinese language video lessons. They currently offer courses in both Mandarin Traditional and Mandarin Simplified.
Mandarin Chinese Radicals – iTunes – This video podcast was created by the Emory College Language Center and it will teach the proper form and stroke order for Chinese radicals and numbers.
Learn Chinese with A-Z Chinese Video Podcasts – iTunes – These lessons are available for 3 levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. The lessons, available either on iTunes as a video podcast or on the A to Z Chinese website, focus on practical conversations and each video features a 1-2 minute conversation between Chinese people.
The Ancients Speak – The underlying theme of these video lessons is to “Learn Chinese from the Wisdom of the Ancients”. Brought to you by Learn Chinese with Kitty, this video series provides instruction on both the Chinese language and culture.
ChinesePodTV – These Chinese video lessons are a must watch. ChinesePod boasts having the largest library of Chinese language learning content online and they do a really great job of consistently adding new, high quality videos.
Learn Chinese with Emma – Learn beginner Chinese with Emma by watching these cheerful videos.
Yoyo Chinese – Learn Chinese from your enthusiastic and experienced teacher, Yangyang Cheng. She teaches Mandarin Chinese from an English speaker’s point of view by referencing English tones to speed up the learning process.
Survival Mandarin – Learn how to get by on your next trip to China by learning the basics of Mandarin from your teacher XiaoQian.
Seven days for Mandarin Pronunciation – Learn all about Chinese pronunciation, tone and Pinyin over the course of this 7 day course from your teacher XiaoQian.
Growing up Chinese – This 100 episode video Chinese learning program was produced by Chinese broadcasting company, CCTV and is aimed at beginners. Hosted by Charlotte MacInnis (a.k.a Ai Hua), each 15 minute episode teaches three common phrases that are introduced in short dramatized skits in addition to featuring content about Chinese culture and history. Growing up Chinese is geared towards teenagers, but is certainly valuable for Chinese learners of all ages.
Easy Chinese – This 24 part beginner Mandarin Chinese language lessons series was broadcast on CCTV during the Beijing Olympic Games. Host Aurora Carlson focuses on teaching short Chinese phrases that are simple to learn and practical for everyday use.
Travel in Chinese – This 100 episode video Chinese learning program was produced by Chinese broadcasting company, CCTV and is aimed at intermediate level learners. This Chinese language learning program hosted by Mark Rowswell (a.k.a Da Shan) touches on travel, food and culture in addition to the Chinese language. Each 15 minute episode teaches key words and phrases to build your conversation skills while also providing in-depth information about the travel destination.
Communicate in Chinese – This 38 episode video Chinese learning program was produced by Chinese broadcasting company, CCTV and is aimed at intermediate level learners. This Chinese language lessons program hosted by Mark Rowswell (a.k.a Da Shan) depicts real-life situations and teaches very useful phrases while providing thorough explanations for sentence structure and such.
Sports Chinese – This 41 episode video Chinese learning program was produced by Chinese broadcasting company, CCTV and is aimed at intermediate level learners. This Chinese language lessons program hosted by Mark Rowswell (a.k.a Da Shan) uses short dramatized skits to introduce sports related dialogue, vocabulary and phrases which is accompanied by analysis and explanation from the host.
Happy Chinese – This video learning program was produced by Chinese broadcasting company, CCTV and is aimed at advanced level learners. It spans 2 seasons and a couple hundred episodes. Season 1: Happy Chinese – Daily Life Chinese and Season 2: Happy Chinese – Tourist Chinese both feature English and Chinese subtitles although the content is all spoken in Chinese.
Understanding Chinese Characters – This YouTube channel is dedicated to sharing information about the history, beauty and complexity of Chinese Characters, created by a polyglot named Vladimir who researches Chinese character history and etymology in his free time.
Easy Languages Chinese – These YouTube videos are the work of a non-profit project which uses lighthearted street interviews as a method to teach languages. Each video has a topic and the host asks questions to native Chinese speakers on the street based on the theme. Each video contains subtitles in both Chinese and English. They offer Easy Mandarin and Easy Cantonese videos.
Learn Mandarin Chinese for Beginners by Mawuood Academy – This YouTube channel offers 113 concise Chinese lessons for beginners.
Beginners’ Chinese by The Open University – iTunes – This thorough beginner Chinese course by the Open University will provide an introduction to Chinese language and culture and give you a great feel for Mandarin Chinese. You will learn vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and transcripts can be downloaded for all episodes.
Learn Mandarin Chinese in Your Car by Henry N. Raymond – This free Spotify podcast teaches fundamental Mandarin Chinese grammar and very practical vocabulary and phrases to beginners.
- Learn Mandarin Chinese in Your Car Level 1 on Spotify
- Learn Mandarin Chinese in Your Car Level 2 on Spotify
- Learn Mandarin Chinese in Your Car Level 3 on Spotify
Chinese Dialogues Podcast – This podcast was created by The University of Texas at Austin to help beginner Chinese language learners improve listening comprehension skills. The 72 dialogues presented in this free podcast are interesting but practical, in that they relate to everyday situations you are likely to experience in a Chinese speaking environment. You can download full transcripts for all dialogues with English translations, and with both traditional and simplified Chinese characters.
Learn Chinese with Spotify – Spotify – This course covers a lot of ground and provides good Chinese instruction with lots of great vocabulary and useful expressions.
Learn Mandarin Chinese by Complete Language Lessons – Spotify – 12 free Mandarin lessons on Spotify.
Learn Cantonese by Complete Language Lessons – Spotify – 10 free Cantonese lessons on Spotify.
One Minute Mandarin Chinese – iTunes – Yep, that’s right, each lesson includes just over a minute of language instruction, so it’s a breeze to fit this into your busy schedule. In this podcast, you will learn Mandarin with Mark and Lin Lin who will teach you the basics to prepare you for an upcoming trip to China. Although you won’t become fluent with the One Minute Chinese program, it is the perfect way to boost your confidence and to help you make a good impression when speaking Chinese on your trip.
Coffee Break Chinese – iTunes – Coffee Break Chinese lessons will be a really convenient and low-stress addition to your free Chinese learning regimen. Created by the Radio Lingua Network, these language lessons can be used by absolute beginners and increase in difficulty as you progress through the program. Your teacher Crystal teaches her student Mark and the listeners in both an entertaining and encouraging way.
Learn Chinese Step by Step: English Chinese Course – Spotify – This free beginner Chinese course on Spotify features 25 lessons covering the basics.
Vocabulearn Mandarin Chinese – This free program on Spotify is divided into three parts, each of which is approximately three hours long and teaches about 2500 vocabulary words and useful phrases.
- Vocabulearn Mandarin Chinese Level 1 on Spotify
- Vocabulearn Mandarin Chinese Level 2 on Spotify
- Vocabulearn Mandarin Chinese Level 3 on Spotify
Rhythmic Mandarin Chinese by The Third Ear – These audio lessons teach key Mandarin Chinese vocabulary and phrases in a way that they say is “guaranteed to stick”.
- Rhythmic Mandarin Chinese Volume 1 on Spotify – 230 Core Words and Phrases.
- Rhythmic Mandarin Chinese Volume 2 (Album 1) and (Album 2) on Spotify – 370 Core Words and Phrases.
- Rhythmic Mandarin Chinese Volume 3 (Album 1) and (Album 2) on Spotify – 350 Core Words and Phrases.
Rhythmic Cantonese by The Third Ear – These audio lessons teach key Cantonese vocabulary and phrases in a way that they say is “guaranteed to stick”.
- Rhythmic Cantonese Volume 1 on Spotify – 230 Core Words and Phrases.
- Rhythmic Cantonese Volume 2 (Album 1) and (Album 2) on Spotify – 350 Core Words and Phrases.
- Rhythmic Cantonese Chinese Volume 3 (Album 1) and (Album 2) on Spotify – 350 Core Words and Phrases.
Learn Chinese For Business Fast & Easy by Language Superstar – Spotify – This podcast on Spotify has many hours of Chinese language instruction spread over 10 lessons.
Chinese SurvivalPhrases – iTunes – These fun and innovative audio lessons teach basic Chinese and are accompanied by PDF guides.
ChinesePod.com – iTunes – This ChinesePod podcast is for “newbies” but they offer access to a collection of free audio and video Chinese lessons from various learning levels on their website. ChinesePod lessons are well organized, taught by enthusiastic teachers and can be studied in any order because they are self-contained. Another free podcast is also available on iTunes which uses discussions of current events and politics in China and Taiwan during 2014 as a way to teach vocabulary and phrases.
Chinese Learn Online: Mandarin Course – iTunes – This is a very popular Mandarin Chinese course that has been downloaded by millions of people.
Learn Chinese – Mandarin Chinese Lessons – iTunes – This easy to follow podcast includes 45 lessons that will teach you Mandarin. Although not a native speaker, your instructor Serge Melnyk holds a Master’s Degree in Chinese Linguistics, spent 17 years in China and his teaching methods are very professional are highly regarded.
Popup Chinese and Popup Cantonese – Popup offers a ton of lessons divided into five levels: Basic, Beginner, Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced. With your free membership, you can access all lessons online.
iMandarinPod – iTunes – Each language learning podcast uses a Chinese cultural topic or current event to teach Chinese. This podcast is recommended for intermediate Chinese learners.
Slow Chinese – iTunes – Slow Chinese is a podcast consisting of personal narratives by native Chinese people, who are not professional teachers, but rather people who want to share authentic Chinese culture with the world. It is read at a slow speed and is a good listening comprehension exercise for language learners who have already acquired Mandarin Chinese language skills.
Learn Chinese with Kitty – iTunes – The host of this free podcast is a Chinese radio broadcaster as well as a professional Chinese teacher who teaches Mandarin Chinese.
Learn Chinese by VisualMandarin – iTunes – This free podcast teaches Chinese in a straightforward way. Visit their website to find more learning materials for beginner through advanced levels. A number of videos, exercises, and quizzes are available for free.
Dimsum Mandarin – Learn Mandarin Chinese – iTunes – This free podcast contains 30 useful lessons taught by a native Chinese speaker and experienced instructor named Chung. The lessons cover Mandarin Chinese words and phrases, and sentences that are practical for everyday living.
John DeFrancis Chinese Series for Seton Hall – John DeFrancis was a well known and respected Chinese language scholar, professor and author. His series of Chinese language textbooks made for Seton Hall University became the gold standard in Chinese language instruction used as a prominent educational resource for decades. Seton Hall has made his original audio recordings (over 100 hours) that accompanied his textbook series available for free by digitizing the original reel tapes and placing them on iTunes.
- John DeFrancis for Seton Hall – Beginning Chinese Textbook – iTunes
- John DeFrancis for Seton Hall – Beginning Chinese Reader – iTunes
- John DeFrancis for Seton Hall – Intermediate Chinese Textbook – iTunes
- John DeFrancis for Seton Hall – Intermediate Chinese Reader – iTunes
- John DeFrancis for Seton Hall – Advanced Chinese Textbook – iTunes
- John DeFrancis for Seton Hall – Advanced Chinese Reader – iTunes
Learn Chinese by Clear Chinese – This is a simple introductory course that includes 15 units, each with a group of lessons containing simple Mandarin words and phrases. All sentences are written in Chinese characters, English and Pinyin, and have corresponding audio in MP3 format.
Learn Chinese Characters by Clear Chinese – This useful Chinese tutorial is geared towards beginners and teaches how to write Chinese characters and find them in a dictionary. Many examples of single characters and compounds will be found throughout this introductory course.
Yep!Chinese – This free website creates bite-sized Chinese lessons through podcasts. Yep!Chinese divides their content into three categories: Learn (core lessons), Discover (extra learning resources) and Explore (latest Chinese news) and organizes all lessons by learning level so it’s easy to jump to content that matches your ability.
Zhongwen Red – This teaching website helps you learn Mandarin with over a hundred free Chinese lessons, which all feature audio by native Chinese speakers and PDF transcripts that can be downloaded.
Colloquial Chinese: The Complete Course for Beginners Book 1 and 2 – This collection of audio files, each a few minutes in length, provides concise and clear Chinese language instruction for beginners. These free audio lessons were made to accompany the Colloquial Chinese: The Complete Course for Beginners textbooks (Book 1 and Book 2), which are aimed at teaching Chinese to beginners in a practical way to prepare them to effectively communicate with confidence in everyday situations.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Courseware – MIT offers a ton of free classes, several of which are in Chinese. Chinese I – VI courses teach modern standard Chinese (Mandarin) and are a great place to start for beginners. If you already have a strong foundation in Chinese, you can move on to a number other free MIT Chinese courses.
- Chinese I – This undergraduate university level course was taught in 2014 at MIT. It covers the basics of the modern standard Chinese (Mandarin) and does not require any prior experience with the language.
- Chinese II – This undergraduate university level course was taught in 2015 at MIT. It builds on the progress made in the Chinese I course and works on developing simple, practical conversations and improve reading and writing skills.
- Chinese III – This undergraduate university level course was taught in 2005 at MIT. It builds on the progress made in the Chinese II course and works on improving conversation, reading and writing skills.
- Chinese IV – This undergraduate university level course was taught in 2006 at MIT, and following Chinese III, it rounds out the four-semester foundational level of the MIT undergraduate Chinese program. Chinese IV will improve upon conversation abilities, reading, listening, writing and grammar skills as well as increase cultural knowledge.
- Chinese V – This undergraduate university level course was taught in 2003 at MIT. This course should be taken following the completion of Chinese IV and focuses on Chinese culture and society, in addition to furthering Chinese language skills, and is taught in Mandarin.
- Chinese Vi – This undergraduate university level course was taught in 2003 at MIT. This course builds on the content of the Chinese V course and is also taught in Mandarin. It continues the study of Chinese culture and society while focusing on reading, discussion, and conversational practice.
OpenLearn Beginners’ Chinese – The Open University is a UK based, online university providing free educational resources. This free Beginners’ Mandarin Chinese course teaches language basics and also touches on Chinese society and culture.
Chinese Courses by the University of Cambridge Language Centre – These free Chinese courses are web-applications developed by the University of Cambridge.
- Basic Chinese Course – This basic level course covers listening and reading skills while incorporating lots of activities to improve speaking and writing.
- Intermediate Chinese Course – This intermediate level course focuses on listening comprehension, grammar and vocabulary expansion. Transcripts for the audio recordings are available in Chinese characters with the option to use Pinyin, and are accompanied by the translation, language notes and comprehension activities.
Real Chinese Course by the BBC – This free Chinese language course features 10 short units that will provide a great introduction to Chinese. Each unit contains a slideshow that introduces key language, provides tips on pronunciation and grammar, includes cultural notes, a challenge and video clips from the Real Chinese series. A user guide, pronunciation guide, and language notes are also available. Play the interactive Chinese language games to learn Chinese tones and characters.
Tsinghua Chinese: Start Talking with 1.3 Billion People – Tsinghua University, a prominent Chinese university, offers this free Chinese language course on edX. The beginner course will teach basic language skills to navigate everyday situations in Mandarin and uses Pinyin (the standard system of romanized spelling for transliterating Chinese) to facilitate learning. This is a self-paced course with a 6-week duration.
Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Standard Chinese – A Modular Approach Resource Module – This module must be studied as a prerequisite to the FSI Chinese Standard Basic Language Course below. It covers pronunciation and romanization, numbers, classroom expression and time and dates. Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 100 pages and 18 audio files with a running time of 6 hours and 33 minutes.
Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Chinese Standard Basic Language Course – This comprehensive beginner Chinese Language Course is divided into 9 core volumes and an additional 6 optional supplementary modules. The Foreign Service Institute (U.S. Department of State) originally created this and many other language learning courses to train government employees and members of the foreign service in preparation for a post abroad.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 1 – Includes 2 e-textbooks in PDF format with 151 pages and 17 audio files with a running time of 5 hours and 24 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 2 – Includes 2 e-textbooks in PDF format with 339 pages and 43 audio files with a running time of 14 hours and 38 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 3 – Includes 2 e-textbooks in PDF format with 207 pages and 33 audio files with a running time of 10 hours and 59 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 4 – Includes 2 e-textbooks in PDF format with 214 pages and 28 audio files with a running time of 8 hours and 53 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 5 – Includes 2 e-textbooks in PDF format with 305 pages and 43 audio files with a running time of 13 hours and 47 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 6 – Includes 2 e-textbooks in PDF format with 292 pages and 43 audio files with a running time of 14 hours and 37 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 7 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 291 pages and 20 audio files with a running time of 6 hours and 42 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 8 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 280 pages and 20 audio files with a running time of 7 hours 5m.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Core Volume 9 – Includes 22 audio files with a running time of 7 hours and 25 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Optional Module 1 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 37 pages and 2 audio files with a running time of 48 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Optional Module 2 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 36 pages and 2 audio files with a running time of 39 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Optional Module 3 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 161 pages and 2 audio files with a running time of 46 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Optional Module 4 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 31 pages and 6 audio files with a running time of 2 hours and 41 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Optional Module 5 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 75 pages and 4 audio files with a running time of 1 hour and 44 minutes.
- FSI Chinese Standard Basic Course – Optional Module 6 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 107 pages and 6 audio files with a running time of 1 hour and 58 minutes.
Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Cantonese Basic Course – The FSI Basic Cantonese Course is a wonderfully thorough and effective Cantonese language course that lays a very solid foundation, preparing students to speak accurately, fluently and with the correct pronunciation. The program is divided into two sections, Volume 1 and Volume 2.
- FSI Cantonese Basic Course Volume 1 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 410 pages and 30 audio files with a running time of 10 hours and 21 minutes.
- FSI Cantonese Basic Course Volume 1 – Includes an e-textbook in PDF format with 412 pages and 15 audio files with a running time of 12 hours and 38 minutes.
Defense Language Institute (DLI) Chinese Language Basic Course – This Chinese language course is part of the language learning program developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a means of training employees for foreign assignments. As a result, a good portion of the material focuses on military-related content, however, on the whole, there is a lot of value for all. Includes e-textbooks in PDF format with 431 pages and 150 audio files with a running time of 45 hours and 19 minutes.
Defense Language Institute (DLI) Chinese Language Intermediate Course – This Chinese language course is part of the language learning program developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a means of training employees for foreign assignments. As a result, a good portion of the material focuses on military-related content, however, on the whole, there is a lot of value for all. Includes e-textbooks in PDF format with 602 pages.
Defense Language Institute (DLI) Chinese Language Advanced Course – This Chinese language course is part of the language learning program developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a means of training employees for foreign assignments. As a result, a good portion of the material focuses on military-related content, however, on the whole, there is a lot of value for all. Includes e-textbooks in PDF format with 132 pages.
Defense Language Institute (DLI) Cantonese Language Basic Course – This Cantonese language course is part of the language learning program developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a means of training employees for foreign assignments. It contains 8 volumes and was designed to train native English language speakers to obtain Level 3 proficiency in comprehension and speaking and Level 2 proficiency in reading and writing Cantonese. Includes e-textbooks in PDF format with pages and 52 audio files with a running time of 29 hours and 48 minutes.
Defense Language Institute (DLI) Cantonese Language Refresher Course – This Cantonese language course is part of the language learning program developed by U.S. Department of Defense as a means of training employees for foreign assignments. This course is intended to be used as a refresher course for those who have completed an intensive Cantonese class and would be considered an intermediate or advanced level course. Includes e-textbooks in PDF format with pages and 64 audio files with a running time of 37 hours and 27 minutes.
Peace Corps Chinese Language Lessons – This language learning material was developed by the United States Peace Corps to train their volunteers prior to sending them around the world on their missions. Includes e-textbook in PDF format with pages and 15 audio files with a running time of 44 minutes.
Chinese In 9 Weeks: Introduction Course on Udemy – This course aims to teach students to start reading and writing, gain a good understanding of the basics of the language and begin to have simple conversations in Mandarin Chinese. This beginner level course features 78 lectures and 3.5 hours of video.
Speaking Chinese like a Native Speaker Fast Course on Udemy – This beginner level Chinese course provides students with the tools to enable them to understand over 58% of daily Chinese conversations and to communicate with a genuine Chinese accent. This course features 27 lectures and 1 hour of video.
Learn Mandarin Chinese Basics with Litao Chinese Course on Udemy – This free mini-course includes four lessons that cover about 100 very basic vocabularies and grammar points. Includes 30 Mandarin Chinese lectures and 42 minutes of video.
WTF Mandarin: Survival Conversational Chinese Course on Udemy – This brief course teaches survival Mandarin Chinese in 40 minutes to absolute beginners. It uses the “WTK (watch-try-flaunt)” approach, meaning “Watch the videos – Try the audio files – Flaunt your Chinese.” Includes 10 Mandarin Chinese lectures and 40 minutes of video.
Marco Polo Mandarin Challenge Course on Udemy – This course requires some basic knowledge of Chinese and covers pronunciation, Chinese characters, grammar, Chinese culture and more. Includes 15 Mandarin Chinese lectures and 1 hour of video.
NCM: Learn Chinese Common Mistakes and Useful Tips on Udemy – This course requires some basic knowledge of Chinese vocabulary and phrases. Its goal is to help you in your language learning journey by teaching you how to avoid common mistakes and providing useful tips. Includes 28 Mandarin Chinese lectures and 40 minutes of video.
BBC Languages: Chinese – The BBC Chinese Language website is a treasure trove of wonderful resources and information. It is high-quality, comprehensive and provides a lot of intelligently presented and produced materials. All BBC language learning pages were “archived” a few years back due to cost-cutting measures, which means they are no longer adding new information or updating the pages. However, you should have no problem accessing the existing information.
Chinese Flashcards – The University of Texas at Austin created this fun flashcard game to make learning and practicing Chinese vocabulary engaging and effective. This fun program has varying difficulty levels and includes English translations, Pinyin and Chinese characters for all words and phrases.
Pitch Perfect Pinyin – This is another fabulous and free Chinese learning resource created by the University of Texas at Austin. Pitch Perfect Pinyin is a two-part interactive website that aims to help beginner Chinese students learn and improve pronunciation, which is a fundamentally important step for beginners. The website is beautifully designed and includes tons of great information on tones and Pinyin with plenty of audio examples and practice exercises.
Chinese Take-In – This fun and free website was created by The University of Texas at Austin as a tool to help beginner level Chinese students improve listening comprehension skills. It provides a ton of interactive, vocabulary building exercises.
Chinese Word Order Exercises – The University of Texas at Austin created this interactive game for Chinese language students to practice word placement and sentence structure.
Cultural Interviews with Chinese-Speaking Professionals by UT Austin – In addition to touching on various cultural issues and business topics, these interviews with Chinese executives provide a variety of examples of natural spoken Chinese, which is helpful to language learners. This free educational resource is brought to you by the University of Texas at Austin.
Chinese Grammar Wiki – The Chinese Grammar Wiki is an extremely thorough and well-organized guide to Chinese grammar which has thousands of articles devoted to comprehensive explanations and examples. This is a very valuable, free resource which is organized by level from beginner (A1, A2), to intermediate (B1, B2) and advanced (C1).
Zhongwen – Learn about Chinese characters.
ChineseTools – This site has a lot of information about China and Chinese language learning resources.
Omniglot – This site specializes in providing information about languages and their alphabets and writing systems.
Pinyin Info – A guide to Pinyin, the official romanization system for Standard Chinese that is used in China.
Hacking Chinese – This website provides hundreds of free articles on the topic of “hacking” Chinese for free, as well as other Chinese language resources.
FanJian Tutorial by University of Californa at Berkeley – This program helps students who only know one form of Chinese character by giving them a way to learn the other form, whether it be traditional or simplified. This is a self-study program with explanations, exercises, and drills which prepare the student to read both traditional and simplified Chinese characters.
LanguageGuide.org – Explore the world of Mandarin Chinese by learning an abundance of vocabulary in a sound integrated, animated guide. After learning the vocabulary you can take part in games to test your comprehension.
Learn101 – This website features free beginner lessons to guide you through learning Chinese, step by step, starting with the Alphabet, moving on to grammar, vocabulary, and phrases, and finally offering simple quizzes to test your progress. These lessons are a basic introduction to the language and have images, text, and audio.
Babadum – A free language learning website that features fun flashcard games to help you brush up on your vocabulary.
Ielanguages.com – This website offers free basic language learning text and audio instruction.
Polly Lingual – This website offers some fun games, exercises and beginner level instruction with lessons that include text and audio.
Goethe Verlag – This website offers 100 Chinese lessons for beginners, each with words, phrases and corresponding audio files.
Chinese Stories by BookBox – Cartoons have always been a wonderful asset to language learning, particularity for children. These animated children’s stories are great because the viewer can read along with the narration, which is shown on-screen as “Same Language Subtitles (SLS).” Each word is highlighted in time with the audio, which helps with comprehension and retention.
First Chinese Words by Oxford University Press – The Oxford First Words book series is a language learning tool for children. This First Words book features over 400 words in Chinese and the interactive online interface allows you to click on the pictures to hear the audio in Chinese along with the English translations. Though this book is intended for children, the fact is that it is a very effective tool for adults to build vocabulary as well.
Digital Dialects – This website makes learning vocabulary fun with interactive games.
Hello World – Hello World has created hundreds of free language learning games and activities that cater to the way children learn best. The goal is to teach languages using cognitive immersion and to keep the process fun in order to increase learning potential. Approximately 1,300 vocabulary words are introduced over 70 different categories.
Loecsen – Loecson offers a free mini-course consisting of fun lessons that provide a basic introduction to Chinese with the help of text, audio, simple illustrations, and quizzes to test your progress. You will learn high-frequency vocabulary words and commonly used phrases relating to 17 themes which are relevant to everyday life.
Ilanguages – This site is designed to teach Mandarin Chinese with free vocabulary, phrases, grammar, and flashcards while focusing on highly used words and phrases necessary for everyday living.
LangHub – This site has several sets of Chinese language lessons with text, audio and video files. LangHub offers beginner, intermediate, advanced, travel, expat and business Indonesian lessons for free.
Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Chinese Tutorials – These Language Survival Kit Modules are available for several Chinese languages and contain basic vocabulary with audio. Both the audio files and the PDF text can be downloaded.
- Wu Chinese Language Survival Kit Module
- Mandarin Chinese Language Survival Kit Module
- Gan Chinese Language Survival Kit Module
- Cantonese Chinese Language Survival Kit Module
I Love Languages Chinese Lessons – This site provides 17 beginner Chinese lessons designed to help you improve your speaking, reading, and writing skills. Supplementary resources include vocabulary, grammar tips, and phrases.
Yellowbridge Chinese Flashcards – This Chinese flashcards site makes a great study aid.
Italki – A community of over 2 million language learners that facilitates free language practice with native speakers. You simply exchange time teaching your native language for time learning a foreign language, making it mutually beneficial and free.
MyLanguageExchange.com – This online language learning community connects you with other learners so that you can practice speaking in your second language with a native speaker and vice-versa.
Lang-8 – This free network is a nice tool to support your language learning. Native speakers are available to make corrections to your text and provide feedback. In return, you provide help to others.
HiNative – iTunes – Google Play – HiNative is an app brought to you by the creators of Lang-8 that allows you to ask questions to native speakers from around the world using your smartphone. HiNative was created to be used alongside Lang-8 and is different from Lang-8 in that it focuses on a Q&A type of learning while Lang-8 is a journal writing experience.
RhinoSpike – RhinoSpike is an interesting website that connects language learners from all over the world allowing them to exchange audio files to help improve pronunciation skills. It allows you to submit text that you would like to hear read aloud by a native speaker, and in turn, you receive the audio file. In exchange, and to speed up the process you can, in turn, provide audio files in your native language for other learners.
United Nations – Live and On Demand news and media from the United Nations.
BBC – The British Broadcasting Company provides news in Chinese.
China Central Television (CCTV) – Watch Live broadcasts from China’s main television network.
Australia Plus – Australia Plus is an International news service brought to you by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) which offers Australian news in Chinese, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesian, English and Tok Pisin.
Google News – Read the world news in Japanese with Google News.
Radio Free Asia News for China – RFA is dedicated to providing reliable and responsible news reporting for countries where accurate and complete news reports are not available. They offer news for China, Tibet, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, always in local languages and dialects.
WordReference – There is no need for a Chinese-English dictionary if you have WordReference. Featuring good translations of words and solid definitions, this site also has helpful forums where Chinese speakers from around the world contribute to explaining subtle nuances or more obscure words.
Forvo – This crowd-sourced site is a great tool to help with pronunciation as it allows you to listen to words and phrases spoken by native speakers.
LearnWithOliver – In addition to a dictionary, this site offers games and flashcards to support your Chinese Language learning.
Bab.La – This “language portal” boasts 44 dictionaries for 28 languages, as well as a wealth of other language learning resources, such as helpful articles, games and quizzes, verb conjugations and phrase books.
Line Dict – This is a trusted dictionary for Chinese / English word and sentence translations.
MDBG – In addition to being a go-to dictionary for schools around the world, this website offers a lot of other resources like flashcards, quizzes and more.
Jukuu – This website functions as a search engine with a database of sample sentence that yields results in both English and Chinese.
Tatoeba – Tatoeba is a large, crowdsourced database of sentences and translations. This free resource allows you to search for a word and get results showing that word in sentences with translations.
Talkify – This free, multilingual website is a very interesting and valuable resource that allows you to listen to text in foreign languages. Simply insert a URL into the search field on Talkify and it will automatically detect the language and read the text of that website aloud in a natural sounding voice.
Transparent – Free online language level testing is offered by this language learning software company.
Sprachcaffe – One of Europe’s leading language school organizations, Sprachcaffe offers free online language level testing.
Goethe Verlag – Free tests in 25 languages and 600 language combinations. You will find 200 Chinese vocabulary tests.
What Are Your Favorite Free Chinese Language Learning Resources?
We have done a lot of research to bring you the best, free resources that the internet has to offer and we want to make sure our list is always comprehensive. Please share your favorites in the comments below!