Many of you thinking about coming to China have probably not studied Chinese a single day in your life! And that's perfectly fine. Many of China's cities have been dubbed English-friendly and many foreigners get about their daily lives with minimal barriers when it comes to getting what they want.
But of course, it never hurts to have a little Chinese under your belt for those difficult situations that may crop up. Or you could find yourself in the Chinese rural countryside where English is a lot harder to come across. The best way to engage yourself in a new language in your free time and on the go.
You may have previously thought of picking up Mandarin only to end up doing it semi-seriously and letting it trickle out. This happens to the best of us. But, as technology and our understanding of how our brain absorbs information progresses, learning and language apps are only getting better and more innovative. We have looked into different Mandarin learning apps available on both the Apple Store and the Play Store.
This app is available on both Apple and Android devices. Users tend to praise how the app has helped them in terms of vocabulary. If vocabulary is a struggle for you, look no further. Chinese vocab tends to stump even the most senior polyglots. More than just memorising a word and its meaning, you are usually memorising a tone, a collection of lines and its placement in a sentence.
Anki is by nature a flashcard app that can be used for any subject under the sun. However, it is revered amongst language learning circles for for a while. Its easy to use and utilises active recall testing, that is being asked a question and trying to remember the answer.
Anki is the most popular SRS based software to study using flashcards and probably one of the best apps to review your lessons or/and learn new words. With Anki you can create your customized decks or download decks from the public database. At the time I’m writing this article there are nearly eight hundred decks to study Chinese (and you can download all of them for free). I’m sure you can find one that suit you!
2. The Chairman's Bao
Want to improve your reading skill? The Chairman's Bao application is the one to turn to. With a nice design on both iOS and Android phones and devices, this app is certainly easy on the eye. And it has to be. It provides articles with different difficulties and adheres to your HSK vocab level in order to get you reading Chinese characters faster and more smoothly.
An interactive dictionary and the ability to write the characters you learn on the screen allows for you to constantly refer to this app in order to expand your vocabulary and check for gaps in your knowledge.
TCB is an online newspaper that has been simplified for people learning Mandarin. The newspaper publishes news on very diverse subjects which are written in Mandarin by native Chinese professors using the HSK vocabulary list.
FluentU is without a doubt one of the best Chinese learning courses that exists on the market. The main goal of FluentU is to improve your language level through immersion in the language. To do this, they have designed a learning system whose main learning material is a selection of videos with subtitles adapted to all language competency levels.
FluentU developed a perfect app to complement its study program. The app used to be only available to iOS users, but has now branched out to accommodate android users too.
The app does however require a subscription - but it comes highly recommended and if you are serious, it is barey considered a waste of money.
4. Chinese Pod
Chinese Pod is one of the oldest platforms for learning Chinese, and has recently developed an app that allows you to follow their study program regardless of where you are. Its system is based on high-quality podcastst.
The app offers all of the services of the platform, which includes videos and podcasts organised by levels as well as supporting materials such as review exercises for lessons and flashcards with personalised vocabulary lists. The big advantage of the app is that you can download all of the content so that you can use the app even without an Internet connection.
This app will cost you a subscription fee to access all its amazing and informative podcasts and programs. However, with the addition of an app, Chinese Pod is easily considered a worthy investment.
Skitter is the perfect app for practising your writing skill. Many people learning Chinese, especially on devices, don't often see any point in this. The only time you will see the need to write in Chinese characters will probably be when you're typing a text or email. So why bother learn the strokes? However, learning a language without writing it is like learning to ride a unicycle. It can be done, but you'll always be a little awkward and slow compared to those on two wheels.
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