The 4 Free Essential Apps for Learning Mandarin

Learning Chinese as a second language is one of the hardest things anyone could do. With the internet saturated with competing language learning apps, finding the most effective ones will take time. We have talked with expats of Wuhan and have reduced the hundreds of available apps to the best 4.

0

As with any other language, fluent Chinese will will only come with conversations with native speakers. But if you would like some relief from the harsh Wuhanese, and still keep fresh with your Mandarin – look no further than your mobile. These 4 apps can be used daily, and will enable you to: build your vocabulary, work on your tones, look up some grammar points and listen to some Chinese music. All at your own pace!

Each app is available for free on Android and IOS.

#1 Hello Chinese

For absolute beginners. This APP guides you through your first few Chinese words. It promises “fluency in 3 months”, which is a little bit hopeful, but nonetheless it provides the foundations.

Key Points:

  • It introduces the idea of tones and pinyin in a comprehensive and easily used table.
  • Each pinyin comes with a prerecording that can be replayed on command.
  • It has somewhat accurate speaking exercises
  • The questions and activities are very simplistic

#2 Pleco

Almost every expat in China has heard of Pleco. It’s offline dictionary is essential for travelling, studying and conversing.

Key Points:

  • It can immediately provide the pronunciation and conclusive definition of over 10,000 Chinese characters.
  • Additional Pleco features (such as stroke order guidelines, OCR systems and brief etymology) can be purchased.
  • Pleco offers comprehensive flashcards from HSK levels 1-6 (as an additional purchase)
  • It’s example sentences are not very useful in colloquial Chinese.

#3 Quizlet

The best app for vocabulary building.

Key Points:

  • Quizlet’s main edge is that study sets can be created on a laptop – much more quickly than you could otherwise do on your phone.
  • Quizlet reminds you when you need to revise terms at strategic times, so that your long term vocabulary is forever being built upon.
  • Pictures and any other visual aids can be used as well. (Useful for remembering names.)

#4 QQMusic

China’s music app. Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and any other audio streaming app is blown out of the water by QQMusic.

Key Points:

  • There is no English version of the app. However with patience (and Pleco) this can be worked around.
  • It is free to listen to download music for offline listening.
  • It’s music selection is actually more in depth than Spotify.
  • Most songs are accompanied by Chinese and English lyrics. Thus it is an immensely useful learning app; it can bolster your listening and comprehension skills. All while you discover more Chinese music, and by extension, Chinese culture.