Of all the resources at your disposal for learning Chinese, the internet has to be at the top of the list after interaction with native speakers. The sheer number and quality of tools available (vocab lists, flashcards, conversational dialogues, etc) bring the ability to advance your Chinese at lightning quick speed.
I truly believe that with motivation and the tools listed below you can learn Chinese as fast as anyone paying to study in university. And you won’t have to pay a dime for it since the sites listed below are all free.
Without further ado, let’s get straight into the five must-see websites to advance your Chinese:
Site #1: Nciku
Nciku (pronounced “en-tse-koo”) is a free online dictionary that supports English and Chinese. I’ve been personally using Nciku for years and it has been my go-to online dictionary for as long as I’ve known about it. Although there are a ton of sites that offer similar functionality, Nciku stands above the competition with awesome features like:
- Example sentences which show you how your new vocabulary is used correctly in practical sentences
- Handwriting recognition which works even with incorrect stroke order
- Q&A section where your specific Chinese questions are answered by the community
- Vocabulary lists which allow you to create your own list based on words you look up, or browse others’ lists
Every Chinese learner should have an online Chinese-English dictionary bookmarked, and for me Nciku is simply the best.
My Favorite Nciku Resources
Site #2: Pinyin.info
When you’re just getting started, learning Mandarin is intimidating. Regional dialects are confusing, characters are complex and daunting, and correct tonality will seem impossible at first.
It’s absolutely essential that you build a solid foundation by fully understanding pinyin, the romanization of the Chinese language. Some learners choose to get started studying characters from the beginning, but I’ve found that this can in fact hurt your progress if you don’t master pinyin. The best site to do this, unquestionably, is Pinyin.info.
My Favorite Pinyin.info Resources
Site #3: Chinese Hacks
I stumbled upon this blog several months ago and great content like “Retro Video Games in Chinese” have kept me coming back. The site is authored by a foreigner in Taiwan who’s been self publishing tips and tricks on learning Chinese for nearly a year. Much of the content featured on Chinese Hacks is topical and includes a vocabulary list for learning related words in context.
My Favorite Posts on Chinese Hacks
Site #4: HSK Flashcards
The HSK (Hàny? Shu?píng K?oshì) is China’s “national standardized test to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers”. It’s also a giant collection of characters and words you should aim to understand, whether you choose to take the actual HSK examination or not.
While Nciku has a vocabulary list section on their website with various HSK lists, this site is dedicated solely to the task. HSK Flashcards features HSK vocabulary at various levels and includes both simplified and traditional characters and a fantastic interface. For learning HSK vocabulary, it’s tough to best HSK Flashcards.
My Favorite HSK Flashcards Resources
Site #5: Sinosplice
Sinosplice is a site authored by John Pasden, Shangha-based linguist and the Academic Director of ChinesePod. It’s part personal blog and part language aid, but considering the heavyweight credentials that John carries (a decade in China speaking Chinese, a masters in applied linguistics, etc) you’ll do well to check out Sinosplice.
My Favorite Resources on Sinosplice
Of the dozens of websites devoted to learning Chinese, these are five which have helped me along. I’d love to hear what you think on the topic though: what sites are most beneficial to you as you advance your Chinese?