Learn Chinese Like an American Diplomat - For Free

2015 update: Unfortunately, this has come to an end, and the U.S. Foreign Service Institute has shut down its site. This was brought to my attention by Andrew from Remember.it Chinese, which is a resource worth checking out, along with the links for learning Chinese you’ll find on our Series page.

The U.S. Foreign Service Institute teaches foreign languages to government diplomats and foreign personnel – and its courses are now available online for free download. Chinese is just one of the 41 languages offered and the material comes in the form of  audio, text, and tests to evaluate your progress.

In the words of the FSI:
This course is designed to give a practical command of spoken Standard Chinese. Nine situational modules form the core of the course. Each core module consists of tapes, a student textbook, and a workbook. In addition to the core modules, there is a resource module and eight optional modules.
FSIThe amount of content for languages offered varies, but the offering for Mandarin is significant, including several days worth of MP3 lessons. The texts come in the form of PDF files, which make for easy viewing on whatever platform you prefer, be it Windows, OSX, iPhone, or the recently released iPad (which would be perfect for this use).
Count this as another option in the growing pool of free Chinese language-learning resources. Since the material available focuses mostly on spoken Chinese and situation dialogue (as opposed to reading and writing), it might make a better compliment than replacement to your current study techniques.


FSI money module

3 thoughts on “Learn Chinese Like an American Diplomat - For Free”

  1. I used the FSI modules to learn Cantonese while living in Guangzhou, and for some picking up some Portuguese as well. They’re useful for listening, but the topics are super dated. The Mandarin courses make for a fun throwback to a time when Chinese people were still talking about the Tangshan Earthquake and who was marrying into which state-owned factory families, where the work-units assigned the best housing.

    • Right, evidently the recording pre-1989 are public domain and hold no copyright. I already put some of these situational dialogue mp3’s onto my iPad. I’ve listened to too much Chinesepod – it’s good to switch to something else.


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