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Resource questions are sometimes closed and redirected to Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese, but the number of links is a bit overwhelming. So...

Q: What resources do you actively use to study Chinese, and why?

I ask the community to describe the tools they actually use for learning Chinese, and explain how they use them.

  • Please indicate your Chinese level.
  • Please don't include anything you don't actually use, i.e., quality control.
  • Please don't copy/paste from the links (i.e., explain how you use it; don't just repeat advertisements), i.e., quality control.
  • Please ignore other answers when writing your own. Obsolete answers are meant to "drop to the bottom".

Answers sorted by activity...

Active | Oldest | Votes (just above the answers, on the right)

The idea is for users to sort the answers by activity, and thus see non-obsolete answers on top.

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    Why is this question posted in meta? Shouldn't resources be in the normal Chinese StackExchange? I believe this post can be very useful (probably much more than the current Resources for learning mandarin chinese).
    – Puco4
    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:10
  • I thought it was best to avoid disrupting the main site with repeated edits. (Although this method hasn’t really caught on.)
    – Becky 李蓓 Mod
    Jul 24, 2020 at 8:42
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    I would vote to move it to the main site. This post is about resources for learning Chinese and not about discussing something about another post in Chinese SE. But also, it is potentially very useful for other readers, and the main site has more impact than the meta.
    – Puco4
    Jul 25, 2020 at 11:02

1 Answer 1

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My recommendations are below; everything in bold I actively use. (My current level: I'm at the early/mid stages of HSK6.)

Electronic resources...

  1. Mobile dictionary: I use Pleco on my iPhone as a portable dictionary. I find it useful for inputting characters by drawing them by hand, and searching for partial words e.g. ?然. It's also useful for breaking apart words into characters, and characters into components.

  2. Web dictionary: My primary web dictionary is YouDao, which also gives example sentences. I also occasionally use MDBG, Xiaoma Cidian, Yabla dictionary, Dict.cn, and LineDict; sometimes it's useful to compare multiple definitions. (I also use the thesaurus JinYiFanYi and Collocation Search. Sometimes Baidu gives collocations, e.g. ??英雄.)

    I also find it useful to simply download the whole CC-CEDICT dictionary and search for it using command line functions like grep.

  3. Web popup dictionary: I use the Zhongwen: Chinese-English Dictionary as a Firefox browser popup dictionary (i.e., you hover your mouse over the Chinese and the popup contains a translation); it gives the CC-CEDICT definitions. There's a bunch of others.

  4. Web example sentences: I sometimes use Jukuu for example sentences (aside from YouDao). It's not perfect (many examples are far too lengthy and technical), but it's okay. Alternatives include ZaoJuWang and ChinesePod.

  5. Chinese grammar: I use the Chinese Grammar Wiki. It's incomplete, but seems to be the most reliable resource I'm aware of. I find the grammar explanations in the Chinese Zero to Hero courses useful.

  6. Translation: I use Google Translate (or Baidu Translate if my VPN is down). The results are often mediocre, so it's important to edit the results. It's useful to copy/paste the results into Baidu to compare against native Chinese sentences. Another possibility is the MDBG Translate which can segment and annotate the text.

  7. OCR: I paid for the Pleco OCR which I use to scan entire textbook pages in one go. The Baidu Hanyu iPhone app has good enough OCR to work with my handwriting.

  8. Writing: I've sometimes write on LangCorrect (see my account) and I get multiple native speakers giving corrections.

  9. Handwriting: Mostly I just use pen and paper. I've used Skritter (paid) and TOFU Learn (free); there are multiple alternatives. Nowadays I don't think it's worthwhile recalling Chinese characters from English words. 抖音 (with a Chinese Apple account) has many useful videos of handwriting, identifying common mistakes (examples 1 2).

  10. Web search by radical: I think the best option is the MDBG Radical/Strokes Lookup, although Chinese-Tools Search by Radical is also good.

  11. Reading practice: I just Google 故事 1000字 and read what comes up. I sometimes read the ABC中文 News, and articles on Sina and apps such as 今日头条 and 看点快报; I find CCTV News and the Chinese New York Times too difficult. I also use DuChinese on my iPhone (without paying).

  12. HSK: I'm currently in the final stages of preparing for the HSK6, and I'm practicing with past HSK6 exams. I have finished using the Chinese Zero to Hero HSK5-6 bundle. Previously I've watched the HSK6 Coursera course from 北京大学 (there's also HSK 1 2 3 4 5; it's also on YouTube), but struggled with memorizing vocabulary: a lot of it focused on the test, rather than learning Chinese. (I bought the HSK Online app, but don't use it; it's now called "SuperTest" which appears to be because of a trademark violation.)

    For analyzing the difficulty of a sample text, I use HSK东西, selecting "Analyse HSK words", "Analyse HSK characters", and "Big block of text". I make use of the HSK 2012 vocabulary list along with HSK东西's data files. I used the HSK-5 Online Test app to take a past HSK-5 test.

  13. Videos: Some YouTube channels I'm finding particularly useful are: Eazy Mandarin with Li Can, PETER HANYU 피터 중국어, 大鹏说中文-Speak Chinese With Da Peng, Mandarin Corner. Sometimes I watch these videos via Dong Chinese which tracks your characters known.

    Nowadays I watch some native content, such as 黃瑽寧醫師健康講堂 ("muggles courses" on medical topics), chess grandmaster Kaiqi Yang (chess videos), and 梦泽读书 (infographic book reviews).

  14. LaTeX: For writing Chinese in LaTeX, I use the XeLaTeX compiler with the xeCJK package and gbsn00lp.ttf font. The xpinyin package is useful for adding pinyin.

  15. Wikipedia: The pages Appendix:Mandarin Frequency lists and Appendix:Easily confused Chinese characters are useful references.

I also use Chinese Stack Exchange and Reddit's /r/ChineseLanguage and Reddit's /r/LanguageLearning. I sometimes read Hacking Chinese, and listen to the YouCanLearnChinese podcast. I track the time I spend studying Chinese using Toggl.

I don't use flashcards, but I hear Anki is the standard. I previously used Closemaster for fill-in-the-gaps exercises, but it's buggy and too costly.

I also use XX-net to get around Google, etc., being blocked in China.

Non-electronic resources...

  1. Chinese tutor: I have a tutor from China Jobs Daily (I'm in Beijing currently); I left LTL Mandarin after my awful experience there, and changed from Mandarin Zone after the HSK5. These classes are not cheap, but I've generally found them worthwhile. (I hear italki is the norm for web classes, but I have never used it.)

  2. Textbooks: I finished the 标准教程HSK6 (HSK Standard Course 6) textbook, and I'm studying the 标准教程HSK6 练习册 in preparation for the HSK6 exam. I also printed out and bound the new HSK3.0 book 国际中文教育-中文水平等级标准 without the watermark. (Most of the grammar points are included in the Chinese Grammar Wiki: and , and various YouTube videos.)

    I also use the reference books HSK汉语水平考试 - 精选词汇辨析与练习 and 1700对近义词语用法对比 for distinguishing between near-synonyms.

  3. Novels: I've previously read Matilda (玛蒂尔达) and The Witches (女巫). Nowadays, I mostly borrow random books from a library here in Beijing. In this way, the first adult, non-translated novel I read was 这世界,缺你不可. (There's a Reddit post which calculates the difficulty of a large selection of Chinese books.)

  4. Movies: I sometimes watch movies in Chinese at the cinemas; rom-coms are mostly understandable. It's very satisfying (and reinforcing) when I've studied some grammar point and see it on the big screen. My movie recommendations for learning Chinese: 温暖的抱抱, 我的女友是机器人, 北京遇上西雅图, 半个喜剧, 宠爱, and 亲爱的新年好. (Graded watching is a list of movies and TV series sorted by difficulty.)

  5. Newspapers: I've taken to reading the 环球时报 (Global Times) which I buy in physical form so I can spend less time on the computer and highlight things. I find it easier to read than other newspapers, and they often discuss international topics.

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  • How is the DuChinese app? I looked it a bit but it seemed to me there were few free texts. Do you pay for the premium app?
    – Puco4
    Aug 2, 2020 at 8:51
  • @Puco4 No I don't pay for it; I just look at the new/free texts. It's certainly one of the apps I'd seriously consider paying for.
    – Becky 李蓓 Mod
    Aug 2, 2020 at 9:19
  • The collocation search is amazing! What does "mutual information" mean?
    – Buddy L
    Mar 10 at 15:17

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