Resource questions are sometimes closed and redirected to Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese. This seems like a great idea, until you actually use it:

  1. there's no quality control; many links are virtually useless, obsolete, you have to pay for them, or are just plain broken (aside from other issues, e.g. links containing customer codes, copy/pasted advertisements), and
  2. there's hundreds of links to go through.

Since any Chinese resource can be added, I don't see it as more helpful than dysfunctional version of Google. So... what can we do instead?

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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  • "postimage free image hosting 503 service unavailable the server is temporarily busy please try again later" :( – dROOOze Jan 13 at 7:20
  • 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 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 Jul 24 at 8:42
  • 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 at 11:02

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

    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 also Perapera, which is much the same.

  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. However, sometimes simply using Baidu works (clicking 资讯 = "information" gives more reliable examples).

  5. Chinese grammar: I use the Chinese Grammar Wiki. It's incomplete, but seems to be the most reliable resource I'm aware of.

  6. Translation: I use Google Translate. 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: The Baidu Hanyu iPhone app has good enough OCR to work with my handwriting.

  8. Mobile character writing practice: I now pay for Skritter; I find it expensive, but it's a quality app. I've previously used TOFU Learn (free); the other one I'm aware of is InkStone.

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

  10. Creating Chinese names: I use RenRenWang for creating character names in my writing.

  11. Reading practice: I mostly read native Chinese opinion pieces from Sina, MSN 中国, and ABC Chinese and on apps such as 看点快报 and 今日头条; I find CCTV News and the Chinese New York Times too difficult. I also use DuChinese on my iPhone (without paying). I sometimes read news articles at Chinese News Club (there's also The Chairman's Bao, FourthTone Mandarin, and HSK Reading, although I don't often use them).

    RuiWang has essays written by Chinese primary school children sorted by year level (I read 五年级 = grade 5). I have also read parts of Chinese 语文 books (for Chinese school students), some are available from 电子课本网.

    Many novels can be downloaded from Blah.me and web novels from ZhWenPg. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks via 懒人听书.

  12. HSK: I'm currently taking the HSK6 Coursera course from 北京大学 (there's also HSK 1 2 3 4 5). 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. I'm also fond of the Facebook groups HSK 5 with Richard Wu and HSK 6.

  13. Videos: I sometimes watch Chinese-learning YouTube videos. I find ShuoshuoChinese说说中文 and the Chinese HSK videos the most useful.

  14. Handwriting: 抖音 (with a Chinese Apple account) has many useful videos of handwriting, identifying common mistakes (examples 1 2).

  15. 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.

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

I also use Chinese Stack Exchange, Reddit /r/ChineseLanguage, and a Chinese-learning Discord. I sometimes read Hacking Chinese, and listen to the YouCanLearnChinese podcast.

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 LTL Mandarin School (I'm in Beijing currently). It's not cheap, but I've found it worthwhile. (I hear italki is the norm for web classes, but I have never used it.)

  2. Textbooks: I'm slowly working through 发展汉语;高级口语(I). Previously, I finished HSK4标准教程 "HSK Standard Course 4" (both 上 and 下), but they're too boring. (Most of the grammar points are on now the Chinese Grammar Wiki: and .)

    I bought the book 21天征服新HSK六级写作 to help with the HSK6 composition (缩写) component although I haven't started it yet. 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'm currently on-and-off reading 霍比特人 (The Hobbit in Chinese), 喜欢你,我也是 (teen romance), 猫城记 (science fiction), and the Chinese version of The Witches (女巫) [and previously Matilda (玛蒂尔达)]. (There's a Reddit post which calculates the difficulty of a large selection of Chinese books.) I also own the books 活着 and 山楂树之恋, but I find them too difficult.

  4. Movies: I often watch movies in Chinese on TV (here in Beijing); 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: 北京遇上西雅图 and 半个喜剧 and 宠爱 and 亲爱的新年好. (Graded watching is a list of movies and TV series sorted by difficulty.)

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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 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 Aug 2 at 9:19

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