Mandarin - Self Learning Tips

Does anyone have tips or list of resources for self learners like myself to learn Mandarin?

Beginner level please :slight_smile:

Look up this lady, I watched the video about the atonation/tones I think she explained it plainly and easy, she has a different learning approach and many more videos of basic learning, I think it’s worth to try out.
One thing I think she said is, that once you start learning you have to keep going because if you pause you will forget what you learned. Have fun!

Yangyang Cheng


Grammar points, by level, with examples:


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This is also good, but not for self-learning beginners.


I have been studying Chinese for 8 months and finding one on one tuition really works for me:)

in addition to books and Youtube videos, we can find mobile apps and their computer version. These are a few apps that I tried and liked:

1) Daily situations:

There’s an app called Du Chinese
They have a website version too where they have many lessons, it’s always updated with new lessons, you can try free lessons here:

It’s like a small text in daily life, you can:
-listen to the text while reading it in characters,
-show/hide pinyin
-show/hide the English translated sentence while listening
-tap/click on each character so it shows you the English definition of the word while listening.
-show traditional or simplified characters
-show/hide the HSK level of each word

For example HSK1 lesson:

We have:

  • A few free lessons for a limited time: they always made new lessons for free, so we come often.
  • Most lessons are premium content.

The ranging price:

Until Sunday February 11, they have a 30% discount here:
It’s $63/year, about a little more than 50 €/year.

Mobile phone: while waiting for a few minutes, in the train, it’s useful to have it in the pocket!
Pick dialogue speed: 0.5 / 1 /1.5x speed
Daily situations or dialogues
Select a level to pick lessons: newbie, intermediate, advanced, master etc.
Listen+read+hide/show pinyin/translation: so we can try to read with the voice without having pinyin or question ourselves on the meaning of a sentence.

Can’t save words to a vocab list on the beta website version (but we can on mobile phone and export by email our vocab list)
News articles: it’s a pity that it’s not linked to daily news, so we can learn new words and know China news.
We can’t pick for each text traditional or simplified characters, it’s a general setting for every text on phone (but we can pick for each text on the website).
Can’t have the translated text in one text, have to go through each sentence.
No Flashcards, tests, grammar lessons

2) News and articles for Mandarin learners:
And computer It’s the same as Du Chinese but it’s news articles.
Price: $4.99/month, $59.88/year.
Might have a coupon code.
It’s been a long time I didn’t use it, I don’t find it really intuitive and convenient compared to Du Chinese (we have to click on each sentence to hear it and click on each word to have pinyin), but it has a lot of good reviews on the playstore.
There are free articles for a limited time, etc. It’s like Du Chinese.
A free lesson here:

-The Chairman’s Bao:
News articles too, TCB costs $10/month, $25/three months, $45/six months or $80/year.
Might have a coupon too.
I didn’t use a lot the free app version and uninstalled it.

There’s someone who compared the 3 apps here:

3) Offline dictionary:
About what it can do:
Recognize words through camera, dictionary, recognize writing characters, flashcards, how to write simplified/traditional characters in the right order, reader function,…
Free dictionary but some chargeable adds-on.

4) Read and hear mangas in Mandarin
Manga Mandarin

:heart: Variety, learn with comics, you want to understand the plot, so you make efforts, you can dub your voice on mangas!
:broken_heart: can’t click on each word to know its definition, click on each speech bubble to hear it.

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There’s a sale on TCB (learn Chinese through news) until February, 26th

$80/year => coupon code: $52/year

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Hallo Piranna, is there some info missing after your link and the subscription cost?

Hello Simi!

The cost on the pic:
$10/month, $25/3 months… it’s the normal price without sales.

With the coupon code “cny2018” that we have to enter when we pay, it wil apply the 35% off.
So normal price $80/year

  • Coupon: 35% off
    = Reduced price: $52/year.

It says “35% off 1 - 5 year subscription plans”, so I guess the minimum subscription period is 1 year?

There are some free articles before buying to know how it looks like and if it answers to someone’s specific needs but the coupon ends on February 26th.

PS: I added the end of the pic (pics come from the 1st link)

Category: Free website, vocabulary, grammar, learn with infographics

A free website that I discovered this year with easy infographics to remember clearly. They’re really well done:

Various topics: Vocabulary, grammar, culture


Chinese sentence structure:

  • Quizzes and videos
  • Newsletters

Category: Grammar Books (not free)

Hard time to find a clear and complete grammar book in my native language, the ones in English that I’d recommend:

1/ Colloquial Chinese: The Complete Course for Beginners 2nd Edition ($33.89) Audio included!
Format: Print Book, Audio, Kindle


2/ Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar (Modern Grammars) (Volume 2) 2nd Edition ($52.35)
Format: Print Book, Kindle


> **Category: learn with stories (not free)**

Mandarin Companion Series (from $7 to $13)
Format: Print, Audio, Kindle
Different levels
Traditional and Simplified Chinese versions available

Haven’t tried them, but wanted to test one!

> **Category: Audio courses, Oral conversations (not free)**

Audio courses to learn Chinese: Many apps on phone (Hellochinese, linguo, drops, rosetta stones, etc.), tried a lot of free versions of these apps, but Pimsleur is the best course I have tested among all (except the ones with a real teacher).

Different levels ($150/level)
All 5 levels ($575)
One level = 30 lessons
1 lesson = 30 min audio
PC and mobile phone

Premium version (audio+games+flash cards+scripts of audio) or classic version (just audio)

Once bought, you can download the audio courses and listen to it like .mp3 without internet connexion.

Free course to try:

They have a lot of languages on their website.


Category: Free Chinese Dictionary by radicals, constructions

The real book (not free):

Still looking for a free semantic dictionary

Found this very good website comparing different resources online to learn Chinese (and other languages):

Yoyo Chinese has a 30% sales on their courses (access for life, not a subscription):
Conversational Course
Chinese Character Course
Reading Course
Grammar Course
Bundle Course

They have videos, flashcards, quizz.

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A lot of the designs seem slick so I’m skeptical. Anyone got experience with one of them? I know a lot of it is on you to self-study but yeah, it just feels like a slick sales pitch and I wonder how good you can get following their lesson plans (not singling out any one of the classes/companies I see listed just speaking in general terms).

Which one?

Each one has a learning method, I think.
Some people better memorize when they hear it or say it or write it or view it or repeat it or summarize it. Colors code or no.
It depends on each person, so I don’t know if you will find your happiness in these resources and it depends on what you already know for the language and what you don’t know or how it is more convenient for you to learn.

The person doing comparisons of resources to learn a language must have been paid for testing them (it’s like beta testers), but has been invited by different companies to test them, make some ad and they have a promo code for readers.
Some are honest, some are not.
Because they are not paid if they don’t ad the product the way companies want (exists on Youtube, insta).

I agree with some resources that have been put in the guy’s website but there are some I wouldn’t use because I don’t need it or it doesn’t fit with my brain way to memorize.

I have tried:

  • Allsetlearning Wiki that Christina mentioned. It is a free resource on the net but they sell the book (this website is marvelous for its content if you don’t want to spend money. But I use it to look for grammar points. Not to learn vocabulary or the pronunciation or how to write). They have a forum that is useful. I’ve met a volunteer who was translating in Chinese-English on Ever Night drama on this forum.

  • Pleco (it’s a free dictionary on mobile or tablet with ex but they also have adds-on that you have to pay like OCR, stroke orders, flashcards you build yourselves and other dictionaries like Turtle, books published by others to learn Chinese but they sell the ebook version + mp3, articles from the Chairman Bao).
    The adds-on I tried (lifetime access):
    -I don’t recommend OCR, it doesn’t recognize the characters enough.
    -I don’t recommend flashcards, it is a hassle to use and not phone user friendly. But you can export your flashcards.
    -stroke order (the guy’s website mentionned other resources to learn), they don’t put arrows but you see animations (on the internet, you have this for free, but if you use Pleco as your main dictionary, why not instead of using many resources).
    -books and mp3 (good), many levels but for the ones I tried they don’t put pinyin (not at all) and the English translation is not just next to Chinese chars, they put it at the end of the book… so going forth and back to check if you have translated correctly the sentence in your mind.
    The advantage with buying inside Pleco these books that you could buy in real life: click on a term, you have def, sound, sentences ex and stroke order. Gain time instead of using a paper dictionary or typing it.


Really nice on Pleco: they have a list of words that contain the word you’re looking for (for ex if you look for dian, they put words beginning by dian or containing it).
You have the possibility to add terms to their dictionary or your dic.

These are the really nice resources I would recommend to anyone learning Chinese.

Then for other resources: depends on you (said above).
I recommend to stick to one that is working for you. And once finished, seek another one with the level you have reached.

I like videos to learn and see someone there explaining, it reminds me of being in class and have a teacher.

For Conversations:

  • I’ve tried Pimsleur on computer and phone (I think the price is too much expensive, seriously) but the concersations lessons work for me. It is audio (no video).
    The other adds-on are a bonus, but I use them really rarely.

  • I’m trying Yoyo Chinese (I’ve started with the 2 first videos beginner level). It is videos with a teacher (it is not live videos, it is something recorded in advance). Only works on computer (no phone app… it is a pity).
    It is still soon to say if it works or no for me.

For reading:

  • I’ve tried Du Chinese (you have English translations, pinyin, human voice, dialogues or stories). A new feature we didn’t have before: they selected a few texts from their library to make courses classified with different levels. No grammar explanation.

  • Chairman Bao (you don’t have English translations like above but a list of voc at the end and short grammar points, pinyin, human voice, articles written by Chinese).
    But when you click on a character the def could be incorrect in the context.

They have texts for every HSK level.
I recommend Du Chinese for the English translations and beginners.

For writing:

  • stroke order (find it free on the net), with arrows it would be better and you learn it when you learn the word.
    Take a notepad and write with hands until you can write it in the air, not on phone.
    It is the same method we used when babies.

There’s another app on phone that exists now “DuHanzi”, i haven’t taken a look because I think it is the same concept as Du Chinese.
They added words of the day.

There is also Chinese pod, but the susbcription price for 1 year is too much expensive in my mind.

Normally, each resource offers free trial for a few days, so if you don’t know, just test them.
Chinese pod and yoyo chinese offer videos on Youtube.

You also have songs and cartoons on Youtube.
There is one channel that I like for Chinese learners beginners: it is short and the essentials are seen (not a writing course).

Correction for Duhanzi, it might be better because the English translation is under each word. Got to try.


Edit: computer voice, I won’t use it.

More free resources to learn Chinese!

  • To read (and sometimes listen to):

1.HSK Reading (Simplified Chinese-Ènglish text, audio, questions, 3 levels, no pinyin):

2.Reading Chinese (Simplified Chinese-English text, audio, questions, grammar of the text, no pinyin):

3.Chinese reading practice (40 Advanced text / 41 beginners text, no sound, not updated website):

4.Justlearnchinese (Traditional+Simplified text+audio, English, grammar lessons, slangs, movies, songs, I think they have plenty of resources, but the website has been not updated since a long time)

  • Free cartoons and songs (this is really fun):
  1. Little fox

They have playlists for many things (tones, letters, beginners 5 levels).
Cartoons from modern to classics, songs:

  • Pinocchio
  • Aladdin
  • Journey to the West…

Their Youtube channel offers Simplified Chinese characters with voice (+ sometimes pinyin) and no English.
The English translation can be found in their website (text file, no English subs):

They have so many activities and good resources for beginners on their website that you will have fun watching their videos and playing games!
Each video can have a free book printed version, vocabulary that you can add to your list, print the texts + English translation + game (you can earn some gold coins and with the gold coins you can buy boosts to play games, but they put a limit to games, so if you want to continue to play, you have to watch another video to learn, it is a genius idea).

It is the most complete animation/video learning tool I’ve found.

  1. For +beginners in cartoon:

Little Counselor:
(Chinese+English subs)

  • Free popup dictionary add-on on browser:

(with pinyin, but no sound)

practice more, talk with the native speakers for oral skills. DM me if you need help, I’m more than willing to lend a hand

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Another app tested that is based on repetition: Immersive Chinese

:speech_balloon: Skills: speaking and listening

:star: Levels covered: Lesson 1 (Absolute beginner) to 140 (Lower Intermediate)
+Extra stories (Upper Intermediate)
About 1000 characters covered

:moneybag: Lifetime Price: 4,99 euros (a little more in dollars).
Unlocks all lessons + Extra stories.

:question: Concept: Repetition, same word in different sentences to make you remember it.

:surfing_woman: Presentation: Pinyin, Chinese characters (pick Simplified or Traditional), English translation + a few notes on grammar or sentence construction + a pronunciation course

:white_check_mark: Features: Personalize settings to hide translations (pinyin or English or characters or everything), autoplay mode to listen to sentences x1, x2, x3; slow/fast speed; works offline.

:desktop_computer: Device: tablet, mobile, computer (browser version in development)


Opinion: 9/10
So far so good.
Real audio recorded by a professional
For the same price and the same concept, it is usually much more expensive.
One of the best apps I’ve been trying. While commuting, it is perfect with the offline mode.
Clear design, clear explanation, and essentials.
You can pick what you want to study with a clear list of the lessons. You know what you will be learning in advance.

No writing or characters stroke order
Can’t zoom in or copy-paste

Fantastic consumer assistance: the person who answered by email within a few hours was the developer or the creator.
Professional answer.

My request was initially if there will be any updates programmed while referring to a dark mode, flashcard lists, and other things.
The person listed me some features already in the app and features in development and those not in development, while telling me a dark mode would be in store if there’s enough demand about it, for now, that person is busy with the other features and will release more content at the beginning of next year.

So waiting for more content and features updates!

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