Modern Languages

Chinese Language Resources

Resources to Get You Started

Dictionaries

Language Learning Games

Native-ish Language Sources

Other Resource Aggregators

Other Study Tools

Resources to Get You Started

  • Headstart2
    • Headstart2 is a language program designed by the Defense Language Institute.  It has twenty lessons covering the basics from pinyin and characters to ordering food.  This isn’t a deep dive into the language, but a good introduction or basic review tool. 
  • MandarinTools 
    • Get a Chinese name.  This is a very basic system, but it will give you a name that sounds Chinese (not like a transliteration of your English name).  If you are going to take Chinese at Washington College, we’ll get you a name with a little more style and meaning, but if you just want one to play with, this is a good option. 
  • Yabla Pinyin Guide
    • The chart looks daunting, but it it a good way to practice Chinese sounds by listening to the examples (with tones!)
  • Zhongwen.com 
    • Basic rules for writing Chinese characters

Language Learning Games

 

  • Chinese Skills
    • This is a phone app designed to teach through a set of language quizzes.  Includes writing, reading, speaking, and listening.  Very good for basic skills.
  • Hello Chinese
    • Like Chinese Skills, this is a phone app designed to teach through a set of language quizzes.  Some say this is a more robust program with better voice recognition and character writing evaluation.
  • Wordswing.com
    • Very clever suite of language games with comics, character recognization games, etc… Their text adventure games are particularly good.  For students with a basic foundation in Chinese.  Some features require signin.  Currently in development.  

Dictionaries 

 

  • Pleco - iPhone/Android
    • This is the most powerful dictionary app out there.  It has a basic free version, but also a full suite of add-on dictionaries and tools.  This dictionary will serve you for as long as you learn Chinese.
  • Youdao - Web-based
    • Youdao is a great all-around dictionary.  Lots of good examples and very up-to-date.
  • Zdic - Web-based
    • Zdic is an advanced dictionary with excellent classical references and alternate character forms.

Native-ish Language Sources

  • The Chairman’s Bao - iPhone/Android/Web-Based
    • A collection of simplified news reports with accompanying audio.  Great for reading practice.  Some functionality locked behind registration and paywall.
  • Pop-up Chinese - Web-Based (Downloadable for fee)
    • Pop-up Chinese probably has the most extensive list of freely available podcasts for learning Chinese, for introductory to advanced.  There are transcripts and other study guides.  Registration/subscription not required, but very helpful.
  • Sing Chinese Songs - Web-Based
    • A really clever site where you can learn to sing songs karaoke style right on your computer.
  • Slow Chinese - Web-Based
    • A good number of short newsy stories read slowly.  Transcripts are also available.

Other Resource Aggregators

Other Study Tools

  • Anki - iPhone/Android/Mac/PC
    • Anki is a powerful flashcard app.  The plus side is that there are many flashcard sets that have already been written.  The down side is that the app is a bit finicky and not always easy to use.
  • Chinese Grammar Wiki - Web-Based
    • This is a fairly comprehensive wiki for Chinese grammar.  Look up grammar particles to see how they are used. 
  • Google Translate - iPhone/Android/Web-Based
    • Don’t laugh!  Google translate is super useful to check a word or phrase.  It’s more likely to have errors in meaning but it can translate from simplified to traditional and even has pretty good audio pronunciation.  Just don’t trust it to translate much beyond a word or phrase.
  • Jukuu - Web-Based
    • Jukuu is a translation pair corpus.  It’s not great as a dictionary, but if you want to triangulate how a word is used in different contexts, Jukuu is invaluable!  Beware, as some of the translations are not as accurate as you might hope.
  • Mandarinspot - Web-Based
    • Mandarinspot has a stripped down (but good) dictionary, but its real advantage is in its annotation function - paste in Chinese and it outputs the Chinese with pinyin (with tones) above.  Very good for practicing reading.  Also has mouse-over definitions for the output.
  • Quizlet - iPhone/Android/Web-Based
    • Quizlet is the flashcard app that most people here at Washington College have been using.  It works well, but some people find it a bit restrictive. 
  • Skritter - iPhone/Android/Web-Based
    • Skritter is a great app to use to practice writing characters.  It evaluates your handwriting and stroke order with a flashcard style.

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