Best Apps for Learning Chinese

Best Apps for Learning Chinese

15 Best Apps for Learning Chinese

Are you trying to improve or learn Chinese through apps? Look no further! Listed below are some of the best apps for learning Chinese, broken down by categories from dictionaries to character writing apps, so you can feel confident in improving the skills you need to become fluent (or get by when you travel). Most apps include some form of subscription or purchase, but they all include a trial period so you can test them yourself. Happy learning!

Reading Apps

Du Chinese

Du Chinese can help you to improve your Chinese reading skills. The app provides digital lessons where you can read by yourself or listen to an audio recording while reading along. There’s the option to display pinyin along with the Chinese characters, and you can choose simplified or traditional characters. Also, you can look up words using its dictionary or have sentences translated into English. The app contains various content and lessons. There are stories, daily conversations and lessons about Chinese culture. In addition, it covers current events, the latest trends, and regular life in China. There are different levels of lessons to cater for beginners to advanced with each session labelled HSK levels 1 to 6+.

Du Chinese - Best apps for learning Chinese

Specializes Other features
Audio learning Dictionary
Reading Flashcards
Pinyin display Simplified and Traditional
The Chairman’s Bao

If you are looking for more advanced reading from the start, The Chairman’s Bao (TCB) is a great resource for those levels HSK 3-6 (though materials for HSK 1-2 are available). TCB provides reading sources as newspaper articles with the vocabulary of the HSK lists. All of their readings are tailored to HSK levels. As a result, TCB a great app to hone your HSK vocabulary if your goal is to pass the tests. TCB uploads over 1,600 new reading lessons a year (approximately 4 a day) which keeps the content updated and interesting.

The Chairmans Bao - Best apps for learning Chinese

Specializes Other features
Advanced level Chinese learning Dictionary
Reading Flashcards
Simplified and traditional Chinese


Offline Dictionary Apps

Pleco

Pleco is one of the most popular and best apps for learning Chinese. Since it’s a dictionary app that works offline, you don’t need an internet connection and can look up a Chinese word or character on the go. Notably, you can search for an English word and find the Chinese translation with sentence examples for each possible translation. Additional features for Pleco vary depending on your device’s operating system. Android devices have free access to some key features. For example, handwriting recognition lets you write characters instead of pinyin. Another feature lets you turn new words into flashcards and test yourself – one of the best ways to review words. However, iOS users need to pay for these additional features. Another (paid) feature is optical character recognition (OCR). This means you can scan Chinese characters using your device’s camera and look them up ‘live’.

Pleco - Best apps for learning Chinese

Specializes Other features
Offline dictionary Flashcards
Character writing recognition Simplified and Traditional Chinese
OCR Offline usage
Hanping

Hanping offers the benefits of Pleco by working offline. It also has an abundance of add-on features. The Lite version (free) offers limited stroke order animations. Meanwhile, the Pro version has a larger offering for learning strokes. In addition, the content frequently updates, offering plenty of sentence examples to sharpen vocabulary. Hanping also offers an OCR add-on as their key feature for instant translation of characters. The app is convenient for one-tap translation and learning stroke order. You can even copy characters into other resources like eStroke and Skritter. In addition, Hanping has add-ons that specialize in pronunciation.

(not available on iOS)

Hanping - Best apps for learning Chinese

Specializes Other features
Advanced level Chinese learning Dictionary
OCR (add-on) Flashcards
Character writing recognition Simplified and Traditional Chinese
Add-on pronunciation features Works offline

Character Learning Apps

Skritter

Learning how to write characters can be challenging, but Skritter makes it fun and easy. Most importantly, Skritter teaches the correct stroke order and enables the learner to remember how to write through muscle memory. The app offers instant feedback and uses special recognition software that helps the user focus on difficult characters. Additionally, it tracks progress which will challenge users to keep practicing and improving. Skritter boasts having over 9,000 lists which users can use (and create their own as well!).

Skritter - Best apps for learning Chinese

Specializes Other features
Organized learning Flashcards
Spaced repetition software Instant feedback on writing
Character writing recognition Simplified and Traditional Chinese
Zizzle

Zizzle offers an excellent way to memorize characters – through funny stories. Good for all levels (but especially for beginners), Zizzle uses short stories with images and keywords. This helps learners remember the character, tone, and meaning of the word. For convenience, Zizzle breaks down its language learning into sections. This includes each HSK level, travel, business, food and numbers. However, while Zizzle makes learning fun and less overwhelming, it does not teach stroke order. What makes Zizzle unique is that payment is flexible to the user and their goals. Learners have the option to purchase character packs outright and have unlimited lifetime access to them. There is also a subscription with full access to content.

Zizzle - Best apps for learning Chinese

Specializes Other features
Character visualization Simplified Chinese only
Spaced repetition software Activities for memorization

Listening Apps

ChineseClass101

For podcast lovers and visual learners, ChineseClass101 should be on the radar for learners of all levels. The program is available with both video and audio classes on the web and in your pocket (the app is called Innovative Languages 101). What ChineseClass101 lacks in comprehensive character learning, it makes up for with excellent pronunciation and listening skills. With thousands of lessons offered for all levels, a subscription will allow users to improve their speaking ability efficiently. Audio learning is also more effective at breaking down and explaining grammar points.

ChineseClass101 - Best apps for learning Chinese

Specializes Other features
Conversational Chinese Video and podcast lessons
Chinese grammar Allows user to record and compare pronunciation
ChinesePod

Another great podcast style app is ChinesePod. The app and web version provide more than 4,000 lessons in both audio and video format. Just like ChineseClass101, the video and audio format is excellent for listening to Chinese speech and building listening skills. Additionally, ChinesePod includes exercises for further practice with a dictionary and flashcards available. It also has special topics from pronunciation to HSK review.

ChinesePod

Specializes Other features
Conversational Chinese Video and podcast lessons
Chinese grammar Includes exercises to practice

Gamification Apps

HelloChinese

HelloChinese teaches you all the components of the language through activities. Best for beginners, the app will even teach you pinyin essentials if you need it. It gives you literal translations, uses visuals and videos to test your understanding through listening. Basic lessons are free, but there is a subscription available for additional features and access to immersive training lessons. The free lessons focus on key vocabulary, proper pronunciation, pinyin, and character stroke order. Users will become familiar with keywords and phrases (both written and spoken) quickly from the activities. While HelloChinese is well-rounded, the app will really only build you up to HSK 4. Once you reach a higher level of Chinese, you’ll want to supplement HelloChinese with the in-app purchases or an additional tool to aid with learning characters.

HelloChinese

Specializes Other features
Free but with paid add-ons Games and activities
Well-rounded lessons Engaging exercises

Speaking Apps

HelloTalk

HelloTalk allows users to practice their language skills with native speakers from China! If you have a solid base in the language, HelloTalk will benefit learners who can connect with Chinese speakers. The app includes voice, text, and even has translation in case you don’t understand a word. This app will allow you to meet with language partners, which can be a fun and rewarding way to practice. You might even be able to find a language partner in the city you’re living in or are planning to travel to. The app is free, but there is a premium version available for additional features.

Hello-Talk

Specializes Other features
Learn from native speakers Translation
Practice texting with pinyin/characters Transliteration

Video Learning Apps

FluentU

If you’re a visual learner, FluentU can help you learn and improve your Chinese through video content. FluentU teaches grammar and vocabulary through video content spoken in Chinese, such as film trailers and music videos. The app also allows users to look up unfamiliar words in-app. The only significant downside is that it’s a little more expensive than other apps. However, if you’re in the intermediate stages looking to speak and listen to Chinese better, it could be worth the investment.

fluentu

Specializes Other features
Visual content In-app word search
Listening skills Simplified and traditional characters

Grammar Apps

Duolingo

Duolingo is a popular language-learning app that offers free Chinese lessons. While there is a premium service that creates an ad-free and offline compatible experience, the free version has all the content needed to continue learning. The app divides lessons into small sections, which allows learners to focus on what is being taught. However, Duolingo is not the best app for beginners because the classes do not focus on pinyin and tones as much as other apps. For Chinese beginners, it may be more useful to learn pinyin before using this app. Duolingo users will sucessfully pick up grammar through the lesson activities.

Duolingo

Specializes Other features
Grammar Transliteration
Translation of characters Handwriting
Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is a trusted foreign language learning service where users can purchase subscriptions and learn through immersion. It’s excellent for beginners building a foundation in the language. The program excels in teaching tones with speech recognition software. It’s also renowned for teaching basic grammar. For learners looking to learn how to speak and string together basic sentences, Rosetta Stone is a great option. However, users will find character reading and writing lacking and will want another app as a supplement.

Rosetta Stone

Specializes Other features
Speech recognition software Pictures and visual
Basic grammar Organized modules and lessons

Quick Learning Apps

Chineasy

Chineasy is a card app that will help you learn the foundations of Chinese characters and build a basic vocabulary. The beautiful app design is well-worth the trial. Each lesson displays new characters with imagery that helps you memorize that character. Further, each card explains the history or logic behind the character. This helps the learner understand more about Chinese culture and assists retention. The main downfall is that the app will not let you skip a lesson. If you’re an upper-immediate or advanced learner, it may feel redundant to spend time on basic characters. However, even if you’re more advanced, you may pick up new knowledge about the characters. If you’re looking to refresh or build a basic vocabulary and knowledge of characters, this app is definitely worth checking out.

Chineasy

Specializes Other features
Key phrases and words Gamified
Categorized vocabulary Beautiful graphics and illustrations

Testing Apps

HSK Online

HSK Online is a leading HSK testing app. After taking the initial test, users will be placed in their HSK level. After that, they can review the HSK-related materials in both reading and speaking activities. Notably, any incorrect answer is filed in a folder for users to review. Users can take one test on the free version. However, the subscription or lifetime access version allows unlimited tests. The app also includes over 30,000 practice exercises which are optimized to improve your performance.

HSK Online

Specializes Other features
AI powered proficiency testing Vocabulary training
Personalized study activities Mock exams

Other Apps to Consider

There are plenty of apps for learners to improve their Chinese. From reading to speaking to writing, learning Chinese takes practice. We think these are the best apps for learning Chinese, but there are plenty of others available online and through app stores. Two new up-and-coming apps include Noodle Chinese (only available on iOS) and Chinese Grammar (only available on Android).