This is the right time for you to learn Chinese.
Not just the right time in your life—the right time in human history.
The internet has opened up a world of great opportunities to us Chinese learners.
Tired of the same old Chinese textbooks?
Don’t complain—you’ve got the internet!
Online Chinese Learning: A New Frontier
Along with many other things, the internet and the online world is completely changing the way people can learn or teach themselves Chinese. In fact, there are now online tools for almost every aspect of Chinese learning, from reading and writing to listening, speaking and pronunciation.
The 21st century is the best time ever to be learning Chinese.
Due the massive growth in the number of online resources dedicated to helping Chinese learners, there has never really been a better time to get on board with learning Mandarin.
In the past, there was no option for eventually achieving fluency in Chinese aside from hardcore study. However, now there’s a wide range of options available online which deliver much better learning results in a much more entertaining and engaging manner.
Online Chinese resources are growing at a rapid pace.
While there have been Chinese learning resources online for at least a decade now, the quantity and quality of these resources has massively increased in the past few years.
Driven by the explosion in mobile devices and apps, as well as innovative new ways of learning (such as Spaced Repetition Software), today’s learners have an app or program to meet almost any need.
But if you’re not convinced just yet, here are 4 compelling reasons why you should be learning Chinese online.
4 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Be Learning Chinese Online
1. Multimedia Content Works
Chinese text, video, audio and other content is never more than a link away.
One of the biggest differences between old-school book learning and modern online learning is the availability of multimedia and audiovisual content.
In the past, if you were lucky, your textbook might come with an accompanying tape or CD to help you with your listening skills, but this was still far from ideal.
In an online environment, awesome audio and video content is really never more than a hyperlink and a click away. It’ all too easy to make a seamless transition between text-based and multimedia-based learning.
Now you can get online Chinese video lessons with authentic content.
Authentic video content—such as live interviews, street scenes, casual conversations and movies made for native speakers—provides a glimpse into the everyday language spoken by natives.
Among the online sites which teach Chinese through large amounts of multimedia content, FluentU is the best in our humble opinion. Through an innovative interface and lesson structure, users can learn Mandarin while they watch (Chinese) TV.
You simply pick the video you want to watch, and you’re off. Through nifty interactive captions, you’ll learn Chinese from what’s being said. Once the video is complete, you can then test yourself on what you’ve learned in the video so as to ensure that the information sticks in your brain. You can even use learn mode features like vocabulary lists and multimedia flashcards to really reinforce newly-learned language.
The great thing about FluentU is that it has content for users of any Chinese level, from raw beginners all they way up to people who have a near-native level of fluency.
2. Online Learning Works with Your Busy Schedule
Another problem with traditional Chinese classroom learning is that it needs to happen on a set schedule.
For example, no matter how busy you are, you must always go to your Chinese classes at a certain time.
Online Chinese learning mostly avoids this problem. Night or day, rain or shine, you’ll be always able to log in and start learning with a minimal amount of planning.
Learn Chinese at any time of the day, and even on the move.
Online Chinese learning can be conducted even when you’re on the move. By combining online learning tools, programs and apps with the bevy of new mobile devices released in recent years, a learner can take their Chinese study almost anywhere they please.
Be it on public transport, during a workout or even on a long-haul flight, otherwise wasted time can always be put to use studying Chinese using online learning tools.
3. The Internet Connects You to the World
Aside from the huge amount of software and online programs dedicated just to teaching you Chinese, the ability of the internet to easily connect people makes for a learning tool of its own. There are hundreds of millions of Chinese people surfing the net who you could be in contact with starting right now.
Through the internet, it’s very easy to get into contact and practice your Mandarin with Chinese netizens.
How to meet Chinese people online.
Meeting and making friends with Chinese people online is an easy task. The biggest problem for people unfamiliar with Chinese internet culture is actually knowing where to look online to find Chinese-speaking people. With this in mind, here are some very useful places to start.
- Chinese social media.
Just like in every other part of the world, social networking is incredibly popular in China. As such, Chinese social media sites are some of the best places for meeting Chinese people.
If you’re using a computer, the best places to start would be RenRen (the Facebook of China) and Sina Weibo (similar to Twitter). Alternatively, if you’re more of a fan of mobile communications, a great recommendation is WeChat (also known as weixin).
Finally, if you are looking to practice your flirting in Chinese, MoMo is a great app to try out, as most people are generally quite open to you striking up a conversation.
- Online games
Another fun place to find Chinese-speaking internet users is in online games. Many of these games have advanced social interaction and chat features. As well as playing alongside Chinese people, you’ll also inevitably find yourself speaking or chatting in Chinese too.
Games with a particularly strong Chinese following are DotA 2, World of Warcraft, and Counter-Strike (as well as its Chinese clone called Crossfire).
Why chatting online will improve your Chinese rapidly.
Much of your communication with Chinese people online will be through chatting. This form of communication is particularly useful for learning Chinese, as it gives the learner the easy ability to look up words they don’t know.
Furthermore, due to the predominantly young people who inhabit these online spaces, you’ll quickly pick up a large amount of vocab related to issues which a young person might encounter (such as dating, studying, looking for work, etc.). In addition to this, you might also find yourself picking up quite a bit of Chinese internet slang as well!
4. Whole Chinese Learning Communities Thrive Online
Who needs classmates when you have forums?
Learning Chinese online isn’t just about chatting to Chinese people or using online learning programs. It’s also about interacting with fellow learners.
Over the last few years, several very useful forums have sprung up devoted to the topic of learning Chinese. While solo-learning Chinese in the past could be a lonely experience without the help and support of fellow classmates, through the use of forums it’s now really easy to connect yourself to a huge virtual classroom.
Reddit Chinese learning community is the best of the best.
In terms of the forums out there for learning Chinese, Reddit has some of the best options.
The cream of the crop is the subreddit (topic-specific forum) known as /r/ChineseLanguage. This forum, which has over 10,000 subscribers, is a great place to pose any questions you may have regarding some of the trickier (or more basic) aspects of learning Mandarin.
What’s more, the forum often contains links to a large number of popular and up-and-coming Chinese learning resources, enabling you to widen your learning net.
Get online and get learning!
Convinced yet that you should be learning Chinese online? We hope you are!
A whole new world of Chinese learning exists online and, what’s more, it’ll greatly improve your chances of continuing with Chinese study to the point where you achieve fluency.
So don’t wait another minute—put down the textbook and pick up the smartphone!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.