When you plan a road trip, you use a map.
When you go grocery shopping, you prepare a shopping list.
When you perform in a play, you study the script.
But in spite of all the guidance you use throughout your life, when you set off to learn Mandarin Chinese, you might not have as clear a path.
Going it alone can make it challenging to know what to do next, but courses can give you clear direction.
However, your choices for where to learn the Chinese language might be limited or prove too expensive, time-consuming or inflexible.
Online courses can provide you with the direction and structure you need to take your skills to the next level. These 15 online Chinese courses could just be your roadmap toward fluency.
Why Take a Chinese Online Course?
As you may have guessed, one reason why students enjoy Chinese online courses is that they provide clear direction. Trying to figure out what to do next can consume valuable time that you could spend improving your Chinese. Thankfully, online courses hand you your next task so that you don’t have to think too much about what to study, allowing you to focus on learning Chinese more quickly.
Plus, online Chinese courses can help you make sure you don’t miss out on any key skills. If you study on your own, you might wind up neglecting to focus on important skills, like grammar rules or speaking abilities. However, online courses usually aim for balanced instruction to ensure you don’t miss out on any major skills.
Finally, Chinese online courses offer a convenient alternative to in-person learning. In-person courses usually meet at set times. If your schedule changes a lot or just doesn’t permit for the time commitment, in-person courses might not be the best option for you. With online courses, you can generally complete your lessons from wherever you are at times that work for you.
How to Choose the Right Online Chinese Course for You
Not all Chinese online courses are created equal! Here are a few ways to determine which ones you should try:
Pay attention to level.
Online courses vary in level. You can find online Chinese courses for complete beginners, intermediate-level students or advanced learners. Because there’s such diversity in level, it’s important to note the level of any Chinese course you’re considering to make sure it’s appropriate for your needs and skills.
Consider what resources the course offers.
Online courses offer a variety of resources. Some may use activities. Others focus more on written instruction. Others use video content. Considering what resources the course offers can help you find a course that’s engaging and enjoyable for you.
Consider the time commitment.
Some courses require more of a time commitment, while other courses are designed to be used for just minutes a day. Choosing a course that can accommodate your desired time commitment will ensure you stay on track without becoming overwhelmed.
The Top 15 Chinese Online Courses for Next-level Learning
If you’re learning Chinese but haven’t heard of Rosetta Stone, you might be living under a rock! Rosetta Stone is one of the most well-known language education programs on the market.
Rosetta Stone focuses on providing an immersive curriculum that stimulates your brain’s learning ability. The course uses plenty of cool features, like TruAccent speech recognition software, contextual lessons, interactive activities, downloadable Audio Companion lessons, stories and more.
A mobile app is available, so you can learn from your computer or favorite device. Plus, Rosetta Stone offers 10-minute lessons to make them easy to cram into even the busiest schedules.
Rosetta Stone’s main focus is giving beginning and intermediate Chinese students the foundations they need to develop strong skills down the road, so it might not be the ideal option for more advanced students.
Learning Chinese from authentic resources can be one of the best ways to master real Chinese. At the same time, diving into authentic material can be overwhelming.
That’s where FluentU comes in.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Each video comes with annotated captions, giving you easy access to any word’s definition and example sentences. Want to study a word more? Just add it to your vocabulary list!
When you need a break from your video viewing, try Quiz Mode. Quiz Mode takes videos, images and example sentences and fuses them into interactive activities and flashcards that will help you see Chinese in a different light.
Regardless of your current learning level, FluentU can help you improve your skills. You choose what you watch, how much you watch and how quickly you watch. Meanwhile, FluentU tracks your learning to present you with level-appropriate questions that build on what you already know without throwing you in over your head. Because FluentU adjusts to meet your needs, it can grow with you from the moment you start learning Chinese until you’re nearly fluent.
Online or offline, on your computer or through an app, Mango Languages offers plenty of options for Chinese students.
Mango Languages aims to help students learn Chinese online quickly by focusing on practical skills and creating phrases. With pronunciation by native speakers and an option to compare your pronunciation directly to that of a native speaker, Mango Languages can help students nail down their pronunciation.
Lessons mix grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and culture for well-rounded learning. The course offers five main units, which are appropriate for beginning and intermediate Chinese students. But there are some options for advanced students, too! Mango Languages has units on Chinese zodiac signs, business Chinese and feng shui that teach some specialized vocabulary.
And don’t fork out money to take the course online just yet! Many libraries have subscriptions to Mango Languages, so you might be able to use it for free through your local library.
Duolingo is fast, fun and free. It’s hard to beat that!
Whether used online or via the app, Duolingo is a classic among language students, and for good reason. It offers a fun, gamified approach to studying Chinese. Vocabulary is reinforced through a variety of activities that put your skills to the test.
Plus, Duolingo is broken down into digestible chunks. You can use Duolingo to study Chinese for just five minutes a day, meaning it pairs really well with other courses.
Duolingo is most appropriate for beginning through intermediate Chinese students. Because Duolingo focuses largely on memorization, it’s good for learning vocabulary and memorizing irregular verbs. For deeper grammar structures, you might want to pair it with another course.
Living Language offers Chinese online lessons that combine grammar, vocabulary and culture. But it’s not just all studying all the time! Living Language breaks up the study time with educational games and flashcards.
Lessons offer both Chinese script and transliteration to make reading easier on learners. Audio features native speakers to help you perfect your pronunciation.
This program offers material for beginning through advanced Chinese students. Living Language also offers a special business course, which is great for anyone thinking of doing business in China.
ChineseClass101.com is an Innovative Language course that aims to provide fun, culturally relevant instruction to help you enjoy learning Chinese.
Podcasts are ChineseClass101.com’s main claim to fame. The course offers nearly 1,500 audio and video lessons, and free Chinese lessons are released each week. In addition to podcasts, ChineseClass101.com also features flashcards, printable PDF lesson notes and a community forum to help you connect with other learners.
ChineseClass101.com targets primarily beginning Chinese students, but it also provides some intermediate and advanced material. If you want to free glimpse of what the site has to offer, check out its YouTube channel.
How many Chinese lessons do you need? If your answer was “3,500,” you’re in luck! Ninchanese offers over 3,500 Mandarin lessons. And with over 8,000 characters, Chinese students won’t lack for useful material to study!
Ninchanese is not only super cute, it’s also intended to be an addictive way to study Chinese. Gamification and spaced repetition aim to create a fun, effective method of learning. Ninchanese even offers voice recognition to provide you with feedback on your pronunciation.
Ninchanese is appropriate for beginning through advanced students. Perhaps best of all, the material is neatly organized into categories to make it easy to find level-appropriate materials. Complete beginners should use content from HSK1. Advanced students should use material at the HSK5 or HSK6 levels.
Designed and run by an experienced Chinese teacher, ChineseFor.Us aims to help learners develop comprehensive reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
Along the way, learners study grammar, learn vocabulary with audio vocabulary lists and test their learning with multimedia quizzes.
As an added bonus, ChineseFor.Us incorporates HSK levels, so if you plan to take the test, the course can give you clear direction on what to study. Right now, the courses offered focus on beginning-level skills, so ChineseFor.Us is appropriate for complete beginners through upper beginners.
This step-by-step course aims to take learners on a journey from complete beginner to intermediate-level proficiency.
Chinese Learn Online wants to give you the skills you need in just 20 minutes of daily study. That’s short enough to fit into a busy schedule but long enough for more in-depth study.
Each lesson features a listening activity, vocabulary list, notes and interactive activities, like flashcards, typing tests and sentence-building exercises. Another huge benefit of Chinese Learn Online is that you can choose between modes, including English, pinyin, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese, allowing you to select your learning preference or alternate between the options to get a broader perspective.
To make sure the course is right for you, you can peruse a complete course outline and even sample some of the lessons.
Yoyo Chinese aims to provide students with a one-stop study solution. The course helps you learn, practice, test and review without ever leaving the site.
Yoyo Chinese offers over 1,000 video lessons, along with flashcards and quizzes. Video lessons are brief, so you can cram some learning in whenever you have five minutes.
If you need a little “wow” factor, Yoyo Chinese is provided by an experienced instructor, giving you a chance to learn Chinese online from someone whose private students have included Hollywood celebrities.
Courses are available for complete beginners through upper intermediate students. To get a free taste of Yoyo Chinese’s style, check out its YouTube channel.
Domino Chinese was created by a man who taught himself Chinese. Surely, he knows some secrets he can share!
The course offers over 2,000 videos and 400 text files. Domino Chinese considers what they offer “edutainment,” which seems fair. After all, the videos are intended to be both fun and informative. Plus, they incorporate real-life interactions with native speakers to make the learning more authentic.
Domino Chinese aims to help students learn the foundations of the language while seeing how they apply in the real world. With 200 hours of material, Domino Chinese is appropriate for beginning through advanced level learners (up to HSK level 5).
Chinese Zero to Hero! offers a number of different courses and course packages for all levels of Chinese students.
Courses are video-intensive and focus on grammar and sentence formation to give students the foundations they need to construct meaning on their own. The course provides plenty of examples to illustrate rules and make them easier to apply in real life.
Units are interconnected to form a complete course, appropriate for beginning through advanced Chinese students (HSK level 6 and beyond). Between all the courses, Chinese Zero to Hero! offers over 62 hours of video content dispersed through all skill levels. That’s over 800 total videos!
Okay, we tricked you a little. This isn’t an online Chinese course. Instead, it’s a collection of several online Chinese courses. Jackpot!
EdX is a massive open online course (MOOC) platform in which real universities and other educational programs post courses that learners all over the world can enjoy.
Courses are appropriate for beginning through intermediate students. For instance, beginning students can jump in with Tsinghua Chinese: Start Talking with 1.3 Billion People. Intermediate students can learn from 中级汉语语法 | Intermediate Chinese Grammar.
These courses are self-paced, so you move through the material as you want. Perhaps best of all, most courses are free to take. If you want to receive a certificate for your work, however, there’s a charge.
Coursera is another online MOOC platform where you can find useful Chinese courses.
Courses are available for beginning through advanced students. Beginning students can take courses like Mandarin Chinese 1: Chinese for Beginners, while advanced students can take Chinese for HSK 5 or even try a course entirely in Chinese, like 中级商务汉语（入职与营销篇） – Intermediate Business Chinese (Job and Marketing). Plus, course levels are conveniently marked so you can peruse to find a level-appropriate option.
Courses contain videos, readings and quizzes to help you along in the learning process.
Note that even if you filter your options to see only Chinese courses, some other languages sneak in. Just pay attention to the course titles to find the Chinese material you’re looking for.
You guessed it! Udemy is yet another great MOOC platform with plenty of Chinese courses.
Unlike the other MOOC platforms we’ve mentioned, Udemy courses aren’t created by universities. Instead, individuals can create and sell courses through the platform. Because of this, there are hundreds of courses with varying levels, focuses and learning techniques, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from! Courses are video-based, and many offer several hours of video content.
Beginners can take introductory courses, like Chinese Made Easy L1: Understand 65% of Chinese in 10 hours to learn the basics. Once you have some basic skills, you can take more specialized courses, like Learn Chinese HSK 3 Intensive Reading Course H31001. Some courses even offer new and innovative approaches to learning Chinese, like Chinese Songs Season 1 and Chinese Humorous Stories Season 1, which use engaging, fun material to teach Chinese skills, like grammar and vocabulary.
These 15 Chinese online courses can help you chart your course toward better Chinese skills. Which courses will you choose to show you the way?
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