Online tutorials are the best, aren’t they?
If you’re not as into the weird side of Wikihow as the rest of the world and want to learn something a bit more practical through tutorials, you’re in luck. You can easily and thoroughly learn Chinese through Mandarin online tutorials!
Don’t worry about scouring the internet for the best of the best. We put together a jam-packed resource guide to finding a great variety of Mandarin online tutorials perfect for any type of learner.
First, let’s look at why online tutorials for learning Mandarin are so dang useful.
Why Use Online Tutorials to Learn Chinese?
- Using online tutorials is more convenient than going to a physical class. Waking up, getting dressed and being a respectable adult is hard enough without throwing school into the mix. If going to university isn’t on your list of life goals, you can definitely still learn Chinese in your free time from the comfort of your own home through Mandarin online tutorials.
- There are a ton of different ways to learn Chinese online, so you aren’t pigeonholed into one strict method of learning. Seriously, there’s an unbelievable amount of content out there! You’re bound to find one or two Mandarin online tutorials that implement the exact learning method that suits your needs. If you’re not a fan of sitting in a lecture hall and taking notes, you’re in luck.
- Many Mandarin online tutorials are free. What’s better than free stuff, really? The internet is a smorgasbord of information that you can use to teach yourself just about anything, and there’s plenty of free resources available for learning Mandarin Chinese.
The Ultimate Guide to the Most Entertaining Mandarin Online Tutorials
1. Check out online classes
Online classes are similar to physical classes in that they cover all the basics of Chinese for the newbie, including basic grammar, comprehension, tones, hanzi, pinyin and some cultural insights.
- Coursera. Coursera is a great tool for learning a new language, along with a bunch of other stuff. Universities and other programs use Coursera as a resource for posting lessons, tutorials and courses. We suggest trying out Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Mandarin Chinese 1: Chinese for Beginners. They even offer financial aid!
- That’s Mandarin. That’s Mandarin offers a ton of study abroad opportunities, but their online classes are just as awesome. You can book a class immediately and utilize live interaction with their certified teachers for a well-rounded class experience.
- EdX. EdX, like Coursera, is a host site for teachers and schools to conduct online courses. Most of their courses are self-paced, so you can find time to learn Mandarin on a busy schedule. To start, check out MandarinX’s Mandarin Chinese Level 1 course.
- Udemy. Yet another awesome class-hosting site! Udemy’s Mandarin courses are noticeably inexpensive, making them great for learning Chinese on a budget. We suggest WTF Mandarin – Beginner Conversational Chinese.
- Free Chinese Lessons. It’s all in the name. This site lets you pick a beginner lesson to start and teaches you the basics of pronunciation and writing, all for zero money.
These resources have a ton of beginner courses to check out, but be sure to actively search for “beginner” courses and lessons. You don’t want to accidentally take an intermediate or advanced course!
2. Use apps for learning Chinese on the go
Who doesn’t love the portability of smartphone apps? If you’re a busy person, these apps are great for learning Mandarin on the go without sacrificing a quality education.
- Memrise (Android/iPhone) – If you like board games or video games, you’ll probably dig Memrise. This app teaches Mandarin through games to motivate you to learn more and more.
- Duolingo (Android/iPhone) – You’ve probably heard of this awesome app before, and with good reason! You can take a comprehensive beginner course with Duolingo and choose how much you want to learn per day to fit your schedule.
- Busuu (Android/iPhone) – Busuu is similar in form to Duolingo, but it’s a bit more comprehensive and intense. If you’re really ready to dive into learning Mandarin quickly, check this app out!
- Skritter (Android/iPhone) – Skritter focuses on teaching newbies hanzi and pinyin specifically. If you struggle with memorizing and comprehending characters, this is an app worth looking into.
- FluentU (Android/iPhone) – If you want to learn how to speak Chinese in real-world scenarios, this is the app for you! 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 subtitles, interactive flashcards and personalized quizzes.
While it may seem overwhelming at first, downloading multiple Mandarin apps may be a good idea for covering all of the bases.
3. Listen to beginner Chinese podcast lessons for listening practice
Who doesn’t love a good podcast? If you have some leisure time and want to fill it with something productive, Mandarin-learning podcasts serve as great tutorials for learning spoken Chinese.
- ChineseClass101 – Enjoy thousands of audio lessons with fun podcast hosts on the go. Their beginner podcasts are very easy to follow.
- Popup Chinese – This site is massive! Make sure to filter your podcast searches to “absolute beginners.”
- CSLPod – Change the filter level to “elementary” to find fun storytelling podcasts that are easy for beginners to follow.
- Coffee Break Chinese – These podcast lessons are so simple and easy to follow, we suggest them for someone who has yet to even start exploring Mandarin as a beginner.
- Learn in Your Car: Mandarin Chinese Level 1 – If you’re a Spotify addict, it’s definitely worth saving this podcast to your library!
The best thing about these podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere. Try listening to them in the car, on the bus, at the doctor’s office, on your work break and everywhere in-between where you have attention to spare.
4. Use printable worksheets
While worksheets may sound like boring learning tools, they’re more effective than you might think.
Many of the worksheets you’ll find from these sites are blank, so printing them out to practice the hanzi that you’re learning from another source will be very handy. Learning how to write Chinese by hand is important, too!
- Teach Kids Chinese – We know this is marketed for children, but these worksheets are still very useful for novice Chinese learners.
We suggest downloading worksheets that feature square or rice grid boxes to help you learn the correct form of writing hanzi.
5. Practice with online flashcards
We recommend using specific flashcard sets from these resources that focus on the absolute basics of Chinese, rather than diving straight into the more difficult sets.
While flashcards don’t really vary in concept, it’s a good idea to try out all of these resources to find the best one to bookmark through the beginning stages of your language-learning journey.
Learning Mandarin with online tutorials is super convenient, isn’t it? Not to mention all of the seemingly endless options for any type of learner to try out.
Good luck in your studies!
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist who writes about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.