Best Apps for Learning Mandarin Chinese

The 24 Best Apps for Learning Chinese in 2022

Chinese learning apps are an awesome addition to your study toolbox.

They can connect you with native speakers, teach you how to write Chinese characters, help you remember vocabulary, and more. 

We’ve been reviewing Chinese learning resources and written hundreds of blog posts about getting fluent in Chinese since 2011, so we know the standouts. 

Here are our picks for the 24 best Chinese learning apps in 2022!

Contents

Apps for Chinese Vocabulary

Best for Intensive Studying: Daily Chinese

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Daily Chinese helps you grow your vocabulary with spaced repetition and diverse word packs, all the way to advanced Chinese. 

Price: Subscription-based, some features available for free

Daily Chinese is the ultimate app for getting to advanced Chinese.

In fact, it has one of the largest, if not the largest, collections of characters for learning Mandarin.

For HSK 6 and beyond, advanced learners will need an app like Daily Chinese, which contains over 9,000 characters for you to learn with the help of spaced repetition.

It also has the widest variety of word packs you’ll probably ever see in an app, from foundational topics like grammar to niche categories such as Buddhism and industry-specific vocabulary.

Best for Immersive Video-Based Learning: FluentU

Website | iOS | Android

Summary: FluentU makes Chinese clips accessible for all levels of learners, with study tools like transcripts and interactive subtitles. 

Price: Subscription-based, free trial available

FluentU is an app that teaches you Chinese through authentic media clips like vlogs, movie trailers and interviews.

Each Chinese clip comes with learner features, like transcripts and interactive subtitles that link to a video dictionary. You can even view English, Chinese and pinyin subtitles at the same time.

To see what any word in the video means, just hover over it in the subtitles:

FluentU Chinese Clip

Since it’s easy to forget new words, the app reinforces your learning with flashcards and personalized quizzes based on the videos you’ve watched, with speaking and listening exercises included.

Best for Gamified Vocabulary Learning: Drops

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Drops is a fun and addictive way to learn vocabulary for many different topics and themes.

Price: Subscription-based, free trial available

With Drops, you can learn valuable Chinese vocabulary in just five minutes in the free version or up to 10 or 15 minutes in premium. 

Drops uses addictive games to make learning Chinese even more fun, with collections of topics that you can choose from. For example, a word might pop up in the center of your screen, and then you have to drag it to its corresponding image.

The app is heavily illustrated so you can connect words directly to their meanings without having to translate them to your native language.

For a full review of Drops, click here

Apps for Learning Chinese Characters

Best for Remembering Characters: Zizzle

Website | iOSAndroid

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Zizzle uses stories and illustrations to make Chinese characters easier to remember.  

Price: Subscription-based, option to pay to unlock full features and additional packs

Zizzle is an app that teaches Chinese characters through short stories and visuals.

Currently, there are over 1000 characters available in the app, of which about 600 have charming and memorable illustrations to help you remember them. These Chinese characters correspond to the most common characters in each of the HSK levels. 

Each Chinese character is taught through a helpful story, often including the pronunciation, corresponding audio, stroke order and meaning of the character.

Best for Writing Characters: Skritter

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Skritter trains you to write Chinese characters with the right stroke order, thanks to its handwriting recognition system.   

Price: Subscription-based, free trial available

This is an app for those of you looking to get serious about your Chinese writing. The app uses a handwriting recognition system to allow learners to actually practice writing characters.

With Skritter, you’re not only learning how to properly write each Chinese character with the correct stroke order (though you definitely get that, too).

You’re also learning how to properly pronounce each word through audio pronunciations and tone gestures—swipe and tap to choose the right tone, and simultaneously learn how to write, read and pronounce each character.

Apps for Reading in Chinese

Best for Reading Stories: Du Chinese

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Du Chinese improves your reading comprehension through stories where you can quickly see the meaning of each word.

Price: Subscription-based, some features available for free

Du Chinese is an app that teaches you Mandarin through stories. “Du” refers to the character (dú) which means “to read.” 

All these stories have been written and recorded by native speakers, with professional translations. They’re available in Simplified and Traditional Mandarin and organized by HSK level.

Beginners start with really simple texts with basic vocabulary, while stories for intermediate learners are longer, with more focus on grammar.

For advanced learners, the app features classical Chinese texts, such as poems from Tang Dynasty.

Best for Reading News: The Chairman’s Bao

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: The Chairman’s Bao curates Chinese news snippets and makes them learner-friendly, with instant translations per word.  

Price: Subscription-based, free trial available

The Chairman’s Bao is a popular app that helps Chinese learners immerse in real-world news articles.

The app primarily features over 7000 graded-reader lessons written as news articles online. For example, you can read an article about AI in China monitoring students’ behavior.

The Chairman’s Bao has lessons available for all HSK levels, from beginner to advanced. It publishes 1600 new articles per year, so you’ll never run out of content!

During a lesson, learners can click on any word for a translation into English, with authentic Chinese audio often available.  

Best for Studying with Flashcards: LingQ

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: LingQ allows you to create vocabulary flashcards conveniently while reading interesting Chinese content. 

Price: Free basic plan, option to pay to unlock full features

LingQ’s language learning approach revolves around diving into native content like books and news articles and turning unknown words into flashcards.

These words can then be periodically reviewed until you remember what they mean.  

A major strength of LingQ is its large library of Chinese written content with audio recorded by real Chinese speakers. New lessons are also added by users daily, so the collection is always growing organically.

You can even import your own content such as blog posts and webpages. 

For a full review of LingQ, click here

Apps for Chinese Pronunciation

Best for Pinyin and Tones: Standard Mandarin

Website | iOS

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Standard Mandarin breaks down each sound in Chinese, complete with pronunciation drills and animations. 

Price: Free, option to remove ads for a fee

This app specializes in getting your pronunciation right, and even tells you how to use your tongue and facial muscles to make the correct sounds—so you can really work at getting rid of your foreign accent.

With the Standard Mandarin app, you get facial anatomy charts and illustrations to take the guesswork out of making the right sound.

All you have to do is pick the sound you want to hear (written in pinyin), and you’re presented with information and images for all the different tones for that sound.

Best for Pronunciation: Speechling

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: With Speechling, you can get record yourself speaking in Chinese and then get direct feedback from language coaches.  

Price: Free, option to pay for unlimited tutoring

Speechling is a nonprofit app that focuses on speaking, with emphasis on common, practical phrases.

First, you’ll listen to native audio and then you’ll repeat it back in a recording. Within 24 hours, a coach will analyze your recording for pronunciation, rhythm and intonation, as well as other aspects like word choice and grammar.

Aside from this, the app contains a variety of language activities to improve your Chinese conversational skills: Dictation Practice, Listening Practice, Flashcards, Fill in the Blank and an Audio Dictionary.

All of these are packed with thousands of common sentences voiced by professional native-speaking actors.

Apps for Listening to Chinese

Best for Podcasts: ChinesePod

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: ChinesePod has a huge collection of fun videos and podcasts that delve into various aspects of the Chinese language. 

Price: Subscription-based

ChinesePod is a program that uses over 4,000 video and podcast lessons to teach Mandarin Chinese.

There’s no rigid order that lessons need to be done in, so you can start anywhere!

Each lesson revolves around a dialogue or some other spoken Chinese component. Next is an analysis, allowing learners to really understand the structures at play within the Chinese sentences and conversations.

In addition to this base video or audio, learners also have access to downloadable vocabulary lists, grammar notes and English translations.

For a full review of ChinesePod, click here.

Best for Video Lessons: ChineseClass101

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: ChineseClass101 offers organized lessons based on podcasts with authentic conversations. 

Price: Subscription-based, some features available for free

ChineseClass101 is part of the famous Pod101 learning programs and apps series, which covers several languages.

Each lesson from ChineseClass101 is based on a video or audio clip (often recorded as a podcast). These clips often include a short scene or conversation in Chinese, and topics relating to school, work, family and everyday life.

After the video or audio clips, grammar and vocabulary notes are given, and you can also do short exercises.

There’s plenty of free content available with an account and on ChineseClass101’s YouTube channel.

For a full review of ChineseClass101, click here.

Best for Listening Practice: Learn Chinese—Listening and Speaking

Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Learn Chinese—Listening and Speaking specializes in audio-based lessons about conversational Chinese.  

Price: Free, option to upgrade to the pro version

Using day-to-day dialogues, Learn Chinese—Listening and Speaking teaches you vocabulary and grammar structures in context.

There are four levels (Basic, Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced), covering everything from basic greetings to socializing and business interactions. All audios come with transcripts, and there’s a slow reading function too for easier listening. 

This app also has sections on common Chinese sentences, songs, news and short stories, plus HSK prep.

It might be too advanced for complete beginners, but I’d recommend it for semi-beginners and self-motivated learners.

Chinese Reference Apps

Best Dictionary App: Pleco

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Pleco is the most extensive Chinese dictionary app, with features like handwriting recognition, flashcards and translation. 

Price: Free, option to pay for more features

Pleco is a powerful Chinese dictionary app, and it’s indispensable for Chinese learners.

The dictionary can be used offline, and it allows you to look up characters using a variety of methods: you can type in the word, draw it with your finger on the screen or even take a picture with your device’s camera!

You can also search for words using character, pinyin or a combination of both.

Pleco has a few more tricks for learners. It has a built-in flashcard system that also allows you to upload your own flashcards, and it lets you instantly look up any word in documents and text files.

Best for Grammar: Chinese Grammar

Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Chinese Grammar consists of easy-to-read grammar lessons with exercises and several example sentences.  

Price: Free

Chinese Grammar has more than 100 grammar lessons on the app that guide you from beginner to advanced Chinese.

It’s essentially a portable grammar guide, and every grammar point on this app is explained in the simplest terms. This ensures that you can readily apply each structure to your daily speaking and writing practice.

The content is also clearly laid out and easy to read.

Chinese Grammar is completely free to use, with no ads or need to sign up for an account. Still, it’s only available on Android devices, and the lessons are only in Simplified Mandarin and only go up to HSK 5.

Best for HSK Practice: HSK Online

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: HSK Online prepares you for the HSK with practice exercises, mock tests and customized study sessions. 

Price: Free, option to upgrade for unlimited VIP access

HSK Online is the premier app for Chinese proficiency test practice.

Although there are other apps out there that offer HSK word lists, HSK Online is by far the most thorough in terms of exam prep for all six levels, using previous exams and mock tests.

Other than HSK vocabulary, this app supplies over 300,000 exercises and practice questions that build on your listening, reading and writing skills.

The app is built on AI tech and other algorithms to review your progress and daily mistakes, customizing your study sessions to help you improve in your areas of weakness. For feedback, you’ll be given detailed explanations of errors.

Apps for Studying Chinese with Games

Best for Gamified Learning: HelloChinese

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: HelloChinese helps beginners learn Chinese with a curriculum of well-rounded games and lessons.  

Price: Free basic plan, option to pay to unlock additional features

HelloChinese is an all-around Chinese learning app that boasts over eight million downloads worldwide. 

Lessons with HelloChinese have a structured curriculum to follow. They revolve around real-world conversations and other listening activities with transcriptions and English translations.

The app touts the ability to support learners through all six levels of the HSK.

Further, learners can use the included speech recognition to help with tricky Chinese pronunciation and tones, and there’s an interface for in-app handwriting to practice writing Chinese characters.

For a full review of HelloChinese, click here

Best for Beginners: ChineseSkill

WebsiteiOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: ChineseSkill combines games and clips of native speakers into quick lessons that reach up to HSK 4.      

Price: Free, option to pay for more features

The ChineseSkill app makes learning fun through games and interactive exercises.

It’s mainly for intermediate learners at the HSK 3 and 4 level, but you can also use it as a complete beginner.

ChineseSkill features a well-rounded curriculum with over 400 grammar points, 300 sentence patterns, 1000 important words and over 1500 essential characters.

But don’t be alarmed at the high numbers! The app will ease you into all this information through games, native-speaker video and audio recordings.

There’s also the option to slow down playback, plus character writing practice, speaking exercises powered by speech recognition software and more.

Best for Writing: Lingodeer

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Lingodeer teaches HSK 1 to 3 vocabulary and grammar, along with how to write 1000 Chinese characters. 

Price: Free basic plan, option to pay for additional features

Lingodeer is a gamified Chinese app with lessons from HSK 1 to HSK 3.

It has a pretty organized structure, with lessons broken down into practical themes that you have to take in order. Each lesson has a variety of exercises, so it’s hard to get bored.

For speaking practice, the app asks you to listen to Chinese sentences and then record yourself saying them.

When it comes to reviewing lessons, there are small dialogues that you can listen to, along with short audio-based and video-based quizzes.

Another standout feature of Lingodeer is its lessons on character writing, which covers 1,000 characters.

For a full review of Lingodeer, click here

Best for Studying HSK 1 to 6: Ninchanese

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: NinChanese is a comprehensive gamified app for all levels that also covers writing and speaking practice. 

Price: Subscription-based, some features available for free

Ninchanese is a full Chinese learning course with more than 1500 Mandarin lessons available, all the way up to HSK 6.

Most lessons are gamified or have game-like components, making Ninchanese a stress-free and even fun way to learn the language.

Lessons are all-around, with a focus on reading, writing, speaking and listening to Chinese. Exercises include sentence building, recording speech, practice through dialogue and vocabulary matching.

In addition to its lessons, the app includes Spaced Repetition System (SRS) flashcards that make it easy to review vocabulary.

Best AI-Based App: Super Chinese

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: SuperChinese features Chinese lessons based on real-life topics, with personalized quizzes and AI-based feedback. 

Price: Free basic plan, option to pay to unlock additional features

Super Chinese is a highly rated app with bite-sized lessons for HSK 1 to HSK 5 learners.

As an all-around app, it tackles vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation in each lesson, with fun graphics and creative exercises thrown in.

There are over 400 lessons, and they’re arranged according to real-life themes, such as work or ordering out at restaurants.

What makes the app stand out is how much it uses artificial intelligence to give you feedback. You’ll be regularly asked to say a word out loud or come up with your own sentence, and the app’s AI points out which parts you’ve mispronounced.

Other Useful Apps for Studying Chinese

All of the apps listed above have specialized Chinese content, but there are also more general language learning apps that I’d recommend to every Chinese learner: 

Best for Remembering Vocabulary: Anki

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Anki allows you to remember vocabulary efficiently through flashcards that follow spaced repetition.

Price: Free for Android, one-time fee for iOS

If you’re looking for a way to build your vocabulary effectively, then Anki is the app for you.

Anki is a powerful and effective flashcard program that uses a Spaced Repetition System, also known as SRS. It detects how well you know a word, then shows it to you again at optimal times to help you learn it permanently.

It’s an incredibly powerful program, allowing a high degree of customization. Anki also has a huge user base of passionate learners, many of whom have made entire amazing decks available for anyone to use.

For a full review of Anki, click here.

Best for Conversation Partners: Tandem

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: Tandem pairs you with native Chinese speakers for an online language exchange. 

Price: Free, option to pay for more features

Tandem is an app that gives you real-world practice with native speakers.

On this language exchange platform, you’ll be connected with fellow learners whose target language is your mother tongue, allowing you to learn from one another. Tandem is essentially a social networking app for language learners.

It’s built with in-app language tools to make sure your interactions are as smooth as possible. Native speakers can provide corrections in your text, and you can also use the translator to convert their texts to English

To get pronunciation practice, Tandem gives you the option to communicate via voice notes, audio and video calls.

For a full review of Tandem, click here.

Best for One-on-One Tutoring: iTalki

Website | iOS | Android

best apps for learning chinese

Summary: iTalki allows you to book one-on-one sessions with hundreds of language tutors, including professional Chinese teachers. 

Price: Depends on the tutor, but usually ranges from $4 to $30 per hour

iTalki is a massive platform with thousands of tutors across practically every popular language.

For Chinese alone, there are more than 1000 tutors, mostly from Mainland China and Taiwan.

With iTalki, you can book sessions with any tutor of your choice. Sessions are usually done through video call on the built-in iTalki Classroom, Skype, WeChat or other platforms.

What’s great about iTalki is the flexibility. Tutors are available at practically every time slot, 24/7.

Since it’s one-on-one, you can have your lessons customized, from free-flowing conversation to more structured learning based on the HSK textbooks.

For a full review of iTalki, click here.

How to Use Apps to Learn Mandarin Chinese

The main advantage of Chinese learning apps is that you can use them on the go.

As a Chinese learner, you’ll often want to have a Chinese character recognition app or dictionary app on your phone so you can look up words quickly as you encounter them.

Another essential would be a flashcard app because it’ll make remembering vocabulary a lot easier!  

Beyond these, since there are tons of high-quality Chinese apps, I’d recommend choosing only one area to focus on each month (or each week). This is because when you first download an app, you get really obsessed with it, but then the magic often fades away.

To make it more sustainable, set a minimum time commitment.

For example, you can start out by spending 10 minutes studying flashcards. Then take another 10 minutes to possibly watch Chinese TV, listen to Chinese music or maybe immerse in WeChat.

A lot of these apps track your progress or give you daily reviews and tasks, which helps with staying consistent. 

 

And with that, pick your favorite Chinese learning app and turn your painful waiting times into learning opportunities!

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe

Close