Chat rooms have been around since the dawn of the internet and they have yet to go out of style.
Why would they, though?
Chat rooms are a fantastic way to communicate with many people all at the same time, all with a common interest or identity. People even find romantic partners through chat rooms, as well as lifelong friends.
While chat rooms can certainly be a fun outlet for meeting new people or discussing your favorite topics, they can also be incredibly helpful when it comes to learning a new language. Yes, even Chinese!
We put together a list of our favorite chat apps and chat rooms dedicated to learning and practicing Mandarin Chinese, for any type of Mandarin learner.
Before you check these awesome resources out, let’s look at how exactly Chinese chat rooms can help you learn and improve your Mandarin at any level.
How Can I Learn Chinese Through Online Chat?
- Exercise your 拼音 (pīn yīn) — Chinese romanization and 汉字 (hàn zì) — Chinese character skills: Getting the hang of using Mandarin keyboards online and chatting in real time with others using Chinese characters is just as important as learning how to listen and speak in Mandarin. All of the chat rooms and apps we’re covering include traditional text chat functions that’ll facilitate this type of practice.
- Practice multiple skills at once: Many of the chat rooms we’ll be mentioning have not only text chatting, but also speech and even video recording functions, so you can fully benefit from listening, speaking and writing Mandarin.
- Make new friends to practice with: Chatrooms for Chinese and English learners can facilitate friendship, which makes for more opportunities to use your Chinese language skills. Anybody can take classes and study hard to learn Mandarin, but nobody will become fluent unless they frequently use the language to communicate with other people.
Casual, spontaneous conversation is the absolute best way to gain fluency and Chinese chat rooms can help you make a Mandarin-speaking friend to have these types of conversations with.
- Learn authentic language: Whether you’re making lifelong friends or just popping in now and again for some quick chat practice, talking with native speakers will help you go way beyond textbook Chinese. You’ll pick up tons of Chinese internet slang from native chat partners, and you’ll absorb the natural rhythms and structures of communication in Mandarin.
To get the most out of those chats, throw FluentU into the mix.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Each video comes with interactive captions—click any word for an in-context definition, visual learning aid and native pronunciation. FluentU will also create flashcards and exercises from the video so you remember the words when you’re done watching. It’s a fun way to actively build your vocabulary while absorbing the language as native speakers really use it.
Plus, you’ll have plenty of Chinese pop culture to chat about online! You can start exploring the video library for free with a FluentU trial.
Chat to Learn Chinese: 6 Fun Apps and Chatrooms You Need to Try
ChineseLanguage via Discord
If you’re not familiar with it, Discord is a chat app that allows for audio and text communication between users on any particular channel. Discord is popular in the gaming community, but the ChineseLanguage Discord channel is a great place to check out if you want to improve your Mandarin.
This Discord channel has multiple voice rooms, text rooms and a private messaging system. Chinese learners of any level can use this Discord channel to chat. It may be wise to brush up on Discord lingo and tags to really maximize your use of the app as well.
It’s free to download Discord on your smartphone and free to join the ChineseLanguage channel, so what do you have to lose?
LinQ is one of the most innovative chat apps on our list. With LingQ’s range of features, you can chat with the confidence that you’re actually building your skills as you go.
That’s because there’s a heavy emphasis on vocabulary and comprehension plus the ability to converse with native speakers.
There are thousands of hours of audiobooks, podcasts and lessons for you to listen to and read. The idea is to give you interesting material that’ll hold your attention so you want to keep practicing. As you work through the content you’ll save new words for practice later and LingQ will automatically track your progress.
When you’re ready for some conversation, you can use the “Exchange” feature to schedule a conversation with a Mandarin-speaking tutor for a time that’s easiest for you. Best of all, you’ll get a conversation report afterwards so you’ll know where you stumbled and how to improve.
You can also participate in the LingQ forums for more informal chat practice.
It’s a great way to connect with others while also getting some much-needed lesson and practice time in. All in one app!
MasterChinese via Slack
Slack is a workspace sharing app that can also serve as a chat app. The MasterChinese workspace is by far the best for meeting other Mandarin learners and teachers.
To use the MasterChinese Slack chat room, click the link above and enter your email for an invite. Once you receive it, download Slack (for free!) and make an account to sign in. You can explore different channels focused on a range of topics, from language questions to Chinese-only discussion.
Unfortunately, there’s no voice recording option in Slack. If you want to improve your reading and writing skills, though, this is a chat room you should explore.
All levels can benefit from this chat room, but beginners should have a solid understanding of hanzi sentence structure before diving in.
If you’re more interested in meeting native Mandarin speakers to help you improve your Chinese, this chat room is one you should check out.
WeSpeke is a sort of social network dedicated to bringing Mandarin learners and Chinese teachers together for the purpose of education. To sign up, click the red “Sign up to learn Chinese!” button, then “Take me to WeSpeke” and follow the instructions for signing up. You can use WeSpeke on your smartphone or laptop.
All learners can use WeSpeke for Mandarin at any level. Just select your level of proficiency when signing up. You can select your preference for learning, be it for pleasure or business. WeSpeke can even match you up with an ideal language buddy or you can explore the board yourself and message people directly.
Eggbun is, more or less, a chat room-based classroom. If you want a bit more structure to your Mandarin chat experience (and some pretty adorable anthropomorphic egg graphics) then Eggbun is definitely for you.
This app connects you with an AI chatbot tutor that sends you chat room-style messages, both audio and text, to teach you Mandarin. In response, you can talk to the AI tutor with voice recording and text. You can also learn neat little cultural facts about China along the way.
It’s an especially great option if you’re shy about speaking in Chinese but still want to practice. Plus, the interface of this app is super clean and user-friendly.
You can install the Eggbun app on your smartphone for free. There’s currently only a “beginner” version of the app, but intermediate and advanced levels are in the works. Stay tuned!
HelloTalk is gaining some serious popularity around the net, for good reason! This smartphone app connects you with either a native Chinese speaker trying to learn English or another Mandarin learner above your level.
Text, audio and video are all utilized in chat room-style conversation. When each party says or writes something in a particular language, the other party can edit and correct the sentence or phrase for accuracy. You can also communicate with the entire community via public posts, where you can ask language questions and share updates on your Mandarin journey.
There are over 10 million users on HelloTalk currently, so you’re guaranteed to make a friend or two! HelloTalk is free to use and set up.
Talk about variety! We bet you’ll find at least a few apps and chat rooms from this list that’ll quickly become your favorite way to brush up on Mandarin fluency. Better yet, you may just make a new friend to learn Mandarin with. Celebrate community with these great chat rooms and don’t forget to practice outside of chat time!
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist who writes about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.