Chinese Online Courses

The Top 20 Chinese Online Courses for Leveling Up Your Learning in 2022

When you set off to learn Mandarin Chinese, you might not have a clear path.

Going it alone can make it challenging to know what to do next, but online courses can provide you with the direction and structure you need to take your skills to the next level.

Whether you’re a beginner or you’re ready to jump into challenging native material, I’ve curated online Chinese courses that can guide you reliably through the language.

As passionate language learners, our team is constantly testing out diverse resources for learning Chinese and doing in-depth reviews. We’ve been around for more than ten years, so we know what’s helpful (and what’s simply hype).  

These 20 online Chinese courses might just be your roadmap toward fluency.

Contents

The Top 20 Chinese Online Courses for Leveling Up Your Learning in 2022

Not all Chinese courses are equal. The best Chinese courses have a good track record, tons of satisfied students, and thorough content. As a long-term Chinese learner, I’ve also included some of my favorite resources (which I’ve been using for years).

Courses for Authentic Chinese 

These courses teach you authentic Chinese through interesting videos and audios that delve into culture, everyday expressions, and popular media: 

Best for Exploring Chinese Culture: ChinesePod

ChinesePod

Summary: ChinesePod has a massive library of 4000+ video and audio lessons about the Chinese language and culture. 

Price: $14/month for basic, $29/month for premium 

ChinesePod started way back in 2005, and it was considered a pioneer in the Chinese learning space. It’s actually one of the first Chinese courses that I tried out! Fast forward to 2022, when its video and audio library has exploded into more than 4000 lessons.

Each Chinese Pod clip is around 10 to 20 minutes long, with the average at 15 minutes. You can find a clip about practically any topic, from advanced chengyu stories and the Chinese interpretation of love to standard greetings and pinyin explanations. Since there are different hosts too, you’re unlikely to get bored, and there are even clips that revolve around Chinese culture, such as the differences between Shanghai and Beijing.

Given the huge number of videos, the lessons are categorized into seven levels, from beginner to advanced. Each level has a set of recommended lessons, but there’s no specific order that you have to follow in watching them.

The Basic subscription might be more than enough for you because that already lets you access all of the videos from ChinesePod’s massive library. If you want extra learning features, though, like exercises and flashcards, you can find those in Premium. 

Pros:

  • Massive library of 4000+ audio and video lessons
  • Covers a wide range of topics
  • Teaches authentic expressions and cultural tidbits

Cons:

  • No specific order for going through the videos
  • Heavily focused on listening, without developing other skills
  • Too much explaining in English with beginner videos

Best for Immersing in Chinese Media: FluentU

Summary: FluentU teaches you Chinese through native media like vlogs, movie clips, and news reports.

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: $29.99/month, free trial available

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.

FluentU aims to let learners of any level watch and learn from authentic videos like movie clips, commercials, news and more.

The videos are paired with learner features like interactive captions and dual-language subtitles. This allows learners to learn as they watch, within the context of native-level content.

Unlike many other programs, which have you following a specific learning track, FluentU gives you the freedom to watch any video at any time. This is great for learners who want more flexibility in their studies, or are aiming for a specific goal.

The FluentU program also comes equipped with transcripts and flashcards with audio and video aspects.  You can also test yourself on your understanding of the vocabulary in each video or in your flashcard list with the accompanying spaced-repetition-based quizzes.

I’ve used FluentU and even though I’m conversationally proficient in Mandarin, I still come across new words I can use in my everyday life.

I also like how the flashcards let you hear how a word is used in different videos for additional context. It really helps me to understand the various situations where I’d use that word in a real conversation.

Pros:

  • Learning through real-world media
  • Video clips equipped with interactive learner tools
  • Suitable for auditory and visual learners

Cons:

  • No feedback from native speakers
  • Minimal grammar instruction
  • Needs to be paired with additional learning materials

Best for Conversational Chinese: ChineseClass101.com

Summary: ChineseClass 101 features short videos and podcasts on Chinese, with new ones added every week. 

Available: iTunes and Android

chinese-online-course

Price: Free, $7.99+/month for paid plans, free trial available

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.

When you sign up, be prepared to receive a lot of emails. It’s not the end of the world, but it was definitely a bit annoying for me. You can manually change your settings so that you stop getting bombarded, but I would have preferred if these notices popped up as app notifications instead of filling up my inbox.

Pros:

  • Many learning paths, flexible course structure
  • Offline and downloadable resources available for free users
  • Plenty of features for vocabulary practice

Cons:

  • Marketing emails masked as “email lessons”
  • Web program and mobile app offer very different learning experiences
  • Limited native speaker feedback

Video-Based Chinese Courses 

These Chinese courses consist of step-by-step video lessons that you can study at your own pace: 

Best for Intensive Studying: Mandarin Blueprint

Summary: Based on the founders’ experience of becoming fluent in Chinese as non-natives, Mandarin Blueprint uses unique teaching methods to take you from beginner to proficient. 

Available: iTunes and Android (via Kajabi app)

Price: $39/month, $499 for lifetime access

mandarin blueprint

If tutors, classes and textbooks don’t suit your learning style, Mandarin Blueprint might be for you!

It’s a video-based course led by two fluent Chinese speakers that have invented their own patent-pending system to help English speakers learn and actually retain Mandarin.

Instead of the typical beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons, Mandarin Blueprint is divided into six stages: Pronunciation, Character Building, Vocabulary Building, Sentence Building, Paragraph Building and Story Building.

How cool is it that you get to work up to creating your own stories rather than writing essays?

I do have to say though: as an iPhone user, the use of Anki flashcards is a major drawback. Anki is a great app, but paying for that on top of a Mandarin Blueprint subscription puts a major dent in my wallet.

This isn’t an issue for Android users since Anki is free on the Microsoft Store and Google Play. It’s just us iOS users that aren’t so lucky.

Pros:

  • Unique take on Mandarin progression, from pronunciation to story building
  • Their weekly podcast addresses questions and concerns from learner emails
  • Offers realistic long-term learning outcomes

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have its own app
  • Bonus features like coaching, podcasts and community forum are very pricey
  • Must be used with Anki flashcards (free for Android users, additional payment for iOS users)

Best for Grammar: ChineseFor.Us

Summary: ChineseFor.Us offers in-depth courses that teach you about the fundamentals of Chinese, up until HSK 3.   

Price: $14.99+/month, free lessons and activities available 

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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.

I have to emphasize that this course goes quite in-depth, even though it’s targeted at beginners. If you’re like me and enjoy diving deep into the logic of language systems, this could be for you. If you have no interest in grammar, you might want to choose another course.

Pros:

  • The lead instructor has experience teaching various age groups from 30+ countries
  • Courses based on studying and teaching university-level Chinese
  • Emphasis on both typing and handwriting

Cons:

  • The most advanced HSK course is HSK 3
  • Best for academic learners—too comprehensive for casual learners
  • Foundational courses for beginners only

Best for Balancing Formal and Informal Chinese: Yoyo Chinese

Summary: Yoyo Chinese specializes in beginner and intermediate video lessons that are less than five minutes long. 

Price: $29/course, $499 for all courses

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.

What I appreciate about the content itself is the mix of proper Chinese and Chinese spoken in real life. For me, it’s important to learn the correct structures before going off and shortening sentences so that you can understand Mandarin in both formal and informal settings.

If you need a little “wow” factor, Yoyo Chinese is provided by an experienced instructor whose private students have included Hollywood celebrities!

Courses are available for complete beginners through upper intermediate students.

Pros:

  • Good balance between spoken and “correct” Chinese
  • Comprehensive courses with clear explanations
  • Motivational and positive instruction

Cons:

  • No mobile app
  • Too much English instruction for intermediate and advanced students
  • Chinese character courses only focus on simplified Chinese

Best for Advanced Chinese: Chinese Zero to Hero!

chinese online courseSummary: Chinese Zero to Hero! features video courses that span HSK 1 to HSK 9, with emphasis on sentence structures and grammar. 

Price: $9+/course, free courses available

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 more than 900 total videos!

Overall, I think that Chinese Zero to Hero! is accessible and fantastic for those who need extra grammar help. It definitely works well for independent learners like myself, but if you need more guidance, you can always get a tutor on the side.

Pros:

  • Caters to all proficiency levels and preps up to HSK6
  • Courses are affordable
  • Less pinyin and English as you move up in difficulty level

Cons:

  • More grammar-intensive
  • Some courses require textbooks and workbooks
  • No feedback

Best for Live Classes: Domino Chinese

chinese online course

Summary: Domino Chinese is all about video courses that include authentic dialogues in Chinese, with the option to take live classes too. 

Available: iTunes

Price: $3+/month, free trial available

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 to be “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. And I love that these foundations are taught in the form of building blocks.

Rather than learning through themed vocabulary lists, you learn how characters build on top of one another to form new but related meanings. I think that Domino Chinese does a fantastic job of explaining the logic of character structure and definitions.

With 200 hours of material, Domino Chinese is appropriate for beginning through advanced level learners (up to HSK level 5).

Pros:

  • Learning content based on building blocks instead of rote memorization
  • The course structure helps students reach HSK 4 faster than traditional university courses
  • Option to sign up for a personal teacher

Cons:

  • Complete beginner to advanced fluency seems a bit of a stretch—testimonials indicate learners also had private tutors, live in China or already have some exposure to Chinese
  • Downloadable content only available via app on a premium subscription
  • Need to dedicate at least seven hours a week to coursework

Chinese Courses for Listening  

It takes a while to get the hang of listening in Chinese, so these audio-based courses can come in handy: 

Best for Listening Comprehension: The Real Spoken Chinese Vault by Mandarin HQ

chinese online course

Summary: The Real Spoken Chinese Vault trains your listening comprehension through native speaker interviews with different accents. 

Price: $87 for lifetime access

If listening in Chinese never seems to get any easier for you, The Real Spoken Chinese Vault is at your service.

This course by Mandarin HQ is made up of 150 video lessons based on quick interviews with native speakers. From these interviews, you’ll get used to people’s natural speaking speed, learn about different accents as well as pick up conversational grammar and vocabulary.

The videos make it seem like you’re actually having a conversation with the interviewees, which I feel is a great way to prepare for face-to-face communication. Conversations also involve body language and facial expressions, which you wouldn’t be able to see with simple audio prompts.

Given all the content you have lifetime access to, this video course is definitely a steal. It’s not as comprehensive as some other options in this list, but it’s definitely worth its value. Plus, you can always pair this with other resources if you need writing practice.

Pros:

  • Interviews feature real Chinese speakers with different accents
  • Gets you acquainted with natural speaking speed right away
  • Content also includes conversation components like fillers, slang, incomplete sentences, etc.

Cons:

  • Priority on conversational grammar—could have more info on “proper” grammar
  • Mainly for upper beginners and intermediate learners
  • Need to look elsewhere for writing practice

Best for Auditory Learners: Pimsleurpimsleur

Summary: Pimsleur consists of 30-minute Chinese audio lessons that you’re supposed to watch one day at a time.  

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: $575 for the complete course, $14.95/month, free trial available

Pimsleur is the oldest course in this list. It’s been around since 1963, way before online courses were even available!

At its core, Pimsleur works like a series of audiotapes, with optional supplementary exercises after each lesson. A lesson usually starts with a dialogue in Chinese, after which it’s broken down word by word. There’s plenty of repetition that goes into each line of the dialogue, and you’ll often be asked to speak out loud, following the narrator’s example.

The entire concept of Pimsleur is based on spaced repetition. You’re supposed to do one 30-minute lesson each day, with the next lesson asking you to recall words from previous lessons. This way, you don’t technically need to do extra memorization–just by following the course structure, the words will start sticking in your mind.

Pimsleur consists almost completely of audio, so I’d recommend it for improving your Chinese listening and pronunciation. It works great too if you’re an auditory learner who prefers learning a new word by hearing it.

Pros:

  • Focuses on honing your listening and speaking
  • Teaches you Chinese naturally, with minimal memorization
  • Clear instructions for going through the course

Cons:

  • No feedback on your speaking
  • Needs to be followed at a fixed pace
  • Doesn’t target your reading or writing

Best for Casual Chinese: Chinese Learn Online

Summary: Chinese Learn Online gets you comfortable with listening to Chinese through podcasts centered on dialogues.   

Available: iTunes and Android

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Price: Free, $19.95/month for paid plans

When I first learned Chinese as a kid, it made sense for me to learn from a native speaker.

Having learned more languages over the years, I found it easier to understand Chinese grammar structures from the perspective of a native English speaker who’s fluent in Chinese.

So while it’s vital that you learn pronunciation and communication from a native Chinese speaker, I also think it’s important to understand Mandarin in a context relevant to you.

This step-by-step course was created by native English speakers for native English speakers, and it sets out to take learners on a journey from complete beginner to intermediate-level proficiency in Chinese.

Chinese Learn Online aims to give you the skills you need with just 20 minutes of daily study. That’s short enough to fit into a busy schedule but still long enough for some in-depth studying.

Each lesson features a listening activity, vocabulary list, notes and interactive activities such as 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.

Pros:

  • Courses are tailored to Native English speakers
  • No fixed schedule so you can study at your own pace
  • No long vocab lists, making Chinese learning more approachable for complete newbies

Cons:

  • Pinyin-only learning mode seems unnecessary—only focuses on pronunciation and doesn’t contribute to the overall understanding of the language
  • Limited exposure to regional accents since featured native speakers are all Taiwanese
  • Limited functionality on mobile apps

Chinese Courses on the Go

If you have a hectic schedule, these Chinese courses have quick lessons that you can do in as short as five to ten minutes: 

Best All-Around Course: HelloChinese

Summary: HelloChinese uses short, gamified lessons to help you practice your speaking, pronunciation, and listening.  

chinese online course

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: Free, $8.99+/month for paid plans

If you want a fun and interactive learning experience that only focuses on Mandarin, HelloChinese is the app for you.

Equipped with speech recognition and animated character writing practice, HelloChinese has bite-sized game-based lessons that target all skills, including vocabulary and grammar.

A lot of the time, free plans don’t include all the learning content. Luckily with HelloChinese, all the lessons and exercises under the “Learn” section are completely free.

If you want to upgrade, the Premium plan lets you use the “Train” section that contains extra practice activities. The Premium+ plan lets you use “Train” and “Immerse,” which has interactive podcasts and videos to hone in on listening and speaking skills.

While I’d say that the premium plans are worth the money, the free plan is pretty sufficient. Although I use it as a refresher, the content progression makes it possible to go from newbie to intermediate with this app alone.

Pros:

  • Free lessons and exercises
  • A lot of speaking practice in addition to pronunciation course
  • Non-native English speakers can change instruction language

Cons:

  • Only goes up to HSK 4
  • Extra features and activities only accessible with Premium or Premium+ plan
  • Best for beginners, but also works as a refresher or extra practice for intermediates

Best for Beginners: Rosetta Stonechinese online course

Summary: Rosetta Stone teaches beginner and intermediate Chinese through visuals, repetition, and interactive exercises.   

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: $11.99/month, $299 for lifetime access to all languages, free trial available

If you 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 and more.

While Rosetta Stone does have a lot of fun features, I was slightly disappointed that the extended learning tools such as Stories and the AR game Seek & Speak aren’t available for Chinese learners. I felt like I was missing out a little in terms of having opportunities to practice what I was taught in the lessons.

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.

Pros:

  • Immersive learning experience
  • Focus on conversational skills over grammar
  • TruAccent speech engine for practicing native pronunciation

Cons:

  • Only suited for beginners
  • Extended learning tools not available for Chinese learners

Best for Casual Learning: Duolingo

chinese online course

Summary: Duolingo motivates you to learn Chinese through games that are doable in five minutes.   

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: Free, $6.99/month for Duolingo Plus, free trial available

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 Chinese students. Because Duolingo focuses largely on memorization, it’s good for learning vocabulary. For deeper grammar structures, you might want to pair it with another course.

While speaking practice is available on Duolingo, I do think there are better alternatives for nailing pinyin pronunciation and tones. Take it from me—these are the biggest hurdles for beginners, so you need all the help you can get in the early stages so that communication is clear.

Pros:

  • Engaging, game-like vocabulary practice
  • Perfect for non-native English and multilingual speakers
  • All learning content accessible with a free account

Cons:

  • Only suitable for beginners
  • No contextual information or grammar explanations
  • Offline use limited to Duolingo Plus users

Best for Grammar: Lingodeer

lingodeerSummary: Lingodeer offers gamified lessons from HSK 1 to HSK 4 with diverse exercises and clear grammar explanations.   

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: $14.99/month, $159.99 for lifetime access

If you’re a beginner in Chinese or you’ve just reached intermediate, then you can do study sessions with Lingodeer. Lingodeer actually started out with only Asian languages, but since then, it has expanded to other languages. Since Chinese is one of the original languages on the app, its Chinese courses are among the most fleshed out! 

The courses are arranged by level, covering HSK 1 to HSK 4. If you’re planning to pick up Chinese for a trip, there’s a separate course for being able to get around while traveling.

What I like about the app is the courses are taught creatively. Each course teaches grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation through diverse exercises like fill-in-the-blanks or rearranging words into a sentence. The app also gives detailed grammar notes, even for beginners.

On top of this, Lingodeer also has a course for learning the top 1000 Chinese characters. You can practice writing them out with the right stroke order on the app and then do regular reviews to reinforce new characters. 

Pros:

  • Teaches vocabulary and grammar at the same time, with detailed grammar notes
  • Has a variety of exercises including character drills, quizzes, and flashcards
  • Neat course structure so you always know exactly what to study next

Cons:

  • Only reaches up to HSK 4
  • Courses aren’t consistent, with some courses having more content than others
  • Units need to be taken in order to be unlocked

Best for Advanced Chinese: Ninchanese

Summary: Ninchanese covers HSK 1 to HSK 6 material with 3,500+ lessons that use games and spaced repetition.  

Available: Android

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Price: Free, $10+/month for paid plans, free trial available

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, but 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.

I feel that many online resources claim to target all Chinese learning levels but end up missing the mark on advanced content. Thankfully, Ninchanese is true to its word, having content 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 and HSK6 level.

Every now and then, I’ll jump back and forth between the levels to refresh my memory.

Pros:

  • Good practice for intermediate and advanced students
  • Sufficient learning content for free users
  • Prep for up to HSK6

Cons:

  • Slightly too challenging for complete beginners
  • Only available as a mobile app on Android devices
  • Need to request special access if you want to study traditional Chinese

Chinese Courses with Tutoring 

Best for Long-Term Classes: TutorMing

chinese online course

Summary: TutorMing allows you to take 0ne-on-one classes least a few times every week, with three months as the minimum time commitment. 

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: $17.91+/session for adults, $24.99+/session for kids

Not everyone is driven enough to learn independently and hold themselves accountable to their goals. Simply put, some people require guidance and learn best with a tutor. Enter TutorMing.

TutorMing specializes in one-on-one classes to give every student the personalized attention they deserve. All instructors are properly licensed, with many of them teaching as a profession and working at TutorMing on the side.

Scheduling classes is a breeze on the platform. It’s also quite easy to cancel and rebook classes to accommodate busy learners. That kind of flexibility is key for me.

As you can see, TutorMing is on the pricier side. But it requires a commitment to a few classes per week. If you don’t have long-term learning goals, you might not see the value in so many lessons over an extended period of time. Though keep in mind that there aren’t any shortcuts to language fluency!

Pros:

  • Patented system to match students with lesson plans based on level, skills, etc.
  • Learners have up to two years to finish classes at no additional cost if not completed within their plan’s time frame
  • Lots of flexibility in booking and rescheduling classes

Cons:

  • Quite expensive compared to other online tutoring options
  • The shortest time commitment is three months
  • Only suitable for motivated learners with a bigger budget

Best for Niche Topics: eChineseLearning

chinese online course

Summary: eChineseLearning specializes in one-on-one-tutoring on a variety of topics, including business or industry-specific Mandarin and HSK test preparations. 

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: $11+/lesson, free trial available

eChineseLearning is another resource on the list that teaches Mandarin with the help of a tutor.

Out of all the online tutoring services I’ve come across, eChineseLearning offers by far the biggest variety of courses. From the generic to the highly specialized, you can sign up for anything from test prep to Chinese lessons for adoptive families.

So if you just so happen to be a niche Mandarin learner, you’ll probably find exactly what you need in this diverse course selection. There’s also a free trial and a separate free assessment if you can’t decide between courses.

With so many language learning companies out there, I’m surprised eChineseLearning hasn’t developed its own online classroom to carry out lessons.

I suppose that Skype is easier for those who aren’t great with apps. I’m not tech-savvy myself, but I do like the convenience of lessons, materials and account settings contained in a single platform.

Pros:

  • Diverse course options for private classes
  • Licensed, qualified instructors
  • Teachers available 24/7

Cons:

  • Rescheduling classes is potentially difficult if the assigned teacher is popular
  • Classes can be expensive depending on the membership plan 
  • Lessons taught over Skype, no dedicated online classroom platform

Best for Group Classes: That’s Mandarin

chinese online course

Summary: That’s Mandarin is a China-based language school with both private tutoring and small group classes. 

Price: $13+/class

That’s Mandarin is one of the top Chinese language schools in China. Branches are located in Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou, but they also offer online classes for busy learners and students outside of the country.

You can sign up for small group classes, private instruction or one-on-one HSK prep. That’s Mandarin also works with corporate clients if you happen to be a business owner who needs Chinese training for employees.

As I’ve said before, flexibility is crucial for me when it comes to online courses. That’s Mandarin is pretty good with working around your schedule. So if you need to cancel or reschedule a session, just let your instructor know at least a day in advance.

What makes That’s Mandarin truly unique is the in-house digital platform called NihaoCafe, which is used both for in-person and online classes. It’s nicely designed and really easy to use. Best of all, the study portal is accessible even after you’ve finished all your lessons, so you can go back and review the learning materials whenever you want!

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use and convenient online classroom platform
  • Licensed teachers with degrees in Chinese language education or literature
  • Lifetime access to study materials

Cons:

  • Estimated 128 online classes to reach HSK 4, potentially a slow progression for some learners
  • Immersive teaching style may be intimidating for complete beginners
  • Classes based on China Standard Time may conflict with learners’ schedules

Best for Self-Learning: GoEast Mandarin

Summary: GoEast Mandarin combines video courses that you can study on your own with live classes. 

chinese online course

Price: $699+/course, specific prices available upon request

Some of us need the help of a teacher to learn. Others are capable of learning independently. But if you don’t necessarily fit in either category or want the best of both worlds, you might want to look into an online course with GoEast Mandarin.

GoEast Mandarin is a Chinese language school based in Shanghai that started offering private and small group online classes in 2016. The courses include HSK 1-4, Business Chinese, Spoken Chinese and Hanzi. You can also ask for a customized course.

If you aren’t sure about your level, you can also get a free language assessment and learning plan. To see what the classes are like, the program allows you to audit open classes for just $1.

In terms of the course selection, I always find it strange when there’s a separate course for hanzi or character writing, considering that Chinese is a character-based language. It just makes it seem like writing is a smaller component of Chinese than it is.

The learning content seemingly places more emphasis on pinyin. This is great for absolute beginners, but it might be encouraging them to rely too much on pinyin. While it is important, pinyin is only good for pronunciation, typing and little else. You need to see hanzi to learn meaning.

If you’re a newbie and have the budget for it, I’d still say to give this a go. Although it’s expensive, the price makes sense because of everything that’s included. After all, you’re paying for your instructor’s time and expertise, as well as all the self-study materials.

Pros:

  • Teachers are native speakers with degrees in foreign language education
  • Option for a tailored course for specific learning needs

Cons:

  • Pricier compared to most options on the list
  • Audio recordings in flashcards sound robotic instead of natural
  • Pinyin seems to be prioritized over Chinese characters

Where to Find More Online Chinese Courses

Aside from the Chinese courses above, you can check out MOOC (massive open online course) platforms like edX, Udemy, and Coursera for more specialized topics like intermediate business Chinese or Chinese songs.  Let’s go over each of these platforms: 

edX

Summary: edX offers online self-paced Chinese courses from actual universities, including Tsinghua University and Peking University.  

chinese online course

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: Free to audit, $149+ for verified track 

Okay, I tricked you a little. This isn’t an online Chinese course. Instead, it’s a collection of several online Chinese courses. Jackpot!

The edX website 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.

Currently, edX features eight Chinese courses, including offerings from universities in China, like Tsinghua University and Peking University.

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 (zhōng jí hàn yǔ yǔ fǎ) | Intermediate Chinese Grammar.

These courses are self-paced, so you move through the material as fast 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.

This extra cost also includes access to course materials, assignments and instructor feedback. The charge is fair, but I do know that HSK test results carry more weight than these certificates for Chinese employers. Auditing courses just makes more sense for me. (Though it might be a different case for you.)

Pros:

  • Course selection also includes Mandarin Chinese for Business
  • Professional certification in Mandarin communication is available
  • Affordable university Chinese courses taught by native speakers

Cons:

  • Graded assessments, certificate of completion and some course materials only available on the verified track
  • Limited enrollment sessions available
  • Not as engaging or entertaining as other options on the list

Coursera
chinese online course

Summary: Coursera features a huge collection of Chinese courses from real universities, along with courses in other subjects that are taught in Chinese. 

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: Free to audit, $29+/course, $399/year for unlimited courses

Coursera is another MOOC platform where you can find useful Chinese courses. It also has possibly the biggest collection of Chinese courses on MOOC platforms. This is extremely helpful for someone like me who likes variety in their learning and wants to check out different teaching methods.

I also find that not all instructors teach well in an online format. So the fact that you can audit tons and tons of courses for free is a plus.

All the Chinese courses on Coursera come from real universities, like Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Peking University.

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)(zhōng jí shāng wù hàn yǔ [rù zhí yǔ yíng xiāo piān]) — Intermediate Business Chinese (On-the-job and Marketing). Plus, course levels are conveniently marked so you can browse 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 can sneak in. Just pay attention to the course titles to find the Chinese material you’re looking for.

Pros:

  • 500+ Mandarin courses to choose from
  • Coursera certificates shareable via LinkedIn
  • Financial aid available for pricier courses

Cons:

  • Must pay for graded assessments, certificates and instructor feedback
  • Although cheaper than on-campus options, degrees are still considerably pricey
  • Lack of moderation on discussion boards

Udemy

chinese online course

Summary: Udemy has more casual, video-based Chinese courses that are made by individuals instead of universities.   

Available: iTunes and Android

Price: Free to audit, $19.99+/course

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 Complete Chinese Course: Learn Mandarin for Beginners 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 Learn Chinese With Interesting and Funny Stories – HSK 1, which use engaging, fun material to teach Chinese skills, like grammar and vocabulary.

Given that they’re made by individuals, I feel that these courses are much more relaxed and take the pressure off learning an unfamiliar language. Open courses by universities can come off as formal and rigid, whereas Udemy video lessons remind me of engaging Mandarin language education videos on YouTube.

Pros:

  • Huge database, high diversity in Chinese course offerings
  • Guided learning but less rigid in structure compared to other MOOCs
  • Great for casual learners

Cons:

  • Udemy certificates not recognized by employers
  • Not eligible for academic credit
  • Courses are developed by individuals—unverified experience of instructors

How to Choose the Right Online Chinese Course for You

Now you’ve got a list of high-quality Chinese online courses to explore! Here are a few tips for determining which ones you should try first: 

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. Some might 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.

 

These 20 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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