hellochinese blog review

HelloChinese Review: Top Gamified App for Beginners in Chinese

We’re lucky to live in a world where there are so many resources for learning Chinese.

Learners don’t have to shell out substantial tuition fees to attend a college course or study abroad to learn Mandarin anymore.

These days, people can learn Chinese directly from their smartphone!

In fact, many learners are already familiar with a popular app called HelloChinese.

But does this language-learning resource really live up to the hype?

I’ve taken the time to test out and review HelloChinese so you can make a more informed decision on whether or not this app is right for your language journey.

First, let’s take a look at what exactly HelloChinese does and how it works.

hellochinese review

Name: HelloChinese

Description: Gamified, bite-sized lessons in app form.

Languages offered: Chinese.

Offer price: From $8.99/month all the way up to $149.99/year

  • User friendliness - 9/10
  • Delivers on promises - 7.5/10
  • Authenticity - 9/10
  • Value for price - 9/10


HelloChinese is a clean and user-friendly app. It’s tailored specifically to beginners, though it doesn’t teach Chinese characters and is a good place to get the basics in a fun, bite-sized package. However, it has limited real-world conversations and rather ineffective “immersion” videos behind a paywall.


  • Strong emphasis on speaking, pronunciation and listening skills
  • Effective voice recognition program
  • Clean and user-friendly design
  • Clear and concise explanation of basic grammar concepts


  • Doesn’t teach proper Chinese writing, with stroke order
  • Immersive content is inauthentic and staged
  • Lacks explanations of more complex grammar concepts


What Is HelloChinese?

hellochinese review

HelloChinese is a language-learning app for mobile devices. It uses a daily learning goal approach to help learners attain a conversational level of Chinese. It claims to teach learners over 1000 words, 320 characters and 235 grammar points.

HelloChinese boasts quite a few features:

  • Chinese speech recognition
  • The ability to write 汉字 (hànzì) — Chinese characters by hand
  • Game-based lessons
  • Video clips of native speakers
  • Pinyin courses for newbies
  • Customizable and personalized interface
  • Daily training exercises
  • Mini curricula for different language needs
  • Study progress trackers
  • Offline capabilities
  • Traditional and simplified Chinese character support

HelloChinese is available for both Android and iOS devices. It’s free to download but features ads, and there are in-app purchases available.

A Closer Look at the HelloChinese App

Core Features

One thing I noticed right away is HelloChinese has a neat little feature.

You can sign up and log in immediately, as is normal for most apps like this. But HelloChinese also has a “let me try” button so you can test out the app before going through the process of signing up.

At a glance, the app is very clean and user-friendly. The homepage or “Learn” section has a map that shows the trajectory of your lessons, with sections like Introduction, Hello, School 1 and so on.

HelloChinese lesson page

Each module on HelloChinese takes around 5-10 minutes to finish, and I found them pretty engaging because they give you a variety of exercises. For example, you might be asked to translate a sentence, practice listening comprehension, and even say sentences out loud so the app can give you feedback about your pronunciation.

You’ll also see short clips of native speakers saying the vocabulary, which helps you remember the words better.  

Of course, as you keep learning, the app will remind you to review previous material. See the leaf icon on the app’s lower right corner? Tap on this, and you’ll find reviews for both vocabulary and grammar:

hellochinese review screenshot

There are other extra review options, including drills based on native speaker videos. You can make a playlist of words too that you find difficult so you can review them more often.  

Extra Features

The next section, “Stories,” features reading material in Chinese that’s arranged by level. These range from story series to articles about Chinese culture, and you can listen to the story being read out loud, tap on individual words to get their meaning and take a quiz afterwards:

screenshot of story in hellochinese app

You’ll also see a third section, “Immerse,” that consists of immersive lessons. Most of these are behind a paywall, though! I’ll explain this section more in-depth later.

The final section, which is called “Me,” shows your account name (if you signed up) and your daily goal progress. It also displays the total amount of time you’ve used the app.

The notification bell at the top of the app is essentially an ad system where users will receive messages promoting HelloChinese’s YouTube channel.


Okay, so I keep mentioning that certain features are hidden behind a paywall. What are the types of accounts and their corresponding prices?

There are two premium options: Premium and Premium+.

Premium ranges from $4.99 to $8.99 per month. The longer a commitment you make, the lower your monthly cost—for example, you’ll pay less per month if you sign up for a year upfront than just three months. The Premium membership allows users to access the smart review system and all training games.

Premium+ ranges from $12.49 to $19.99 per month. This membership has all of the Premium benefits, plus access to immersion lessons and customer support.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that the HelloChinese app is mainly designed with beginners in mind. I actually skipped the pinyin lessons, and the app seems to be very basic in its lesson content.

On the plus side, there’s a “take a shortcut” option to skip easier lessons, so you can determine pretty quickly if the lessons are challenging enough for you.

Pros and Cons of HelloChinese

The Good: Speaking, Pronunciation and Listening Skills

When starting out, you get to learn the basics about what pinyin and hanzi are, how tones work and the bottom basics of Mandarin overall. Each lesson section is pretty short–I got through different sections fairly quickly.

You’ll pick up Chinese speaking and listening skills through interactive lessons on the lesson map. Pronunciation in the audio clips is fairly good, as is the voice recognition for lesson quizzes that assess your accent. I deliberately mispronounced various words in the quizzes, and the app caught all of them easily.

speaking practice on hellochinese

The Good: Diverse Content

The exercises for new modules as well as reviews have a bit of variety, so I never really got bored with them. Even the reviews included a variety of exercises, testing both vocabulary and grammar.

On top of this, you get exposure to how native speakers speak through more than 2,000 short videos. The stories are also interesting to read, and you’ll pick up fun cultural tidbits.

For more extensive video content that actually includes entire conversations with native speakers–not just pronunciation-based clips–FluentU could be a great resource to pair with or replace HelloChinese.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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The Bad: Writing Skills

hellochinese review

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much writing practice while using HelloChinese. While the app does have you do writing exercises when learning new vocabulary, these mainly involve tracing shapes, and they aren’t really reviewed afterwards so you’ll pretty much forget them. So much of written Chinese involves pattern and character radicals, and you don’t get much of those details through this language learning software.

The app also doesn’t teach you how to type in Chinese.

To develop writing skills, I recommend supplementing HelloChinese with a handwriting app, such as Skritter (iOS/Android), Google Translate (iOS/Android), Chinese Handwriting Keyboard (Android).

The So-so: Reading Characters and Written Tones

Each lesson section features Chinese characters accompanied by their romanization, so it’s easy to associate Chinese pronunciation with the appropriate character.

exercise on hellochinese

As I mentioned earlier, this app isn’t really suited for advanced learners. While you can toggle off pinyin and get new words solely in Chinese characters knowing around 1,000 Chinese words only brings you to the intermediate stage.

HelloChinese has an extensive vocab library. You can only access the characters you’ve already learned from the leaf menu, which is actually very beneficial. Learners tend to get ahead of themselves with app dictionaries, but HelloChinese makes you take it slow and review only the characters you’ve already learned in the lessons.

The So-so: You Get Immersion, if You Want to Pay

One of the drawbacks of some Chinese learning apps is that it lacks exposure to real Chinese language as it is spoken by native speakers. It seems like HelloChinese is aware of this, and it has put forward an “Immerse” component to its main “Learn” course.

Under this screen, there are dozens of lessons sorted by topic or by level. The topics include shopping, ordering food and travel, and there are four levels ranging from beginner to intermediate. Each lesson includes a short video, notes on key words and grammar, an “audio class” breaking down the clip, speaking practice as well as other exercises.


While this is great for getting some exposure to the Chinese language in “immersive” settings, this doesn’t quite solve the problem. Namely, while there are a couple of free lessons, most of the videos in “Immerse” are behind a paywall and only Premium+ users get access to the full library.

Next, it appears that paying for the “Immerse” videos may not even be worth it: The videos themselves seem inauthentic and staged, and from what we can see from the free lessons, many of the clips are less than 30 seconds long.

The So-so: The Craziness That Is Chinese Grammar

HelloChinese does take the time to explain certain grammar concepts. Every once in a while, the lessons will dip into the “what” and “why” of Chinese grammar, but there’s very little information available on complex grammar concepts.


However, beginner learners get a pretty clear and concise explanation of different basic grammar concepts early on. It just doesn’t go anywhere after the first few lessons, and the focus starts to shift primarily to listening and reading.

Conclusion: Should You Try HelloChinese?

The short answer? Yes! Smartphone language learners should definitely download this app and take it for a spin.

The long answer? Yes, you should try HelloChinese—but you should also supplement this app with a resource like FluentU and perhaps an additional Chinese study plan.

Because HelloChinese lacks so much in the way of writing Chinese characters, it would be wise to supplement this app with worksheets or another Chinese character-writing app.

Further, HelloChinese also doesn’t have a lot of advanced fluency tools, with limited real-world conversations and rather ineffective “immersion” videos behind a paywall.

For more apps to supplement HelloChinese, you can check out this list:


24 Best Apps for Learning Chinese to Improve Your Skills in 2024 | FluentU Chinese Blog

Find the best apps for learning Chinese in our list, which includes essentials like Pleco and Anki plus high-quality apps you haven’t heard of yet! Whether you want to…


What do you think about HelloChinese as a language-learning resource?

Give it a go!

And One More Thing...

If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.

FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.

The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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