22 Mandarin Teaching Resources for Taking Your Students to the Next Level
Does your classroom routine feel a bit dry?
Of course, a Chinese classroom needs consistency and stability to get students to fluency, but it doesn’t have to be the class that everybody wants to nap in!
You can spice up class time by adding attention-grabbing, innovative resources into your lesson plans.
Here are 22 Mandarin teaching resources that will seriously improve the way your students learn Chinese.
- 1. LanguageTool – Chinese Checker
- 2. eChineseLearning Resources
- 3. Chinese Boost – Free Podcasts
- 4. Anki DIY Flashcards
- 5. PandaTree Resources
- 6. r/ChineseLanguage
- 7. Pleco
- 8. Chinese Teaching Resources Pinterest Board
- 9. Forvo
- 10. ChineseCorner
- 11. Bilingual Kidspot Home Starter Kit
- 12. Tes Primary Mandarin Resources
- 13. Yesasia.com
- 14. FluentU
- 15. Asia Society – Chinese Language Learning
- 16. “Mandarin Chinese English Bilingual Visual Dictionary”
- 17. “Berlitz Mandarin Chinese Phrase Book & CD”
- 18. “Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese”
- 19. “Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar”
- 20. “Schaum’s Outline of Chinese Grammar”
- 21. “Pop Chinese: A Cheng & Tsui Bilingual Handbook of Contemporary Colloquial Expressions”
- 22. “Niubi!: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School”
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1. LanguageTool – Chinese Checker
Chinese is known for not being the easiest language to run through a grammar checker. However, LanguageTool has a fairly accurate grammar checker for Mandarin characters.
This would be a great tool to provide your students so they can double-check sentences they’ve typed and see where their grammar could use some work.
One way to implement this would be to assign students a self-introduction in Chinese, and then have them run it through the checker as homework. Ask them to correct their mistakes and revise until no errors are found.
2. eChineseLearning Resources
eChineseLearning is a resource site popular with Chinese learners who are learning the language on their own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use these awesome resources to help your students, too!
eChineseLearning is, at its core, an online tutor site, but their resource page is pretty substantial. It offers resources for studying Chinese abroad, character and word sheets, conversation lessons, grammar lessons, Chinese culture guides and more.
You can use some of the information you find to create a PowerPoint presentation, such as one explaining the benefits of learning Chinese, for instance, or you could include a link to this study hack article on your syllabus to give students an extra leg up.
3. Chinese Boost – Free Podcasts
We should all be learning how to implement technology into our classrooms. Sometimes sticking to old ways of doing things is smart, but there’s nothing wrong with a little innovation. Podcasts are a great place to start.
We suggest playing one of the podcasts listed on the Chinese Boost website and making note of any complex words and phrases. Write up a list of these words.
Then, have your students listen to the podcast and ask them to note when and where the words occur as homework. This is a great way to help students improve their listening skills.
My favorite podcast to teach with is “BearTalk.” Its engaging stories and funny dialogues make it perfect for any conversational Mandarin lesson.
4. Anki DIY Flashcards
Flashcards will always be useful for learning a new language. With Anki, your students can use flashcards in an innovative and easy way. The apps and desktop versions are totally free, too.
Build a deck or two with words and phrases you plan on teaching your students. Have them each download the app to their laptop or smartphone and send them the deck you’ve created. Ask them to study with the flashcards as homework.
You can also use pre-made decks. I suggest using the Hanping Chinese HSK (1-6) one for students studying for the Chinese proficiency exam.
5. PandaTree Resources
These completely free resources from PandaTree are great for teachers and students alike.
This site has word games, video libraries, story-time pages, reading lists, teaching materials and more. To implement these in class, you could purchase some books from the reading list or play some online games.
The teacher-specific materials also boast a ton of awesome activity ideas you could try as well, from character sheets to holiday-themed lessons to songs.
Outside of class, your students may run into hiccups with different aspects of Mandarin, from grammar to sentence structure to writing and more. And unfortunately, students aren’t always great at asking for help or attending office hours for tutoring.
One solution would be to provide them a link to the Chinese Language subreddit. This is a great place where your students can ask questions and get answers from pro learners quickly.
This subreddit’s sidebar is also loaded with additional resources and learning tips. And best of all, making an account on Reddit is free!
Instead of requiring your students to purchase a heavy (and expensive!) hardcover Chinese dictionary, have them install this awesome dictionary app onto their laptop or smartphone.
Pleco’s free features are packed with useful information, from color-coded tones, usage notes and even examples phrases and related words. Users can pay for more options, like a camera translation feature or full stroke order writing instructions.
Pleco is super fast and accurate, and it’s one of the best online Chinese dictionaries out there. And every Chinese classroom needs a good bilingual dictionary, after all.
8. Chinese Teaching Resources Pinterest Board
Who doesn’t love Pinterest? And this handy little pinboard-themed social media site actually has quite a lot of Mandarin teaching resources available for free.
This particular collection, from user Capital Region Language Center, has 150+ useful pins, including printables and fun lesson plan ideas. You’ll find activities and ideas for any level of Chinese learner to enjoy, be they children or adults.
Of course, you can also search Pinterest yourself for more Mandarin teaching resources—no doubt you’ll find plenty!
No matter what level of learner you’re teaching, have them bookmark this website ASAP!
Forvo is an awesome free resource that allows students to look up particular 拼音 (pīn yīn) — pinyin, or Chinese romanization, as well as 汉字 (hàn zì) — Chinese characters. Then, they can listen to audio clips of native speakers pronouncing that word or phrase.
This is super helpful for your students to have on hand when they’re doing homework and you aren’t available to provide pronunciation guidance.
ChineseCorner is a YouTube channel that features Chinese-language videos.
Some are simply video clips from sitcoms and others are example conversations to use for studying pronunciation and the flow of conversation. Most of the videos have simultaneous Chinese and English subtitles.
Try whipping out a few clips for your students to watch during class. You can also have them try to mimic the conversations in selected videos.
11. Bilingual Kidspot Home Starter Kit
Are you a Chinese home tutor for kids? A parent looking to teach your child Mandarin at home?
This resource would be great for you!
This starter kit is packed full of vitally useful content, including a guide to teaching Chinese, sample lesson excerpts, advice for helping young children get past the “scariness” of such a complex language, free printables and much more.
12. Tes Primary Mandarin Resources
All of the available materials on this page were created by experienced Mandarin teachers, so you’ll only be accessing lessons and activities that other teachers have found success with in the classroom.
You’ll also find Mandarin lesson plans, worksheets, bookmarks, creative writing prompts and so much more for little to no cost.
It may seem frustrating that you have to pay a fee for most of the available resources, but when you think about their value, the prices are definitely a steal.
Yesasia.com is the perfect place to pick up items that cater to students’ special interests, including a wealth of reading material. It’s a solid source of manga—a primary motivator for a significant number of my Chinese students.
There are Chinese movies of various genres available, and you can also find wider Asian trends. For example, you can explore the Chinese fascination with Korean dramas by finding Korean shows with Chinese dubbing and subtitles.
Yesasia.com offers Chinese books on various topics that students are likely already familiar with in English, plus Chinese language textbooks published in China—often superior to American ones or covering more specialized topics.
FluentU can help make sure you provide students with engaging lessons both in and out of the classroom. This resource offers a number of interesting, level-appropriate Chinese materials that you can adapt as needed for your class.
For example, FluentU takes authentic Chinese videos—like movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons, which can be assigned directly to students. Videos come with learning tools like interactive subtitles, contextual information and example sentences to help students understand what they watch.
Further, your educator account will help you use these materials in class or as homework, all while keeping track of and assessing student progress with more tools like digital flashcards and online quizzes. You can even check what each student has watched, when they’ve logged in and more.
15. Asia Society – Chinese Language Learning
This site is full of great reading and downloads on all sorts of topics relating to Chinese language instruction.
There are publications and insight articles, instructional videos and information about the National Chinese Language Conference, organized annually by the Asia Society. Those who attend can participate in workshops, hear talks and come away with new ideas and connections.
The information on Asia Society’s website is vast and often quite specific, so it’s worth browsing on your own to find the methods and practices that best suit you and your students. There are plenty of examples of how to implement the ideas in your own classroom.
16. “Mandarin Chinese English Bilingual Visual Dictionary”
DK Visual Dictionaries offers this text, a great general vocabulary resource. This book is full of Chinese vocabulary, organized by subject and accompanied by beautiful illustrations.
As a teacher, it’s incredibly useful for quickly generating lists of primary or supplementary vocab to go with your lessons, especially if you’re working with a topic not typically covered in textbooks.
For students, it can be a fun resource for researching vocabulary for topics they’re passionate or curious about. The pictures make the task more interesting and can help the vocab stick.
17. “Berlitz Mandarin Chinese Phrase Book & CD”
A good phrasebook can be your best friend when you’re traveling in China, but it can also help you out immensely in the classroom.
My favorite is this, the “Berlitz Mandarin Chinese Phrase Book & CD,” which is great not only for looking up useful vocabulary, but also phrases that vocabulary is used in.
This resource includes an audio CD to help with pronunciation. Extremely practical phrases and terms that aren’t in the scope of most textbooks can be drawn from it for targeted lessons.
18. “Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese”
Memorizing characters is one of the most daunting aspects of learning Chinese, and the approach of attaching stories to the characters and understanding their morphemes and etymology doesn’t cut it for everyone.
A more direct approach, and one that’s more effective for visually-oriented students, can be found in this book. The vivid pictures associated with each character will emblazon them into students’ memories.
You can have students purchase their own copy of the text, or you can teach a set of characters from the book yourself, or even ask students to recreate the pictures for a classroom assignment or homework.
19. “Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar”
This is an exceptionally thorough book on the subject of Chinese grammar.
If you need a clear description of how grammar works in Chinese, you’ll find all the information you need in “Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar.”
The information is also laid out in a way that can be easily adapted for explaining the subject to your students by creating short lessons which focus on a specific grammar point.
20. “Schaum’s Outline of Chinese Grammar”
If you’re looking for good ways to review grammar with your classes, I also recommend “Schaum’s Outline of Chinese Grammar.”
This book provides brief explanations and exercises to help students quickly brush up on what they’ve learned. They’re easy to design your own lessons around or provide practice materials for students in class or as homework.
21. “Pop Chinese: A Cheng & Tsui Bilingual Handbook of Contemporary Colloquial Expressions”
What better way to connect with young learners than by having them learn the Chinese equivalents of the slang they already use in English?
The appeal of bizarre Chinese slang and pop terminology is sure to lure students into exploring the cultural sources of those terms.
This book is the most thorough reference for this purpose. It not only defines terms, but also gives ample explanation, example usage and cultural background.
22. “Niubi!: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School”
Again, Chinese teaching resources that emphasize language actually spoken by youths tend to be overlooked in the implementation of Chinese language curriculums.
My favorite is “Niubu!” because it’s fun, concise and contains insightful and lighthearted explanations of slang terms, which give you the ability to add a bit of edge to your lessons.
A very useful chapter is the one on Internet slang, which offers students a window into Chinese culture through their online activities.
Teaching Chinese should involve just a few simple things—your ability to teach, your knowledge of the Chinese language and your students’ willingness to learn.
Worrying about resources and ideas for administering lessons is just part of the territory.
Hopefully, some of these killer resources will make things a bit easier for you!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)