Resources for studying Chinese at home

Language learning is well-suited to self-study as well as being a reason to reach out and connect with others online to practice. Here is a selection of resources suggested by our teaching team to help keep you on track with your studies at home. 加油!  

As far as we are aware you can access all of these resources for free but be aware that this may be for a limited trial period or payment might be required to unlock additional content. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and we hope that you will respond to tell us the websites and apps that you have found useful for your Chinese studies. Get in touch on Facebook and Twitter or comment below.  

Remember that the most important thing is to experiment until you find resources that capture your interest and suit your schedule and learning preferences. Let us know how you get on! 

Videos 

Everyday Chinese have playlists for all aspects of learning Chinese, including collections on pinyin, grammar, HSK and more. You should certainly be able to find something to fit your level and interests here.  

You have probably heard of Yoyo Chinese, an educational channel fronted by Mandarin teacher and former entertainment TV host Yangyang Cheng. Their videos teach Chinese from an English speaker’s perspective and their pronunciation guides are particularly popular – try this series introducing pinyin. 

The 2010 CCTV television series Growing Up with Chinese is a classic educational series that covers a wide range of useful scenarios. Here’s one playlist on Youtube featuring all 100 episodes (don’t expect amazing video quality!) 

To keep children entertained with fun songs and colourful animations look no further than Little Fox Chinese. This is an excellent multimedia site with an abundance of stories, songs and games. You can find their stories and songs on Youtube too.  

There are lots of Chinese TV programmes available on Youtube (try TV channels like Hunan TV), but don’t forget to try your usual streaming services too. The Chairman’s Bao suggested some Chinese dramas to try on Netflix in this blog post.  

Listening 

common problem students have with listening is that they find natural speech is just too fast! Slow Chinese (慢速中文) is an excellent way to build your confidence through listening to articles at a slower pace. Search for Slow Chinese in Apple podcasts or your favourite podcast app. Other popular podcasts such as Chinese Pod and PopUp Chinese are good options to complement this slower input, as their low level content includes short and simple dialogues at natural speed to help you get used to hearing native speakers.  

The Kids Chinese Podcast is one option to try for younger learners, although they say their content is suitable for adults too. You can access the first three lessons of each level for free but need to sign up to see more.  

Learn Chinese Through Stories is a podcast with accompanying transcript that does exactly what it says on the tinOur teachers also recommend Easy Situational Mandarin Chinese Audio Lessons from melnyks.com, available as podcasts (e.g. via Apple podcasts). You can sign up to access additional resources on their website.  

There are lots of podcasts out there, so why not browse until you find one you like? 

Reading  

The Chairman’s Bao is a great place to find graded reading material based around the news. Did you know that the site was co-founded by University of Leeds students in the East Asian Studies department? 

Another great option with articles on a range of topics and filtered by level is Du Chinese.  

On the Yes! Chinese site you can flick through attractive online picture books for children with a line of text (and audio) accompanying each page. 

For selection of graded readers, try iChineseReader on their 14-day trial to see if there are any titles you enjoy.  

The Overseas Chinese Language and Culture Education Online (中国华文教育网) site is aimed at students with Chinese heritage living outside China. There is range of textbooks and CDs available to download on this page. 

Characters 

Silkstory.net make simple animations about the origins of Chinese characters which you can watch on their website or Youtube channel Chou Meizai (粗眉仔). 

To practice writing characters there are lots of apps available – examples include Skritter and Inkstone. 

Review 

There are many quiz and flashcard apps out there to help you review characters and vocabulary effectively, and you may already have your favourite. Quizlet , Anki and Pleco can all be used to make sure that you review what you learn at just the right time to make it stick! 

HSK

All the resources mentioned will be useful in some way to help you study for HSK, but you might want to look out for sites that categorise their learning materials by HSK level. Good sites and apps to try include The Chairman’s BaoMandarin Bean and Du Chinese 

If you’re looking for exam practice, the Chinesetest.cn site has selection of sample test papers you can download. 

Thinking about learning Chinese 

The You Can Learn Chinese podcast features two hosts involved in Chinese education discussing everything learning Chinese. Why not try this episode about how to pass tests like the HSK? 

Another site that pops up everywhere online if you read about learning Mandarin is Hacking Chinese by Olle Linge, with in-depth articles about all aspects of the process.  

If you are blogging or vlogging about your experience of learning Chinese we’d love to hear about it. You can also submit a post for our site, like this one from Mischa Wilmers about his early experiences learning Mandarin. He has now completed every level of our Chinese courses! 

Teaching resources 

Teachers (or parents who need to keep young people entertained) can find a wealth of resources on the Twinkl site – a hub for sharing resources created by teachers. Here’s what comes up if you search for ‘Chinese’.  This blog post is a guide to getting started with the site during the recent school closures and provides an offer code for a free month (you can also try UKTWINKLHELPS). 

Level Chinese (offering its service free until the end of April) aims to support teachers by offering a single curriculum for Chinese literacy – and the site’s resources can be used by individual students too. 

Culture and fun 

Li Ziqi (李子柒) has a beautiful Youtube channel showing her life in rural China, and watching her do all kinds of traditional handicrafts provides a relaxing escape from the current news cycle.  

The Chinese culture channel Goldthread describes Li Ziqi (李子柒) as “China’s most mysterious internet celebrity” in the title of this introductory video about her. In an interview with Goldthread Li Ziqi explains the intention behind her videos: “In today’s society, many people feel stressed. They face a lot of pressure in life and at work. I want them to relax and experience something nice to take away some of their anxiety and stress.”   

For a different kind of diversion, try Off the Great Wall. Describing itself as a channel for ‘off the wall’ content about China and Asia, Off the Great Wall produce lighthearted videos about various aspects of culture, often comparing East and West.

One way to learn more about China is to read work by Chinese authors. Although you may not be able to enjoy literature in Mandarin just yet, you can find a selection of stories in translation on the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing website, along with a list of recommended authors to look up and try. 

Over to you 

What are your plans for studying Chinese at home? Have we missed your favourite resource from this list? Talk to us on Facebook and Twitter or comment below. 

If you’re eager for more, you can also find some recommended resources and study tips from teachers in their online profiles. 

We hope that your interest in Chinese language and culture will prove to be a comfort and a welcome distraction during these challenging times.