Chinese (Mandarin)

Best Dictionaries


From the web - Chinese-Dictionary

For mobile - Pleco

Zhongwen; Chinese-English Dictionary – Read a lot on your computer? Simply have this add-on enabled for google chrome. Then when you hover your mouse above a character, it will tell you the pronunciation in Pinyin and the English meaning. Great for helping you dissect difficult texts on the computer.


Beginners Material

Chinese with LingQ – Based on how Steve Kauffman learns languages, Lingq is a system built around building up your listening & reading. All courses are available in Simplified Chinese & Pinyin, as well as being able to click on any unknown word to get its definition. LingQ offers a wide range of lessons, but the best thing about this site is that you can import your own lessons, take charge of your own learning and learn from interesting content. If you are learning the simplified script, this is one of the best ways to go, and because you can control what you are learning from, this system can be used from beginner right up to the advanced stages.

Chineseclass101 – This is a great place to start as a beginners with podcasts, dialogues, full line by line audio, transcripts as well as posts about cultural insights and aspects of the language. This includes some somewhat confusing topics if you haven’t come across them before; such as, tones or the difference between Traditional and Simplified Characters. This is a great first resource to use and I highly recommend it! (All lessons have Chinese transcript [Traditional & Simplified], Pinyin and English).
Teachyourself: Complete Chinese – This book comes with 22 chapters full on a wide range of topics, building up from the basic, “hello, how are you?”, building you up to more complicated and difficult topics later in the book. Comes with full transcripts in Simplified characters and Pinyin. Should you want to learn characters, this book can double as reading practice for you to come back to once you have a grasp of speaking.
A Course in Contemporary Chinese (Textbook) 1 - If you want to learn the Taiwanese accent of Mandarin then you are quite limited for options living outside of Taiwan. This series of 6 textbooks, offers a range of topics with the first one in the series designed at teaching you what you need to know for conversational Mandarin in Taiwan. While this main textbook offers dialogues that should be enough for an independant learner, should you wish each volume also comes with student and character workbooks avaliable. As this course is from Taiwan, it uses traditional characters.

Intermediate Materials

Chinese Conversations  – Chinese conversations is a series of dialogues based around story at natural speed. Made on Stephen Krashen language theory of comprehensible input, Chinese conversations gives you real Chinese, that you can use in every day life and is based on an engaging story to keep you coming back for more. Each conversation is also accompanied by a transcript (Simplified characters, Pinyin and English), as well as vocabulary lists.
Glossika Chinese – This resource is mass sentences in Chinese, with audio as well as full transcripts. Also avaliabe in Taiwanese Mandarin.
我們這一家 - Japanese cartoon dubbed in Taiwanese Mandarin full of everyday language and not too difficult to understand. Comes with traditional subtitles so perfect for intermediate learners:

Learning to read & Write Chinese

Remembering the Hanzi by James Heisig – This book breaks down 1500 of the most common characters in modern Chinese, in a logical digestible manner using mnemonics, in an interesting way that none of the schools will teach you. It has both traditional and simplified versions of the book. Not everyone will like this book, slogging through a list of 1500 characters with no pronunciation or context isn’t for everyone. But if you do go for this, you will be able to learn all the characters inside the book in a matter of months, in a way you can’t do with rote memorization alone. What’s more is you will gain the ability to break down any Chinese character you see after that, into it’s much simpler parts in order to remember it.
Hello Talk – What better way to practice recognizing and using Chinese characters than practicing with natives. This is a great way to meet people, learn about the culture and practice all at the same time. If combined with the “clipboard reader” on the app pleco, means you can have meaningful conversations with native speakers from relatively early on!

Level 1 Graded Readers - 300 words

(Simplified Chinese)

Two Children Seeking Joy Bridge - This book, published by Chinese Breeze, is about two children who run away together to buy "air tickets" to an unknown destination called Joy Bridge, but end up getting held for ransom by some crooks.
Tome of Three Kings - The King of Chu ordered Ganjiang, a blacksmith, to make the most powerful sword for him. However, as the sword was cast, Ganjiang was brutally killed by the king. Sixteen years later, Meijianchi, Ganjiang's son, had grown up. He would embark on a journey for revenge with another powerful sword left by his father
Sherlock Homes and the case of the curly haired company - The classic adventures of Sherlock Homes has been adapted into Chinese culture, set in Shanghai instead of London, Sherlock Homes must solve the mystery before it's too late.

Level 2 Graded Readers - 500 words

(Simplified Chinese)

If I didn't have you - Xiaoming is a talented pickpocket who only steals from the wealthy. When Xi Yu loses her purse at the train station, he gets it back for her and they begin to fall in love. But everything changes when he pickpockets someone he shouldn't of.
Hua Mulan, the Lady Warrior - Hua Mulan was a brave and intelligent young lady who developed an interest in riding and archery at a young age. When her country was faced an enemy invasion, she was determined to fight the war in the place of her aging and fragile father. She put on a war robe and disguised herself as a man.

Interesting intermediate readers

Twenty Lessons on Chinese Culture - This book is an intermediate reader for Mandarin Chinese, and offers good reading practice as well as an insight into Chinese history and culture. Written in traditional Chinese characters.
Intermediate Reader of Modern Chinese - Split into 22 chapters, this book is designed to work you up to more difficult and interesting material as the book progresses. Starts off talking about college life, then moves onto political and historical texts, including things like the Tienanmen square incident. The final chapters deal with a section about the gulf war and dealing with Chinese translations of foreign place names, to help you be able to tackle reading newspapers. For the text and vocabulary traditional and simplified characters are used juxtaposed.


BiliBili - Bilibili is one of the largest video websites in China and hosts a whole range of dramas and tv shows in Mandarin, all free and all with simplified Chinese subtitles. TGOP - TGOP is a huge youtube channel in Taiwan, and a great place to learn the Taiwanese accent. All of their videos come with English and traditional Chinese subtitles.

Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar (Modern Grammars) – This grammar book of modern Chinese, is at a reasonable price, not too heavy and best of all, it has a ton of exercises with traditional characters, simplified and Pinyin.

Google input tools – This add on for google chrome lets you type in Mandarin Chinese through Pinyin. It’s very intuitive to use and let’s  you string together long sentences quickly in conversation. This is the best input tool I have found, period. And on top of that it is available in many other languages as well!

Google Pinyin Input –  Google Pinyin input for android is very easy to use and offers a host of features including support for both simplified and traditional characters.

Chinese Keyboard on Iphone – IOS has it’s own Pinyin keyboard in both simplified and traditional characters. Also offers other options such as input through stroke order or by handwriting.

Do you have any great resources for Chinese (Mandarin) that I missed off? Let me know in the comments below!


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