Whether beginning your Chinese learning adventure or trying to stay fresh between semesters, these resources can help boost your Chinese speaking, reading, and writing abilities:
Memrise is a mobile app that has various levels of learning based on your current abilities. It is definitely beginner friendly, helping you reach daily goals of learning words, characters, and pronunciation. Memrise shows you the character, the pinyin, and the meaning, then gives you a series of tests to see if you remember it. If you want to progress more quickly, you can skip certain parts of the levels and move on to the next ones. Your progress for the day will be summarized in an email and sent to you for reviewing later on.
This website starts you off with a placement test and then provides podcasts of stories and conversations, followed by vocabulary and grammar lessons. The paid versions also allows you to print out lesson notes, customize your vocabulary lists, and provide grammatical breakdowns in detail.The podcasts are a great way to listen to a manageable amount of Chinese while commuting, running errands, or taking care of other matters.
Pleco is perhaps the most well-known and most widely used app for learning Chinese.The free version provides you with a pair of dictionaries to aid translation, but has multiple useful add-ons: OCR (optical character recognition) scans a character and looks it up for you, a flash card system based on words you mark, a stroke diagram for teaching you how to properly draw a character step-by-step, and much more. The down side is that you can be given so many translation options that you won't know which word fits the grammar structure you're using, but truth be told, you could have worse down sides.
The Chairman’s Bao
The Chairman’s Bao is basically a simplified Chinese newspaper that publishes three to four articles daily. It is designed especially for learning Mandarin. All articles provided are in characters, so if you are either getting started with characters or need to brush up on them, this is good way to start. Each article has an HSK rating, the lowest being HSK 3, so you can sort through the various articles based on your ability to read Chinese.
Baidu, China’s equivalent of Google, has its own Translate page and mobile app. Like Google Translate, there is little grammatical explanation for the word or phrase being translated, if any, so it may not always be the best for studying purposes. However, the app can be very helpful when facing an impromptu situation where Mandarin is needed. Chinese people who don't understand any English rely on Baidu to communicate with English-speaking foreigners. Using Google Translate requires a VPN, which may not always be practical, but Baidu makes up for it well.
The unique value of Popup Chinese is their HSK preparation tools. Along with helpful Mandarin-learning community forums, flash cards, and downloadable lessons, Popup Chinese provides samples of the various HSK test levels, as well as a nicely summarized history of the HSK.
The value of live conversations can never be underestimated. Understanding the way a person thinks, listening to how they phrase their grammar (right or wrong), listening to different accents and intonations, and hearing slang will give your brain the workout it needs to handle Mandarin in real life.
If you want to learn Chinese in China, Keats is definitely your first choice. That’s because their class sizes are usually small, giving you personal interaction with the teacher that everyone else can learn from. As you learn a language, you will have individual questions about what you are learning or how you can use a new word or phrase aside from what you’re being taught. Keats is especially good in these aspects, making your Mandarin-learning experience both enjoyable and useful. They also have intensive Chinese language courses which can help you make great progress in a very short time.
Learning to read, write, and speak a language requires more than one line of attack. Multiple methods keep the interest up and help highlight new words and phrases that other methods might not have covered. The repetition helps as well. This is obviously not an exhaustive list of resources for learning Mandarin, but knowing the value of each of these can help you find other similar tools to add to your Mandarin learning arsenal.
If you have any questions about studying Chinese at Keats, you can email Keats School at [email protected].
This post is sponsored by Keats Chinese in Kunming.
Photo courtesy of Keats
Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog