We believe in transparency, so we want to let you know that some links on our site are affiliates (which is what helps us keep the lights on!), but rest assured, all opinions are ours. As Chinese learners ourselves, we’re dedicated to giving you our honest feedback about Chinese learning tools.
Hi, nice to see you here! We’re Nora and Hollie, the voices behind Two White Chicks in China, a podcast that, to our happy surprise, has become quite a popular resource about life in China. We’ve been living in China for a combined total of over 20 years and we know learning Chinese can be intimidating and overwhelming.
We created this website to help you find the best, most updated tools for learning Chinese and to connect you with other Chinese learners, as well as native Chinese speakers, to share both your woes and triumphs as we all navigate this challenging language together!
Everyone has their own goals and learning styles that work best for them and often the best approach is a combination of study tools. We don’t believe there is a one size fits all solution, so we’ve divided the tools into categories to help you easily find what works best for you. Whatever your choice, whether you’re brand new to learning Chinese or a veteran who wants to polish up, we hope you find ways to connect with others here to help you stay motivated and have more fun, too!
If you already know what kind of learning tool works best for you, feel free to jump to the category you want:
All you visual learners out there, put your hands up! (my hand is stretched to the sky like a teacher’s pet!) Printing out and drawing with pen on paper helps a lot with absorbing information as you learn Chinese. Plus, writing Chinese is a beautiful art form, helps connect you with the culture, and can make you feel very zen. It will likely improve your overall penmanship and your Chinese character knowledge will no doubt impress your friends!
In our Printables category, you’ll find tools like My HSK Dictionary, which is a subscription where you receive weekly Chinese worksheets to your email inbox designed for you to print and fill out. It is a pleasantly effective way to get to know Chinese characters so that you remember them not only next week but years from now. The visual components of the characters, plus lots of space to doodle in will build your character recognition in no time. Not only that but there is something so satisfying about flipping back through your completed pages. Ahhhh…
Many of us don’t have the luxury (or willpower!) to sit down every day for 2 hours to study Chinese. Apps can be amazing tools to take advantage of a few minutes of studying here and there while waiting in line at the checkout counter, grabbing a snack, or winding down at night. Those few minutes a little bit at a time add up to a lot of learning. There is even a lot of evidence to suggest that small amounts of studying throughout the day is an efficient way of absorbing language knowledge.
Since your phone is likely always with you, apps can help you avoid procrastinating with your studies and can help you establish regular study habits. With so many language-learning apps out there, how will you choose the best one for learning Chinese??? We’ve found that many language learning apps which include multiple languages don’t really seem to ‘get’ the complexities of learning Chinese. After trying many, many, many apps over the course of many years of studying Chinese, we’ve curated a list of the best ones available, such as our current favorite, Skritter (by the way, use “WRITTENCHINESE” as the coupon code for 10% off).
Audio / Video
Sometimes learning a new language can feel like such a chore, so many students gravitate towards a more passive learning approach like listening to Chinese audio or watching videos. We love that audio learning is something easy to do on the go, like while having a walk or on a commute to work.
Video can also really reinforce what you are learning because you have a clear visual context with which to associate your new vocabulary. We especially love MandarinHQ’s interactive video course which lets you watch real native speakers answer simple questions about friendships, hobbies, habits, and many more topics. These lessons are interactive, super easy to use, and you get a lot out of hearing different ways the same sentence might be expressed- making you ready for the curveballs that native speakers might throw at you.
Many of us didn’t start our Chinese-learning journey by taking a formal Chinese class. This may lead us to have holes here and there with basic grammar or vocabulary. Using textbooks can give you a clear path for your Chinese learning and help fill in missing information that you might not have learned on the streets of Beijing.
Though we embrace other learning methods, there’s nothing like flipping through a textbook and learning at your own pace. We’ve also jumped on the textbook method and have written our own textbook all about the Chinese radicals that you need to learn first. It’s called The ABCs of Written Chinese.
The benefits of talking to a native speaker 1-on-1 are pretty obvious when it comes to learning Chinese. Not only will this greatly help with pronunciation, but you’ll get so much cultural information and it can be one of the most fun ways to learn Chinese. We have tried different websites for 1-on-1 Chinese learning and right now, GoEast is our favorite.
If you’re thinking about eating dumplings, watching fireworks, and getting a crash course in Chinese, then coming to China is the only way to go. It’s a big leap, as it was for both Hollie and Nora, but we’ve gotten so much from our time in China (including meeting and getting to know each other in Shenzhen!).
We’ve partnered with the Chinese Language Institute (CLI) to bring you a great offer for coming to learn in China. (Mention “WrittenChinese” and get $150 off your tuition!) CLI provides a whole host of Chinese language courses, including study abroad programs at their home base in Guilin, China.