I think it’s safe to say that technology has revolutionized the way we learn languages. These days there is a wealth of amazing online resources, both free and paid, for learning just about any language in the world!
I’ve written before about being able to learn Mandarin in the comfort of your home and it’s all those wonderful apps and websites out there that make this possible.
In today’s post, I’m going to examine a few really great online resources to uncover the best way to learn Mandarin online.
So, without further ado, I present to you (in no particular order) ….
The top 7 best ways to learn Mandarin online
Watching YouTube videos
This is a classic. Most people who want to begin learning a new language will look it up on YouTube first to get an idea of some basic words and phrases. YouTube videos can be a powerful language learning tool.
When learning Mandarin it’s really important to get a lot of exposure to the language through listening. YouTube can help with this. There are a lot of quality YouTube channels out there dedicated to providing high-quality, conversational Mandarin lessons for learners of the language.
The great thing about YouTube is that with enough digging around, you’re bound to find content that matches your level and your interests.
Is YouTube the best way to learn Mandarin online? Probably not. Watching YouTube videos will only really help improve your listening skills. To improve your other skills you’ll have to use other online resources (scroll down!).
Here are some YouTube channels that I’d suggest checking out for good quality listening practice in Mandarin.
- ChinesePod Youtube channel
- Yoyo Chinese
- Mandarin corner
- The China Channel (our own YouTube channel!)
Listening to Slow Chinese podcasts
If you really want to learn Mandarin online then you’re going to have to make use of all the resources at your disposal.
Slow Chinese is a series of podcasts targeted at intermediate learners of Chinese. As you would expect, the dialogue is spoken slowly, allowing for easier comprehension. The podcasts have a cultural flavour about them and topics range from modern China to Chinese history.
Slow Chinese podcasts are free and can be listened to on their website. A Chinese transcript is also provided but bear in mind that you won’t find any Pinyin or English to fall back on. So, if you aren’t too comfortable with characters yet, then perhaps this isn’t for you.
Why does Slow Chinese get a spot on the list?
First off, there’s a wealth of content available on their site (over 200 podcasts and counting). Secondly, the fact that their podcasts are ONLY in Chinese is actually a nice thing. It forces you to really immerse yourself in the language and improve your listening skills. Lastly, the audio is good quality and each podcast is only a few minutes, which makes for easy listening.
Talking with Chinese tutors on iTalki
italki is a website where you can find native speakers and language tutors to do lessons with over Skype. Often you’ll be able to have lessons for cheaper than it would normally cost in person. The cool thing about iTalki is that you can choose whether you want to have lessons with a professional teacher, informal tutoring sessions with a native speaker or just casual conversations with other learners.
Teachers on iTalki will tailor a lesson to your needs and level of speaking so you don’t have to worry about not knowing what’s going on.
I would recommend sticking with professional teachers until you’re at the level where you can have conversations and you just want to practice.
Having your tones and pronunciation corrected by a Chinese native speaker is crucial when you start out and this is why iTalki made it onto the list. The other reason is that with iTalki you don’t have to commit to a teacher, you can do multiple trial lessons with different teachers and pick the one you like the most.
Trial lessons are generally very cheap as well. Having qualified, native-speaking Chinese teachers a Skype call away is such a benefit when you’re starting out learning Chinese and this is what iTalki provides you with!
Give italki a try now.
Listening to ChinesePod podcasts
I’m sure you MUST have heard about ChinesePod!
ChinesePod boasts the largest collection of Chinese language podcast for learners of Chinese. Their podcasts range in difficulty from beginner to advanced so no matter your level of proficiency, ChinesePod podcasts will always make for interesting listening.
I personally used ChinesePod A LOT when I was learning Mandarin. I listened to hundreds of intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced podcasts and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them.
The topics that they cover are diverse and interesting, the quality of the audio is great and the hosts are fun and easy to listen to.
Depending on your chosen level of difficulty, the amount of English spoken in the podcast will vary. In the upper-intermediate ones, English is only really used to explain particularly difficult words and the advanced level podcasts are entirely in Mandarin.
Another reason I enjoy ChinesePod is the fact that you get to listen to native speakers as well as foreigners speak Mandarin. There is often funny banter between the hosts as well which makes for a light-hearted, fun to listen to podcast.
If you’re serious about learning Mandarin online then I’d definitely suggest considering ChinesePod as one of your primary listening resources.
Reading the Hacking Chinese blog
Hacking Chinese is one of the biggest and most popular blogs out there about learning Mandarin. In fact, Hacking Chinese was one of my inspirations when starting Teacup Chinese. Hacking Chinese is run by Olle Linge who is a Swede that spent many years studying Mandarin in Taiwan and is now a teacher of the language.
The Hacking Chinese blog is full to the brim with comprehensive articles covering lots of different topics to do with the Chinese language and learning Mandarin. Olle often goes quite in-depth on certain topics which helps you to come away with a better understanding of certain aspects of learning Mandarin.
Hacking Chinese is not a direct way to learn Mandarin but it’s definitely a good way to learn more about how to tackle different aspects of Mandarin Chinese.
If you’re interested in the best way to learn Mandarin online then you’ve no doubt come across Hacking Chinese before! I’d suggest that whenever you get stuck on some difficult aspect of the learning mandarin, look it up on Hacking Chinese – chances are Olle has written a fantastic article showing you how to overcome whatever it is that you’re having trouble with.
Watching CCTV series
CCTV stands for ‘China Central Television’ and is the predominant TV broadcast company in China. CCTV have released a number of TV series aimed at helping foreigners learn Mandarin.
All of these are now available on their website for free, meaning you can use them as a way to learn Mandarin online.
There are a number of such series and they range in difficulty from beginner to advanced. One of the most famous of these series is ‘Travel in Chinese’ which is presented by Canadian, Mark Rowswell – better known by his Chinese stage name ‘Dashan’. Some would argue that Dashan is the most famous foreigner in China!
Regardless, the show is fun to watch and provides a lot of insight into using typical, day-to-day conversational Mandarin. The show follows a foreign family as they travel through China and the vocabulary and expressions that they use are things you’ll want to learn if you’re planning on visiting China.
Reading the Talking Mandarin e-book
We just had to add our e-book to the list! When I arrived home after nearly three years living in China I felt that I had learned so much about the Chinese language and how to go about learning Mandarin that I wanted to share it with my fellow Westerners who were still struggling with the language back in their home countries.
You see, during my stay in China I met many foreigners who spoke fluent Mandarin and I met many that couldn’t speak a word. I always wondered why this was and so I began to do research. I talked to a lot of people and I found that there were certain methods that were used by those who spoke the language fluently that weren’t being used by those who have failed to even achieve a basic level.
My own learning also improved due employing these few, simple (yet extremely powerful) techniques and that is what I have written about in our e-book. If you’re interested, then check it out, grab yourself a copy and let me know what you think.
It’s probably become clear to you by now that there is no ONE best way to learn Mandarin online. The true best method for learning Mandarin online is using a variety of powerful online resources.
The resources that I have highlighted in this post a but a few of many online resources for learning Mandarin. However, I can vouch for these as I have used them before, with great success.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post! If you did, then please share it with your friends and family on social media.