There is an entire UNIVERSE of high quality resources on the Internet to learn Chinese absolutely free. In no particular order here are some of the great resources you can take advantage of to learn Chinese 免費!
ChinesePod is the king of all Chinese podcasts. I love ChinesePod! They used to offer all levels of lessons for free on their podcast, but now they only provide the Newbie level lessons for free. I like their Menu Stealer video series available on their Vimeo account.
Popup Chinese has a free podcast which includes audio lessons for beginner, elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. You can subscribe to the pocast from iTunes page or just listen to the audio lesson from the lesson page.
Yang Yang, a vivacious Beijinger who lives in Los Angeles, has a fantastic Youtube channel. She seems to have blocked most of her videos from her Youtube channel page. However, you can just search for her username “sloppycheng” to get her videos. Here’s a sample video.
Benny has an incredible number of videos uploaded to his YouTube channel … 599 at present count. Here is just one of them:
Peggy has a fun YouTube channel with scenes from around Taipei. Here’s a lesson:
ChineseClass101.com also has a free podcast. Check out their iTunes page. Subscribe to their YouTube video channel for 60+ high quality tutorial videos. They have a lot of free lessons which you can listen to on their website. They have lessons for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. They also have video lessons.
Learn Mandarin Chinese with CLO, an online Mandarin course from Taiwan, has a podcast with 30 lessons. They allow you to download a LOT of transcripts and word review PDF documents. Check out their YouTube channel for some great cartoon videos! Here’s a sample video:
Goal tracking. Vocab lists with sample sentences, all with playable audio links. Highly recommended!
- Master Chinese Characters – 10 levels from beginner to advanced covers 2,700 characters
- Chinese Media: Read a Newspaper in Chinese – five lessons covering 1,200 characters commonly used in newspapers and magazines
- Integrated Chinese Levels 1, Parts 1 & 2
- Integrated Chinese LVL 2 – Chapter 3
- [Integrated Chinese Level 2] Chapter 11
- [Integrated Chinese Level 2] Chapter 16
- Integrated Chinese – 第十八课
- Integrated Chinese – 第十九课
- Integrated Chinese – 第二十课
- Chinese Lesson Basic Words – 317 words, 660 sentences
- Chinese: Ordering Food 点菜
- Virtual School – Mandarin Chinese 1 Unit 1
- Virtual School – Mandarin Chinese 1 Unit 2
- Virtual School – Mandarin Chinese 1 Unit 3
- Virtual School – Mandarin Chinese 1 Unit 4
- Teach Yourself Chinese
- Practical Audio Visual Chinese 3
- Practical Audio Visual Chinese 3 Ch 13-14
- hsk – 924 words, 521 sentences
- HSK Vocab
- HSK Vocab 2
- HSK Vocab 3
- New Practical Chinese Reader 2 (15-20)
- New Practical Chinese Reader 2 (21-26)
- Practical Audio-Visual Chinese 5- Lesson 13
- A New Chinese Course Book – Lesson 7 – 他是由于输血
- A New China Course Book – Lesson 12 – 中国的社会
- A New Chinese Course Book II – Lesoon 3: 世界人口
- A New Chinese Course Book II – Lesson 14
- A New Chinese Course Book II – Lesson 16
- A New Chinese Course Book II – Lesson 17
- A New Chinese Course Book II – Lesson 22
- A New Chinese Course Book II – Lesson 23 – 《家》
- A New China Course Book – Lesson 24
- A New China Course Book – Lesson 25
This commercial Chinese language website has a great YouTube channel with 11 lessons.
The ChineseLingQ podcast has 10 episodes. Their website allows you to download the mp3 files. The iTunes page lets you stream them.
The Learning Mandarin Podcast is a blog by April Zhang with regular, high quality episodes several times per month ever since 2005 until present day. Click here to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can listen to streaming podcast lessons on PodFeed.
David of FreeChineseBlog.com has created a great website with video Chinese lessons. Although his accent isn’t perfect, he’s got pretty good tones.
This is a fun podcast by two Taiwanese sisters has seven episodes which cover Chinese culture and throws in some Chinese language.
Dyejo’s Mandarin Chinese podcast contains episodes in which a former Mormon missionary to Taiwan reads a list of one thousand Chinese words.
This website has 31 lessons.
The Chinese Outpost has an extensive Introduction to Mandarin Chinese tutorial with many lessons.
This website has a large compilation of Chinese language lesson videos from YouTube broken down by level: beginner, intermediate and advanced levels plus sections for writing and PinYin.
The Mandarin Network has a lot of video lessons available for free with transcripts via paid subscription.
World Nomads provides a single audio lesson. The pronunciation by the “traveller” is really bad, but you can learn some survival vocabulary. You can
and a PDF transcript.
Live Mocha offers basic phrases lessons with flash card quizzes.
- Fruits – Four levels with English, Simplified, Traditional and audio dialog
The Rutgers Multi-Media Chinese Teaching System is an extensive course with many lessons organized into four levels, which you have a choice of learning in either simplified or traditional (complex) characters.
- Level One (35 lessons) – English, Simplified, Traditional
- Level Two (15 lessons)
- Level Three (20 lessons)
- Level Four (10 lessons)
The BBC has a website for learning several languages including Chinese. They have a great starter multimedia interactive slideshow built in Flash that’s reminiscent of multimedia CD-ROMs from the mid 90s. Videos don’t play if you’re not in the UK. The multimedia slideshows are at the newbie level.
- For starters
- Introducing yourself
- Family introductions
- Saying a bit about yourself
- Ordering drinks
- Ordering a meal
- Doing some shopping
- Asking for directions
- Getting around by public transport
- Finding and booking a hotel
- Tones – Game
- Characters – Game
YY Sophie’s Chinese Lesssons
Sophie, from Taiwan, has a great YouTube channel with many Mandarin Chinese lessons.
Two Chinese Characters
These guys are hilarious! They even sing. Their YouTube Channel is quite amusing. Here’s one of the lessons.
This now defunct website still has 11 lessons on its YouTube Channel. Here’s one of them.
Who knows why they are called “Video Carter” but they have language learning videos and a pretty sizeable YouTube Channel. Just turn down your volume as their sound levels are distorted. Here’s one of them.
ChinesePod created a series of lessons based on a two-year Chinese course called Integrated Chinese. Quite a LOT of educational institutions use the course in their Chinese curriculum. ChinesePod’s blog on Integrated Chinese has a lot of audio lessons.
Perapera-kun Popup translator for the Firefox Browser
I highly recommend that you install the Perapera-kun Popup translator add-on for the Firefox browser. With this add-on, you can just position your mouse over any Chinese character and a tooltip box will appear containing PinYin so you can know how to pronounce the character (or set of characters) and it will include an English translation. You can read the installation instructions for details.
After you install Perapera-kun, just enable it in the bottom bar of Firefox by selecting the Chinese flag.
Then you can position your mouse over any Chinese characters.
Some of Chinese language resources just list English and Chinese vocabulary without pinyin. However if you install the Perapera-kun Popup translator for Chinese, all you need to do is put your mouse over the Chinese character to see the pinyin and English translation.
Character Stroke Order Lessons
- Arch Chinese is an AMAZING website with animated stroke order characters, printable PDF character writing worksheets
- Animated Chinese Characters
- MyMandarin – click on a character and the popup will animate the drawing of the character with a calligraphy brush and even read the character aloud for you.
- Learn to write Chinese Characters
- The University of Southern California Chinese Department has an interesting website with lessons for teaching character stroke order broken down into lessons for both simplified and traditional characters, showing just one character per page. For each character, they have a video which shows you the proper stroke order to writing the character by hand. If you have Real Player installed on your computer, you can listen to each character spoken.
- Writing Chinese Characters
- Chinese Pinyin Combination Chart 1 – every sound has a playable sound button
- Arch Chinese PinYin Table – This highly recommended table has every conceivable Mandarin Chinese sound in PinYin which you can just click to listen to it read aloud for you in every available tone.
- Table of PinYin Pronunciation
- AskBenny’s PinYin Table
Or just watch this video!
- Animated Chinese numbers both simple and financial numbers – you can click on a number for an animation of its stroke order
- Table of Numbers with PinYin and both simple and complicated characters
Searchable English-Chinese and Chinese-English dictionaries
The Arch Chinese website doesn’t even have a logo, but it is the most incredible Chinese-English dictionary I’ve come across so far. You can search by English, PinYin or characters. The search results have PinYin, characters and audio links that let you hear the pronunciation. And for every character it will display a animation of the character’s stroke order. Sample sentences are also available.
Nciku is a modern website with a great dictionary. Chinese characters have mouseover tooltips with PinYin pronunciation. Many English and Chinese vocabulary words have audio links so you can hear them. You can even draw a character with a mouse and matching characters will appear in real-time on the side for you to select. Clicking on a match will enter the character for you in the search box. Fantastic! Apparently you can sign up for a free account which allows you to create vocab lists for yourself.
Dict.cn is very nice modern website where you can search by characters or English. search results contain sample sentences (if available) and links to related words.
MDBG provides a pretty good Chinese-English dictionary including a version for mobile devices.
I spent countless hours in high school and college painstakingly looking up characters in a dictionary first by figuring out what the radical was, counting the number of strokes in the radical, looking up the radical by stroke count, flipping to the page with the list of characters with that radical, squinting to find the right character in the list that used a tiny font and finally flipping to the character’s page. It was a colossal waste of time. If only I had MDBG’s radical/stroke’s lookup page back in 1983!
- MDBG Radical Lookup with pinyin and English
- MDBG Radical Lookup by stroke order, just showing the radical characters
- Popup Chinese’s dictionary has a fantastic search by radical section that is much faster to use than MDBG’s version
- Arch Chinese Radicals
MIT provides many semester long course materials online.
- Chinese I. The readings page contains PDF textbook chapters and audio files.
- Chinese II
- Chinese III
- Chinese IV
- Chinese V
- Chinese VI
Foreign Service Institute
Courses developed by the United States government for training foreign service workers have been made freely available to the public. The FSI Mandarin Chinese course is very extensive and they even have a course for Cantonese. The Mandarin course has the following modules below, each of which contains a PDF document which you can use to read along with the audio lesson. It seems that they focus on spoken proficiency as their textbooks only contain romanized Chinese in pinyin. Some direct links to their resources are provided below.
- Orientation: textbook and workbook
- Unit 3: Vocab
- Unit 4: Vocab
- Biographic Information
- Arranging a Meeting
- Traveling in China
- Life in China
- Marriage, Birth and Death
- Personal Welfare
- Post Office and Telephone
Flashcards and Quizzes
- HSK Flashcards – Click on the “study” button for a brilliant flashcard system. You can log in anonymously. Use your keyboard up key to flip a card and left/right keys to advance or go back. Brilliant!
- HSK beginner (by Popup Chinese)
- HSK intermediate (by Popup Chinese)
- HSK advanced (by Popup Chinese)
- Chinese Character Flashcards (by MandarinTools.com)
- Arch Chinese flashcards with vocab from HSK and other readers – a fantastic resource
- MDBG Character Quizzes
- Hanzi Quiz – simple and easy to use
- A is for Love – these are the best of flashcards
Learning Chinese by Topic
Discussion Forums for Chinese Learners
Blogs for Chinese Learners
- Digital Dialects
- Kids Learn Chinese online games
- Learn your numbers by playing Mah Jong here or here
- Concentration for simplified characters
Chinese Proficiency Tests
Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) – 汉语水平考试
HSK is China’s proficiency test.
- HSK Beginner vocabulary wordlist (by Popup Chinese) includes character, pinyin and English
- HSK Flashcards – you can download and print flashcards
Some Newbie Lessons
Click on a phrase to hear the audio. You’ll have to go back each time you do though.