What are the best apps to learn Chinese? 

Comprehensive list of best apps for Chinese studies. Get started today!
Best Chinese learning apps
Best Chinese learning apps

Mandarin learning apps and resources / best apps for Chinese learning

I. Introduction

Learning Chinese is a rewarding endeavor that opens up a world of opportunities, both personally and professionally. With over a billion billion native speakers, mastering Chinese can connect you with a vast population and a rich cultural heritage. Plus, several hundred million people speak Chinese as a second or third language, especially in Asia. 

In today’s digital age, technology has become an invaluable tool for language learning, offering a range of resources to help you achieve fluency or going from intermediate level to advanced.. Learning Chinese has never been this easy and is likely easier than you think, mostly due to the abundance of high quality apps and opportunities to engage in full immersion Chinese learning.

II. Overview of the Best Apps for Learning Chinese

When choosing an app to learn Chinese, consider factors such as user interface, content quality, features, and pricing. In this article, we will explore some of the best apps for learning Chinese, highlighting their advantages, shortcomings, and reviews to help you make an informed decision.

III. Lingq

Lingq (www.lingq.com) is a comprehensive language learning app available on both iOS and Android platforms. It offers a vast library of content, including articles, podcasts, and videos, in simplified and traditional Chinese. The app’s main strength is its focus on reading and listening skills.

Features and benefits:

  • Immersive content with audio and text
  • Customizable vocabulary lists
  • Spaced repetition system for reviewing words
  • In-app translator and dictionary
  • Online community for language exchange

Tips for using Lingq effectively:

  • Read and listen to content daily
  • Add new words to your vocabulary list
  • Review words regularly using the spaced repetition system

Availability and pricing: Lingq is free to use, with premium features available via in-app purchases.

Shortcomings: The app’s interface can be overwhelming for beginners, and the speaking practice component is limited.

Reviews: Users praise Lingq for its extensive content library and customizable learning experience.

IV. Pleco

Pleco (www.pleco.com) is an essential tool for Chinese learners, offering a powerful dictionary and character recognition system. Available for iOS and Android, Pleco focuses on improving reading and writing skills.

Features and benefits:

  • Comprehensive dictionary with over 130,000 entries
  • Handwriting and optical character recognition
  • Audio pronunciation and example sentences
  • Flashcard system for vocabulary review
  • Customizable settings and user interface

Tips for using Pleco effectively:

  • Look up words and phrases as you encounter them
  • Add new words to your flashcard deck
  • Practice handwriting and character recognition daily

Availability and pricing: Pleco is free to use, with additional features available via in-app purchases.

Shortcomings: Pleco does not offer structured lessons or a curriculum, making it more of a supplementary tool than a standalone language learning app.

Reviews: Users appreciate Pleco’s extensive dictionary and character recognition features, which make it a must-have app for Chinese learners.

V. Anki

Anki (www.ankiweb.net) is a popular flashcard app that uses a spaced repetition system to help you memorize vocabulary and characters. Available on iOS and Android platforms, Anki is highly customizable and can be used for any subject matter.

Features and benefits:

  • Spaced repetition system for efficient learning
  • Customizable flashcard decks
  • Import and export options for sharing decks
  • Multimedia support, including audio and images
  • Cross-platform syncing

Tips for using Anki effectively:

  • Review your flashcards daily
  • Create personalized decks with relevant vocabulary
  • Use multimedia to enhance your learning experience

Availability and pricing: Anki is free for Android users and available for a one-time purchase of $24.99 on iOS.

Shortcomings: Anki has a steep learning curve and requires time investment to create and manage decks.

Reviews: Users commend Anki’s flexibility and effectiveness in helping them memorize large amounts of information.

VI. Skritter

Skritter (www.skritter.com) is a specialized app designed to help users improve their Chinese writing skills. It offers stroke-by-stroke guidance and feedback, allowing learners to practice writing characters effectively. Skritter is available for both iOS and Android platforms.

Features and benefits:

  • Stroke-by-stroke guidance for writing characters
  • Customizable vocabulary lists
  • Spaced repetition system for reviewing characters
  • Audio pronunciation and example sentences
  • Progress tracking and analytics

Tips for using Skritter effectively:

  • Practice writing characters daily
  • Add new characters to your vocabulary list
  • Review characters regularly using the spaced repetition system

Availability and pricing: Skritter offers a free trial, with premium features available via a subscription plan.

Shortcomings: Skritter focuses primarily on writing, so it may not be suitable for learners seeking a comprehensive language learning app.

Reviews: Users appreciate Skritter’s unique approach to teaching Chinese writing and find it to be a valuable resource in their language learning journey.

VII. ChinesePod

ChinesePod (www.chinesepod.com) is an app that offers a variety of lessons and exercises focusing on listening and speaking skills in Chinese. It is available for both iOS and Android devices and offers a free trial for users to explore its features.

Features and benefits:

  • Wide range of lessons categorized by difficulty level
  • Focus on listening and speaking skills
  • In-depth explanations of grammar and vocabulary
  • Downloadable audio and PDF lesson transcripts
  • Online community for language exchange

Tips for using ChinesePod effectively:

  • Listen to lessons daily and practice repeating the dialogues
  • Review the PDF lesson transcripts to reinforce your learning
  • Engage with the online community for language exchange and support

Availability and pricing: ChinesePod offers a free trial, with premium features available via a subscription plan.

Shortcomings: ChinesePod does not provide a structured curriculum, and users may need supplementary resources for reading and writing practice.

Reviews: Users praise ChinesePod for its engaging lessons and comprehensive approach to teaching spoken Chinese.

VIII. Kungfucius Blog

The Kungfucius Blog (www.kungfucius.com) is a language learning blog that offers valuable insights and resources for Chinese learners. By incorporating the wisdom of Confucius, the blog aims to inspire and guide students on their language acquisition journey.

Features and benefits:

  • In-depth articles on Chinese grammar, vocabulary, and culture
  • Practical tips and advice for language learners
  • Inspirational quotes and stories
  • Links to additional resources and tools

Tips for using the Kungfucius Blog effectively:

  • Regularly read the blog to stay updated on new posts
  • Incorporate the tips and advice into your language learning routine
  • Explore the additional resources and tools provided

Availability and pricing: The Kungfucius Blog is free to access.

Shortcomings: The blog is not an interactive learning platform and should be used in conjunction with other language learning resources.

Reviews: Users appreciate the informative and engaging content provided by the Kungfucius Blog, which helps to enhance their Chinese learning experience.

IX. italki

italki (www.italki.com) is an online platform that connects language learners with native-speaking tutors, providing personalized one-on-one lessons. Offering sessions in Chinese and a variety of other languages, italki is accessible through its website and mobile app for both iOS and Android devices.

Features and benefits:

  • Customized, individual tutoring sessions
  • Diverse selection of tutors with different backgrounds and teaching approaches
  • Flexible scheduling options and lesson pricing
  • Online community for language exchange and support
  • Additional learning resources, such as articles and videos

Tips for using italki effectively:

  • Consistently schedule lessons to maintain progress
  • Choose tutors with teaching styles that match your learning preferences
  • Engage with the online community for additional language practice and support

Availability and pricing: italki offers a pay-per-lesson system, with prices varying depending on the tutor and lesson duration.

Shortcomings: italki’s focus on individual tutoring may not appeal to learners who prefer a more structured, curriculum-based approach.

Reviews: Users appreciate the personalized learning experience provided by italki and the opportunity to connect with native speakers for effective language practice.

Learn more about italki in this article.

X. Other Noteworthy Apps

In addition to the apps mentioned above, the following apps can also be helpful in your Mandarin learning journey:

Duolingo – A popular and free language learning app that offers lessons in simplified and traditional Chinese, audio pronunciation practice, and interactive exercises. Available for iOS and Android. (www.duolingo.com)

HelloChinese – An interactive app with voice recognition technology, focusing on improving listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Chinese. Available for iOS and Android, offering a free trial. (www.hellochinese.cc)

ChineseSkill – An app offering interactive lessons and games with a focus on practical, real-life situations. Available for iOS and Android, offering a free trial. (www.chineseskill.com)

Google Translate – A useful tool for quick translations, allowing users to highlight words or phrases for translation into Chinese. Available for iOS and Android. (translate.google.com)

YouTube – A valuable resource for language learning, with paid YouTube offering advantages like uninterrupted lessons and no commercial content in other languages, supporting full immersion learning. Available for iOS and Android. (www.youtube.com)

XI. Apps for Japanese Learning

Many of the apps mentioned in this article also cater to Japanese language learning, including Lingq, Anki, italki, and Duolingo. These apps provide similar features and benefits, such as customizable vocabulary lists, spaced repetition systems, and personalized tutoring sessions, making them valuable resources for learners of both Chinese and Japanese. So if you are considering learning Chinese or Japanese – there are some synergies at least in the apps you might want to use to facilitate your learning! 

XII. Conclusion

Choosing the right app to learn Chinese can make a significant difference in your language learning journey. By exploring the various options and considering their features, advantages, and shortcomings, you can select the best tools to help you improve. 

“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”


By combining dedicated practice with the right resources, you can master the Chinese language and unlock new opportunities in your personal and professional life. It is easier than ever and many apps are free to use. But even if you max it out, you can get all the most premium app versions for about 2000 per year except for the tutoring on italki. 

Just remember. Apps and online learning is just one aspect. Sometimes it is good to put the mobile phone or computer to the rest and do some light exercise. Find more on how exercise can help you learn languages here. And while it is possible to study in your home country, if you really want to learn Chinese, check out these best places to learn Chinese.