10 Best Apps for Learning Mandarin Chinese

Chinese is a notoriously difficult language to learn. However, more than 20% people in the world speak Chinese. Apart from Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and even countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore have a large number of Mandarin speakers.

No matter you want to Communicate with a billion people, discover Chinese culture, or work in China, there are many resources, guidance, and apps that can help you learn to speak Chinese, and even become fluent. 

That’s where these apps for learning Mandarin Chinese come in. Each of these apps has a different set of features and benefits, so you can choose the tool that fits your unique learning style and goals.

Best Apps for Learning Mandarin Chinese

What Are the Best Apps for Learning Chinese?

1. HelloChinese

Price: Free basic plan, option to pay to unlock additional features

Best for: Gamified, all-encompassing Chinese learning

HelloChinese might be the best app to get started learning Mandarin Chinese. It starts with an explanation of how to read pinyin. From there, play award-winning games to expand your vocabulary, learn grammatical rules, and construct sentences.

Why We Love Hello Chinese:

  • An extremely holistic app that covers all the basics
  • Teaches users how to construct sentences from scratch
  • Introduces new learners to the Mandarin Chinese phonetic system
  • Gamification elements to increase motivation

2. ChineseSkill

Price: Free, option to pay for more features

Best for: Learning with games

ChineseSkill is the only app that follows a curriculum designed by veteran Chinese teachers from Peking University, the best university in China. This app features automatic speech assessment, character handwriting and pinyin tone animation.

Why We Love Chineseskill:

  • Features curriculum designed by some of the top experts in the field
  • Great way to assess and improve one’s pronunciation
  • Lessons delivered in a well-structured manner that is conducive for learning
  • Learning while testing (provides review and consolidation)

3. Skritter

Price: Subscription-based, free trial available

Best for: Learning and writing Chinese characters

If you’re going to be trying to learn Mandarin Chinese from a native tutor or from one of the online Chinese language courses, then Skritter is one of the best apps out there that can help with your simplified Chinese vocabulary of new words, characters, writing, vocal tones learning.

Skritter uses flashcards and mnemonics to help you memorize over 2,000 Chinese characters quicker. Courses also come with audio pronunciation for each character so it makes the entire process easier as well while allowing you to continue taking notes and flashcards without having to switch back and forth between multiple screens.

Why We Love Skritter:

  • Great for learning the correct stroke order
  • Great app to learn how to read and write Mandarin Chinese
  • A hands-on way to learn vocabulary and commit them to memory

4. LingoDeer

Price: Monthly subscription starts at $11.99; lifetime subscription is available at $119.99

Best for: Improving your Chinese pronunciation and grammar

LingoDeer started a couple years ago with only three languages (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) making it at the time, a very good resource to learn these languages often ignored or not enough developed by other apps.

Usually, Chinese learning apps focus on only one or two aspects of the language, most often being writing and reading. To our surprise, LingoDeer is one of the very few that succeed in offering a complete, strong and effective set of lessons for all Chinese learners.

Vocabulary lists, grammar, phrases structures explained, listening, speaking, writing characters, studying strokes order and even games on a separate app.

LingoDeer has it all, and all come up trumps.

Why We Love LingoDeer:

  • Great app to learn Chinese that’s designed for independent learners
  • Helps learners immerse themselves fully in the language
  • Review Mode that helps you check your progress

5. HSK Online

Price: Free, option to upgrade for unlimited VIP access

Best for: HSK practice

Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) is a standardized test used to measure your skill in Chinese. It consists of various levels, with increasingly large vocabularies ranging from the basics at HSK 1 all the way up to fluency at HSK 6.

HSK online is a platform to learn Chinese for non-native speakers that are looking to prepare for this test, but it’s also great if you just want a fun way to brush up on your Chinese skills. This Chinese leaning app will help you learn how to read and write as well as understand more complex concepts like sentence formation and tones.

Why we love HSK Online:

  • Highly-reputable curriculum
  • Features live classes taught by native speakers
  • Offers challenging tests to assess your proficiency in the language
HSK Online

6. Duolingo

Price:  Basic version is free. Duolingo Plus has a 14-day free trial and costs $6.99/month thereafter.

Best for: Basic level leaner who wants to improve all round Chinese.

Duolingo is one of the best language-learning apps available with courses for over 30 languages, including Mandarin Chinese.

The Duolingo Chinese course teaches Modern Standard Mandarin which is the official language of China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau.

The course of Chinese Mandarin covers 4 tones in Chinese, basics of tonal language which is important for beginners. The app is aimed to teach 1000 common characters and also words ranging across topics like food, culture, occupations, health, travel and internet.

The program has a game-like set up which makes you want to keep learning Chinese to unlock more levels and gain achievements/badges. You collect blue gems by completing each level that you can then spend in the Duolingo store on items like outfits and extra lives for your game.

Why we love Duolingo:

  • Promotes learning in a fun, interactive way
  • Short lessons that focus on essential vocabulary
  • Topics are useful, varied and relevant to daily life
  • Gamified lessons to help learners settle into a comfortable pace of learning

7. Memrise

Price: Free basic plan, option to pay to unlock additional features

Best for: learning vocabulary using mnemotechnics.

Memrise is a flashcard-based learning app which uses spaced repetition to help learners retain and memorize information.

These flashcards include a video of a native speaker saying the word or phrase. The flashcards also include a translation, the pinyin and character and also a literal translation. Users are then tested on the flashcards by being asked to recognize the pinyin, meaning in English and audio.

The ‘Grammar’ levels will start by asking you to ‘identify the pattern’. The grammar patterns are then explained and you are tested on them.

Why We Love Memrise:

  • Regular practice sessions to commit new words to long term memory
  • The literal translation on the flashcards is helpful as it shows how Chinese words and phrases are broken down
  • The videos of the characters being drawn are a good tool for helping to memorize the character

8. FluentU

Price: Subscription-based, free trial available

Best for: Real-world immersion

Videos are the core of FluentU and what sets it apart from many other apps. FluentU brings native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. It also offers a large selection of audio recordings with subtitles.

At any time, you can tap any word in the subtitles and the clip will pause immediately. You can then Tap on a word and its definition, along with three example sentences, will appear. At this point, if you want, you can add the word to your custom vocabulary list to review it later.

Why We Love FluentU:

  • Audiovisual lessons that focus on real-life conversations
  • Presented in an interactive and engaging way
  • Ability to test one’s comprehension after every lesson

9. Du Chinese – Mandarin Study

Price: Subscription-based, some features available for free

Best for: Reading in Chinese

Du Chinese is a Mandarin-learning app focused on reading Chinese that provides learning content to newbies through advanced and seasoned learners.

The app provides lessons on how to read certain characters but goes a step further in providing real stories and articles for users to read in Chinese. These can easily be checked against their English translations by tapping the sentence you wish to understand. The app also provides audio versions of the sentence so you can check your pronunciation.

One of the best features of this app is that it allows you to save words or lessons you find particularly troublesome. This way you can build a list of characters to test yourself on and improve your weaknesses. 

Why We Love Du Chinese:

  • Content highly relevant to Chinese culture and life in China
  • Turn Pinyin on or off depending on your preference
  • Save words you don’t know to review later as a flashcard
  • Articles can be downloaded for offline use
Du Chinese

10. Daily Chinese

Price: Subscription-based, some features available for free

Best for: Learn Chinese Characters

Daily Chinese is the simplest way to grow and track your Chinese vocabulary. Their spaced repetition review system gradually introduces new words and idioms each day while ensuring you never forget what you already know.

This app provides key vocabulary packs for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners including HSK, grammar and idioms. You don’t need to look for sets of flashcards made by others or create your own decks which can be very time-consuming.

Or you’re dealing with China professionally? The special packs for work-related learning can prove useful. This includes such fields as office & email, language teaching, going online, finance and software. Other topics include the news, global politics, economics, science & tech and sports.

Why We Love Daily Chinese:

  • Memorize idioms, grammar terms, HSK vocabulary and more with over 40 word packs
  • Learn words and idioms through daily reviews guided by spaced-repetition
  • Go in-depth on Chinese cultural subjects and learn important terms related to politics, religion, traditional medicine, and geography.

Best Apps to Learn Chinese – Final Thoughts

Learning Chinese is hard, but apps are making it easier. The Chinese leaning apps listed above all have their own strengths, so try a few out to see which one is best for your needs! If you want to learn the language fluently, using one (or more) of the apps on this list will give you a more well-rounded understanding of Chinese.

We hope this article has been useful in helping you figure out how to start learning Chinese today!

  • Lois
  • I'm Lois, the creator of Appreview360.com. I hope this website can help people easily discover useful apps and software. If you want to get your app in front of the right audience, you can contact us. Or if you want to introduce some cool apps to more people, you can write for us.