What are the best mobile apps to learn Chinese?
Chinese is a group of language varieties that form the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, spoken by the ethnic Han Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in Greater China. About 1.3 billion people (or approximately 16% of the world’s population) speak a variety of Chinese as their first language. The Chinese language is the oldest written language in the world with at least six thousand years of history. Chinese character inscriptions have been found in turtle shells dating back to the Shang dynasty1 (1766-1123 BC) proving the written language has existed for more than 3,000 years. Although many mutually unintelligible Chinese dialects (considered by native speakers to be variants of a single language) exist, the written language is a common form of communication. Even though people are not able to verbally communicate in different provinces, they are able to understand each other in writing.
A large dictionary usually contains 40,000 characters. One must be able to recognize 2,000 to 3,000 characters to read a newspaper. Although the written system has been altered over time due to revolutions and political changes, the principles of the language along with the symbols and characters have remained basically the same. Standard Chinese (Standard Mandarin), based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, was adopted in the 1930s and is now an official language of both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan), one of the four official languages of Singapore, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. While simplified Chinese characters were promoted for use, by the government of the People’s Republic of China, since the 1950s, Singapore has been officially using simplified characters since 1976. Traditional characters remain in use in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and other countries with significant overseas Chinese speaking communities such as Malaysia (which although adopted simplified characters as the de facto standard in the 1980s, traditional characters still remain in widespread use).
Most Chinese learning apps are powered by Spaced Repetition System (SRS), an algorithm that not only increases memory retention but also intelligently schedules Chinese characters to be reviewed at the most efficient time possible: just before you forget them!
Let's now look at some of the best apps to learn Chinese:
AnkiMobile and AnkiDroid act as counterparts to the Anki desktop app, which is one of the best flashcard apps available. It is an app that uses SRS. You can either use the pre-existing flashcards or make a deck of your own. These cloud sync-able decks include audio and images to help learners memorize new words.
Duolingo is one of the best language-learning apps available with courses for over 30 languages, including Mandarin Chinese. It helps learners of the Chinese language learn bite-sized lessons via interactive games. While beginners can start with lessons such as greetings, numbers, names etcetera, advanced learners need to take a placement test!
Memrise started off as a flashcard app that helped learners memorize Chinese characters by using mnemonics and SRS, but it has evolved as a gamified learning platform that helps learners choose their own course, study it and subsequently review it periodically. Thereafter, Memrise quizzes them using fun games where they get badges and virtual rewards. Memrise also offers clips of native speakers so learners can improve their listening skills while improving their pronunciation.
Skritter is a paid app and like Anki and Memrise, uses SRS. It is by far the best app available for learning to write in Chinese. It teaches you over 10,000 characters, which you can combine to make over 400,000 words. Skritter’s smooth on-screen handwriting feature guides your hand through writing these characters one stroke at a time. It also helps you actively recall how to write Chinese characters wherever you are.
Hello Chinese (iOS/Android)
HelloChinese might be the best app for learners to work up through different levels, building on their knowledge and improving their understanding of Mandarin Chinese as they go. It features mini-lessons delivered through fun games like Duolingo. The app provides learners with a handwriting tool to practice writing characters, quite a lot of listening exercises besides a speech recognition tool that helps learners with pronunciation.
LingoDeer is an excellent option for learners who wish to learn to speak, read, and write in Chinese. LingoDeer is a well-structured app that gives you a feel of immersion teaching. It uses minimal English to propel learners to think, read and speak in Mandarin Chinese as soon as possible. Learners listen to native speakers in slow motion and perfect their pronunciation. LingoDeer also gives each learner a breakdown of their performance after each lesson, that helps them see their progress and highlight weak spots, which can be worked upon using a Review mode.
Multibhashi is a Technology platform that imparts impactful content designed by its empanelled Linguist experts across major Indian languages imparted via Cloud LMS, Cloud telephony, Streaming Video, Realtime Chat, Experiential Learning, Gamification & Interactive evaluation leading to Adaptive Learning by the user. In November 2020, HolonIQ – an authority when it comes to performing and buddying EdTechs, announced its first annual India and South Asia EdTech 100 — a list of the 100 most promising education technology startups across the region from approximately 3000 EdTech teams based in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. And Multibhashi bagged a position in the top 100 Edtech companies in Asia and ONLY ONE FROM INDIA in the Language learning category to be part of HOLONIQ. Multibhashi offers pocket-friendly courses via customized online learning, that’s flexible and allows you to take classes at the convenience of your home, with qualified trainers that are certified Level B2 and above, with diverse experience, having helped thousands of learners who help you improve in the subject by consistently monitoring your progress through pre-assessment, mid-assessment and post-assessment.
A small investment in learning the language could translate into more business and career opportunities. Or just more friends. It’s enormous fun. Learning any language requires a lot of time and effort, and Chinese is no different.
It’s about time to start learning Chinese now. The future of the world will likely be shaped by the billion-strong population of China, so learning to speak to these people and understand their culture are hugely useful moves.
There’s an amazing new way to learn Mandarin! Want to see what everyone’s talking about!