Please take time to familiarize yourself with the Chinese learning resources listed below. At CLI, we firmly believe three core areas of learning will drive your Mandarin progress: in-class study, self study, and daily interaction with fluent speakers. Each of the following resources can play an important role in facilitating these core areas of the learning process.
Yabla’s Audio Pinyin Chart
Mastering the pinyin chart is central to learning spoken Chinese. Pinyin is the official Romanization of the Chinese language. It applies the English alphabet to the Chinese character system. In pinyin, China’s capital, 北京, is written Běijīng. China’s most well-known metropolis, 上海, is written Shànghǎi. Click on any of the pinyin combinations in Yabla’s pinyin chart and practice, practice, practice. Try your best to learn pinyin before you arrive to China. Note that every sound in the entire Chinese language fits onto one relatively small chart!
Pinyin Cheat Sheet
When learning pinyin, it’s most effective to listen to and repeat each pinyin sound by either practicing with a native speaker or by using an audio pinyin chart like Yabla’s (see resource #1 above). That said, CLI’s Pinyin Cheat Sheet can be very helpful when conceptualizing and memorizing pinyin sounds.
ChinesePod specializes in providing recorded lessons and media-oriented self-study tools for Chinese language learners. Through a combination of audio, video, mobile, and online review materials, ChinesePod focuses mainly on Mandarin study for everyday use. Although the site requires a paid subscription for full access, a great deal of free material is also available, as well as one-week free trial memberships.
Mandarin Companion was created by China veteran John Padsen and relative newcomer Jared Turner after a fateful conversation about extensive reading on a Shanghai bus. Jared was amazed by the positive impact extensive reading had on his language ability, but he was frustrated by the lack of suitable Chinese reading material that fit his reading level. Having worked in Chinese education for nearly a decade, John was intrigued with the idea and thus began the Mandarin Companion series. Mandarin Companion is an excellent and highly recommended resource for anyone looking to improve their Chinese reading ability.
There are dozens of excellent Chinese language learning apps out there. One of the most popular is Pleco, a free dictionary app that has several paid add-ons. Most Chinese language learners consider Pleco an indispensable part of their study. There are also a variety of flashcard apps available in the Apple and Android app marketplaces to help you practice your vocabulary (the Pleco app has an integrated flashcard feature).
LINE Dictionary is a free online Chinese-English dictionary that additionally provides a range of online language learning tools, including audio pronunciation, and sample dialogues. Click on the “App” icon to download LINE Dictionary’s mobile dictionary onto your iPod or mobile phone.
One-on-one Skype Lessons
Start learning Chinese with a CLI Mandarin teacher from the comfort of your own home. CLI’s online lessons utilize Skype to enable you to attend one-on-one Mandarin class from anywhere in the world – all you need is a stable Internet connection. Sign up for your free lesson and try it out whenever convenient for you.
Google Pinyin Input
Google Pinyin Input allows you to type Chinese characters by keying in pinyin and selecting the correct character sequence from among commonly used combinations. To download, simply press the blue button on the right of the screen to get started (the site is in Chinese, though Google Chrome users can translate it automatically into English for easier navigation).
Skritter is an interactive platform that can be used on the web, iPhone or iPad to learn Chinese character writing and recognition. With on-the-go capabilities, you can study at your own convenience, track your progress and even upload full vocabulary lists for your favorite textbooks. Full Skritter service requires a monthly subscription fee.
The Chairman’s Bao
The Chairman’s Bao is an online simplified newspaper designed for Mandarin learners. Articles and blog posts cover topics from business to nature and are accompanied by an interactive dictionary and customizable vocabulary database where learners can review previously studied words. New content is uploaded daily and no subscription fee is required.