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Tips for Learning Chinese

For the newly arrived expat, or even those who’ve been here a while, Mandarin can be a blistering stream of harsh tones and sharp consonants. While many foreigners working in China affordable China travel packages might not have the time or energy that regular Chinese classes demand, there are a number or resources out there to help you study on your own, in your own time.

Tips for Learning Chinese


Learn Chinese HD ($4.99 on iTunes) is excellent for survival Mandarin, with basic characters and phrases based on everyday scenarios. Pleco offers a good dictionary for free, with add-ons like character recognition ($11.99), flashcards ($14.99) and full-screen handwriting input ($14.99). Until June 30, if you download the Android version of the app, you’ll get the handwriting input for free. Nciku is one of the best, most current online Chinese dictionaries—the online-only app for iOS and Android is free, and it’s $7.99 for the offline dictionary.


One advantage of podcasts is every phrase is delivered aurally, which really helps when it comes to learning different tones. Learn Chinese Online with CLO is one of the highest rated podcasts currently on iTunes, and it’s free. Over the course of eight seasons, the podcast gradually moves from completely English to completely Mandarin, slowly acclimatizing the listener.


Although a textbook might not seem like the most exciting way to learn best tours of China, it still has its own advantages, especially when it comes to reading and writing. Of course, textbooks have disadvantages, too, the biggest being the difficulty of learning tones without hearing them. Chinese Made Easier by Martin Symonds and Tian Hao-hao is a good place to start—the textbooks were designed for expats who will be working in Chinese, and so tend to focus more on pronunciation than other Chinese textbooks. Order it on Amazon from $14.

TV Shows

Watching TV is a relatively pain-free way to pick up a new language, and most Chinese shows do have the language-learning advantage of being broadcast with Chinese subtitles. Check out Cliff (Xuan Ya, 悬崖), a spy drama set in 1938 that won several awards last year and has a plot-line that most Westerners will be able to pick up on with little trouble. For more contemporary language, watch wildly popular dating show Fei Chang Wu Rao (非诚勿扰). These, and many other shows, are all available free on websites Youku and Tudou.

More others via chinatourdotcom such as popular China tours and Hong Kong travel guide

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