10 Best Apps to Learn Mandarin

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Do you want to start learning Chinese Mandarin but you don’t know where to start?

We’ve got you covered!

Our list of the 10 best apps to learn Mandarin will make things clearer.

Apps are a fantastic way to learn Mandarin – they are affordable, practical, and efficient.

And they are accessible to everyone, no matter where you live.

But with so many appealing options on the market, it’s easy to feel indecisive.

And that’s why we’re here. We will guide you through the best Chinese learning apps and point out their main features and highlights.

We’ve covered different types of apps, so there’s something for everyone.

So, let’s begin! Or shall we say: 开始吧!

10 Best Apps to Learn Mandarin

1. Rocket Chinese

Rocket Chinese app

Developed by Rocket Languages, the Rocket Chinese app is arguably one of the best options on the market.

The app is well-designed, comprehensible, and efficient.

But does it offer what you’re looking for?

Rocket Chinese Features

One of the best things about Rocket Chinese is definitely its well-rounded curriculum.

The app is focused on all main language skills: speaking, reading, listening, and writing. So, it will help you build a strong foundation.

In a nutshell, the app is a mix of audio tracks, interactive exercises, and study tools.

It doesn’t have too many game-like features, but you’ll be earning points and badges. And you can check your position on the Leaderboard.

Otherwise, the app is very straightforward and efficient. And yet it delivers its content with a rather relaxing (and at times humorous) approach.

All the apps’ functions are very useful. You can use flashcards, a Saved Vocab feature, the Benchmark tool (to check your level), and so on.

And Rocket Reinforcement activities will help you test and strengthen your knowledge.

But what will the app actually teach you?

Content and Benefits

With the Rocket Chinese app, you’ll learn everything you need to know to start a casual, fluid conversation in Mandarin.

The speech recognition software will give you feedback on your pronunciation.

Interactive Audio lessons cover natural dialogues that will teach you practical vocabulary.

Language & Culture lessons will tell you how the language works and give you interesting cultural insights.

And Writing lessons will introduce you to Hanzi. They contain videos that will show you how to write Chinese characters and useful notes with tricks to memorize a certain character.

All lessons are divided into 3 levels. They are created to be taken in a linear fashion, but you can also jump back and forth if you want to.

Overall, Rocket Chinese is a well-structured app that will take you from beginner to more advanced level.

It’s thorough, versatile, and user-friendly.

Who is Rocket Chinese Best For?

Rocket Chinese is the best app to learn Mandarin for anyone searching for a reliable, well-rounded online language course.

It’s audio-based, but it’s beneficial to all types of learners.

2. ChineseClass101

Do you want to learn Mandarin by listening to podcasts?

Well, ChineseClass101 offers podcast-style lessons that can help you learn conversational Mandarin.

ChineseClass101 Features

In essence, the ChineseClass101 app is a mix of short audio and video lessons.

Lessons are centered around conversations between native speakers. With slowed-down audio and line-by-line breakdowns, you’ll be able to understand everything.

The app also features slideshows, flashcards, word lists, and voice recording tools.

You’ll get detailed PDF notes as well.

And there’s a Pathway feature that will add more structure to your learning. When lessons are grouped into modules, it’s easier to get around the app.

And if you opt for a Premium Plus subscription, you’ll also have an option to communicate with a real teacher via private messenger. You can get direct feedback, corrections, and answers to your questions.

Content and Benefits

ChineseClass101 is primarily focused on the development of listening and conversational skills.

And although the course isn’t heavy on grammar, it does offer grammar notes and explanations.

It will also give you some cultural facts.

However, this app is most beneficial to people who want to learn how to speak Mandarin through a conversational context.

Lessons are also downloadable, which is a big plus.

And the platform offers some free Chinese learning materials as well. For example, you can come across useful lessons and tutorials on their Youtube channel.

Who is ChineseClass101 Best For?

ChineseClass101 is one of the best apps to learn Chinese for aural learners and people who want to improve their conversational skills.

3. Hello Chinese

Hello Chinese learning app

Hello Chinese is a great Mandarin learning app for beginners.

It’s a versatile and gamified app designed to help you grasp the basics while having fun.

Hello Chinese Features

This Chinese app is free, but it has in-app purchases.

The app will teach you how to speak and write Mandarin.

It offers audio tracks to teach you pronunciation, and there’s a speech recognition system too.

You’ll also go through versatile exercises such as multiple choice and translation exercises.

Some games are part of the Premium version, and they are a nice extra touch.

Hello Chinese also has a blog and social media, but it doesn’t seem to be very active anymore, so hopefully, that will change in the future.

Content and Benefits

The Hello Chinese app provides bite-sized lessons. They are also organized by topics, and they include family, numbers, animals, food, questions, and so on.

Lessons are linear, but you can skip ahead if you want to.

They cover reading, writing, speaking, vocabulary, and grammar.

The app is very simple and user-friendly, and it allows you to study in a relaxed, game-like environment.

You can also tell the app to remind you when it’s time to study.

Who is Hello Chinese Best For?

If you’re looking for the best free Chinese learning app, Hello Chinese might be a good choice.

It’s best for beginners who want to focus on speaking, writing, listening, and reading Mandarin.

4. Zizzle

Zizzle is a learn Mandarin app focused on Chinese characters.

The app is well-designed and effective.

So, how does it work?

Zizzle Features

The Zizzle app is based on research-proven memorization techniques: visualization, the keyword method, and association.

So, if you like the visual learning style, you’ll definitely like studying with Zizzle.

There are several Zizzle Character Packs to choose from. Each Pack contains all the features: visual stories, words and phrases, audio, and quizzes.

There’s also a spaced repetition system to help you strengthen your knowledge even more.

Hanzi (Chinese writing system) can be quite challenging to learn, and this kind of app can be a really useful tool.

And learning Hanzi through visualization seems to be very effective.

Content and Benefits

Hanzi is a logographic writing system, so the characters represent words and ideas.

Altogether there are over 50,000 characters. Yes, a lot!

And the Zizzle app currently covers more than 850 Chinese characters. They are the most frequently used Chinese characters, and they will allow you to read basic texts and have an everyday conversation in Chinese.

But how does the app teach you the characters?

Well, by tackling the character’s shape, meaning, tone, and pronunciation, the app creates a two-part story. And each story is accompanied by an image.

All images and visual representations are unique, so you can really memorize everything you learn.

You’ll also see examples of sentences where a particular word is used in.

And there’s also a spaced repetition system and quizzes to help you test and internalize what you’ve learned.

Overall, Zizzle is a fantastic Chinese learning tool – and it works great as an additional learning resource.

Who is Zizzle Best For?

Zizzle is the best Mandarin app for anyone who wants to learn Chinese characters.

It could be a great supplemental learning tool.

5. Lingodeer

Lingodeer Chinese

And if you want to delve deeper into Chinese grammar, you should check out Lingodeer.

Lingodeer Features

The Lingodeer app combines high-quality audio tracks, exercises, and speaking practice.

It has a grammar-based curriculum, and it’s designed to make learning grammar fun and enjoyable.

Well, if you’re a language lover, that might very well be possible.

Either way, Lingodeer is a well-designed app that will offer you well-rounded, online classes.

It has an in-built flashcard function, downloadable Knowledge Cards, and a variety of exercises and quizzes.

And Target Training will allow you to pick a focus (vocabulary or grammar.)

The app is also very customizable, so you can pick a background color, the voice of a narrator, and so on.

Content and Benefits

In a nutshell, Lingodeer will teach you Chinese grammar, which will give you a good understanding of the language as a whole.

The app will give you clear, detailed explanations (you won’t have to guess anything.)

Also, you’ll learn Mandarin through context, which is always effective.

And the Lingodeer Story will introduce you to cultural facts while teaching you new vocabulary and useful expressions.

Moreover, the app has useful functionalities, which is always a big plus.

You can tell Lingodeer to remind you when you need to study.

You can challenge a friend who also uses Lingodeer.

And you can use the app in silent study mode, which is great if you want to study while you’re commuting.

All in all, Lingodeer is a well-structured, eye-catching app that can help you understand the Chinese language and all its essential elements.

Who is Lingodeer Best For?

Lingodeer is the best Mandarin language app for anyone who wants to focus on grammar.

6. Memrise

Memrise Mandarin

Memrise is another popular app that can teach you Chinese.

And it offers a lot of free content.

Memrise Features

Memrise used to offer community-created courses, but they have been removed from the “Search” function.

These courses have not been removed or deleted from Memrise, but the app is now focused exclusively on official courses created by their team of linguists, translators, and language researchers.

Nevertheless, it’s a very helpful and nicely designed app.

It offers video examples of Chinese used in real life, courses led by native speakers, and gamified tests.

The program is based on immersive learning. According to Memrise creators, immersion means getting to know the language including its natural rhythms, emotional tone, body language, and cultural habits.

In other words, Memrise will allow you to surround yourself with the Chinese language and help you learn everything that comes with it.

Content and Benefits

If you’re a beginner, you’ll learn all the basics of Mandarin; from greetings to ordering food in a restaurant.

All lessons are designed to teach what’s relevant for daily life, and you can also choose a topic you’re interested in.

Lessons are simple and easy to digest, especially because the app’s smart learning engine adapts them to your individual needs.

All things considered, this Mandarin app will prepare you for potential real-life situations.

The Memrise app is free to download, and that’s definitely an advantage. But the premium subscription will give you access to additional features and extra content.

Also, there’s an active blog and forum, so you can stay updated, join a conversation or meet fellow learners.

Who is Memrise Best For?

If you’re looking for an easy way to improve your Chinese comprehension and expand your vocabulary, you should give Memrise a try.

It’s best for beginners looking for Chinese free apps.

7. Mondly

Mondly Mandarin app

If you’re searching for the best way to learn Mandarin online, you can’t go wrong with Mondly.

It’s a popular and innovative app that can help you acquire solid conversational skills.

Mondly Features

Mondly is the first company to develop a virtual reality language app.

So, yes, you can learn Mandarin in virtual reality. Or, you can opt for the Mondly AR app or a standard version.

Regardless of what you choose, you’ll have an immersive learning experience.

You’ll work on your pronunciation, vocabulary, reading, and listening.

Mondly also offers free daily lessons. They are short and easy to follow.

The app also has a speech recognition engine and provides high-quality audio lessons with professional Chinese native speakers.

And it uses rapid language learning techniques to help you learn the language quickly and effectively.

Content and Benefits

Mondly is focused on teaching useful Chinese phrases for real situations.

You’ll learn the language through common phrases, not individual words.

And you can pick a topic you’re interested in and focus on all the words and phrases related to it.

You’ll also get useful grammar exercises.

So, the app is focused on the development of all language skills.

Even though Mondly has a lot of content and it takes teaching Chinese seriously, it delivers content in a relaxed yet engaging environment. Learning a new language will almost feel like playing a game.

But one of Mondly’s unique highlights is definitely its Chinese Chatbot. It’s a computer program that will be your conversational partner. The Chatbot is designed to respond as a native speaker would.

While you’re chatting with your Chinese buddy, you’ll also get instant feedback if you get anything wrong. So, this is actually a great way to build conversational skills and feel more confident.

Who is Mondly Best For?

Mondly is the best Mandarin learning app for people who like game-like apps.

It’s great for beginners who want to focus on all elements of the Chinese language but without feeling overwhelmed.

8. Pimsleur

Pimsleur is one of the most popular (and well-structured) language-learning platforms.

Let’s see what the Pimsleur app for learning Mandarin has to offer.

Pimsleur Features

The Pimsleur Method is the foundation of every Pimsleur course.

It’s centered around organic learning and graduated interval recall.

To put it simply, the Pimsleur app will teach you Chinese vocabulary within the context of a conversation and with the help of spaced repetition.

The app also features a lot of useful study tools. It has Flashcards, Quick Match exercises, Speed Rounds, and so on.

Pimsleur currently offers five Premium packages to choose from. They cover different levels, so they’re suitable both for absolute beginners and intermediate learners.

Lessons are designed to be taken every day for 30 minutes, but there is no strict schedule so you can learn at your own pace.

Content and Benefits

Each Pimsleur package contains approximately 15 hours of lesson time. It consists of 30-minute core lessons, Speak Easy conversations, and accompanying travel photographs.

Pinyin reading lessons are also included.

So, you’ll learn how the language works, but you’ll also learn about Chinese culture and history.

Pimsleur is undeniably a well-structured app that can provide you with flexible learning. On the other hand, it will keep you focused and motivated.

Lessons are audio-based, and there’s also a hands-free mode. This is a huge advantage if you want to learn on the go – while you’re jogging, driving, or making dinner.

Besides Mandarin, Pimsleur also offers Cantonese classes. So, if you want to try something different when you master the basics of Mandarin, you’ll know where to look.  

Who is Pimsleur Best For?

Pimsleur is a reliable Mandarin language app that can take you from the beginner to an intermediate level quite quickly.

It’s great for people with a busy schedule who want to learn on the go.

9. Duolingo

Pimsleur Mandarin language app

Duolingo is arguably the most popular language-learning app.

But is it also a good option for learning Mandarin?

Well, if you like simple lessons and game-like apps, it might be.

Duolingo Features

One of the best things about Duolingo is definitely its simplicity.

It’s very practical and easy to use.

And it’s completely free! Unless you want to use it offline and have some extra features. In that case, you can opt for Duolingo Plus.

The Duolingo Chinese app is based on translation and repetition.

But there are also games, challenges, exercises, visual cues, and useful tools (for example the goal-setting tool.)

Duolingo also uses smart technology to try to create lessons appropriate for your level and pace.

Content and Benefits

The Duolingo app will help you improve your speaking, listening, and reading skills.

But for the most part, you’ll work on expanding your vocabulary.

Lessons are linear, and you’ll be unlocking new levels as you progress.

That said, the app is best for beginners, because if you’re familiar with the language you’ll probably want to skip ahead and learn from a more advanced-appropriate material.

Either way, it seems like Duolingo is successfully keeping up with competitors. It looks fresh and it’s very convenient.

On the other, it didn’t change its appearance and some characteristics that made it charming and popular in the first place.

Overall, Duolingo can introduce you to the Chinese language in a fun and easy way, but you’ll have to find extra learning resources if you want to eventually become a fluent speaker.

Who is Duolingo Best For?

Duolingo is a great additional learning source. But it’s also convenient for anyone who wants to learn the basics and expand their vocabulary.

10. TutorMing

Tutorming

Now we want to show you a different kind of Chinese learning app.

If you’re interested in virtual one-on-one lessons, let us tell you all about TutorMing.

TutorMing Features

TutorMing is a platform that connects learners and teachers.

So, this is a chance to learn from certified native Chinese teachers.

And since it’s an app, you can learn anywhere, anytime.

You can take private lessons or join a group class – it all depends on your goals and preferences.

During your lesson, you’ll be able to pull up images, write on the screen, and so on.

After each class, you’ll get a video recording of your lesson, lesson slides, and probably some simple homework.

So, using TutorMing feels like going to a virtual school! But with less pressure, of course.

Content and Benefits

When it comes to content, your TutorMing instructor will create a study plan based on your current skill level.

You don’t have to worry about the curriculum: it’s interesting and dynamic, and it has a lot of cultural information as well.

And tutors will adjust their speaking speed and vocabulary as you progress.

You can have a free trial lesson first to see what everything looks like.

But learning in their TutorMing virtual classroom can be really productive, especially because you become a part of a live lesson and listen to a real teacher.

Lessons are available 24 hours per day, and you can easily schedule them. In fact, you can schedule your class one day in advance.

So, TutorMing is like a blend of an app and an online language course.

And if you want to improve your Mandarin, you should try it out.

Who is TutorMing Best For?

TutorMing is a great Mandarin learning program for learners of all levels and ages.

It’s ideal for people who want to take live online classes.

How to Choose the Best App to Learn Mandarin

As you can see, there are many great options on the market. And learning Chinese Mandarin has never been easier.

But choosing the right app for learning Chinese doesn’t seem so easy.

However, there are a couple of things that you need to consider if you want to make the right decision.

First of all, it’s good to know that there’s a difference between Chinese and Mandarin. 

Yes, these two words seem almost interchangeable.

However, the Chinese language has a variety of regional dialects, and Mandarin is one of them. Other forms/dialects include Cantonese, Hakka, Shanghainese, and so on.

But Mandarin is also known as standard Chinese (Pǔtōnghuà), and perhaps that’s where the confusion comes from.

Mandarin is the most widely spoken, it’s the official language in any school.

And that’s why most of the online Chinese courses and language-learning apps are focused on Mandarin. And some apps also offer other dialects such as Cantonese.

Best apps to learn Mandarin

Now, when you know what Chinese dialect you wish to learn, let’s look at the other important factors.

Firstly, your learn Mandarin app should fit your goals and needs.

If you’re planning to visit China soon, you might want to choose an app that will help you build basic conversational skills.

And if you want to learn Mandarin to have more job opportunities, you’ll want an app that won’t rush you and that will give you professional, well-rounded online classes.

Every app is created with a specific user in mind, so you probably won’t have any problems with finding an app that will meet your needs.

Furthermore, make sure the app fits your learning style. Are you a visual learner? Or do you prefer learning a new language by listening and repeating the words?

And find a well-designed app. It’s not only about looking aesthetically pleasing; the app should be neat, practical, and easy to use.

All of this will make your learning sessions more enjoyable and productive.

What Are the Benefits of Using an App to Learn Mandarin?

Mandarin is one of the most popular languages to learn.

However, some parts of the world still don’t have many Chinese learning options.

And apps for learning Mandarin allow you to take Mandarin lessons regardless of where you live.

In fact, with app-based lessons, you can learn Mandarin anytime, anywhere. Some of them even have hands-free or car modes, so you can learn while you’re commuting, jogging, or driving.

Practicality is definitely one of the biggest benefits of using an app to learn Mandarin.

Benefits of using an app to learn Mandarin

Moreover, Chinese learning apps use cutting-edge technology and modern online study tools. All of that will make your learning process much easier.

It’s challenging to master Chinese writing systems, but with different kinds of interactive exercises and game-like activities, you’ll learn how to write in Chinese without feeling stressed.

And since many of these apps use visual cues to present you with new words or phrases, you’ll memorize them more easily. That’s a much more effective way than simply listening to someone explain them to you.

On the other hand, if you’re an aural learner, you can also benefit a lot from using an app. In most cases, audio lessons are interactive, and most of the apps use spaced repetition systems to help you internalize everything properly.

In other words, the best apps for learning Chinese are highly effective and innovative.

And they are designed to keep you motivated. They are flexible, but they will also provide you with structure.

On top of that, some of them offer a personalized learning experience, so you’ll get lessons based on your level, time commitment, and unique learning habits.

You’ll learn in a relaxed yet productive environment, and you will feel amazing every time you realize you’re making progress.

Learning Mandarin

After all, learning any new language is very rewarding.

And speaking Mandarin is also incredibly useful. China is an economic superpower, and learning Chinese will undoubtedly open up new job opportunities.

So, whether you want to stand out from other candidates when you apply for a job or you simply want to get to know another language and culture, learning Mandarin can only be beneficial.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article encouraged you to give Mandarin learning apps a try.

Apart from being useful, learning Mandarin will help you immerse yourself in Chinese culture and learn about different traditions, customs, and people. And that’s valuable knowledge.

And although learning Mandarin might seem challenging at first, these apps will ensure you a comfortable learning experience.

They are created to be efficient, practical, and fun.

But most importantly, they will allow you to focus on your needs and interests.

And without a doubt, they will help you develop a learning habit and eventually achieve your goals!

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