Top iOS Apps for Learning Chinese

Apr 23, 2017
Education

As one of the languages that has the most native speakers, Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over 1 billion people. Its growing importance is emphasized as the Chinese economy continues to grow and expand. With more and more business being conducted in China each year, becoming familiar with the language has become either a necessity for conducting business or for academic purposes. Although learning the language is regarded as being more difficult as the characters are unique to the language, educational apps specifically designed for learning Mandarin have been developed in the form of mobile apps. With such a vast range of apps available for picking up Mandarin at different levels, this article dissects the ones which provide the quickest and easiest learning experience.

1
ChineseSkill - Learn Mandarin Chinese Language Free

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As a task-driven app which aims to provide introductory-level education in the Mandarin Chinese language, ChineseSkill provides education in the form of a game to ensure that users are engaged and kept interested while learning. For both simplified and traditional Chinese, beginners are able learn how to read, write, and pronounce Chinese terms and sentences in a way that is enjoyable and deviates from the traditional classroom and textbooks that are difficult to understand. With so many characters in the Chinese language, trying to learn them all from the beginning can be overwhelming and actually counterproductive as retention is extremely low. For these reasons, the app focuses on sentence recognition and patterns as opposed to learning each character. For a comprehensive start to speaking, listening, reading, diction, and vocabulary, the lessons provided in ChineseSkill are able to provide an engaging alternative to traditional forms of learning Chinese.

2
HelloChinese - Learn Chinese Mandarin

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Another app which is primarily game-based, HelloChinese is designed for beginners who have little to no prior experience with the Chinese language. However, although the previous app on this list is also in the form of a game, what differentiates this app from ChineseSkill is that it utilizes proprietary technology in order to make learning even more comprehensive than simply selecting images or the terms which have already been written. For example, speech and handwriting technology gives the app more options in testing users on their level of understanding from having them read back texts or write characters in order to make corrections in terms of pronunciation and writing style for greater accuracy. As the curriculum is short as opposed to lengthier lessons, retention is maximized for faster learning which can then be synced across various devices in order to accurate track progress.

3
Mondly: Learn Chinese FREE - Conversation Course

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For a more structured curriculum, Mondly provides daily lessons that are easy to follow. In providing reading, verbal, and auditory practices on a regular basis, users of the app are able to have a more disciplined learning experience since Mondly acts as a personal tutor for greater comprehension. Instead of simply learning words and phrases that may not be used, the app puts an emphasis on conversational Chinese to ensure that the most relevant aspects of the language are known to be utilized in a conversation with other Chinese speakers. A significant differentiator of the app lies within the ability of Mondly to recognize speech and then provide feedback accordingly. Through practicing speech in a conversational format, users are able to progress their pronunciation and auditory abilities. Furthermore, quizzes and scores can be used to compete with others in the community as a way to facilitate a fun learning system.

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4
trainchinese: Dictionary & Flash cards

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For those who are already familiar with the aspects of the Chinese language, trainchinese provides a complete reference in order to reinforce learning. From dictionaries, audio recordings, to flash cards, the app is most applicable when words or spelling is unknown. With optical character recognition (OCR), trainchinese is able to identify words that are unknown in order to provide their definition and a translation from just a picture. Even when a user does not know the entire word or Chinese character, the app is able to make suggestions based on the input of the user. Whether using simplified or traditional Chinese, example sentences, recommended usage, and entire dictionary definitions can be found by simply searching a word, making it perfect for individuals with some prior knowledge but require ongoing support with the language.

5
Learn Mandarin Chinese - Phrases & Words

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As a simpler app, Learn Mandarin Chinese allows users to search for terms in their native language while the app returns the searched word or phrase in Chinese instantly. This means that for nearly any language, users are able to enter the language which they are familiar with and then receive the output in Chinese. Beyond just receiving the output, users are also given the ability to have the text read back to them aloud in order to hear the pronunciation or even save the most frequently used so that they can be quickly referred to later on. Furthermore, the most common phrases are always available in a separate tab which include topics that are related to greetings, numbers, and dining phrases. This ensures that in nearly any conversation, users of Learn Mandarin Chinese have the sufficient tools in order to effectively communicate with others.

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6
6000 Words - Learn Chinese Language for Free

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For a learning experience that is more visual, 6000 Words combines every definition with an image of the term so that those who want to associate words with images are able to do so. Beyond just being able to search for terms with their images, the app features seven different games in order to ensure that users retain the information. For example, drawing parallels to 4 pictures 1 word, the app will read aloud a word in Chinese and users will have to select the right picture out of the 4 that are presented.  Through the games and images that correspond to the words, those who prefer visual cues instead of just pure text are able to greatly benefit from 6000 Words.

Although the learning curve for the Chinese language can be extremely steep, the tools and apps that are outlined in this article can be used as powerful tools to get started. As a language with growing popularity, Chinese can be grasped with the various apps provided instead of through formal classes, expensive software, or books.

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Kevin Chau

Following my passion in the realm of business and entrepreneurship, I am always eager to develop skills that enable me to learn, build, and grow. My previous projects, both academic and personal, reflect my dedication towards expanding and applying my theoretical knowledge for practical results in these fields.

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