Hi guys! I recently posted a Continuous Learning post on my personal blog where I talked about some of my favorite resources for learning. I’m trying to improve my Chinese skills a little bit everyday, so I wrote a section on some of my favorite apps for practicing and learning Mandarin. I thought that section would be relevant to post here, since some of you may be in the same boat as myself. I grew up speaking Chinglish in my household—a mix of Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, so my Chinese skills are about the equivalent of a nine year old, even after 10+ years of going to Saturday Chinese schools (who’s with me on that one!?). As I’m growing older, I realize how important it is to retain the language and invest in learning more Chinese (I can only hope that my children learn how to speak Chinese as well, if even a little), so I’ve made the effort to work on my Chinese for at least 15 minutes every day. In the spirit of kaizen, or continuous incremental improvements, I believe a little every day goes a long way in the future.
Since I want to learn in short increments, I’ve found that apps are my favorite learning tool at the moment. Here’s a snippet of my blog post on some of my favorite apps for learning and practicing Chinese:
One of the traits of my “dream self” is to be fluently multilingual; I think that’s so badass. I’ve been telling myself that I want to practice Italian and Chinese for years—last year I mentioned using audiotapes and podcasts to learn, but that method kind of dissipated for me. It’s hard to dedicate a significant amount of time everyday to learning a new language (unless you’re super dedicated); so right now I am just allocating 15 minutes a day to practice Chinese. I’ve been on the lookout for great iOS apps to learn and practice Chinese, and here are my favorites:
MindSnacks – This game so so cute and addicting that I actually ended up buying the full 50 lessons. Depending on your skill level, most of these words and phrases may be easy for you—my level is pretty elementary and I felt like I already know 1/3 of the vocabulary. Still, the games help you learn how to read Chinese as well, and although I may know how to say something, I likely do not know how to read it (and read it quickly, for the speed games)—so this really helps me with that.
Chinese Audio Trainer – This app is great for learning new vocabulary words and phrases. They have a huge library of words in different categories on all levels, and you learn by going through the virtual flashcards. You customize the speed and frequency of the flashcards, so you can delete cards you already know and focus on words and phrases you don’t know.
CSLPod – This app contains thousands of lessons of all levels of audio conversations between two people, so you can listen and read along to the conversations and learn vocabulary in its context. You have access too all of the lessons, but you have to pay to view the script, pinyin/vocabulary of the conversations. I didn’t buy the add-on, so I just use it to listen and practice by repeating the conversations. One caveat is that the people speak with a bit of a Beijing accent, so I try to block out that accent and speak my own way when I repeat them haha.
Memrise – I’ve only used this app once but I have to bring it up because it makes me giggle. Memrise teaches you languages using “mems – fun and imaginative ways to remember a word or phrase” that people in the Memrise community contribute. Most of the time this means that you learn a word in a new way – for example, the Chinese word “Ju (舉/举)” which means “to raise or hold up” would have a mem like: ‘To keep a cow happy you must HOLD UP and JU-ice its udder 3 times daily.” HAHAHA. Now tell me that doesn’t make you at least giggle.
Hope this has inspired you to brush up on your Chinese, pick up a new language, or just learn something new! If you have any other recommendations for your favorite Chinese/language-learning resources, drop us a comment below. Cheers~