[Meeting China] The 12 Best Apps to Learn Chinese on Your Smartphone or Tablet-1

  • 2017-09-19
  • pangjingjie
Warming up

Here is a look at several popular applications that could help you adapt well to life in China. Let’s check it out!


Would you like to find a way to keep your motivation in Chinese learning and, at the same time, be efficient?
Smartphone’s apps have been a really helpful tool because they allow you to study Chinese while you’re on the subway or in a coffee shop. However in the recent years hundreds apps to learn Chinese and other languages have been released. And I’d say that most of them are inefficient or even useless. Credit: Sborto Zhou
The features of a good app for learning Chinese
  • Active learning: A good app should involve active learning. This means that the app should ask you questions and force you to remember the correct answer.

  • Customized product: A good app should let you the flexibility to choose the settings according to your needs. For instance, you should have the opportunity to choose to study the lessons or the vocabulary that match your interests and proficiency level. The best way to keep your motivation is to study only things you are interested on and you can use on your daily life.
  • Learn from your mistakes: A good app will “learn” from your mistakes – by recording them – and force you to review what you forgot while skipping the parts you already know. I recommend you to find an app based on spaced repetition software (SRS). If you want to know what an SRS is just click here.

  • An app should cover a specific need: A good app is going to be helpful (and a wonderful tool) to review your lessons or learn new vocabulary; however to master a new language you’ll need more than that. Never trust a developer that claims his app is the only tool you need to learn Chinese language.
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1.       Skritter: Learn how to write Chinese characters

Skritter is the best app out there to learn how to write Chinese characters. At the moment, the last version of the software is only available for Android devices or Apple devices with an operative system iOS7 or superior. If you own an Android smartphone or an iOS7/iOS8 device (iPhone 5 or iPhone 6, for instance), then you can try Skritter for free right now. If you have iOS6 device you can still use the app; just keep reading to know how to do.

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2.       Skritter for iOS6 devices

Since the release of the iOS7, Apple allows devices running older versions of the iOS to download apps that are backwards compatible. You can then download the previous version of Skritter (2.2.1) directly from your device.

IMPORTANT: Don’t use the link on the Skritter’s website or download it from iTunes in your computer as you’ll end up downloading the last version (the one for iOS7) that won’t work in your device.

p.s.: Skritter costs 14.99 USD/month. However if you sign up through the link and use the coupon “FURIO3952″ you get a 20% discount for the first six months.
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3.       FluentU: Learn Chinese with videos

FluentU is without a doubt one of the best Chinese learning courses that exists on the market. The main goal of FluentU is to improve your language level through immersion in the language. To do this, they have designed a learning system whose main learning material is a selection of videos with subtitles adapted to all language competency levels.

FluentU developed a perfect app to complement its study program. However, the app is only available for Apple devices with iOS8 minimum.

The app offers all of the platform’s videos with interactive subtitles (you can click on a word to see the definition), flashcards based on the videos, audio tracks of the vocabulary and much more.

FluentU costs 15 USD per month for the basic plan and 30 USD per month for the Plus pan.
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4.       Chinese Pod

ChinesePod is one of the most prestigious and oldest platforms for learning Chinese, and has recently developed an excellent app that allows you to follow their study plan regardless of where you are. Its system is based on high-quality podcasts although the platform is much more than just that.

The app offers all of the services of the platform, which includes videos and podcasts organized by levels as well as supporting materials such as review exercises for lessons and flashcards with personalized vocabulary lists. The big advantage of the app is that you can download all of the content so that you can use the app even without an Internet connection.

A subscription to Chinese Pod costs 14 USD per month for the basic plan and 29 USD per month for the premium plan.
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5.       The Chairman’s Bao: Read in Chinese

The Chairman’s Bao app (TCB) is one of the best apps for students with a more advanced level, but also can be a good resource for beginners.

TCB is an online newspaper that has been simplified for people learning Mandarin. The newspaper publishes news on very diverse subjects which are written in Mandarin by native Chinese professors using the HSK vocabulary list.

The app has a very elegant design and is available both for Android and iOS. Some of this app’s more interesting options are:

Thousands of available articles: TCB has written a large number of articles over the years, all of which are accessible and classified according to their level (HSK1 to HSK6+);

An interactive dictionary: While you are reading an article, you can click on any word and it will show you the pronunciation, definition and the possibility of adding it to your vocabulary list;

Flashcards system: Once you have a vocabulary list, you can use a flashcard system (with an SRS system) to study vocabulary;

Writing characters: You can watch animated videos of how to write characters and there is also a tool to test if you remember how to write them.

Simplified or traditional Chinese: As opposed to many other apps, TCB offers the possibility of reading and studying in both simplified and traditional Chinese;

List of key vocabulary and idiomatic expressions: At any time, you can consult the key vocabulary list and idiomatic expressions in the article so that you don’t miss any details.

The Chairman’s Bao app is no longer free, and if you want to access all of its content, you will need to subscribe. It costs 10 USD per month or 25, 45 and 80 USD for 3, 6 and 12 months respectively.