If you're here, I guess that means you want to study Chinese huh? 🤭

After over four years of studying Chinese, I've come across many resources. Some are great, and some are just so-so. However, whether or not something is useful to you depends on how you use it. Here are the ones I've used throughout my Chinese language learning journey:


  1. Pleco : the app you can't live without. It's an extremely helpful dictionary and it's free if you have an Android. The coolest part is that it allows you to search for characters by drawing them (which is especially useful if you don't know the pronunciation of it). This app has helped me the most, especially when I was in China and had to translate many unfamiliar words. It also allows you to save the words as flashcards, and most entries have example sentences of how the words are used.
  2. Du Chinese : reading made easy. I recently discovered this app - which also has an online version - and found it to be a great way to practice reading. It has many stories for any level, and each one is read by a native speaker. You can choose whether you want to see the pinyin above the words or not, and text translations are also provided. To access all the content, a paid subscription is required. I'd say it's worth it if you're serious about improving your reading skills!

YouTube Channels

  1. YoYo Chinese - This is probably the YouTube channel with the most content for learners of any level. If you're a complete beginner, check out this playlist on learning Chinese pinyin and tones. Her videos were very helpful when I was first starting to learn Chinese as they explain concepts in-depth, and I could replay them a few times to really digest everything.
  2. Shuoshuo Chinese - Shuo is a professional Mandarin teacher and she makes videos on many different topics regarding Chinese language and culture. I discovered her channel not long ago and like it because she covers things you wouldn't find in a textbook.
  3. Grace Mandarin Chinese - Grace is a Taiwanese grad student majoring in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language. She seems super sweet and she makes a lot of helpful videos on how to study Mandarin.
  4. Laoma Chris -Chris is an American polyglot with near-native command of Mandarin. While his channel is mostly geared towards Chinese people, it's also a great way to learn about Chinese culture and get inspired to study Chinese.  At the time of writing, he's living in DC but pre-pandemic he had been living in Beijing. He makes all of his videos in Mandarin, and often talks about American & Chinese politics, as well as analyzes the English of Chinese celebrities. My favorite videos are the ones where he tries to surprise Chinese people with his Mandarin skills - although he's become famous enough to be recognized by them half the time 🤣.
  5. Learn Chinese with Rita - She is Chris's wife, and also a professional Chinese teacher. She just started her channel not too long ago, but her content is helpful and interesting (and she has a bubbly personality!) Consider following her on Instagram where she posts daily in Chinese.
  6. Xiaoma - Xiaoma (real name Arieh) is an American polyglot whose Mandarin is also very good. He also has videos on various topics from surprising people with his Mandarin to learning how to study other languages. His channel is also great if you're looking to get inspired and enjoy watching people cross language boundaries.
  7. JJSays - JJ is an American YouTuber who (just like the others on this list) speaks Mandarin quiet well and shares videos on how she studies Mandarin. She also sings covers of Mandarin songs, and films herself talking to native speakers.


  • Integrated Chinese - I used this series throughout college. They also come with a workbook (which you may also be able to find floating around online). The books are a bit outdated, but not a bad resource to get started with.
  • Developing Chinese - When I studied at DUT (Dalian University of Tech), I had to buy these books. For each level, there are separate books for listening, speaking, reading, and writing, as well as one comprehensive book.
  • Guided Chinese Readers - These are great for those of you who prefer to have real books in your hands. Think of this as the paper version of DuChinese.

Other Online Resources

  • YoYo Chinese pinyin table - Great for pronunciation practice for all levels!
  • r/ChineseLanguage - Reddit is one of my favorite places to find information on which books, courses, or methods might be worth checking out.
  • Tumblr - Yes, really. Tumblr may not be as popular as it once was, but I can always count on it when I need to find some language learning resources (or a gif of my favorite celebs 😇)
  • Choosing your Chinese name - Choosing your Chinese name is difficult to do without input from a native speaker, so I'd suggest reading through the linked article and then asking a native for feedback. I went through a few names before my professor gave me one I liked (or at least felt like it might be mine): 梅琳。
  • Radicals - Chinese characters are made up of individual pieces called radicals. When I first started learning Chinese, my professors stressed the importance of learning them because knowing them would help us memorize how to write characters.
  • Stroke order - Unfortunately, Chinese characters can't be written any way we'd like them to be. There's a certain order that should be followed, and once you understand stroke order, you'll be able to figure out how to write other characters in the correct order without having to double check.

TV Shows to Get You Started

  • Go Ahead - If you've read my other posts, then you already know I love this show! It's great if you're looking to pick up conversational Chinese.
  • The Mystic Nine - This historical drama was one of the first that I watched. It's not so great if you're looking to pick up conversational Chinese as their way of speaking is a bit formal and they occasionally speak in the Changsha dialect. However, it's great if you're just getting into Chinese and want to familiarize yourself with the language and culture.
  • Fighter of the Destiny -  FOTD stars Luhan (my favorite Chinese artist) in the lead role of Chen Changsheng, who is destined to not live past 20. This is also a type of historical drama, but with some magical elements.


  • Don't expect to learn Chinese as quickly as you did other languages. This is something I struggled with as I felt that I could learn more studying a romance language for three months than I could studying Chinese for an entire year in college. There's a huge learning curve in the beginning as you learn an entirely different writing system and try to familiarize yourself with the four tones. Don't let it get to you!
  • TONES, TONES, TONES! Please focus on them. If you don't use the correct tones, there's a chance you'll convey an entirely different thought. See what I mean by clicking here.
  • Find a Chinese celebrity that you like and watch all of their work. I've been doing this since I started, and it helps me as I can watch their interviews and go through their past work instead of randomly looking for things to watch. It also makes me more invested in what I'm watching, as I like to watch the celeb's career grow and feel like I sort of know them (even if I never will)🙂.
  • Don't start by focusing on one aspect of the language - you can't only focus on reading or listening while ignoring speaking and writing. For example, because Chinese characters are like pictures, if you learn to read (in your head) you might end up understanding the meaning of the characters (such as 月 meaning "moon" and "month") rather than knowing their meaning and pronunciation. Du Chinese and the Guided Reader Series are great in this aspect because you can learn both the pinyin and characters at the same time.
  • Don't rely on only pinyin! If you do that, it will be hard to make the switch to reading only the characters.
  • Decide whether you want to learn traditional or simplified characters. Mainland China uses simplified characters and there will be more material in simplified Chinese. Taiwan and Hong Kong use the traditional characters. It's perfectly fine to learn one or the other (or both) but make sure you take into account which one would be best for you. You can read more about them here.

That's it for now! I will keep this post updated as I find more useful resources!

Nicole ~