Many of us tend to think that the most ideal way to learn Chinese is to find a good teacher, make friends with a Chinese (and talk to them a lot) and maybe, if you can, go to Beijing and live there for a while. Well, it was true before 2020, when travelling is restricted, school life is a disaster and I can’t even meet my close friends, let alone making friends with strangers.
Yet, we all know there are thousands of polyglots who embarked on their language journey by themselves without the help of a teacher or tutor. And they speak 3 or 4 languages, with an ability to comprehend and speak Chinese perfectly. If they have been doing that for years, I believe there must be a way for us - the at-home Chinese learners. This is literally the best time to test our self-learning capabilities, isn’t it?
In this article, I'd like to share a list of online resources that are perfect for practicing your Chinese at home. It includes various news websites, YouTube channels and movie websites that I have collected for a while now. Let's dive right in, shall we?
Learning Chinese Through News
First thing I would like to share with you is a list of news sites to practice our reading skills. Some are daily sites that Chinese people actually visit, some are made specially for Chinese learners.
- The Chairman’s Bao – Simplified Newspaper: The Chairman’s Bao defines itself as the first Chinese simplified newspaper dedicated to those learning Mandarin. The Chairman’s Bao provides a large variety of different news articles on many topics, such as business, science, sport, technology,... and is updated regularly.
- Decipher Chinese: Decipher Chinese is a resource similar to The Chairman’s Bao, in the sense that it also focuses on graduate reading, classifying the difficulty of the articles/texts according to the HSK lists.
- Guangming Daily: If you’re into science, technology, culture and education then you may want to choose this as your daily reading. It has the best, if not the very best, articles in those fields.
- People’s Daily: If you want to know the view of the Chinese government on its policies and national affairs, this one is standard.
- NETEASE News: This website is different from others. This site wants to “adopt a correct attitude” which is uncommon in China, and is loved by a lot of Chinese writers such as Lian Yue, Song Shinan and Luo Yonghao and etc..
- Economic Observer: Economic Observer is a weekly paper focused on the market/business news. If your learning is geared towards this area then this site is perfect for you.
- Chinanews: Chinanews is the official Chinese-language website of CNS launched in 1999. It serves the purpose of providing firsthand data and insight into current events, art, lifestyle, people and travel in China.
While reading news, it’s possible that you would bump into a lot of difficult words, especially if you are still at beginner level, since news are written in formal Chinese and often target advanced topics like politics or business. You can install the GlotDojo's Chinese Add-on on Chrome to look them up in advanced dictionaries and get all the information needed for learning Chinese effectively like Pinyin, components, stroke writing guide, grammar, mnemonics, etc…
With the Chinese Add-on by GlotDojo, you can easily:
- Look up words instantly with shortcut keys
- Translate INSIDE the text instead of opening a separate translation window
- See Pinyin
- Break down components to radicals
- Practice writing
- Learn related grammar topics, from basic to advanced
- And many more….
(To download Chinese Add-on, you will need to have GlotDojo extension on your Chrome browser first. It helps you translate anything on webpages & videos to 70+ languages and is 100% FREE.)Download GlotDojo FREE!
Learning Chinese with YouTube
Youtube is a great source to learn Chinese through visuals and videos. This is my favorite way to learn Chinese when I’m lazy to read, plus, the endless amount of entertaining channels means learning doesn’t have to feel like a burden.
Best YouTube Channels for learning Chinese
- TEDxTaipei: TEDxTaipei has shared various stories and topics related to the people of Taiwan since 2009. Watching TEDx Talks is a great way to practice your Chinese skills, acquire new ideas/ knowledge and learn about Taiwanese culture and people.
- 公共電視-我們的島:我们的岛 (Our Island) is a Taiwanese nature channel that focuses on the geography, culture, and wildlife of Taiwan.
- 那些電影教我的事 Lessons from Movies : 那些電影教我的事 Lessons from Movies is an introspective YouTube channel that focuses on the lessons learned from films, both Western and Eastern.
- MaoMao TV: This is the channel run by Mao Mao. She talks about life in Japan and often goes out with friends to take videos of things to see around Japan.
- 這群人TGOP: This is a famous Taiwanese Youtube channel with funny, rich content. Their most famous videos show different scenarios that occur in different moments of their daily life.
- Krysti Naaa: Krysti Naaa is a fairly popular Mandarin-speaking YouTuber. Her videos cover a variety of topics, including travel vlogs, product reviews (mostly makeup and skincare) and fashion tours.
If you struggle to understand the subtitles, you can install the Chinese Add-on* to slow the video down, repeat any sentence with just one shortcut key, or watch with double subtitles, one subtitle in Chinese and one in English or any language you’re fluent in, with Pinyin on top.
You can also hover over any words in the subtitles to look them up in advanced dictionaries and get all the information needed for learning Chinese effectively like Pinyin, components, stroke writing guide, grammar, mnemonics, etc…Install Chinese Add-on
(*: To download Chinese Add-on, you will need to have GlotDojo extension on your Chrome browser first. It helps you translate anything on webpages & videos to 70+ languages and is 100% FREE. Install here.)
Learning Chinese through movies
Loved by many Chinese learners, watching Chinese movies is actually a great learning tool if you have time. Saying that there are thousands of good C-movies is to underestimate their giant movie production industry. All you need is a site to start with.
Best movie sites for learning Chinese
- Netflix: Netflix is a well-known streaming service that allows its members to watch a wide variety of award-winning TV shows, movies, documentaries on different devices.
- Iqiyi.com: Described as China’s Netflix, iQIYI provides highly popular original content, user generated content, partner-generated content, live sports and fully-licensed media including full movies, TV shows, animation, documentaries, musics…
- Youku.com: Youku is the most popular Chinese video hosting website and often referred as "Youtube of China". It hosts a large number of movies, dramas, and other video contents, and all of these videos are free to watch.
- Bilibili.com: Founded in 2009, Bilibili was firstly considered a niche video site since it was mainly focused on lovers of anime culture in China and its most viewed videos were mostly related to anime.
- 56.com: 56 Movie is a leading video-sharing platform in China. You can enjoy its hundreds of HD movies and TV series online free legally. The site hosts more than 80 million online videos.
- Kankan.com: Kankan is another popular Chinese movie website, formerly known as Xunlei Kankan. The site provides high-quality content including up-to-date Chinese dramas and lots of movies from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan,...
- M1905.com:M1905.com is the official movie site of China’s national CCTV Movie Channel. The site provides columns like movies, videos, movie rankings, movie stars, movie blog…
Similar to Youtube, you can also watch movies with dual, Pinyin-ed subtitles, slow the video down, repeat any sentence with just one shortcut key, look up words in our advanced dictionaries with grammar, component breakdown, HSK ranking, mnemonics and more with GlotDojo’s Chinese Add-on. It’s one of the best online tool to master Chinese on your own, absolutely hassle-free!Install Chinese Add-on
So that wraps up the list of online resources for learning Chinese. Each resource is helpful in its way and it's up to you to choose the ones that suit your needs, Chinese level and interests.
Don't forget to share with us your favorite Chinese newspaper or a Chinese movie that took away your tears while teaching you how to argue in perfect Chinese. We’d love to hear! ;)